The NRB Catholic Priest Abuse Report


In January 2002, the Boston Globe released the first of a series of reports about the Archdiocese of Boston's failure to remove abusive priests from the ministry.

This produced an explosion of protest by faithful Catholics throughout the nation as more and more people stepped forward to tell what priests had done to them in childhood.

When American Catholic bishops tried to cover over the problem, the outcry became even more pronounced.

In response to an immense amount of protest from American lay Catholics, in June 2002, the U.S. bishops grudgingly appointed a panel of 12 laypeople, called the National Review Board, to analyze the immense child-abuse problem in the nation and draw conclusions from it.

On February 23, 2004, this National Review Board released its findings, in the form of two studies: (1) a quantitative Report examining the nature and scope of abuse from 1950 to 2002. The other was (2) a study the Board asked the John Jay College of Criminal Justice to prepare on their behalf, which examined causes of the abuse.


The report said that 4,392 priests have abused 10,667 minors between 1950 and 2002. The total monetary cost to the Roman Catholic Church in America: $572 million paid in legal settlements and treatment costs. That figure did not include settlements during the last year, including $85 million in Boston alone.

The Board also found that 4% of the 109,694 priests who served the church between 1950 and 2002 were legitimately accused of abuse. That would be nearly one out of every 20 priests in the nation and they routinely work with many children.

The report also disclosed that 40% of the victims were boys between the ages of 11 and 14. At least 19% were girls.

A little more than half (56%) of accused clergy molested one child while 44% claimed between two and 10 children. About one-fourth of abuse claims involved serial predators who were accused of molesting more than 10 children.

Over half (57%) of the abuse took place in a church or rectory; 10% occurred in schools.

The report declared that bishops and other supervisors bore a significant share of the responsibility for what took place.

"This is a failing not simply on the part of the priests who sexually abused minors but also on the part of those bishops and other church leaders who did not act effectively to preclude that abuse in the first instance or respond appropriately when it occurred."NRB Report.


In the John Jay Study, designed to identify the causes of this terrible, ongoing tragedy, the NRB panel sharply criticized the church hierarchy for what the panel called "the multitude of preventable acts of abuse." It declared that dioceses had failed to properly screen and train candidates for the priesthood, and that some bishops had failed to respond effectively to allegations of abuse.

"These leadership failings have been shameful to the church, both as a central institution in the lives of the faithful and a moral force in the secular world, and have aggravated the harm suffered by victims and their families."Ibid.

"There appears to have been a general lack of accountability for bishops for the reassignment of priests known to have been involved in the sexual abuse of minors."Ibid.

The John Jay study found that, by early 2003, dioceses around the country had spent $572 million for victim compensation, treatment of victims and priests, and legal expenses.

The actual cost to the church, nationally, is actually much higher because 14% of dioceses did not report how much they had spent on abuse-related costs. This omission was frequently due to the fact that they still faced unsettled claims.

It was obvious that homosexuality among priests was a significant part of the problem. The study found that 80% of the victims were male. "The crisis was characterized by homosexual behavior."John Jay Study.

The Boards report said the crisis cannot be understood without consideration of two controversial factors: homosexuality in the priesthood and the Vatican requirement that its priests cannot be married.

According to John Jay College, 97% of the 195 dioceses and religious orders, representing 80% of the religious order priests in the nation, participated in the survey. But there is no verification that truthful responses were given.

Commenting on the report, Bishop Wilton Gregory, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, provided additional information: He said about 700 Catholic priests were pulled from their pulpits in 2002 alone because of abuse allegations.


After examining the John Jay data, researcher Charol Shakeshaft drew several conclusions, in spite of the fact that research has shown that only 6% percent of victims of sexual abuse report their abuse. Extrapolating from the John Jay study, it was found that there were 10,667 reported cases. Therefore, it is possible that 177,783 children under the age of 18 were abused by Catholic clergy since 1950, or about 3,354 incidents per year!


Throughout the entire scandal, the Vatican has consistently demanded that child-molesting priests be protected and not fired! That position was expressed several times. And, in the face of intense pressure from U.S. laypeople, American bishops voted contrary to Vatican directives.

But now, a new Vatican report (issued by the Vatican's Pontifical Academy for Life), released shortly after the above Board report, declares that several psychiatrists and psychologists have advised the Vatican that priests should not be fired after abusing only a few children.

Because of Vatican opposition, many victims and lay Catholics fear that the U.S. bishops will relax their efforts to get rid of the sex offenders in the U.S. Catholic Church.

"The Vatican report provides cover for every shrewd perpetrator and backsliding bishop. It makes already depressed victims feel even more hopeless."David Clohessy, U.S. national director, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

This Vatican report is truly scandalous. Vatican leaders do not consider such behavior to be sinful. What sins are they covering up for elsewhere in the world field?