The Catholic Church’s Priest Problem

The Roman Catholic Church has a systemic problem with its priests—sexual abuse of minors. Adding to the thousands having been sexually abused by priests in the United States, Chile, Australia, Ireland and France, is Spain. Spain’s human rights ombudsman presented a report to the Spanish parliament October 27th indicating that more than one in 200 Spaniards may have been sexually abused by Catholic Church priests since the 1940’s. Given Spain’s population of roughly 47 million (a little larger than California), that amounts to about 235,000 victims where some 61% of Spaniards identify as Roman Catholic. The Catholic Spanish Episcopal Conference said the reports “do not correspond to the truth.”

But the Spanish parliament heard a different story. The parliament commissioned the Spanish Ombudsman to conduct an investigation beginning in July 2022 into allegations of sexual abuse within the Catholic Church and the role of public authorities. Over 8,000 people were surveyed, victims were interviewed and public reports were investigated according to the Ombudsman’s report. The report states that while some Catholic Church representatives were cooperative, the bulk of the Church was defensive and “refused to collaborate with the investigation.” The report documents that records of sexual abuse were not kept by the church “even when offenders were named by several victims.”

The report stated: “There is a great deal of evidence that sexual abuse within the Catholic Church is a serious social and public healthcare issue that has caused a great deal of harm. The seriousness of the phenomenon at a social level stems not only from how intensely the victims have suffered, but also from the number of people who have been affected and how their trust, and the trust of a large number of people, has been betrayed by an institution that has clearly exercised power and moral authority… The issue of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church has affected boys, girls and adolescents in particular and must be viewed in the context of the issue of child sex abuse and, more specifically, victimization in institutional contexts.” The report said that some 64.6% of the victims were male.

The report said: “At least from an official standpoint, the Catholic Church’s response has long been characterized by denial and attempts to downplay the issue.” Accordingly, Spain’s Catholic Church reacted to the report first, by trying to discredit the report by calling the numbers untruthful—a polite way of saying they were a lie. Second, by issuing a feckless statement rather than a direct apology. Cardinal Juan Jose Omella told reporters, “I reiterate the petition for pardon to the victims for this pain.” In the US, the Baltimore Diocese is declaring bankruptcy to avoid future sex abuse claims. In Mark 9:42 Christ said, “And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea.” How much tithe money perpetuates this evil and stains the hands of givers?


“The priest is the man of God, the minister of God…… He that despiseth the priest despiseth God; he that hears him hears God. The priest remits sins as God, and that which he calls his body at the altar is adored as God by himself and by the congregation….. It is clear that their function is such that none greater can be conceived. Wherefore they are justly called not only angels, but also God, holding as they do among us the power and authority of the immortal God.” –The Council of Trent (1546)

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Bill Wilson