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Causes of the Clergy Sex Abuse Crisis

As the number of clergy sex abuse cases reported in the Catholic Church continues to rise, this Church crisis remains in the spotlight. As more clergy abuse survivors tell their stories and search for justice, the Church and its followers are struggling to define the causes of the clergy sex abuse crisis.

Several high-profile Catholic universities, including the University of Notre Dame, Santa Clara University, and Catholic University have initiated research into the phenomenon of clergy abuse. At Catholic University’s Healing the Breach of Trust conference, attendees addressed different perspectives on clergy abuse ranging from misuse of power and lack of transparency to the problems of rumor and innuendo. All these research initiatives examine the best practices for working with clergy abuse survivors to ensure they get the resources they need for continued healing.

The Problem of Clericalism

Many Catholic theologians, including Pope Francis, indicated clericalism plays an important part in the clergy sex abuse crisis. Clericalism occurs when an individual gives too much deference to a priest or bishop by holding them as vastly superior to the lay members of the Catholic Church. Using titles, such as “Your Eminence,” emphasizes the power clericalism holds. With clericalism, it becomes much harder to hold abusive priests accountable for their actions. Pope Francis called this a toxic and un-Christian culture of ministerial superiority, fostering deceit and lack of transparency in the Catholic Church.

Creating a Culture of Abuse

Other Church critics believe the hierarchal nature of the church created a culture of abuse allowing clergy abuse to continue. When bishops and cardinals are viewed less as pastors and more as members of an elite club, it breeds an environment where priests believe they are above the law. Pope Francis continues to emphasis that service to the people should be the hallmark of all priests, including higher ranking bishops, archbishops, and cardinals.

Other prominent Catholic theologians highlight additional factors, including the role of sexuality, the prevalence of sexual violence, and the disproportionate amount of gay priests in the Catholic Church as potential causes of clergy sexual abuse. For now, researchers remain divided on the true cause of the crisis.

Compensation for Clergy Abuse Survivors

Individuals who have experienced clergy abuse can spend a significant amount of time and money dealing with its aftermath. The costs of medical treatments, prescriptions, therapy, and lost wages due to an inability to work can place significant financial strain on families. Clergy abuse survivors often are entitled to receive compensation to help cover some of these expenses. By filing a civil lawsuit against the Catholic Church, survivors can obtain justice and hold those who covered up these reprehensible acts accountable.

New Brunswick Clergy Abuse Lawyers at the Law Offices of Harold J. Gerr Protect the Rights of Clergy Abuse Survivors

If you or a loved one experienced abuse at the hands of a priest or other clergy members, the New Brunswick clergy abuse lawyers at the Law Offices of Harold J. Gerr will fight for the justice you deserve. To schedule a free consultation today, call us at 732-537-8570 or submit an online inquiry form. With offices conveniently located in Highland Park, New Jersey, we assist clergy abuse survivors and their families throughout New Brunswick, Somerset, Piscataway, Edison, South River, Sayreville, Metuchen, East Brunswick, South Plainfield, Fords, Middlesex, Old Bridge, Iselin, Bound Brook, Perth Amboy, and Colonia.

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