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prepared by Fr. Paul Sullins, Ph.D.
a project of the Ruth Institute
Reverend Dr. Paul Sullins, professor emeritus of the Catholic University of America, is the author of the Sullins Report the groundbreaking analysis that looked at the clergy abuse statistics and correlated the sexual orientation of Catholic clergy to the abuse of minors.
Catholic priests abusing minor children has been a widespread problem in the Catholic Church and has become a widely reported
story in recent years. One of the most shocking findings in the report is that over 8 in 10 victims are male. That the
overwhelming majority of victims were male would suggest that the abusers tend to homosexual behavior. Despite this correlation,
the idea that the abuse is in any way related to any of the clergy being homosexual is often dismissed, even by Church
The John Jay College of Criminal Justice report that looked into the causes and context of child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church concluded that the abuse in the United States was not related to the sexual identity of the priests. Based on the analysis from Father Sullins, this finding seems slightly off.
The John Jay College of Criminal Justice report conclusion was not arrived at based on collecting or examining any direct data, but rather was based on clinical estimates and second-hand reports about apparent homosexual activity in seminaries. Those reports and clinical estimates struggled to distinguish between whether or not men who joined the Catholic clergy in the 1980s were more likely to reveal themselves as homosexual or were more likely to understand themselves as homosexual. Any analysis which has such struggles, should be viewed cautiously. Additionally, the ordination class, as a whole, may not be representative of the percentage of homosexual men in the existing clergy.
The question to examine is to see whether there is a correlation between the increase in homosexual men in the priesthood and an increase in the abuse of boys. To determine this, we gathered information a 2002 nationwide survey by the Los Angeles Times, which included questions regarding sexual orientation, year of ordination, and age. We also took data regarding abuse of minors from the reports from Catholic dioceses. The abuse data was the same as used in the John Jay College of Criminal Justice report.
An interesting piece of information to come from the LA Times survey was the number of homosexual men in the priesthood over time. The proportion of homosexual men in the priesthood, before the 1950s reflected that of the population in general. In contrast, by the 1980s, well over 16% of the clergy was homosexual. This was more than 8 times the proportion of the general population. The analysis of the Sullins report and analysis shows that the increase of homosexual men in the priesthood contributed to an additional 24 incidents of currently-reported abuse annually.
An additional finding of the research from the Sullins report, was that the increase or decrease in the percent of male victims had a correlation correlated, almost perfectly with the increase or decrease of homosexual men in the priesthood. The correlation was 0.98. Among victims who were younger than 8, the correlation was lower, however, it was still very strong: 0.77. There are two points that this finding suggests 1) abuse of boys is extremely strongly correlated to the share of homosexual men in the priesthood and 2) an enabling factor was easier access to males among older victims (ages 8 to 17).
The increase or decrease of overall abuse was highly correlated with the increase or decrease of homosexual priests: 0.93. This finding is not surprising since an extremely high proportion of victims were male. More than half of the association was accounted for by the rise of subcultures of sexually active homosexual priests and faculty in Catholic seminaries.
The report draws the conclusion that if the concentration of homosexual clergy had remained at the relatively low levels seen pre-1950, there would have been an estimated 85% lower victimization rate. This equates to roughly sparing an additional 12,594 children, mostly boys, from sexual abuse by Priests.
Two additional steps that the Church can take are 1. Recognize this correlation and take steps to protect minors and 2. Release the McCarrick report. Pope Francis commissioned the report, and yet it still has not been released. Releasing the report to the public would give us additional transparency into how McCarrick rose so high, what additional problems exist, how to fix them, and how to provide appropriate restitution for the victims.
Please download and share the Sullins report with your friends and family.
English version, direct download (PDF; click to download):
Clergy Sex Abuse Report (945 KB) This report compares previously unexamined measures of the share of homosexual Catholic priests and the incidence and victim gender of minor sex abuse by Catholic priests from 1950 to 2001 to see if the these matters are related. New data from the 2018 Pennsylvania grand jury report are also examined. (Released on 01-Nov-2018)
Spanish translation, direct download (PDF):
Clergy Sex Abuse Report - Spanish translation (2132 KB) Spanish translation of the Sullins report on Clergy Sex Abuse in the Catholic Church (Released on 16-Feb-2019)
Polish translation, direct download (PDF):
Clergy Sex Abuse Report - Polish translation (1070 KB) Polish translation of the Sullins report on Clergy Sex Abuse in the Catholic Church (Released on 11-Jan-2019)
Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report data