Today is the Feast Day of St. Martina, one of numerous martyred virgins of the Church.
Prominently reported sexual abuse cases have been rife throughout the mass media in recent weeks, so it might be appropriate on this holy Feast of one of the Church's glorious Virgin Martyrs to relate some little known academic facts regarding the prevalence of child sexual abuse that's taken place in structures of the Catholic Church in recent decades compared to that which is recorded as taking place in secular society.
First of all, the Catholic Church has always traditionally treated grave sin against children, and sin against nature, as the most heinous of all sin and has acted against malefactors accordingly. Our Blessed Lord, Himself, taught that "But he that shall scandalise one of these little ones that believe in Me, it were better for him that a millstone should be hanged about his neck, and that he should be drowned in the depth of the sea".
Pope St. Pius V formally decreed, and the Fifth Lateran Council confirmed, that:
"Therefore, wishing to pursue with the greatest vigour that which We have decreed since the beginning of Our Pontificate, We establish that any priest or member of the clergy, either secular or regular, who commits such an execrable crime, by force of the present law be deprived of every clerical privilege, of every post, dignity and ecclesiastical benefit, and having being degraded by an ecclesiastical judge, be immediately delivered to the secular authority to be executed as mandated by law, according to the appropriate punishment for laymen plunged into this abyss".
Even with the destructive liberalisation process and resulting apostasy that has decimated the Church Militant in recent decades the facts recorded by academia are quite astounding.
In the USA, an academic study published in 2004 that focused on Catholic institutions revealed that 10,667 cases of child sexual abuse were recorded over a 42 year period. 81% of that abuse was suffered by boys under 18 years of age. When we consider that approximately half the population of the USA is nominally Catholic - 70 million people - and they attended Catholic institutions of one sort or another during that period, it gives a prevalence rate of 0.03% of Catholic children suffering sexual abuse in a (at least nominal) Catholic institution - a school, a church or so on.
In the USA as a whole, the rate of prevalence of child sexual abuse was recorded by academics in 1998 to stand at 22-23%. That figure consists of 17% of boys and 28% of girls. In another study it was found that nearly 10% of students suffered sexual abuse in non-Catholic schools.
In Ireland, over a 34 year period, more than 170,000 children passed through Industrial and Reformatory schools run by the Catholic Church. Of these 170,000 children a total of 369 people - 242 males and 127 females - made complaint of sexual abuse to the Irish Child Abuse Commission during its 9-year investigation. The prevalence rate is 0.2%.
In secular society in Great Britain and Northern Ireland it's recorded that 16% of children under sixteen years of age suffer sexual abuse.
These and similar facts, giving the academic sources, are presented in a leaflet that Carmel Books has some supplies of entitled The Catholic Church and Child Abuse: The Facts.
If customers and friends would like copies to distribute to help make the facts more widely known please just get in touch.