Monday, January 25, 2010

In a (Darrell) Huff

In January 12th testimony at a legislative committee hearing, our Archbishop voices opposition to ‘window legislation’. Trying to make a case that the pending legislation [SB319/AB453] unfairly targets the Catholic Church, he said,
during Assembly Committee testimony this past November, supporters of this bill testified that, indeed, Catholic clergy make up only 1 to 2 percent of child abusers.
That "only" caught my eye. Unless I'm mistaken (and feel free to Comment or email if I am)...

In 1970, Catholic priests numbered 59,192 in a U.S. population of 205,052,174. Catholic clergy, I calculate, then made up .029% of the population. If so, then "only" would apply if they included significantly less than .029% of the nation's child abusers. If instead they were between 1% and 2%, that is between 35 times (3,400%) to 70 times (6,900%) more.

Update: In a comment Dad29 suggests Archbishop Listecki meant that 1 to 2 percent of priests were abusers, not that 1 to 2 percent of abusers were priests. The Wisconsin Catholic Conference posted his testimony.
We need only to look at Delaware where similar legislation resulted in more than 80 percent of the cases in litigation being brought against the Catholic Church. We know from statistics that, certainly, Catholic clergy do not make up 80 percent of the offenders is this societal atrocity. In fact, during Assembly Committee testimony this past November, supporters of this bill testified that, indeed, Catholic clergy make up only one to two percent of child abusers.
He isn't challenging that as a fact. So it still appears that the percentage of sexual abusers of children who were Catholic clergy was well above their percentage of the general population.


  1. I think what he MEANT to say was that only 1-2% of priests were abusers.

    But maybe not.

  2. Anonymous6:38 PM

    You've made your point...sort of...though your stats don't really work. You should consider the adult population over 25 since all priests are adults. And since males are overrepresented among abusers, adjust the figures by that percentage. Further, 1970 gives only a static snapshot, but the figures represent cases that took place over years. Finally, clergy abuse may have been reported in greater proportion than other forms, given the recent publicity and invitation to report past cases. So the percentage is probably quite different from your number. Nonetheless, if you are saying that any is too many, yes you are right.

    But the Archbishop is clearly right too. This legislation would not address most abuse cases. In fact, victims of abusers in public schools, law enforcement, certain helping professions, and so on, could not use this window. This bill, while it might sweep in a few other cases, is clearly targeted at the Catholic Church.