This site has been set up to spotlight the hidden and minimalised problem of the sexual misconduct against adults within the Catholic Church by Catholic clergy (Priests, Bishops, Brothers, Sisters).
The term ‘misconduct’, while somewhat bland, has been used here in the official way, as professional misconduct. I appreciate that this term does not fully describe what people have actually experienced but again, it has been used in order to encompass the many expressions that clergy/professional misconduct takes . As such, when you read ‘misconduct’, please feel free to insert instead, ‘abuse’, ‘assault’, ‘molestation’, harassment, ‘violation’, ‘offending’ or any term that fits your particular experience.
I define professional/clergy sexual misconduct as the misuse or abuse of the positional and personal power a man or woman holds by virtue of belonging to a powerful institution, to target and over-power, whether subtly or forcefully, the vulnerabilities of another less powerful person, in order to sexually use them, with little or no mature regard for that person, or the effects of such activity on them.
If you are/have been one of these ‘over-powered’ people, please click on the Catholic Spotlight Poll link (above) to say ‘me too’. May I encourage you to also take the Catholic Spotlight Survey about your experiences. On the Home (Comments) page, you are all invited, clergy included, to leave a comment, or tell your story, whether you have been involved in clergy sexual misconduct or not.
While the #MeToo movement which first inspired me to build this site was one which just so resonated with my research, I have decided to change the name of this website to a more timeless one, shall we say, but one which still provides a space for victims/survivors of clergy sexual misconduct against adults to say it happened to them, too.
Welcome here especially, are male victims/survivors, whether lay or cleric, especially student clergy who seem to figure highly in this issue. You have been largely ignored and I want you to feel especially welcome here. I understand your context particularly and we all need to learn more about sexual offenses against adult men.
For any and all visitors or contributors, while it may not seem this way, please know that this website is not about revenge, hate, or blind anger; nor is it about tearing down the Church or the clergy. While some may see it as an oxymoron, I sincerely believe in the role of psychologically and spiritually healthy religion in society. However, at the moment the health level of the Churches is seriously low and needs help. I also still believe in the vocations of men and women, giving their lives in the service of others as clergy and have known many wonderful people who have done so. I think I understand the struggles of clergy and have concluded that removing mandatory celibacy would go some way for some clergy in lessening the possibility of sexual misconduct. I do believe that the inclusion of Religious and lay women in all areas of ministry would be a further step in the right direction. Furthermore, I believe that, should they wish to, clergy who have left and married (or not) and who wish to still be recognised and minister as Catholic clergy, should be welcomed to do so, with none of these groups of people being seen as failures or lesser cousins to some group of ‘real’ clergy.
None of this will suddenly fix the Church which has so many obvious and hidden, personnel and cultural and dogmatic problems, but they would be a start in the right direction and a strong catalyst for change.
I do not for a minute believe that sexual abuse and its covering up is just or even predominantly, a conservative Catholic-based issue, or even a religious one. The recent events in Hollywood and the ‘#Me Too’ response that inspired this website, should be a clear warning against such faulty thinking. Such violence and abuse can be perpetrated by anyone, from any group, by any gender, or sexuality, of any political or ideological persuasion, at any time. Anyone, even power-equal adults, and sexual abuse victims themselves can perpetrate sexual abuse. However, when it occurs within an institution of empowered hierarchies and professionals, especially when perhaps a large number of these may have sexually misconducted in some way, we see the fallout of cover up and protectionism, silence and the silencing of others, blackmail and inaction, and overall excusing that follows. As the Weinsteins, Afflecks, and Spaceys of Hollywood have shown, this occurs in all institutions and human groups, left or right (both ‘alt’ and ‘normal’), straight or LBGTIQ, feminist or patriarchal. It happens in all religious groups as well as all powerful social institutions such as government, academic, military, financial, legal, the media/news, and medical/therapeutic.
I am often asked why my focus is only on the Catholic Church. Well, it is because this is where my roots are and I believe that the Catholic Church needs to fix its own conservative clericalist and liberal secularist backyards first. I am also doing this simply because hardly anyone else seems to be and clergy sexual misconduct is continuing, and people are suffering as a result. Anyway, most of what is discussed here can and should apply to any social group.
If you want me to elaborate, think I am wrong about what I’ve written above, or indeed, if you agree, or a bit of both, please make a comment in the Home-Comment page.
One more thing which I feel I need to say…Just know also, I in no way see myself as some saint or as someone having all the answers, as sometimes people want to think I am because of what I am doing or saying, especially because I belong to a marginalised or ‘victim’ group.
Anyway, having said all this, join with me if you want, to do what we can to make the lives of victims/survivors of clergy sexual misconduct against adults better, and, if you want, the life of the Church and its clergy along with it. Remember….The best weapon against sexual abuse is to talk about it.