• Athena Ives

Evil Hides in the Open

Evil Hides in the Open

Pedophile Clergymen

In 1916, Bertrand Ressell, A British philosopher stated that “There is a convention that clergymen are more virtuous than other men. Any average selection of mankind, set apart and told that it excels the rest in virtue, must tend to sink below the average" (Villani, 2018).

It is well known that the Catholic Church has been under scrutiny for their numerous cases of pedophile priests and covering up these crimes. The purpose of this article is not to discredit the good qualities of religion or the amazing work that the church has done. It is to bring an awareness to where evil people seek to hide. Philosopher/theologian Martin Buber, in Good and Evil, made this insight: "Since the primary motive of the evil is disguise, one of the places evil people are most likely to be found is within the church. What better way to conceal one's evil from oneself, as well as from others, than to be a deacon or some other highly visible form of Christian within our culture? I do not mean to imply that the evil are anything other than a small minority among the religious or that the religious motives of most people are in any way spurious. I mean only that evil people tend to gravitate toward piety for the disguise and concealment it can offer them” (Buber, 1953).

It doesn’t take a criminologist to understand why child predators and pedophiles choose careers that will assist with hiding their intentions and or provide them with an atmosphere that enables their grooming. The church provides a position that exposes one to children in a “trusted” environment. It also allows a certain form of anonymity through hiding behind the cloak of the church. Something that needs more research is how the church and Christianity assists with molding pedophiles. Disturbingly, researchers have found that a typical child rapist is a “good Christian” that is active in their church. A technique abusers use is guilting the child into not reporting using Christian beliefs. Such as, women and children must be submissive, respecting their elders, original sin, absolution of sin through confession, and religious superiority due to their age or profession.

Many religious leaders preach against the very acts that they are committing as a form of absolution as well as masking their own depravity. Take Jimmy Swaggart for example. The more he demonized pornography and prostitution, the more he struggled with his own impulses, addiction to porn, and sexual indiscretions. Swaggart confessed to discovering porn at an early age which continued into adulthood. Many experts have found that cultures, such as the church, that repress sexual desires, often cultivate sexually depraved individuals.

A study conducted at Berkeley by Reverend Ronald Barton and Reverent Karen Lebazq (1990) found that a quarter of all clergy have been guilty of sexual misconduct. There is a serious misconception to as what pedophiles look like. Many believe they are low-class, only target children they don’t know well, easy to spot, creepy men that drive vans… The disturbing truth is that pedophiles are in respectable professions, are law-abiding neighbors you would never suspect. They are respected in their communities and often avoid being exposed because they are likeable and above suspicion. They are able to rape numerous children because they have mastered their skills of manipulation and disguise.

The clergy pedophiles add hell and God’s wrath to their arsenal of tools to escape prosecution. Dr. Dene Abel conducted one of the largest research projects on pedophiles and stated that "Molesters often become youth ministers, day-care workers, Boy Scout leaders, teachers, Big Brothers and pediatricians" (Dr. Abel and Nora Harlow, "The Child Abuser," Redbook Magazine, August 1987). They add, "He is often an active Christian who is involved in his church" (Abel, Jordan, Harlow, & Hsu, 2018). The research found that 403 male pedophiles molested over 67,000 children. Men that targeted boys averaged 282 victims and men that targeted girls averaged 23 victims. The Church Mutual Insurance Company, of Merrill, Wisconsin, which insures 46,000 churches, has seen about 200 claims against ministers for sexual abuse of children in the late eighties. The company estimated that in 1990 there were as many as 2,000 cases of sexual abuse by clergy in the courts. Minnesota attorney Jeffrey Anderson reported over 300 civil claims against Catholic priests in 43 States in 1991. There have been over 100 civil settlements from 1984-1990 where the Catholic Church paid $300 million! There are an estimated 3,000 Roman Catholic pedophile priests. This is an average of 16 per diocese (Abel, Jordan, Harlow, & Hsu, 2018).

Richard Sipe, psychotherapist, former priest and author of A Secret World states "Estimated chances that a Catholic priest in the United States is sexually active: 1 in 2" (Sipe, 2013). Sipe studied 1,000 priests and 500 of their "lovers" or victims. He offered this breakdown: 20% of priests are involved in sexual relationships with women; 8-10% in "heterosexual exploration," 20% are homosexual with half of them active, 6% are pedophiles, almost 4% of them targeting boys. However, Sipes observed "the homosexual contacts are four times more likely to come to the attention of parents or authorities, especially if the sexual involvement stops short of intercourse in heterosexual cases (Sipe, 2013).


Abel, G. G., Jordan, A., Harlow, N., & Hsu, Y. S. (2018). Preventing child sexual abuse: screening for hidden child molesters seeking jobs in organizations that care for children. Sexual Abuse, 1079063218793634.

Buber, M. (1953). Good and evil, two interpretations: I. right and wrong. Scribner.

Sipe, A. R. (2013). A secret world: Sexuality and the search for celibacy. Routledge.

Villani, S. (2018). Unintentional Dissent. The Roman Inquisition: Centre versus Peripheries, 373.