If you are interested in the some facts about sexual abuse by Catholic Priests you might want to read this article in Psychology Today published March 24, 2010 entitled, "Six important points you don't hear about regarding clergy sexual abuse in the Catholic church."
The first point is:
According to the best available data (which is pretty good mostly coming from a comprehensive report by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in 2004 as well as several other studies), 4% of Catholic priests in the USA sexually victimized minors during the past half century. No evidence has been published at this time that states that this number is higher than clergy from other religious traditions. The 4% figure is lower than school teachers (at 5%) during the same time frame and perhaps as much as half of the numbers of the general population of men. Research states that 17% of American women and 12% of American men were sexually violated when they were children by an adult. Sexual victimization is tragically fairly common in the general population but luckily these numbers have been dropping in recent years.
Are Catholic Priests held to a higher standard than other males in authority positions over children in the United States?
Is this fair?
Yes, because they choose to set themselves and above the people they serve claiming to be Jesus' reprentative on earth and endowed with special powers from God. Exploiting people naieve enough to believe this nonsense leaves a thoughtful person to wonder about how religious belief leads people to behave in dysfunctional and perverted ways. But, of course, the same things happen in schools, in health care settings, and among criminals justice personnel from correction officers to patrol officers on the beat.
The thing that is scandalizing and highlights the hypocrisy is not the crime itself but the cover-up by the hierarchy and other segments of our society to justify their secrecy as protecting the victims and their families and neighbors from scandal.
Is this secrecy justified?
To protect the church and the perpetrators, of course.
To protect the faithful from a loss of religious innocence? Absolutely not!
The problem with the Roman Catholic church is not that it harbors a few bad apples among its professional ranks who exploit those they profess to serve, but because the governance of the church is corrupt up to and including the pope if we can believe the latest news reports.
Does the same thing go on in other religious denominations?
Yes of course, all the time, but those religions don't pose quite so arrogantly and many, independent churches, are not accountable to any hierarchy at all. They claim to answer only to God. The god of Jim and Tammy Faye Baker, Jimmy Swaggart, Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, Ted Haggard, George Rekers, and the beat goes on.
Only the Unitarian Universalists claim to believe in the right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within its congregations in in society at large. This is a messy and often less than satisfying process, but at least UUs pay lip service to it which is more than most religions who claim some sort of divine right to govern in the name of their god.