Not Just a Catholic Problem

By Felling, Matthew | The World and I, December 2002 | Go to article overview

Not Just a Catholic Problem


Felling, Matthew, The World and I


An annual national survey shows that Protestant congregations are at least as affected by child sex abuse as Roman Catholic ones--a fact that went virtually unnoticed in the maelstrom of media attention to last spring's pedophile-priest scandal.

The survey, conducted by Christian Ministry Resources (CMR), a Matthews, North Carolina--based group that provides churches with guidance on tax, legal, personnel, and insurance issues, canvasses a "representative" (though not scientifically random) sample comprising some 1,000 churches across the country every year. Since 1993, one of CMR's questions has asked if a church has been the target of pedophilia allegations during the previous year.

The survey revealed that, on average, some 70 such accusations of child sex abuse are lodged against churches per week. This works out to about 1 percent per year of the approximately 350,000 Christian houses of worship nationwide, only 19,500 (or 6 percent) of which are Roman Catholic.

"Basically, all the allegations except two or three [per week] were from Protestant churches," said James Cobble, CMR's executive director and overseer of the survey, in an interview with The World & I. "Catholic churches make up only about 2 to 3 percent of our subscription base."

Cobble told the Christian Science Monitor last April that the results show that pedophilia is a problem for all Christian faiths. …

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