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Secrecy and Celibacy: The Catholic Church and Sexual Abuse


Over the last two decades, the Catholic Church has been buffeted by a series of sexual abuse scandals. High-profile investigative reports have uncovered cases of sexual abuse of minors, both boys and girls, as well as nuns and adult women, by Catholic priests, bishops, and members of religious orders. But while clerical abuse has only recently become a news item, it has a much longer history.

This month, your History Talk podcast hosts Lauren Henry and Eric Michael Rhodes speak with two experts on the Church — Professors Wietse de Boer and Alexander Stille What makes the Catholic Church such a rife environment for sexual abuse? How do these scandals reflect the history of the Church? How has the Church responded to this problem, and how might the scandal shape its future? In this episode, we’ll seek to answer these questions and more in an exploration of the historical context and contemporary ramifications of the sexual abuse scandal within the Catholic Church.

red stenciled images on a grey cement wall of a priest chasing two children

To learn more about the history of the Catholic Church and clerical abuse, read this month's feature, The Catholic Church and Sexual Abuse, Then and Now by Dr. Wietse de Boer. Interested in more coverage of the Church? Be sure to check out The People's Pope and the Changing Face of Catholicism and Two Popes and a Primate: The Changing Face of Global Christianity.

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Posted February 2019

[A transcript of this podcast is available here.]