Hiding behind the cloth: Child sexual abuse and the catholic church

Kathryn A. Dale, Judith L. Alpert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The existence of child sexual abuse within the Catholic Church has shockedmany. In this article, the authors reviewthe history of child sexual abuse in the church, the recent events that brought this tragedy into societal consciousness, and the efforts by the church to conceal the abuse. Two sources of empirical literature, the general psychological writing on priest sex abuse and the psychoanalytic literature, on child sexual abuse are compared. Both sources of literature seek explanation for priests' child sexual abuse within the structure and culture of the church rather than viewing the priest as a "typical" sex predator. The authors argue that, in fact, the guilty priests are child predators who differ little from other child predators.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)59-74
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Child Sexual Abuse
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 16 2007


  • Catholic Church
  • Child sexual abuse
  • Clergy
  • Priests
  • Sexual abuse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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