Faisal Rashid

Publication Date



During the early 1980’s and 1990’s, clerical child sexual abuse (cCSA) in the Roman Catholic Church (RCC) gained public attention, escalating into a major scandal by the beginning of the 21st century. The Vatican’s response and ignorance expressed globally created the impression that the RCC had encountered the problem of cCSA for the first time, only recently; in the 20th century. The ecclesiastical authorities sought to justify their strategies of non-reporting of abuse to secular authorities, silencing victims, and transferring abusing priests to other locations, as a result of being surprised and confused by a phenomenon, they had been unaware of. The ‘Nolan Report’ commented that the RCC’s ignorance of pedophilia compounded by a desire to save the reputation of the Church, and a Christian instinct to forgive, led to failures to recognize the extent of abuse, scrutinize candidates for priesthood, and appropriately convey suspicion or proof of alleged misconduct.

This paper examines the organizational laws and management policies developed by the RCC in the 20th century to address reported cCSA and highlights the perception of ignorance of the ecclesiastical authorities regarding pedophilia and deviant sexual behaviors amongst clerics as incredulous, in light of historical evidence. Such evidence includes knowledge, awareness, and development of organizational laws and internal institutional management strategies at the highest level of ecclesiastical governance, a continuously developed culture of secrecy, and an organized effort to avoid intervention of secular authorities.