2 Million Canadians Know Someone Abused by Priests: Poll

by John McKiggan

Millions of Canadians know someone who has been sexually abused by a priest according to an Ipsos Reid survey released today.

2 Million Canadians Know Abuse Victims

According to study conducted for Canwest News Service, at least 2 million Canadians claim to know someone who has been sexually abused by a Catholic priest. This is an extraordinary, and disturbing, finding. Sexual abuse is a crime of secrecy. Many survivors, perhaps the majority, never tell anyone about the abuse they have suffered. If there are 2 million Canadians who claim to personally know a survivor of priest sexual abuse, then one has to be concerned that the actual number of victims is much higher.

Some of the other findings of the survey:

6 % of Canadians (8 % of Roman Catholics), personally know of a Catholic priest in their parish or neighbourhood who has been criminally charged with sexual assault;

58 % (54 % of Catholics) believe Pope Benedict has “perpetuated a climate of silence and cover up around pedophile priests.”

On the other hand, only 29 % (37 % of Catholics), feel the Pope is being treated unfairly;

69 % (80 % of Catholics), believe the proportion of pedophile priests among the Catholic clergy is minor, and that only a small number are harming the Church’s reputation;

64 % (55 % of Catholics), are not satisfied with the Church’s efforts to root out predatory pedophiles among its priests;

55 % (57 % of Catholics), said they are satisfied with the way police and the justice system are investigating allegations of abuse against Catholic clergy.

Cover Up?

I think this survey points out a serious problem facing the Catholic church. It is apparent in many of the reported decisions of priest abuse across Canada (and in other parts of the world) that persons in authority in the Catholic church covered up allegations of priest sexual abuse, rather than report them to the appropriate authorities.

Even if this secrecy was not part of an orchestrated cover up by the world wide Catholic church and the Vatican (I will leave it to you to decide that issue), the fact remains that the majority of Canadians(and Catholics) believe this to be the case!

Lack of Trust

The success of any religion depends on the trust, and faith, that it’s members have in the institution. If the majority of Catholics do not trust the Pope Benedict, what does that mean for the future of the institution? Will loss of trust mean loss of faith?

What do you think?

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