Buffalo is bad, but not unique; SNAP breaks it down
According to an analysis by The Buffalo News, Child Victims Act lawsuits accused 230 local Catholic clergy of sexually abusing vulnerable and unsuspecting children over the past 75 years. The complaints covered nearly every parish in the Diocese. Since 1950, more than 2,300 priests have been assigned to the Buffalo Diocese. By our accounting, that indicates that about 10% of the ordained in the Diocese were abusive. That is nearly double what the Catholic Church acknowledged in 2004.
Any child sexual abuse in any institution is bad. However, it seems to us that the Diocese of Buffalo clearly was following the Catholic Church's "playbook" for concealing these crimes: transferring known perpetrators, minimizing the allegations, and more likely than not, silencing brave victims who came forward. Bishop Richard Malone initially named 42 priests who were removed from ministry after "allegations of sexual abuse of a minor." He added 36 more with "substantiated claims" 8 months later, following a firestorm of inquiry from advocacy groups like ours and the media.
We see the Buffalo numbers not as mere statistics but as indicators, mathematical trends. For example, St. John's Seminary in Los Angeles, had about 625 graduates from 1950 to 2005. Of those, 65 are accused of molesting children, slightly more than 10%. This common statistic seems to be playing out in dioceses across the country. The numbers coming out of the NY and CA windows continue to show that the real rate of child sexual abuse is double what the Catholic Church admitted to in 2004.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)