Although it often is a difficult issue for many people to contemplate or reconcile with, the incidence of pedophilia in the Roman Catholic Church is a very real phenomenon that is only recently being addressed with force. While it is fair to suggest that many vocations have their share of pedophile members, the fact that members of society who are afforded the greatest respect and trust are vulnerable to committing such an offense is difficult for many in society to reconcile with.
The concept of pedophilia among Roman Catholic priests received public recognition in the 1980s when the National Catholic Reporter broke the scandal of a priest who was removed to another diocese by a bishop who knew about his sexual interest and obsession with children, where he eventually abused more children and was ultimately reported. Although Roman Catholic officials have called the incidence of pedophilia among priests reprehensible and have promised to address the situation, it is has continued to occur well into the twenty-first century.
Although the Vatican responded to the incidence of pedophilia among Roman Catholic priests in 2002, many observers maintain that the guidelines for dealing with the phenomenon were insufficient. The response included a reemphasis of the basic principles held by the Church on child sexual abuse, which included their consideration as “a crime by society and as an appalling sin in the eyes of God”. At the same time however, the Vatican’s response included the contention that almost all cases of sexual offense by Roman Catholic priests examined involved adolescents and therefore did not constitute cases of true pedophilia . The Vatican’s response speaks to the confusion, denial and ambiguity that is regularly associated with pedophilia.