I am by no means an expert on the Catholic Church, or Protestant ones.  But what I know about the latter makes me curious about the sex scandals at the former.  In the media, they're generally written about as a product of one of two factors: priestly celibacy and the authority structure of the church.


But as I understand it, Protestant churches also have these problems.  And the problems get hushed up just the way they did in the Catholic Church -- or at any rate, as effectively.  The difference is that rather than a central authority moving them around, the same effect is achieved in a thoroughly decentralized, emergent, spontaneous-order kind of way.  A pastor (frequently a youth pastor) is accused of something terrible by one of his young charges.  The congregation has no appetite for a scandal, which would expose parents and child to terrible public airing of their grievances.  And anyway, these sorts of things are difficult to prove, particularly since predators often pick on troubled children.  So the thing is hushed up, and the pastor is told to resign.  He does . . . and gets a job at another church.  After all, telling the other congregation why the pastor left could expose you to a lawsuit.

It's the clerical version of the "dance of the lemons" that is well-chronicled in urban school districts, where principals write good recommendations for bad teachers rather than go to the trouble of trying to get them fired.

It seems at least possible that the real reason the Catholic Church scandals are so bad is that the Catholic Church is one central institution that you can complain about.  Thousands of Lutheran, Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, etc churches across the country could have the same number of constituents, and the same number of abusers, but it wouldn't register as a central problem.

Just to be clear, I'm not saying that this is true -- I've been looking, but found no decent statistics on general clerical child predation.  I just wonder if it isn't possible.  Is there really something pathological about the Catholic church?  Or are pedophiles attracted to professions where they have access to children?

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