Denver, Colo., Sep 23, 2019 / 16:30 pm
A new study has found that six percent of U.S. seminarians have experienced some form of sexual harassment, abuse or misconduct; another four percent said they might have experienced misconduct but were not sure; while 89% report none.
The survey comes amid heightened scrutiny of seminary culture in the wake of revelations of grooming behavior and years of sexual harassment by high-profile Church figures such as former cardinal Theodore McCarrick and Bishop Michael Bransfield.
Of those surveyed, 84% of seminarians believe their administration and faculty take reports of such misconduct very seriously, according to the announcement accompanying the report.
The University of Notre Dame’s McGrath Institute for Church Life and the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University collaborated to produce the study, which the researchers presented at the 2019 Religion News Association conference last weekend.
Respondents were enrolled at 72 seminaries and houses of formation across the U.S. The study included responses from about two-thirds of the 2,375 seminarians invited to participate.
Sixty-eight percent of respondents are studying to serve as diocesan priests and 28% studying to serve as religious priests or brothers, according to the study. Just two percent of those surveyed live off-site.
Of those who said they have or may have experienced sexual harassment, 80% pointed to a fellow seminary student or religious in formation as the alleged perpetrator.
Three in four seminarians reported that sexual harassment, abuse, or misconduct are “not at all a problem” at their current seminary or house of formation. Nearly nine in ten said there is none or little talk or rumors of sexual promiscuity at their seminary.
Fifty-nine percent said they are “very aware” of the policies and procedures of their seminary or house of formation concerning sexual harassment, abuse, and misconduct, with 29% saying they are “somewhat aware.”