Over the past twenty years, the scandal of clergy sexual abuse has played out in the public imagination through award-winning journalism and film. Much of the attention has been focused on the Catholic Church, with a particular eye on priests and child sexual abuse. With limited success, scholars and leaders have attempted to provide an answer to the inevitable questions of cause, blaming everything from mandatory celibacy to mandatory reporting.
Despite this broader attention, the truth is that clergy sexual misconduct is not a “Catholic problem”—it is a human problem and one that is as real and complex in every faith tradition as it is appalling. Transcending race, class, gender, denomination, and geography, clergy sexual misconduct occurs in ministries big and small, old and new, innovative and routine. Further complicating these variables, youth ministry adds an additional layer of nuance, as teenagers themselves are growing and transforming into full sexual maturity. In this issue of Engage, scholars, survivors, and ministers wrestle with these human problems.