Andrew Greeley

Keeping the collar through the crisis

NEW YORK - Lately, being a Catholic has grown increasingly difficult. So has being a priest.

The recent release of the long-awaited report on sexual abuse in the Catholic Church made for especially grim reading. The first independent investigation of abuse in the American church, supervised by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, concluded that 4 percent of U.S. priests - that is, 4,392 clergy members - were accused of abuse between 1950 and 2002. In the ordination class of 1970, one of every 10 priests faced at least one accusation.

While the data represent only those accused (the number of substantiated claims is lower) and are difficult to compare with other...