Title: A.W.Richard Sipe letter to Bishop McElroy
I received your note postmarked July 19.It was clear to me during our last meeting in your office, although cordial, that you had no interest in any further personal contact. It was only after that I sent you a letter copied to my contacts in DC and Rome.
Institutional resistance is understandable, if surprising to me. So much of my work has been validated and in many quarters now taken for granted.
The number of priests and bishops having sex with minors was not the primary or central focus of the study. But my calculation of 6% (six percent) clergy abusers as a base line has held up very well. [ the most recent validation is between 6 1⁄2 and 9% in the U.S. Some dioceses have registered 23%. Some religious houses have recorded 25%.]
Sexual violation within the RC clergy is systemic. I say that on the basis of observation and scientific conclusion. And I say that with empathy and concern.
Now that aspect of the sexual crisis is well known around the world. The crisis behind the scandal will be the next phase of reality with which to come to terms: Namely: the broad range and frequency of sexual behaviors registered in the clerical system. “At any one time no more than 50% of priests are practicing celibacy.”
That was the hypothesis and thrust of A Secret World (1990) and repeated in Celibacy in Crisis (2003)
In May 1993 at the Vatican International Conference on Celibacy in Rome Cardinal Jose Sanchez then Chairman of the Dicastery on Clergy fielded questions about my study and conclusions and a similar sociological statistical report by Fr. Victor Kotze of South Africa. Father Kotze concluded that in any three-year period only 45% of priests were practicing celibacy.
When asked directly by reporter Mark Dowd, and a reporter recording for the BBC TV what the Cardinal thought of those studies he said, “I have no reason to doubt the accuracy of those figures”.