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Faculty Mentor

James Vela-McConnell, Ph.D.


Since the scandal first broke in 2002, there has been a focus on the Catholic Church and the worldwide pattern of sexual abuse of children by priests. For decades, the sexual abuse committed by priests and the subsequent coverup of this behavior by Church leaders was kept a secret from society and even laypersons within the Church. Though we have known about the scandal for years now, there is still more to learn about how the abuse was kept a secret for so long. The Grand Jury Report that was released in 2018 by the state of Pennsylvania provides a unique opportunity for an in-depth analysis of both the extent of the sexual abuse within the eight dioceses of that state as well as the subsequent cover-up of this abuse. The report contains profiles of various pedophile priests, letters from high-ranking leaders of the Church about the abuse and their responses to the accusations made against the Church. This study focuses on an analysis of the methods used by the Church to avoid stigmatization and being discredited as a moral authority in society. This focus will also provide supporting evidence that the sexually abusive behavior by priests represent an institutional problem within the Church and not simply an individual problem.

Publication Date



catholic church, pennsylvania, sex abuse, child abuse, scandal


Sociology of Religion | Work, Economy and Organizations

Organizational Secrecy, Structural Resources, & Stigma: The Catholic Church Sex Abuse Scandal in Pennsylvania