Children of priests: ‘an invisible legion of secrecy and neglect’

(NCR Online) No one knows the number of sons and daughters of Catholic priests in the United States or in the world, but what is known is that hundreds — perhaps thousands — of these offspring have lived in secret, hiding their fathers’ past from the world, frequently even from family members.

Still other children of clergy dads have grown up not knowing who their real father was, often mistaking him for an uncle, godfather or some other male friend or relative whom they have known from their youth. In many instances, the children of Catholic priests have failed to have their emotional, legal and financial needs met.

When they have discovered who their real father is — often later in life — some of these daughters and sons have undergone spiritual disillusionment, unable to separate themselves from the faith they love and have been raised in, and the man who did not, or could not, come forward and be a genuine dad to them. Some have experienced psychological trauma from having to carry a secret — a lie — for life.

These are among disclosures presented in a two-part series on the progeny of priests published by The Boston Globe’s Spotlight team Aug. 19 and 20 and written by Pulitzer-Prize-winning journalist Michael Rezendes. In interviews over many months, the investigative news team found that children of Catholic priests “form an invisible legion of secrecy and neglect.” [More]


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