Honors Program


Date of this Version

Spring 2021

Document Type



Sckerl, M. R. (2021). Psychosocial development during childhood, adolescence, and seminary of Catholic clergy removed from ministry for committing acts of sexual malfeasance. Undergraduate Honors Thesis. University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


Copyright Mallorie Sckerl 2021.


Sexual abuse by Catholic priests is a horrific, ongoing problem that has harmed many victims, families, clergy, and more. Yet no definitive causes or solutions have yet been discovered. The purpose of this study is to identify any patterns that may indicate a likelihood to commit malfeasance during the childhood, adolescence, and seminary experiences of Catholic clergy offenders. Researchers conducted and analyzed over 100 hours of life-history interviews with Catholic clergy who have been removed from ministry for committing acts of sexual malfeasance in order to learn more about their upbringing and whether any patterns in that time may have contributed to their likelihood to offend. Preliminary findings show that participants were first exposed to beliefs and attitudes toward sex through social learning by friends or family members and that this exposure typically happened before participants were exposed to formal Church doctrine surrounding sex and sexuality. Implications of these findings and potential next steps are also discussed.