Some stories allege that the priests used their position of unquestionable authority to impose on their victims. So apparently it was a case of “God told me that you have to do this”. I was raised Catholic back in the 1960s, so I can understand the power of such an action on young and impressionable kids. Taking advantage of heavily indoctrinated children in this fashion is, in my opinion, beyond obscene.
For the record, I didn’t know of any cases remotely like this. The priests I knew were forthright and honest, and I think that all of the priesthood is going to get a black eye from this that they don’t deserve. But the relatively few priests who did this deserve punishment. And the superiors who allowed them to continue by whitewashing their offenses and transferring them to new parishes with a clean bill of health do, too. The Catholic Church has closed ranks over this and have accused American media odf whipping up a sex frenzy, but it’s all spin. If the directors of a company had acted in this way in any country, they’d be taken to court, and I think the Church would be outraged at their actions as well.