"The The New York Times" says the report dismisses the theories that homosexuality or the all-male, celibate priesthood had anything to do with the problem.
Instead, the study blames the social turmoil of the 1960s and '70s, when the sex abuse cases spiked.
It also blames poor training and monitoring of the clergy at that time.
The report notes that there were no clear criteria church leaders could have used to weed out potential abusers until after the abuse had happened.
The five-year study was conducted by researchers at New York's John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
It comes two days after the Vatican sent a letter urging bishops all over the world to stop Roman Catholic clergy from sexually abusing children and cooperate with law enforcement in suspected cases of abuse.