To answer this question properly, we need to define what the clerical sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic Church is. I see two primary layers: (1) that clerics sexually abused children and minors, and (2) bishops covered-up this abuse, protecting priests from legal consequences, and frequently enabling them to continue abusing.
It is my argument that only the second layer is determinitive to understanding the sexual abuse as a scandal in the typical (versus canonical) sense of the word.
Catholic priests don't (or didn't during the major period of most frequent abuse from 1960–1990) sexually abuse children and minors at a statistically significantly higher rate than clergy of other religious groups, or than members of other professions that have significant contact with children and minors like teachers and coaches (see here and here). This has been clear since the release of the John Jay Report.
While it is a scandal in the moral/canonical sense whenever anyone given trust and authority, and all the moreso a priest who's put in a place of spiritual trust and represents the Church, to abuse a child, I believe it's a scandal on quite a different order than what we're dealing with today. Imagine an alternate history in which bishops through the whole 20th century when they found out about abuse, immediately separated the priest from any contact with children and minors, began a canonical investigation, and made a report of the alleged abuse to the police. In this case I personally can't imagine there being a perception of a scandal, or even a perception of abuse being more of an issue in the Catholic Church than in other religious groups or parts of society. One would hope that there would never be a priest or anyone who would harm a child or minor in this way, or that the Church would be 100% successful at preventing people who might do so from entering the priesthood, but that's simply not the world we live in.
That's the condensed version of why I think that when we think about the root causes of the clerical sexual abuse crisis, we need to think of the root cause of why bishops cover-up and enable abuse. That's a topic that's perhaps beyond my pay grade, or beyond the pay grade of any one person, but the most meaningful answer I've found to date is clericalism. In his address to the Synod Fathers at the 2018 Synod on Young People, Pope Francis has said clericalism arises
from an elitist and exclusivist vision of vocation, that interprets
the ministry received as a power to be exercised rather than as a free
and generous service to be given. This leads us to believe that we
belong to a group that has all the answers and no longer needs to
listen or learn anything. Clericalism is a perversion and is the root
of many evils in the Church: we must humbly ask forgiveness for this
and above all create the conditions so that it is not repeated.
How does this manifest in the context of cover-up and abuse? It's a situation where bishops are looking out first of all for the power and interests of the clerical class above and beyond anything else, where bishops fight accountability to the Church, and support and maintain a culture of secrecy that makes cover-up possible. The podcasts Deliver Us from America Magazine and Crisis from the Catholic Project share a variety of examples (not limited to but including):
Bishops having a paternal and protective feeling toward priests instead toward laity, minors, and children. When priests abuse, bishops in some cases are inclined to show mercy to the priest, sending him to treatment, but then back into the context of ministry around children and minors. This is a sign of clericalism because the feeling of paternalism (in the positive sense) and protection is extended much more strongly to priests than to lay people.
Fear of scandal and losing credibility and moral authority in the church (man, how that backfired). In many cases bishops were more concerned about public scandal that could diminish their power and authority as well as the standing of the church than the safety and well-being of children and minors (not to mention the moral well-being of priests who needed to be prevented from committing more atrocities).
There also has to be some degree of not taking the abuse sufficiently seriously. This is not always stated outright because it's hard to find evidence for, but in a variety of examples, no other explanation can be fully explanatory. The abuse of children and minors should be taken so seriously that it outweighs any other concern automatically. Bishops failure to do this could come from different places, but part of it could come from the most insipid form of clericalism, where there's an implicit, even unconscious feeling that lay people are simply a lower class of person are not not as important as priests.
Even given all these things, it would be hard for this spirit of secrecy/privilege to be maintained if bishops were accountable to the Church. The absence of that accountability, the almost authoritarian control of bishops within their dioceses, is also a sign of clericalism.
This is just a sketch and a few points, but I hope it's successful in bringing a picture together. The life of the Church and structures like clericalism are incredibly complex, so it's hard to successfully navigate a question as big as this with brevity and clarity. However, having clarity about what the crisis is in the abuse crisis, and it's fundamental root in clericalism, I think is a necessary starting point.