S+L logo

“Peak of the crisis has passed,” says report to US Bishops on clergy sex abuse

May 18, 2011
A major study has been released today examining the causes and context of clergy sexual abuse in the United States.
The study, begun in 2006, was conducted by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice of the City University of New York and initiated by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. USCCB president Archbishop Timoty Dolan has pointed out it is a report to the bishops, not from the bishops.
The report, entitled The Causes and Context of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests in the United States, 1950-2010, found that "no single psychological, developmental or behavioral characteristic differentiated priests who abused minors from those who did not."
It dismissed priestly celibacy, the male priesthood, and homosexuality as causes of the abuse crisis. As well, it noted that less than five percent of priests who have been accused of abuse actually display the behavioural criteria of pedophilia.
The study says the highest number of incidents were between the mid-1960s and the mid-1980s. It suggests that this may be the result of poor formation colliding with changing societal norms. The report applauded today's increased emphasis on human formation in seminaries, noting it was a term taken from Pope John Paul II's 1992 Apostolic Exhortation Pastores Dabo Vobis.
The report says the  “peak of the crisis has passed,” and abuse cases "continue to remain low". It says "the church has now begun a system of change," but warns:
... organizational changes take years, and often decades, to fully implement. To fully achieve change in the Catholic Church, all diocesan leaders must be committed to transparency about their actions, ensure that the immediate and appropriate responses to abuse become routine, and ensure that such actions are adopted on a national level by all church leaders.
In their summary, the researchers acknowledge that "no other institution has undertaken a public study of sexual abuse" and see the abuse problem as something that is "a serious and pervasive issue in society" as a whole:
It is present in families, and it is not uncommon in institutions where adults form mentoring and nurturing relationships with adolescents, including schools and religious, sports, and social organizations. This study provides a framework for understanding not only the sexual abuse of minors by Catholic priests, but sexual victimization of children in any institution.
For more information:
-
CNS photo/Bob Roller
Related posts
SLHour: Superheroes, Gaudete et Exsultate and other conversations
FacebookTwitter
This week, on a special edition of the SLHour, we speak with Jim Papandrea about superheroes, science fiction and Christ and we learn all about Pope Francis’ latest exhortation, Gaudete et Exsultate ...read more
Feast of St. Philip Neri, Priest
FacebookTwitter
A brief overview of who St. Philip Neri was, and what he accomplished as a Priest to commemorate his feast day - May 26th. ...read more
Read more about Amoris, a new 6-part series leading up to the World Meeting of Families (WMOF) this August airing on Salt+Light every Sunday from May 27th to July 1st at 8 PM.  ...read more
Welcome to S+L’s Weekly News Round-Up. As part of my job, I come across many interesting Catholic news stories on a daily basis. Some of them I'll cover on Perspectives Daily and the others I’d li ...read more
The spiritual bond between two Francises: <br> Pope Francis and Padre Pio
FacebookTwitter
In honour of the birthday of Padre Pio, we present you with this article written by Dr. Ines Angeli Murzaku on the occasion of the pilgrimage of his major relic to Boston in 2016.  ...read more