USCCB meeting – powerful presentation on priests/abuse

Autopsies are ghastly, but useful.

A riveting report is being delivered by an expert from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

Armed with statistics, she hammered seminary formation in the 60’s and 70’s.  An increase in the number of homosexuals entering seminary in 70’s lead to an increase in abusers.

She is also talking about the seminary formation at the time many of the abusers were formed, 40’s and 50’s.

She also describes the key findings of their studies.   The abuse peaked in about 1985.  Social forces were important factors in the increase in abuse by priests. 

In the Q&A the experts found that this is not a problem particular to the Church but was present in other institutions and society.

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59 Responses to USCCB meeting – powerful presentation on priests/abuse

  1. Tina in Ashburn says:

    Not surprising to learn how seminary formation in the Faith is way over-estimated, as well as the bad influences way under-estimated.

    There is too little documentation on every aspect of the Church and what was done to clergy, religious, and laity since the 40’s.

    Bring on the light!!

    Will we be able to read this report?

  2. stgemma_0411 says:

    Tina – The last John Jay Study was made public. So I do not see why the final report, to be made available next year, would not be as well.

    I’m not sure what you mean about seminary formation in the Faith being over-estimated. If you could clarify. I spent 5 years in the seminary, during the heart of the abuse scandal coming to light, and so I might be able to offer you some insight as to what was and what wasn’t overemphasized/under-emphasized.

  3. Agnes says:

    I’m not surprised by the influence of the 60’s and 70’s on seminary formation. I am curious, however, to hear about the influence of the 40’s and 50’s. What was the problem then?

  4. iudicame says:

    sex abuse presentation
    they are saying priests back in the day didnt knowwwwwww they were homosexual so therefore no connection can be made between sexual ID and sexual abuse. OK
    m

  5. stgemma_0411 says:

    Agnes- My understanding of the 40’s and 50’s was the “cloister-like”/dormitory environment that added to stresses/anxieties that would exacerbate those who might be under-developed in emotional and psychological well-being.

  6. Andy F. says:

    But Father! But Father! It appeared to me that when Bishop D’Arcy asked the question of possible correlation of homosexual orientation with those who abuse, the presenters of the data indicated that as of now, no relationship exists. Did I get this right?

  7. DisturbedMary says:

    Agnes, I too wonder what the problem was in the 40’s and 50’s. Also I listened to the tightly packed-presentation and found it difficult to process so much information. Interesting how careful the language. Though I could be wrong, I only heard the term “homosexual” used by the questionning bishops not by the presenter.

  8. TNCath says:

    I think the 40’s and 50’s (specifically the post-World War II period) saw the beginning of the unraveling of the seminary system where laxity in spiritual practice began. Also, do not discount the advent of television and its creeping into seminaries, houses of formation, religious orders, and rectories. It was in the 1960s’ and 1970’s where the sexual revolution took over where the laxity left off.

  9. ipadre says:

    For anyone who wants a wake up call, read “Rite of Sodomy”. I’m reading it now. Not for the faint of heart. Just makes it much clearer that if there were not the Church founded by Our Lord, it would have been gone a long, long time ago!

  10. FrCharles says:

    My own experience leads me to agree with TNCath. I used to think that everything changed around and after the time of the council, but the more I hang around older priests and religious, the more I am convinced that a certain worldliness and indulgence was creeping in–at least here in the U.S.–as the seminaries and formation houses filled up after World War II.

  11. I don’t know how there couldn’t be a direct correlation between homosexuality and the abusers. I recall hearing about how so many of the abuser-priests were closeted or even outwardly homosexuals.

    I think it’s clear there is a direct relationship. Not all abusers were homosexuals (some had other psychological conditions or problems), but a great number were of that persuasion.

    Here in Northeast Ohio, a priest was just removed from the ministry this past year after 30 year old allegations surfaced and he apparently admitted they were true. I don’t know for sure that he is a homosexual, but the circumstantial evidence seems strong….he often sang songs and danced during his homilies (show-tunes style). Yes, that is a homosexual sterotype, but I sure don’t know many masculine heterosexual men (including priests) that would do such a thing.

  12. I suspect that the problem in the 40’s and 50’s is supposed to be the same problem that English public schools had. (Remember, they had minor seminaries back then.) Isolate boys, get them hyper-worried about every thought and feeling, put them in a competitive dominance-ridden atmosphere where they can’t admit their worries or work them off with sports or activities, and sometimes their natural wishes for affection and adolescent urges will get turned in the wrong directions. There were probably some weird woman-haters in odd corners, too.

  13. Nathan says:

    TNCath: “I think the 40’s and 50’s (specifically the post-World War II period) saw the beginning of the unraveling of the seminary system where laxity in spiritual practice began.”

    Very interesting observation. The question about the post WWII generation is one that bothers me a lot. How could the group that led the Church in the destruction of the liturgy and the disolution of religious life be the same that came to maturity in the discipline of the Great Depression and WWII? Just about everyone I knew who lived through those times (both in the US and in Europe)exhibited more than my generation (70s and 80s in college)in self-discipline and good judgment on matters of worldly cares, attributed largely to having gone through those difficult times.

    How and why did this generation let moral and spiritual discipline go?

    In Christ,

  14. chironomo says:

    Justin…

    You just made me laugh so hard that I partially “recalled” the excellent chinese food I am eating! You aren’t from SW Florida by any chance, are you? I know of a particular Priest here who does that very thing (song & dance homilies) regularly.

  15. I suspect that another big factor was expectations of the young seminarian. In the old old days, the minor seminary kids would have regarded themselves as actually grown men, since a lot of them probably would have gone to work if they hadn’t gone to minor seminary instead. The major seminary guys probably felt like grad students feel today — at the bottom of the career ladder, but definitely on it. The same was true of nuns that ran novitiate high schools.

    But society changed, and all of a sudden the minor seminarians were just little kids, forced into a job for life that they weren’t ready to choose, when none of their peers would do likewise until after high school or college was over. Major seminarians were in a similarly overwhelmed position. The instructors probably had a hard time dealing with this.

    So when the guys who’d gone through that started to teach at seminaries, they may have been too nice and too unsuspicious, in an attempt to make up for all the kinds of heck they went through.

  16. Dave N. says:

    I’ll also be interested in the final report–especially how the seeds of this debacle were apparently planted by the WWII and post-war generations, which is surprising.

    I don’t think the church has yet done enough to provide for careful screening of potential priests. I think there are still a fair number of homosexuals being admitted to seminary, especially in religious orders–just my observation.s

  17. Sid says:

    Who is making the report, and when will it be published? From what I read here, it’s exactly correct about seminaries in the 80s.

  18. spesalvi23 says:

    A certain freshly ordained Priest wrote an interesting essay in 1958: „Die neuen Heiden und die Kirche“ -> The new pagans and the Church.
    I assume it has been translated into English already! It contains some very good points!!
    From what I understood, he was shocked to find so many cradle Catholics who had lost their faith. I guess being exposed to ‘big-city-Catholicism’ made him become aware of this situation.

    I assume he already felt the influence during and right after his formation/seminary years. Especially in a war ridden country, where is became quite a challenge to believe in a loving God at that particular time in history.

  19. TNCath says:

    Anytime you have a period of prosperity in a culture, you will see religious values wane. The post-war years saw growth in the seminaries, but I also think there was a certain “euphoria of invulnerability” after World War II, which may have given rise to a certain amount of hubris in the culture. This combination may have given Satan the crack in the armor he needed to get his smoke into the Church.

    Another interesting observation are the priests ordained in the 1930’s vs. the priests ordained in the 1950’s. Henry Edwards might be able to help me on this one. The priests in the 1930’s I knew were the last of the old timers who were priests who “did it all.” In addition to being spiritual leaders, they were builders, bankers, accountants, and all-around “supermen” who built their parishes as fortresses for Catholicism in the South. The priests ordained the 1950’s were different. While many were just as virtuous, more of them seemed less well-rounded and more interested in extracurricular pursuits (sports, days off, CYO trips) than their 1930’s counterparts whom we referred to as the “giants.”

  20. kab63 says:

    This month’s (Dec.’s) “First Things” magazine (subscription only right now, online ?next month) has a pertinent article by Mary Eberstadt: “How Pedophilia Lost Its Cool.” Too much info to summarize, but the gist is America’s elites were headed twd accepting man-boy love in the 80s-90s until the priest scandals broke. Everybody (except Hollywood) was shocked back into sense. Pedophilia was an “in” thing for a while, as horrific as that sounds. Strangely, the evil of the priest scandals may have wrought some good by exposing for everyone the pain and wrongness of this.

  21. A Dutch psychiatrist by the name of Conrad Baars (1919-1981) prepared a devastating report for the Holy See in 1971 on the lack of emotional maturity in the priesthood. He predicted an oncoming crisis from within the Catholic priesthood, in the form of manifestations of psycho-sexual immaturity due to inadequate seminary formation. The report was only about seven or eight typewritten pages long. It was ignored.

    More can be found at a website prepared by his daughter, for the preservation of his legacy:

    http://www.conradbaars.com/

  22. “America’s elites were headed twd accepting man-boy love in the 80s-90s until the priest scandals broke.”

    Indeed, among those who approved was the Sexual Education and Information Council of the United States (SEICUS), which had published a position paper endorsing man-boy sexual relations. It was still on their website in the spring of 2002. The former president of SEICUS, Deborah Haffner, was the keynote speaker that year, at the first annual national conference of Voice of the Faithful. The leadership of VOTF was presented with the evidence as published online. They knowingly and willingly ignored this information. There are those who say that VOTF lost sight of its stated mission. This writer is prepared to attest that they never embraced it in the first place.

  23. iudicame says:

    AFTERNOON SESSION BEGINS

    Awful opening prayer song – something for an all-girls middle school

    And now praying they are – slouching in their chairs – I’d kick my kid’s ass if he prayed like that. What an example.

    Its time for strong men.

    m

    [still in strong running for my SECOND “Sour Grapes” award]

  24. Ogard says:

    The data is consistent with the scandal 1968, when more than 400 theologians and their satellites stood up against Humanae Vitae. It all seems to boil down to the false Moral Theology promoted in seminaries, confessionals, press, books, and pulpits.

    To put it in simple terms, the false understanding of Fundamental Option has made it nearly impossible to commit mortal sin. Consequently, Hell has disappeared from dogmatic theology and catechesis, because “we are not supposed to believe that anybody is there” – so, or approximately so, we learned from the former Archbishop of Westminster. And an empty Hell equals – none. If one had happened to be so evil that even the Fundamental Option could not save him, there is an escape called Final Option, according to which everyone has a last opportunity at the moment of death to dispose himself toward good, and that suffices even if he has no will to repent.

    Thus, we no longer have mortal and venial sins, but “mortal, serious, and venial sins”. The former is practically non-existing as explained above, and scrapped from the catechesis; the venial is usual, and the “serious” is more than venial but not deserving Hell. To theologically untrained catechists the matter is camouflaged, by instruction not to frighten children with the word “mortal”.

    And we wonder why confessionals are empty, and queues for Communion endless.

    The consequentionalism or proportionalism are cunning devices, which undermine traditional teaching that one may never choose evil in order to achieve good. It undermines it by moving the goal posts. It is so, because what is traditionally known as moral evil is moved into the category called “premoral evil”. There is no moral evil as such, but only if the “premoral evil” has bad consequences or grater proportion of the latter compared with the good one.

    The authority of the Church to teach as binding any specific moral norm is denied; so, one is entitled to dismiss any such teaching if it doesn’t square with his view which is falsely confused with conscience. The fact that a substantial body of the Church moral teaching has been proposed infallibly by the Ordinary Universal Magisterium is dismissed.

    Some bishops and whole hierarchies are known for their ambiguous statements on conscience. We are told that everyone must follow it, but we are not told that the conscience can be in error, and if the latter happened to be the case (it is in fact always the case if one in his conscience cannot accept the Church’s teaching regardless of whether that teaching is or is not proposed infallibly, but – yet again – we are not told so) one commits an evil act for which he is not necessarily guilty (invincible ignorance), but the act itself is no less evil for that, and has its consequences for his moral growth.

    This expedient way of “promoting” morality by leaving people in invincible ignorance may sometimes be appropriate, but if applied routinely, it de facto introduces a new “beatitude”: “Blessed are the idiots because their is the kingdom of god”. Surely, that is not what Jesus taught the first hierarchy.

    As the life according to the moral norms isn’t easy, one can understand how easy it is for the bishops, priests and seminarians to succumb to temptation to use these false doctrines in order to rationalize their immoral behaviour if they have already fallen; and how difficult it is to those who wish to live a virtuous life to have a courage to continue.

    As the bishops are ultimately responsible for the seminaries, they will have to answer for all this before God. And it includes their responsibility, moral and material, for squandering the resources on this kind of training and subsequent legal consequences.

  25. CarpeNoctem says:

    I was only able to hear about the first 1/2 of what I believe was the full presentation. Pastoral duties interrupted… imagine that!

    Interesting. Very dense, and yes, very carefully parsed.

    My statistical instincts were twitching, though, throughout wondering about the validity of their assertion that there was, as I interpreted it, a bell curve, showing, as I seem to think she was trying to, that the crisis was an isolated spike which could be tracked with other things such as divorce, drug abuse, etc.

    Yes, the report was an autopsy. But I would say #1) that the patient was too far decomposed to make any data before, let’s say the 50’s or 40’s valid. Why? The culture would be very protective and secretive at that point, and a report of an abusive priest would remain sub rosa. Indeed, an upswing on the left side of the bell curve may be consistent with those victims and/or offenders who, for whatever reason, are beyond the ability to be reported (death, etc). Over time there are an increasing number of victims and/or offenders who can make claims, making it appear that the number is going up, when the real number that is going up is merely ‘reports’ going up.

    On the right side of the bell curve, I do suspect that there is a decrease of abuse going on, but I would not credit it with necessarily the uptick in human formation activities in the seminary, as opposed to the increased barriers, both institutional and social, for letting anything happen.

    First, if a candidate is already tempted by this perversion, they will be immediately deterred, it would seem, by the screening and the attention before entering the seminary, and then the constant attention and accountability afterwards nowadays. Further, when caught, it would probably take place earlier in an abusers ‘career’ because it is more likely to be reported earlier before it became a many-victim problem, thus lowering the incidence of repeat offenses and also bringing down the right tail of the curve. (The shuffling about from one parish to another where repeat offenses could occur is now much less likely in the current environment and policy.)

    It would also be less likely that there would be a protective environment of ‘like-minded individuals’ (bishops-pastors-etc) who could potentially protect or shuffle folks around, making the right tail decrease.

    All this being said, I can suppose that the WW2-Korea-Vietnam era could push some unsuitable men into the seminary… I think the veiled accusation is that they might do so to avoid the draft. I also think that the standards for admissions were in decline even during the 60’s (but coming to a head during the ’70’s) because bishops wanted to have the ‘pipeline’ full.

    Also, as the total number of priests decline, there would be a natural decrease in the number of abuse cases since 1980’s anyway.

    Not having the quantitative numbers or the dozens of other research studies which they must have used to come to their conclusions, all I am offering is some off-the-cuff speculation which probably has been checked, but will never make the executive report. What I am worried about is drawing too-certain of a conclusion at this point in the game, as I am not sure how it might even be possible to un-confound all the variables in play.

    I’m also still not convinced that it is not a ‘homosexual-type’ problem. By simply taking the number of cases of abuse, taking a conservative estimate of how many cases there were per abuser, running that through how many cases were of teen-age boys, knowing the number of abusers who were ‘homosexual’ vs. ‘straight’ (or vs. true pedophlia and not ephibophelia) with regards to their victims, and making a conservative estimate of the % of homosexual priests, the numbers are damning with respect to making a guess where the problem lies… I’d like to say that the numbers were less than 1 out of 100 priests committing crimes for ‘straight’ priests vs. maybe 1 out of 10 or perhaps even as low as 1 out of 5 ‘homosexual’-oriented priests committing crimes over their lifetimes. Sure, these are sloppy ‘guesstimates’ also, but when you work the numbers, it points to a theory which is being avoided even more strenuously than whether the Ft. Hood shooter was influenced by radical Islam.

    Maybe I’ll dig up that back-of-the-envelope study sometime and see if it still holds water.

  26. worm says:

    I missed the presentation so I tried looking at the John Jay Study on the USCCB webside. I didn’t have time to take a close look at it, but I could not find anything that discussed the possible role of homosexual attraction in the study. Is there any such data in the John Jay Study?

  27. Antony says:

    I recently read the first quarter of a book called “Blacklisted by History” about McCarthy. Communist infiltration of the USDA began as early as the late ’30s and especially early ’40’s. I found this to be truly amazing (that such organization could exist) considering the relatively short and tumultuous existence of the Stalin regime in the relatively young USSR. It seems possible to me that, given Our Lady’s warning of Fatima (the errors of Russia spreading throughout the world), that theories of Communist infiltration of seminaries of the day are true. This is interesting considering much of the emphasis that the early revolutionaries placed on the promotion of sexual license and the destruction of the family as the basic cultural unit.

    Antony

  28. iudicame says:

    top of the fourth…the TRAUTMAN QUESTION – HERE WE GO…Seratelli approaches the mound…

    m

  29. jasoncpetty says:

    he often sang songs and danced during his homilies (show-tunes style).

    NUKE THE SITE FROM ORBIT

  30. iudicame says:

    ruh roh Rorge…

    moves – to shut down the ICEL antiphons and effectively stop the Roman recognitio…Serratelli responds…

    m

  31. iudicame says:

    Serratelli responds – cites V2 custom (“spirit of”?) as authority to bypass B Conf and expidite…

  32. iudicame says:

    but – we’re hearing a latin cite from canon law – meaning that the Conf does rule unless there is big Vatican fist…

  33. iudicame says:

    Seratelli comes back – authority to bypass Conf per Liturg Auth.

  34. iudicame says:

    The Pres says the canon law question is an issue but to be dealt with later (ignored). Traut objects to this…

  35. iudicame says:

    Traut is AWFULLY concerned that we stick to the LAW!

  36. iudicame says:

    Pres wants to move forward still…Traut is silent…word that multiple confs are involved here not just US. ICEL rep says NOBODY else is objecting (bam)…

  37. iudicame says:

    Prez wants to VOTE…and…Traut making a point of order…

  38. iudicame says:

    Traut wants his canon law cite to be dealt with and…Seratelli moves forward with his pitch for approval…

  39. iudicame says:

    “perfect, not good”…….”last chance”….

  40. iudicame says:

    #4 ADOPTED!

  41. iudicame says:

    Seratelli – dont adopt the amendments…no objections…Serratelli cites all the time and work invested…since 2004…

  42. iudicame says:

    Seratelli cites Vatican’s Hurry-Up on this missal…Asks for POSITIVE vote in favor…

  43. iudicame: This isn’t Twitter. Put the brakes on!

  44. iudicame says:

    ooopsss – a naysayer bitching (old-timer)a “negative comment”…Citing Anglos allowed to keep their book……Another old-timer comments FOR moving forward citing that nothing is perfect and that the old translation was not nearly as good…

  45. iudicame says:

    Bp Niederauer – seconds the previous FOR approval – nice baritone…Bp Blair cites approval by other english confs…

  46. iudicame says:

    Calls for the vote…

  47. iudicame says:

    APPROVED:195 – 88% Passed!

  48. iudicame says:

    Sorry Padre – got wrapped up in it

  49. It is a momentous event, to be sure!

  50. irishgirl says:

    Did it pass? Were Trautman’s objections shot down?

    If so, then say huzzah!

    Boy, iudicame-you really got into the debate!

  51. iudicame says:

    It seems all has gone very well…

    m

  52. Gabriel Austin says:

    It seems to me that the decrease of devotion explains much of the problem. How many have seen their parish priests reading the breviary? If a man is distracted from thoughts of lust by thoughts of piety, the former will win. Lustful thoughts pour hormones into the blood much as a drink pours alcohol into the blood.

    It seems obvious that the priesthood will attract men with homoerotic inclinations. The point is to keep these inclinations under control. Is the word “sublimate” them? What is abominable is the cowardice of our bishops in not being watchful. Indeed it is not improbable that many bishops are afflicted with the same weakness. I have noted occasions when bishops are unable to stand up to some harridans of nuns in running the schools. Women shy, they are.

    And now Archbishop Weakland admits to cowardice, lust, thievery with no sign of repentance. And he was head of the Benedictines.

    Anyone up to commissioning Eamon Duffy to write a continuation of his THE STRIPPING OF THE ALTARS, taking the post-Vatican II period as his subject.

  53. Gabriel Austin says:

    Bishop Trautman is wrong when he says that the Greek Churches use “We believe”. It may have been true in the 4th Century but the use among Byzantine Churches is “I believe” to stress the personal nature of the affirmation.

  54. Ogard says:

    Yes, the Greek Churches, i.e. the Byzantine family, the Orthodox proper, use “I believe”. It it the earlier, precalcedonic group of Churches, at least the Syrian (Jacobite), Coptic and Armenian that in their English translations use “We believe”. I do not know what is in their liturgical languages.

  55. chonak says:

    What happened to His Excellency Bishop Trautman’s last-ditch motion about the antiphons? “The Best of Catholic Television” lost stopped feeding during the vote.

  56. Nathan says:

    Chonak, according to Rocco, Bishop Trautman’s motion lost 166-46 (76% against), then the bishops supported Card. George’s decision to go with the CDW on the antiphons, voting to “make it the bishops’ own” by a 90% majority.

    In Christ,

  57. chonak says:

    To answer my own question; Bp. Trautman’s motion failed; Abp. Pilarczyk’s alternative, endorsing the remand of the antiphons to Rome, passed “overwhelmingly”. That’s from the usccbmedia twitter page.

  58. iudicame says:

    Bp Trautman lost on every front today. A Solid and perhaps overwhelming victory for the new translation

    m