Weigel about the huge ( ____ ) in the John Jay Report.

Did you see the analysis by George Weigel about the John Jay Study?  I am just getting to it.   Weigel makes good points for National Review Online.

My emphases and comments.

May 19, 2011 4:00 A.M.
Priests, Abuse, and the Meltdown of a Culture
The lessons of an important new study.

The American narrative of the Catholic Church’s struggles with the clerical sexual abuse of the young has been dominated by several tropes firmly set in journalistic concrete: [1] that this was and is a “pedophilia” crisis; [2] that the sexual abuse of the young is an ongoing danger in the Church; [3] that the Catholic Church was and remains a uniquely dangerous environment for young people; [4] that a high percentage of priests were abusers; [5] that abusive behavior is more likely from celibates, such that a change in the Church’s discipline of priestly celibacy would be important in protecting the young; [5] that the Church’s bishops were, as a rule, willfully negligent in handling reports of abuse; [6] that the Church really hasn’t learned any lessons from the revelations that began in the Long Lent of 2002.

But [But…] according to an independent, $1.8 million [1.8 million?] study conducted by New York’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice, commissioned by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and released on May 18, every one of these tropes is false.

One: Most clerical abusers were not pedophiles, that is, men with a chronic and strong sexual attraction to pre-pubescent children. Most of those abused (51 percent) were aged eleven to fourteen and 27 percent of victims were fifteen to seventeen; [78% over 11] 16 percent were eight to ten and 6 percent were younger than seven. Males between eleven and fourteen account for more than 40 percent of all victims. Clerical ephebophilia (a sexual attraction to adolescents, often boys) was clearly a serious problem. But to label this a “pedophilia crisis” is ignorant, sloppy, or malicious. [We sometimes use terms in loose ways, as a kind of shorthand.  However, when the context is more technical, it is necessary to use more accurate terms.  I think some people, by avoiding some of the technical terms, are actually applying misdirection.]

Two: The “crisis” of clerical sexual abuse in the United States was time-specific. The incidence of abuse spiked in the late 1960s and began to recede dramatically in the mid-1980s. In 2010, seven credible cases of abuse were reported in a church that numbers over 65 million adherents. [I recall also that most incidents of abuse emerged on an average of 13 years after ordination.  Perhaps a reader can help verify that, but that is what I remember reading.  That has some implications for the seminary training those priests received.]

Three: Abusers were a tiny minority of Catholic priests. Some 4 percent of Catholic priests in active ministry in the United States were accused of abuse between the 1950s and 2002. There is not a shred of evidence indicating that priests abuse young people at rates higher than do people in the rest of society. On the contrary: Most sexual abuse takes place within families. The John Jay study concludes that, in 2001, whereas five young people in 100,000 may have been abused by a priest, the average rate of abuse throughout the United States was 134 for every 100,000 young people. The sexual abuse of the young is a widespread and horrific societal problem; it is by no means uniquely, or principally, a Catholic problem, or a specifically priestly problem.  [This suggests that a married clergy is not going to solve the problem… a problem that that is rapidly vanishing in the Catholic Church among priests in active ministry.]

Four: The bishops’ response to the burgeoning abuse crisis between the late 1960s and the early 1980s was not singularly woodenheaded or callous. In fact, according to the John Jay study, the bishops were as clueless as the rest of society about the magnitude of the abuse problem and, again like the rest of society, tended to focus on the perpetrators of abuse rather than the victims. This, in turn, led to an overdependence on psychiatry and psychology in dealing with clerical perpetrators, in the false confidence that they could be “cured” and returned to active ministry — a pattern that again mirrored broader societal trends. In many pre-1985 cases, the principal request of victims’ families was that the priest-abuser be given help and counseling. [I had never heard that, but given the respect for priests and for bishops, in the past, indeed for the Church as an institution, that makes sense.] Yes, the bishops should have been more alert than the rest of an increasingly coarsened society to the damage done to victims by sexual abuse; but as the John Jay report states, “like the general public, the leaders of the Church did not recognize the extent or harm of victimization.” And this, in turn, was “one factor that likely led to the continued perpetration of offenses.”  [Well… they sure know now, don’t they?]

Five: As for today, the John Jay study affirms that the Catholic Church may well be the safest environment for young people in American society. It is certainly a safer environment than the public schools. Moreover, no other American institution has undertaken the extensive self-study that the Church has, in order to root out the problem of the sexual abuse of the young. It will be interesting to see when editorials in the New York Times and the Boston Globe demand in-depth studies of the sexual abuse of the young by members of the teachers’ unions, and zero-tolerance policies for teacher/abusers[Yahhhh… riiiight… that’s going to happen.]

So: If the standard media analytic tropes on clergy sexual abuse in the Catholic Church in the United States have been proven false by a vigorous empirical study conducted by a neutral research institute, [then… quaeritur…] what, in fact, did happen? Why did the incidence of abuse spike dramatically from the late 1960s through the mid-1980s? [Yes, this is a good question, isn’t it.  I was in a US seminary in the late 80’s, and I have a few ideas.  But the study commissioned by the USCCB for 1.8 million has a different view.] The John Jay researchers propose that the crumbling of sexual mores in the turbulence of the sexual revolution played a significant role. As the report puts it, “The rise in abuse cases in the 1960s and 1970s was influenced by social factors in American society generally. [Remember, 1.8 million to be told that men are influenced by age they live it.  Okay…. and?] The increase in abusive behavior is consistent with the rise in other types of ‘deviant’ behavior, such as drug use and crime, as well as changes in social behavior, such as an increase in pre-marital sexual behavior and divorce.”  [uh huh… anything else?  When I look at questions concerning the Church I usually try to view them both ad extra (how the Church influences the world at large or, conversely, the world impacts the Church) or ad intra (matters within the Church herself).  This is why I say that in order to renew our Catholic identity we must revitalize our worship.]

This is not the entire picture, of course. [Mr. Weigel may lose some friends now… ] A Church that was not in doctrinal and moral confusion from the late 1960s until the 1978 election of John Paul II might have been better armored against the worst impacts of the sexual free-for-all unleashed in the mid-1960s. [In fact, yes.  Doctrinal confusion … nay rather, chaos, dominated.  Though let’s be honest about this issue of the period of doctrinal confusion.  It’s still going on.] A Church that had not internalized unhealthy patterns of clericalism might have run seminary programs that would have more readily weeded out the unfit. [There’s that clericalism thing again.  But I sense that Weigel may have a different view of this than, say The Tablet.  Am I wrong?] A Church that placed a high value on evangelical zeal in its leadership might have produced bishops less inclined to follow the lead of the ambient culture in imagining that grave sexual abusers could be “fixed.” All that can, and must, be said.  [A higher value on “evangelical zeal in its leadership”?  What does that mean?  Adherence to Gospel values in their decision making rather than adherence to prevailing mores?]

But if the Times, the Globe, and others [including not a few lawyers] who have been chewing this story like an old bone for almost a decade are genuinely interested in helping prevent the crime and horror of the sexual abuse of the young, [then] a good, long, hard look will be taken at the sexual libertinism that has been the default cultural position on the American left for two generations. [Sooo… is the John Jay Study also right on this point?  Sure it is.  But the point here is the hypocrisy of Hell’s Bible (NYT) and its minions.] Catholic “progressives” who continue to insist that the disciplinary and doctrinal meltdown of the post–Vatican II years had nothing to do with the abuse crisis might also rethink their default understanding of that period. [Think about this.  Among the things “progressives” push for is a changing in the Church’s teachings concerning morals.] The ecclesiastical chaos of that decade and a half was certainly a factor in the abuse crisis, although that meltdown is not a one-size-fits-all explanation for the crisis and the way it was handled. [You mean… it’s complicated?]

[Here we go…] The John Jay study is less than illuminating on one point, and that is the relationship of all this to homosexuality. The report frankly states that “the majority of victims (81 percent) were male, in contrast to the distribution by victim gender in the United States [where] national incidence studies have consistently shown that in general girls are three times more likely to be abused than boys.[Three times?  These large numbers might means something.] But then the report states that “the clinical data do not support the hypothesis that priests with a homosexual identity or those who committed same-sex sexual behavior with adults are significantly more likely to sexually abuse children than those with a heterosexual orientation or behavior.”  [If the “clinical data” do not support this, perhaps “common sense” might.]

The disconnect, to the lay mind, seems obvious: Eighty-one percent [81%] of the victims of sexual abuse by priests are adolescent males, and yet this has nothing to do with homosexuality? [Does that seem right to you?] Perhaps it doesn’t from the clinicians’ point of view (especially clinicians ideologically committed to the notion that there is nothing necessarily destructive about same-sex behaviors). [Perhaps they have a skewed hermeneutic?] But surely the attempt by some theologians to justify what is objectively immoral behavior had something to do with the disciplinary meltdown that the report notes from the late 1960s through the early 1980s; it might be remembered that it was precisely in this period that the Catholic Theological Society of America issued a study, Human Sexuality, that was in clear dissent from the Church’s settled teaching on fornication, self-abuse, and homosexual acts, and even found a relatively kind word to say about bestiality. [Did you get that?  The Catholic Theological Society of America.] And is there no connection to be found between the spike in abuse cases between the mid-1960s and the early 1980s, with its victimization of adolescent males, and the parallel spike in homoerotic culture in U.S. Catholic seminaries and religious orders in that same period? Given the prevailing shibboleths in the American academy (including the Catholic academy), it may be that no clinically or statistically demonstrable linkage will be found, but it strains credulity to suggest that there wasn’t a cultural connection here, one that bears serious reflection.

Empirical evidence is unlikely to shift the attention of the mainstream media or the plaintiffs’ bar from the Catholic Church in this matter of the sexual abuse of the young. [Don’t both Hell’s Bible with the facts.] It would be a good thing for the entire society, however, if the defenders of the sexual revolution would take seriously the question of the relationship between their commitment to lifestyle libertinism and this plague. If the John Jay study on the “causes ands context” of clerical-sexual-abuse problems in the Catholic Church prompts a broader public reflection on the fact that the sexual revolution has not been, and is not, cost-free, and that its victims are often the vulnerable young, then the Church will have done all of American society a signal service in commissioning this study that looks into its own heart of darkness.

— George Weigel is Distinguished Senior Fellow of Washington’s Ethics and Public Policy Center, where he holds the William E. Simon Chair in Catholic Studies. His book on the abuse crisis, The Courage To Be Catholic, is available from Basic Books.

A great piece and good analysis.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. Traductora says:

    Excellent piece. I think the reason that many cases happened in the 60s and 70s (although there were certainly some egregious cases later on) with men who had gone through the seminary in the 1950s is certainly because of the collapse of authority and the destruction of Catholic moral and doctrinal teaching after Vatican II. BUT this is because the seeds of this were in place even before Vatican II. The Church would not have collapsed so quickly if it had not already been weakened from within.

    I think this was particularly the case in the US. The perception of orthodoxy as being something ignorant and associated with the Catholic immigrant past was pretty widespread in educated (particularly university-affiliated) Catholic circles in the US, and many people in the 1950s wanted nothing more than to be accepted as 100% American believers in the civil religion, finally freed from all those Catholic hang-ups. Despite the appearance of normalcy, there was actually quite a bit of dissent in the post-war period, and I think Vatican II was perceived by these people as having affirmed their positions and as giving them permission to act.

    Sexual libertinism has always been one of the components of the “progressive” position, and the progressive world of the 1940s and 50s was dominated by people like the evil pedophile Kinsey (not to mention the Protestant theologian and collector of porn, Paul Tillich) who promoted a view that often directly named the Catholic Church as its repressive opponent. And many, many people within the Church itself also saw it this way.

  2. albizzi says:

    The Vatican issued in feb. 1961 a document with clear instructions barring homosexuals from
    ordination and religious vows named ““Careful Selection and Training of Candidates for the States of Perfection and Sacred Orders”.
    The key paragraph regarding homosexuals and the priesthood is on page 471. It occurs under Section D of the Instruction: “The Required
    Chastity”. Here we read:
    “Advancement to religious vows and ordination should be barred to those who are afflicted with evil tendencies to homosexuality or
    pederasty, since for them the common life and the priestly ministry would constitute serious dangers”.
    Why was this document disregarded, ignored or even willfully dismissed remains a mystery. The “new pentecost” of the council VATII probably was already at work.
    Anyways the RC Chuch had in her hands the means to avoid that horrid scandal of which the consequences cannot yet be assessed with accuracy, but she chose not to use them.

  3. AnAmericanMother says:

    This is consistent with my personal experience. At least one of the priests involved in the prosecutions in the 80s here (there were three men responsible for 99% of the abuse) was an obvious, flamboyant homosexual. I met him long before I was Catholic and before his crimes were known, when he officiated at a friend’s wedding. Thought at the time it was pretty strange, I had no idea how strange.

  4. Juergensen says:

    Homosexuality had nothing to do with male priests’ sexual abuse of male children much like Islam has nothing to do with Islamic terror.

  5. Juergensen says:

    If it walks like a male and quacks like a homosexual rapist it must be a duck.

  6. AnAmericanMother says:

    The 1961 document was ignored for all the reasons Mr Weigel mentions, but I think in the U.S. there’s an additional factor: the strong strain of nativism, “America-first” and suspicion of Catholicism that’s been part of the political fabric here since Maria Monk and the Know-Nothings (or, arguably, since the Puritans in Mass. Bay). The bishops have always been wary of seeming too obedient to “dictates from Rome”.
    The extent to which ignoring this particular instruction was political prudence, versus politics providing a convenient excuse for the lavender mob, I have no idea. Probably some of both.

  7. JP Borberg says:

    @Juergensen: lol

    I don’t doubt those who see homosexuality as a normal sexual orientation will downplay any homosexual connection with clerical sex abuse. But I’d be careful not to over compensate.

    From what I understand, in many instances otherwise heterosexual males will readily turn to other males to relieve sexual frustration if there are no females present. There are such stereotypes for both sailors and prisoners. C.S. Lewis gives a frank account of rampant homoeroticism in an English boarding school in the late 19th century in his autobiography.

    I’m giving the impression that, in the absence of some sort of moral inhibition, throughout history males who have been deprived of women have a tenancy to relieve their urges on whatever they can lay their hands on.

    So I’m not saying that there is no homosexual connection, I’m just saying that, as far as I can tell, it is possible to account for the facts without recourse to it.

  8. anilwang says:

    Traductora, I’m not sure that wanting to fit in played a major factor. Remember Archbishop Fulton Sheen had a very popular TV show that made no apologies about the Catholic Faith. It won an Emmy Award and had a large protestant following. Such a thing would not be possible if Catholics were second class citizens.

    I think it’s simply that modernism infected some parts of the Church in the heady days of the 1960’s when a man made utopia seemed possible. Humanae Vitae was just a restatement of doctrine all Catholics should have known. It should scarcely had any news coverage, but Humanae Vitae had such a strong opposition that Pope Paul VI did not write another encyclical during his pontificate. This was scarcely 5 years after Vatican II. I’m strongly sense (without investigating the evidence) that resistance made Pope Paul VI less willing to look into anything having to do with sexual attitudes within the Church even if he saw things going wrong. This in turn made the progressives bolder and the cycle increased.

    Pope John Paul II was far less shy about dealing with the issue of Humanae Vitae, and although he had many faults, he did start the reverse the trend of modernism starting with Humanae Vitae. Thankfully, Pope Benedict XVI is addressing the gaps left by the last Pope and is slowly pulling us back.

  9. Glen M says:

    The John Jay Report and anyone else can draw their own conclusions, but the facts speak for themselves. In the general population, girls are three times more likely to be abused than boys yet during this crisis 80% of the victims were adolescent males. Also, the rate of actual pedophilia in the Church is no higher than any other religious group and significantly lower than the public school system. Common sense should be able to discern the problem and solution.

  10. MichaelJ says:

    as far as I can tell, it is possible to account for the facts without recourse to it.

    Not all of the facts though. Unlike the prison, boys boarding school, and Navy environments you cite, potential female victims were also present. Yet, 81% of the victims were male.

  11. Scott W. says:

    Some try to say that right-wingers want to blame it all on teh gays, but that is not it. It is rather the lack of real concrete solutions because people using the stats are too busy giving us diversionary data. When consistently the first thing out of everyone’s mouth is “homosexuality has nothing to do with it”, then it is reasonable to suspect we are being given spin rather than science.

  12. mrose says:

    I am grateful for the Jay report and for Weigel’s analysis of it, rather penetrating and yet even-handed, I think. I have a hard time knowing how much significance to give to something like this though. As you have pointed out time and again, Fr. Z, the enemies of the Church do not need (nor want) facts or figures or data to support their positions; their positions have nothing to do with the evidence. So I wonder how much in the eyes of the world the Jay report will matter. I suppose the solace to take is that their eyes ultimately matter little.

    I think too the Church does well to on the one hand defend itself from senseless, slanderous accusations, but also be willing of its own accord to do penance for the sins for which we are guilty. Some children were abused; their lives will never be the same. Some bishops did little-to-nothing. While far fewer than NYT and their ilk want to suggest, it did happen and that it happened less than some want to think and that their conclusions are illegitimate does not alter the gravity of the crimes that did occur. I am not saying that anyone is not doing this, just that we must be willing to repent for that which requires repentance, all the while defending what needs to have a defense.

    For the freedom and exaltation of Holy Mother Church, let us pray…

  13. worm says:

    …the Catholic Church may well be the safest environment for young people in American society. It is certainly a safer environment than the public schools.

    This is exactly what gets me so upset about all the stories in the news. They draw attention away from the current sources of danger. They make easy for everyone to believe that it only happens in the Catholic church, meanwhile my kids in public school are in much greater danger because no one is willing to look at the real facts.

  14. dans0622 says:

    Regarding the influence of homosexual “orientation”: If a man abused a little girl (under 10), I would not simply call that “heterosexual” behavior. There is some sort of threshold there which I can’t really identify–some sort of qualitative difference. Similarly and for the sake of consistency, if a man abused a little boy (under 10), I don’t know if I could simply call that “homosexual” behavior. I don’t know what age is necessary before I would feel comfortable with the hetero/homosexual label.

  15. Andy Milam says:

    In retrospect and not even retrospect, because it is still ongoing…I think that Geo. Weigel hits it right on the head. He doesn’t mince words and he gives a frank and honest assessment. I also think that Fr. Z’s responses are timely as well.

    It is clear that the no matter the study, no matter the steps taken, there is one last acceptable predjudice in the USA…the Catholic Church. We must stand up for being Catholic. We must seek out these watershed pieces and we must get to the point where we have the facts down rote. There is no other way to defend the Church. We have to be able to stand up and say NO! this is not correct. That is what Geo. Weigel did and it is what we have to do….(well, that and pray…but that goes without saying, right?)

    Thanks for sharing that piece.

  16. The Astronomer says:

    Father, although a bit off topic, do you have a perspective, other than obvious revulsion, about this excerpt from the interview of the Salesian Superior in the Netherlands from Rorate Caeli:

    You believe that relationships between adults and children are not necessarily harmful?

    I have an example. I was once approached by a 14-year-old boy who had a relationship with an older priest. He was sent away, and this boy suffered immensely, he suffered because [the priest] had been sent away. He told me, “Father Herman, why did you send him away?” And, now, what should I say to a boy like this?

    So, then, relationships between adults and children are fine?

    Personally, I believe that relationships between adults and children are not necessarily wrong [Persoonlijk wijs ik relaties tussen volwassenen en kinderen niet per definitie af.] Do you know Foucault? The philosopher. Do you know his writings? No, you should read that once again, especially the introduction to Part 4. It does depend on the child. You should not look so inflexibly at age. You should never enter into the personal space of a child if the child does not want it, but that depends on the child himself. There are children who themselves indicate that it is admissible. Then, sexual contact is possible.

    St. Padre Pio, PRAY FOR US!!!!

  17. Athelstan says:

    A thoughtful column by Weigel. Naturally, it will get pilloried over at the usual places, i.e., the Fishwrap, America, Commonweal, etc.

    One caveat: I do think Weigel lets the bishops – those of the 70’s-90’s – off too lightly. It’s one thing to say that their belief that abusive priests could be cured was one with society in general. But it is far harder to defend their frequent obstruction and malicious litigation against victim families, or the utterly scandalous environment allowed to prevail in so many seminaries. There *was* a kind of clericalism at work, albeit in the service of a peculiar subculture.

    Some bishops were even worse than “willfully negligent.” Fortunately, most of the worst offenders have died or retired.

  18. Scott W. says:

    This is exactly what gets me so upset about all the stories in the news. They draw attention away from the current sources of danger. They make easy for everyone to believe that it only happens in the Catholic church, meanwhile my kids in public school are in much greater danger because no one is willing to look at the real facts.

    I agree 100%, but will add that this is usually the point when someone squawks “Shouldn’t the Church be held to a higher standard?” The problem with this is that not only should the Church be held to a higher standard (I don’t know anyone who seriously disputes this), but that it is, in fact, being held to a higher standard. That is, take the 60% of abuse cases that are between priest and post-pubescent male and compare the same scenario in the secular world between an older non-preist male and younger male. When it’s the Church, it’s abuse; everywhere else it’s just a “coming of age” story between man and twink. No big deal. And if you really want to bring the females back into this, Roman Polanski anyone?

  19. Henry Edwards says:

    I wonder whether lengthy analyses (and comments) don’t overly complicated a straightforward matter of cause and effect

    The cause was the collapse of moral and doctrinal discipline in the Church within a period of a decade and a half.

    The effect (pertinent to the abuse problem) was the resulting toleration of a homoerotic culture in seminaries and in the priesthood.

    The remaining question is why the collapse of discipline occurred. I doubt that the Church can move forward and solve its current problems an answer to this question.

  20. Joe in Canada says:

    after it’s all said and done, I simply can’t imagine St Augustine, St Athanasius, St John Chrysostom, or any other of the sainted bishops of the Church saying to a priest who committed such a crime once, “well, when you’re better we’ll find something for you to do.” Maybe that’s part of the evangelical zeal Mr Weigel refers to.

  21. arotron theou says:

    Traductora is correct that the collapse of the 1960’s had already begun a generation before. @ Herman Edwards: at least part of the cause of this collapse was the rejection of Scholasticism (not total, but widespread) in seminary formation before the 1960’s. Most importantly in this context, the coherent Christian anthropology which Scholastic tradition consistently taught was not accepted, nor was it replaced by another. Freud and Jung are simply not adequate bases for human formation for ministry. Significant chunks of Tradition dependent on a rational conformity to Christ (e.g. any objective standard for “affective maturity” for priests) thus had no clear connection to the rest of Tradition. The superficial uniformity masking this reality was dropped in the 60’s, with the resulting collapse of discipline, as we clearly know in hindsight. Weigel also points to this, but doesn’t say explicitly that the chasm in our formation existed before the 60’s.

  22. Fr. Basil says:

    \\This, in turn, led to an overdependence on psychiatry and psychology in dealing with clerical perpetrators, in the false confidence that they could be “cured” and returned to active ministry — a pattern that again mirrored broader societal trends. \\

    I knew this immediately intuitively, and it didn’t cost anyone over $1 dollars.

    **at least part of the cause of this collapse was the rejection of Scholasticism (not total, but widespread) in seminary formation before the 1960?s.**

    Eastern (Catholic, Orthodox, and Non-Chalcedonian) priestly preparation has always been based primarily on study of the Fathers and the Holy Liturgy, not on Scholasticism.

  23. benedetta says:

    The Bishops commissioned an almost 2 million dollar study to evaluate the statistics regarding the situation of those who publicly commit to celibacy but instead prey upon children. In order to continue with the anti-Catholic attacks, then, the media, even supposedly Catholic media, certainly secular media, should now commission a study to evaluate what the numbers can tell us about the criminal trends at work in people who exploit, victimize and sexually assault youth and yet are married or in publicly committed monogamous relationships. Is it just that the love to hate the Church or do they really care about our children?

  24. Pachomius says:

    It concerns me that the rush to blame a homoerotic culture/homosexual priests may not be following the fallacy cum hoc ergo propter hoc. There also seems to me a danger in trying to argue that sexual orientation has to do with the clerical paedophilia scandal.

    Simply put, if it is accepted that homosexuality is a factor, then there is no logical reason that celibacy should not similarly have been a cause. This in turn leads us into the erroneous belief that paedophilia is about sexuality. As far as I am aware, most psychologists would say that it is about the desire to control.

    It seems to me a slippery slope of argumentation which leads to misdiagnosing the scandal and potentially allowing it to continue.

    The other issue here is one of ignoring concomitant factors. It seems to me that the key factor in the abuse of minors by priests regarding the gender of the child is one of availability of opportunity. It is still the case that altar boys are very much more common than altar girls, and this I am sure was also the case in the past, too. And it is boys (and young men, too) who get invited for “a chat” (also known as the dreaded “‘So, Have You Thought About Priesthood’ Conversation”). It has also traditionally been the case that monks and priests be the main teachers in boys’ schools, and nuns in girls’, as far as I know. And we could go on pointing to other examples.

    I’m not sure if availability of opportunity was necessarily the key factor, or if homosexuality was, either – but I do think it’s worth pausing and considering other factors.

  25. The single most common abuse scenario, in the US anyway, is that of a single mother (divorced or otherwise) whose boyfriend sleeps and/or lives with her, and who then also molests her (unrelated to him) daughter/s. (Or even her granddaughters.) This is part of why the statistics for girls being abused are so high in the general population.

    I don’t know what the most common non-Catholic clerical abuse scenario is, statistically, but “male cleric sleeping with practically all the girls and naive young women involved in his ministry or getting counseling from him, under the pretense that they are helping serve God, or just by force and shame” seems pretty common.

  26. Scott W. says:

    It concerns me that the rush to blame a homoerotic culture/homosexual priests

    As I’ve said, I don’t really see a rush to blame homosexuality. Rather, I see a rush to make homosexuality disappear as an issue altogether. It’s literally the first thing out of people’s mouths–it was 5 or six years ago when I went through VIRTUS training, and it’s the same ol’ song when they went to interview producers and disseminators of the Jay report recently. How bad does the stink have to get before people acknowledge that they are smelling someone’s pre-conceived narrative?

    Permit a bit of speculation, but I can’t help wondering if what is going on here is chipping away at the Church’s policy of not admitting those with deep-seating homosexual desires into priest training. That is, if we can make homosexuality literally vanish from the abuse problem, then that means the Church was wrong to bar them. And if they are wrong on that, what else are they wrong about? Celibacy? Appointed bishops as opposed to lay-elected bishops? Women priests? It would be pure nonsense of course because it is based on consequentialist thinking, but given the amount of commentary that reaches for married priests, elected bishops and women priests as the very first thing as a solution, I don’t think my specualtion outlandish.

  27. Mrs. O says:

    Yes. Well said EXCEPT he needs to emphasis more that as of today, there are no guidelines to deal with clueless bishops.
    If the church would address the homosexual attraction of some that have been in the clergy, one would wonder what an impact that would have one our society that tolerates abnormal behaviors.

  28. Marcin says:

    I think it’s simply that modernism infected some parts of the Church in the heady days of the 1960?s when a man made utopia seemed possible.

    The Council was supposedly to “open the windows” to the world. But it was glory of Truth to shine over the yard, not filth to flood the rooms instead. Unfortunately none expected the Church be so weak, with the truth apparently stowed in the closet so it didn’t even make it to windows.
    They installed some quick fix of liturgical reform, naively hoping that the stench will go away. Well, the material was new and untested, and the fix was more of a bricolage than solid engineering. We all see the result.

  29. Pachomius says:

    Permit a bit of speculation, but I can’t help wondering if what is going on here is chipping away
    Funny. I see a similar result in talking up the role of homosexuality in the clerical abuse scandal – a chipping away at priestly celibacy.

  30. robtbrown says:

    Pachomius says:

    It concerns me that the rush to blame a homoerotic culture/homosexual priests may not be following the fallacy cum hoc ergo propter hoc.

    Nonsense. Most of the cases were male on male.

    There also seems to me a danger in trying to argue that sexual orientation has to do with the clerical paedophilia scandal.

    How many times has it been said here that it wasn’t an issue of pedophilia (pre pubescence) but rather of ephebophilia (adolescence)? The former is not not gender specific, the latter is.

    Also: See Point #1 above.

    Simply put, if it is accepted that homosexuality is a factor, then there is no logical reason that celibacy should not similarly have been a cause.

    That makes no sense whatsoever. I have known four priests (all educated in Rome) who had problems with celibacy–3 left. All 4 were involved with women.

    This in turn leads us into the erroneous belief that paedophilia is about sexuality.

    See above. It is not about pedophilia.

    As far as I am aware, most psychologists would say that it is about the desire to control.

    Control is always an issue in every sexual relationship, whether licit or not.

  31. John Nolan says:

    There is a tendency refer to all sexual relationships with minors inaccurately as ‘pedophilia’ and follow this up with ‘most pedophiles are heterosexual’. A man who engages in sexual activity with an adolescent boy is a pederast, not a pedophile, and such activity is ipso facto homosexual (think Oscar Wilde). This is not to say that all homosexuals are pederasts, but we should remember that in ancient Rome it was OK for a man to sodomize a youth, a woman or a prisoner of war, but decidedly not OK to allow himself to be sodomized. The only thing that Lord Byron deplored about the Ancient Greeks was their pederasty (and this was a man who had no compunction about sleeping with his half-sister).

  32. sulldjjr says:

    The report’s absolution of homosexuality from a major contributing cause indeed “strains credulity.”

  33. Traductora says:

    Anilwang, I agree that there was a high level of extremely faithful and orthodox Catholicism in the 1950s…but I think it was among the average laity, and not among the intellectuals or even, necessarily, among some of the clergy, particularly those who considered themselves the intellectual leaders (Jesuits, etc.).

    There was a tremendous amount of intellectual rot hidden there. Immanentists (essentially, secularists) like Teilhard were already popular among Catholic intellectuals, and many other people (even people like Jacques Maritain, initially) were dazzled and deceived by what was essentially yet another expression of modernism. On its face, it really didn’t seem that harmful. But it served as the philosophical underpinning for the destruction of the liturgy and the Church, or at least the attempt to do so.

  34. Scott W. says:

    I see a similar result in talking up the role of homosexuality

    Again, it’s not talking it up, it’s refusing to let narrative salesman let it it drop from the radar altogether. And no, one look at the numerous sectors of society without celibacy shows that celibacy cannot be reasonably at fault.

  35. tcreek says:

    The reason that the issue became a scandal in the minds of the media and the public is because the sexual contact was illegal. Should not the bishops have focused more on the grave sinfulness and lack of fidelity to priestly vows? I would think that homosexual contact with underage youth is a small percentage of the total sexual contact between males. How many priests still in ministry are having “legal” homosexual relations with older teens and older men? And Women? Very many more than were exposed with underage youth I would guess?

  36. DisturbedMary says:

    Queering marriage. Queering the priesthood. Queering the church…. is “normalizing” homosexuality working?

  37. Ioannes Andreades says:

    I agreed with much of what Mr. Weigel has said. However, I can’t help but wonder why he takes everything that the John Jay report says at face value. Section 5 of the report (“The response from the dioceses and religious communities”) is woefully inadequate. It reads much more like an freshman term paper than a report written by professionals. For instance, there is no question on the questionaire as to whether abuse allegations that were deemed credible were ever handed over to the civil authorities if such reporting was legally required. Perhaps this belongs in the category of “other action taken.” I’m not even sure what the margin of error is on those surveys. Moreover, all the reporting is from the dioceses and religious communities themselves and there is no survey material from victims themselves. Therefore, such questions as, “Did the diocesan representative dissuade the alleged victim from going to civil authorities?” go unasked. It is a very one-sided set of reporting. At least in this respect, the study is quite flawed.

  38. benedetta says:

    I am willing to suspend disbelief when it comes to conclusions drawn from numbers and accept that it was not primarily about homosexuality. Just as sexual identity doesn’t satisfactorily explain the sexual victimization of youth through a variety of methods and media today generally. I think the concrete evidence will show that the vast majority of sexual offenses towards young people are not committed by persons publicly pledged to celibacy as a religious vocation but instead the vast majority of sexual offenses committed towards young people are perpetrated by individuals who are married or ostensibly committed to a relationship with another or other adults.

    Seeing as how it is in the past and one cannot now prevent the atrocities already committed but that we can only use this information in order to make insights useful so as to prevent further victimization of children, especially since the assumptions of our media and secular mindset are that we are supposedly sexually healthy as a society and do not shy away from open discussion on the topic…why has it become so common for married men to be arrested at local mcdonald’s by police prepared for a sexual encounter with an underage youth based on conversations documented online or by phone? Why since we are no longer so shamed and repressed and inheritors of the way of life of the flower child sexual ‘workers’ still live lives of degradation, wealthy sexual tourists troll the world to satisfy their wants, children echo all sorts of strange terminology that is not even r rated, marketers unabashedly target sexualized clothing toward our young girls, even with sexual education required in all of our schools and the constant exhortation towards ‘safe sex’, stds and the trauma of abortion are quite common. Is this the very picture of sexual health? I think it’s time for our secular-backed media to snap out of the repressed denial and admit that marketed, profiteering consumerist sexuality is not remotely the same as healthy sex…Could this same media be willing to turn down even one dollar in order to encourage the dignity of young people? If not then why do we buy? Guess the homeschoolers are right after all, yes?

  39. wmeyer says:

    There is no mystery as to why the mainstream media would refuse to properly label the observed phenomena, as they are the chief water carriers for the homosexual militants. However, it has always seemed to me that the USCCB bears a heavy responsibility to failing to correct the terms. As noted by Mr. Weigel, the real issue is ephebophilia. The use of pedophilia to describe the problem is wrong both in terms of the sex of the victims, and in terms of their age.

    The real message of the John Jay study, and one all adults should take very seriously, is that unlike any other identifiable group of adults, the Church now has documented evidence that the behavior of our priests is most impressively better than that of other clergy, lay church members, and the population at large.

    It’s time, and past time, for the MSM to confront reality on this topic.

  40. skull kid says:

    Dr. Richard Fitzgibbons, a psychiatrist who has treated many troubled priests, said that the statistical evidence in the John Jay report clearly indicated a connection with homosexuality: a connection that the report itself denied. Fitzgibbons said that “analysis of the research demonstrates clearly that the major cause of the crisis was the homosexual abuse of males.” He added that the John Jay College authors, who are experts in criminology rather than psychology, “lack the professional expertise to comment on causes of sexual abuse.”


  41. Dave N. says:

    While Weigel does highlight some good information, his defense still sounds more or less like every other defense we’ve heard so far: 1) a few bad apples 2) everybody’s doing it 3) don’t talk too much about the cover-up. Summary: the Church is basically no worse than the rest of society.

    Is that really the message that we want to send?

    As for funding of the report, here’s the breakdown: http://www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/1101975.htm I’m of course wondering why the Federal government has to pay for any of this.

  42. benedetta says:

    Put it this way, a parent can say that he/she accepts and is into all the secularist media and culture has to offer, if one feels better and somehow by this choosing exceptionally liberal (which, it isn’t truly btw), or evolved, tolerant, loving, empowered, enlightened, healthy, whatever it may be. Just don’t pretend that the secularist generated media and culture if fully accepted into your home will help to make your children more healthy or that nothing special is required on your part as a parent to protect and nurture them into what is actually healthy. There are many healthy, not remotely ‘reactionary’, judgmental or intolerant options out there as alternative to help support healthy child development, confident, knowledgeable, entirely empowered. It will though take some, backbone, courage, follow-up and initiative. If you are up for an adventure and are confident, it will be fun and enjoyable even though a challenge. If you are not then you may whine a lot…I used to think that it was ‘all good’ and that so long as my family was with whatever was considered cool we would get by…Guess what, this entirely secularly educated feminist is here to tell you, it’s not all good. The good news is, the good exists and it is entirely free…

  43. arotron theou says:

    Fr. Basil, you said, “Eastern (Catholic, Orthodox, and Non-Chalcedonian) priestly preparation has always been based primarily on study of the Fathers and the Holy Liturgy, not on Scholasticism.” Yes, you are correct that Scholasticism itself is not necessary for good formation. But some such systematic grasp of how the whole Faith fits together is necessary, and Scholasticism served the Latin Church very well as that essential structure for many centuries. The problem I was pointing to in my previous comment was that, especially in the mid-20th century, the Latin Church taught this Scholastic system without everyone actually believing that it worked. Beneath the uniformity of what was formally taught lay many inadequate but implicitly accepted ideas. The result was not edifying.

  44. HighMass says:

    Oh Most Chaste St. Joseph, Patron of the Universal Church, Pray for US!

  45. theophilus says:

    Ooops, I made the mistake of posting this under the wrong post.

    The Catholic League gives commentary on the report.

  46. Henry Edwards says:

    “A man who engages in sexual activity with an adolescent boy is a pederast, not a pedophile, and such activity is ipso facto homosexual (think Oscar Wilde). This is not to say that all homosexuals are pederasts”

    Obviously. It is amazing to find people who think the statements

    A. All homosexuals are pederasts.


    B. All pederasts are homosexuals.

    are equivalent, or that one implies the other. In particular, you see people taking umbrage at Statement B, apparently thinking that it implies Statement A.

    Even though Statement A is false, while Statement B is true. (With the usually understood definition of the term “pederast”.)

    Of course, the mathematically inclined know that the fact that P is a subset of H does not imply that H is a subset of P.

  47. Centristian says:

    High Mass:

    “Oh Most Chaste St. Joseph, Patron of the Universal Church, Pray for US!”

    I’ll second that one. Like so many other things, this issue is such a mess; analyze the cause from now until doomsday and putting the whole matter into the hands of Saint Joseph seems like an excellent idea to me.

  48. Joseph-Mary says:

    You can look at all these proposed ’causes’ but what also cannot be ignored is the supernatural aspect. MANY men were ordained who never should have been! There is a serious spiritual problem with any adult who preys on children for their own lusts and perversions. And the bishops should have been outraged at any such behaviour! That is what I cannot understand. The spiritual damage is incalcuble as well as is the emotional and physical damage. The perpetrators are criminals who care not a bit for souls. Their actions are damnable–literally and figuratively.

  49. Traductora says:

    @benedetta, it is clear that the majority of this abuse was homosexual (since classic pedophiles usually don’t care about the sex of the child they abuse). But that’s not really the source of the collapse.

    It relates more to the adoption of an entirely different model (the Freudian model) of viewing human beings. Vatican II did not do this itself, but the “emanations of penumbras,” as our Supreme Court would have called it, convinced many people after VII that everything was different and now it was time to bow to the god of psychology. This is, as Weigel points out, one of the reasons that the bishops, many of them probably quite moral and orthodox, were completely unable to respond to the situation.

    But the groundwork was all laid in place by modernism.

  50. Fr. Basil says:

    \\@benedetta, it is clear that the majority of this abuse was homosexual \\

    A few years ago, on another discussion type board, on another internet provider, a Christian psychologist who specialized in treating convicted pedophiles, their victims, and their families, said that professionals as herself do NOT use such terms “homosexual pedophile/-ia” or “heterosexual pedophile/-ia.”

    A pedophile is looking for someone he (and it’s usually a he) can impose his will upon. Professionals dealing with them use the term s fixated (that is, they never grew up psychosexually) or are regressed (that is, slip back into an immature mental functioning in this regard).

    Considering that many of the clerical pedophiles–and they are fewer than 5% of priests–were trained in the good old pre-V2 days, when seminary training was begun in high school or even younger, this is not surprising.

  51. benedetta says:

    Fr. Basil, Possibly the as you say “good old pre-V2 days” were not necessarily the picture of sexual health either though at the same time it wasn’t necessarily as horrible as extremely vocal and empowered elites now make it out to be. In my own lifetime I have known many strong women from many different walks of life who truly enjoyed their vocations in that time period and were quite happy, contented, fulfilled and challenged to do what God sent them to do. They certainly did not have any issues concerning their identity and dignity in the eyes of God. No, it was not the sexual revolution, nor the pill, nor the more and more abortion, nor was it even V2 which gives women dignity and empowers us to act. I will add that these women I have known came from varying degrees of education and knowledge of the Baltimore catechism, etc etc etc….but yet they were quite joyful though times were very different and they did not lack for a number of challenges.

    No our society in the total forgetting that all that we are comes from God has quite in its militant secularism forgotten in all cultural aspects of human sexuality and what is now passed off as authentic on youth, is quite unhealthy, even a mess and if one wants to help to assure health in one’s family along the lines of all else that we do to help make children healthy then the first mistake in the doing is to deny that it is important and necessary at all. I note that friends in the health profession from all faith or undecided or uncommitted faith background all concur this is a necessity, for health reasons and reasons of being authentic…Catholicism has much to offer as a voice in this, the media doesn’t comprehend it but there are quite a lot of people, non-Catholics who do and they look to us to live it out, they expect it and are edified when they see Catholics proceeding with joy and hope to the promise.

    When it comes to the ideal of ‘integrated sexuality’ it certainly can’t be found in the atmosphere of libertinism.

    Since the JPII generation training to be priests and religious has never been saddled with the ‘shame and guilt’ and does seek to live in authenticity being completely themselves and also faithful, the ‘Catholic’ media ought to discontinue attacks and permit them to lead, products of the love children yet unafraid to swim against the tide when the need arises.

    Sometimes when it comes to fishwrap and ru486, hell’s bible, dissenting Catholic elitist establishment I think what it comes down to is more along the lines of what RandomFriar says above rather than a call or even theological truths. The theology is so all over the place and never coherent that one can’t in fact invest anything in it other than the fist waving. I suspect that at the end of the day it’s more about demographics, that one generation is totally invested and enjoying power at other generation’s expense, and while they can talk a good game about the poor and empowering those who lack clout it they would only do so to the extent that they may retain power for themselves and what makes them most happy in the moment in indulging what it is they want…
    But just because boomers market all sorts of things does not mean that everyone must buy or that there is righteousness. Since they do it anyway and somewhat indiscriminately with respect to many things that effect younger generations in unhealthy or really bad ways, then, might as well get more and more used to, not-buying, seeking out the good and the beautiful and true on its own terms, not because some elder says it is, and, being creative in providing these for others…

  52. worm says:

    I know we are on the same side on this one, but no I do not hold the Church to a higher standard on this one. I do not think it is less evil when it happens outside the Church and I don’t think children in Catholic schools should be getting more protection. Do those who say that even know what they are saying?

  53. Pearty says:

    22% of victims were aged 10 and under. Lord, have mercy on their souls.

  54. benedetta says:

    Here’s the thing, in the 80s, in suburbia (not at all an urban area where this was much more commonly encountered) families were lectured by their priests about the AIDS crisis and priests touted their various efforts in this. All well and good, except that where situated I knew not one family having to confront the terror in their own midst where I was. I certainly read about what was happening and supported the efforts by the Church and others to show support, compassion, to find a cure. Now the challenge also includes men and women on other continents however no one lectures us any longer from the pulpit about it. Is it any less a problem now though still the average Catholic in suburbia is rarely affected? Still, if it is all merely to raise consciousness and awareness, I can’t really object. Perhaps we need to have our consciousness and awareness raised.

    Now where I am after living in another part of the world returned to where I grew up, one commonly hears priests lecture in various ways about our need to welcome gay folk, even though again in this part of the world as opposed to urban areas putting that into practice in concrete terms is never explained to families with their kids in the pews who I know do not object at al. But in fact I find that it is a little strange since people of my generation have been brought up in a culture if at the very least via tv to be accepting and tolerant. And those of us who attended secular college or lived in urban areas have had the privilege of many diverse friendships which include tolerance and acceptance. Again, when we are lectured we are not told what we can do concretely so I find it a bit presumptive and even condescending, insulting. I just do not find that people in the pews are not accepting or are intolerant. If they are attempting to garner people’s votes on a particular issue, well, I suppose that is their right and privilege and probably a number of people would be supportive. Again, are we just a collection of votes. If we are only the sum of our votes then why is it not fair game to exhort people to vote prolife?
    And that then is the real problem. If we can all agree that it is an act of heinous sexual exploitation for an adult to prey upon a minor for gratification of their sexual urges, then why are we not also outraged, at the common occurrence when a woman who becomes pregnant is abandoned by her sexual partner or significant other (the father of the child) when she decides against abortion as a solution. Is it not also an example of heinous sexual exploitation when a male determines that a woman who will no longer be primarily about satisfying him sexually upon demand but now also is making a courageous act to also be responsible for herself and another, to permit life to live, to refuse to snuff out life when it seems less than optimally convenient and materially supported…when the father of the child deserts the mother simply because she decides to do something worthwhile and brave, stemming from her sexuality?
    I think that this deserves, at least, well, one homily, one outreach program, one exhortation to a vote, in suburbia, and everwhere…Further obviously the Holy Family was not in a position to have in advance every possible material support optimally desired for the raising of a child. Yet they went with it…through challenge, hardship. Additionally though it confounds along the lines of the burning bush, the chastity of Mary and Joseph could also be looked at.
    Obviously families are at the front lines when it comes to ensuring the long term health of children in the present environment which celebrates libertinism as paramount and a necessity without which apparently we could not cope. But families in fact do need the support of the Church in this. It could be through an occasional homily if nothing else but of course there are infinite excellent ways to go about this encouragement in the faith, hope for our future. If a priest goes along with the media engineered denial that all is well with so much sexual junk food on offer then I see, well, zero honorable in that choice and commitment. It takes no courage, no mettle, to say nothing. Even if one has the courage to speak up against various forms of bigotry then it cannot be said that one lacks the ability to speak out about other pernicious forces at work. Some priest and parishes ably offer support and point the way towards healthy creative alternatives. Some small pockets of communities go it relatively alone and do the best they can in it, at least they have the benefit of each other.

  55. benedetta says:

    Just one other, rather small, matter…I know that you rightly advise us not to engage, Fr. Z, but in this case when we had a little flash I just feel that it is important to clarify and confront. With respect to the future and our choices.

    On another thread, from a priest apparently in active ministry:

    Fr. Basil says:
    23 May 2011 at 4:53 pm
    “However, people who have grown up (be they gay or straight) are NOT interested in age-inappropriate relationships, despite teen-age boy’s dreams of being seduced by cougars.”

    I actually had to look up this term, cougars and suffice to say it points to a, well, seedy, yes, sterile, yes, fantasy world fueled by the sex-as-commodity marketing and big business sex and abortion media…And it is a derogatory, stereotypical term coined by men and intended to entirely degrade, exploit and sexually objectify, women. To parents out there and clergy and religious who still wonder after all whether or not we should still deny the consumerist libertinism totally at work and apparently given voice to with little to no thought or reflection, well. I rest my case, this from a priest. If I as a little girl, young woman, or woman of any age were in his congregation I would feel, totally uncomfortable, completely demoralized, disrespected that a priest would willingly and snidely employ such junk words. So much for the tolerance and the respect. Further it seems that a as a general matter this particular priest finds his purpose in participating in conversation here to undermine and ridicule many good, healthy and worthwhile teachings of the Church and well that’s just not cool to me.

    Fr. Basil, I believe you owe a great many of us a sincere apology.

  56. j says:

    The study seems to make conclusions that are at cross purposes.

    They draw a distinction between pedophilia and ephebophilia (without bringing in hebephilia) by redefining, with a probably good reason, the cutoff age from 13 to 10. OK, true pedophiles, who abuse children who have few adult sexual characteristics (think – age 5) tend to abuse kids of both genders. True pedophilia has nothing to do with homosexuality, a true statement.

    BUT – having separated the two, they now have more clearly identified the problem as attraction to juveniles who HAVE or are going through puberty, and have acquired some adult sexual characteristics. By drawing the distinction, they lose the argument that it has nothing to do with homosexuality. Mind you, it is still gender attraction (which may not be problematic) TOGETHER with a juvenile sexual immaturity (which always is), but the previous separation no longer applies.

    I also find it amazing that they refer to overall changes in “society” as being an influence on abuse by Priests. I am sure that the rise of gangs and crime had little effect in the rectory. They wear colors, but their allegiances seem to change. If societal changes are to blame, it is the society of Priests and what happened to THEM that is causative.

  57. benedetta says:

    I think the take-home message from the John Jay study and from Mr. Weigel’s article is that the culture needs a moral bailout…

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