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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Church Sex Abuse Report Blames ’60s Culture

The view from inside St. Peter's Basilica. (AP)

The view from inside St. Peter's Basilica. (AP)

Researchers commissioned by the nation’s Roman Catholic Bishops found widespread clergy sexual abuse was a result of poor training and insufficient support for priests facing the cultural and sexual upheavals of the 1960s.

Critics say it’s the same “blame Woodstock” argument the Church has been making for years, and point out that while this is the most comprehensive study to date, it’s partly funded by the Catholic Church.

David Gibson, reporter for the Religion News Service and author of, “The Rule of Benedict: Pope Benedict XVI and His Battle with the Modern World,” told WBUR’s Here & Now Wednesday that the sexual abuse cases did not stem from the church’s celibacy requirement.

“The reality of celibacy has been a norm in the Catholic church for almost 1,000 years and certainly over the last 50 years and yet you have these spikes and these dips [in the number of abuse cases] and this isn’t just about the urge to sleep with somebody… this is about immature men who are the same psychological age as the 14 year old they’re sleeping with.”

Critics of the study say it cites the same “blame Woodstock” argument the Church has been making for years and point out that while this is the most comprehensive study to date, it’s partly funded by the Catholic Church. But Gibson points out that the John Jay College, where the research was done, has a good reputation.

“They put this proposal out to various expert places and the John Jay College is, you know, the gold standard of criminology and it is really hard to believe that they would be bought and paid for by the bishops. I don’t think that’s really that credible,” Gibson said. “I think that the report will stand or fall on its own merits and we should look at that.”

The Survivors Network of Those Abused By Priests responded by saying that the report focused too much on the priests and not enough on what they called “the callous Bishops.” Gibson said that the report took important steps to urge the Catholic Church to adopt “transparent, uniform policies” for dealing with sex abuse allegations.

“There are 285 bishops out there, Catholic bishops in the United States. 284 of them could be doing the right thing but if one of them is not that’s one too many,” Gibson said.

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  • mogl

     Celibacy became a requirement in 1665 a the Council of Trent — NOT 1000 years!

    • UglyTruth

      The pope was putting married priest in prison

      And selling their wives and children into slavery in

      A faith based initiative for profit.

      The child sex abuse started in 1238.


  • Boston mom

     Since I’ve already leapt on my soapbox today, I’ll hang out here for just another minute….
    This is garbage. It is disrespectful of the thousands of victims and please, can we as a culture accept that being gay has nothing to do with being a PEDOPHILE? That is what people who have sex with children are. PEDOPHILES. Pedophiles. Denial of this fact, priest or otherwise, is unacceptable.

    • donnyontario

      thank so much for intelligently speaking out

    • I_olo

      thanks for taking an intelligent stand - 

    • UglyTruth

       RCC Sex abuse was/is not just children.
      young adults have also been raped.
      women have been raped.

  • donnyontario

     Umm, “the sixties” was a time of cultural PROGRESSION- let’s not start blaming that time for things gone wrong which were set on the wrong track ages before then, eh?

  • Duffy Johnson

     I haven’t seen this report, but in the H&N story there was no mention of the possibility that pedophiles entered the priesthood to shelter their abusive acts.  The vast majority of pedophiles, priests or otherwise, were themselves victims of abuse as children.  The preponderance of pedophile priests has nothing to do with celibacy or the 60s.  Abuse begets abuse.

  • UglyTruth

    The child sex abuse started in 1238.


    The RCC still is lying, the pope is still lying.

    Attend Mass = Rape a child, save a soul.


    The $166 Million judgment against the Jesuits only goes
    back to 1940s

    because the prior victims are dead.

  • Nefert-tmu

    There is a book that is very relevant to this topic called: Trance: Formation of America.  It’s by Cathy O’Brien, a former mind-control slave who was freed by her now husband Mark Phillips.  It’s a memoir that details how different high up government employees like presidents and diplomats use these human beings to pass secrets to each other in a more secure way than the paper-trail diplomatic cables.  If her allegations are true, then it’s not an accident that so many youth were/are abused, it is an actual conspiracy where they are trying to make more and more mind-controlled slaves for various reasons.


  • Rick Lee

    The 60s were about sexual openess and loving sexuality, not criminal assault and pedophilia.

    Sounds to me like the Catholic Church has all ways hated good intelligent “fun” sexual satisfaction between consenting adults and instead promotes idiotic overpopulation and criminal sexual assault by its priests.

    How like the Catholic Church to blame Woodstock.  They hated Woodstock and can’t get over it.  Pathetic Taliban if you ask me.

    Criminal assault and pedophilia did not happen at Woodstock.  Fun happened at Woodstock.  Boo fun, says the church.  Barf me.

    • PS Frog

       Apparently all your comments apply to the John Jay College because it was their report and conclusions you are criticizing.  Apparently the John Jay College didn’t like Woodstock either.

  • Bondeg4

    It is tough to accept this report. However, David Gibson was wise to point out that these priests were educated and prepared in the 40s and 50s, a very repressive time. If one thinks about that, one can see that the priests were unprepared for the cultural changes.

    The whole hypocrisy of placing leaders on a pedestal is what bothers me more. Priests were held up as the ones to be looked up to as holy men. It really seems to come down to the practice of secrecy and lack of openness of the church as an organization.

  • Bondeg4

    Here and Now, Thank you for presenting a discussion of a controversial subject.

  • Frank411

    Predictable blame-shifting by an institution that cannot accept the reality:
    From the 1920s through the mid 1960s men (really boys) were encouraged to commit to enter the priesthood at an absurdly early age (13, 14, 15) before they had any change to emerge from their own childhoods let alone experience any usual sexual development (let’s be realistic about the relative maturity of boys and girls at 14, for example);  were given no tools to assist them with their natural sexual and, more generally, psychological, feelings as they went through their teens, but instead told to simply repress, repress, repress;  surprise, surprise, they turned out to be developmentally disturbed (in essence, they themselves were institutionally abused);  and then they were assigned responsibilities that put them largely in contact with elderly women and young children.
    Then, when they acted out of a not-surprising-at-all childish approach to sexual experimentation (but in very adult bodies and with very adult rationalization hamsters in their heads), the Church washed them through quickie “rehab” clinics and put them back in new parishes because, by the time all of this hit the wall in the mid 1960s and beyond the pipeline of new recruits had completely dried up.  (Don’t forget that the RC Church was awash in boys and young men entering the seminaries in the 1940s and 1950s and all of that came to a screeching halt in the mid 1960s, and the hierarchy panicked.)
    The best reporting I ever heard on this was an extended set of remarks by a priest psychologist, and a sex offender psychiatrist (who happened to be Jewish) who had worked in the “quickie rehab” center (I believe in Connecticut).  The picture the two of them painted of institutional coverup due to the underlying denial of how the Church’s own HR practices and personnel supply problems was affecting the psyches of priests and the quality of recruits was beyond damning.
    At least the Church is now prepared to say this is not about homosexuality.  But the pedophilia comes from a place.  Pedophilia can result from abuse trauma (it doesn’t always, I hasten to add, at least 2/3 of abused youngsters become protectors as adults, but there is a minority that slides into the darkness).  And the Church has yet to own up to the reality that the abusive system it established and maintained in Catholic high schools and Catholic seminaries in the 1940s and 1950s, exacerbated by the coverup and denial system the Church ran in the 1960s through the 1990s, was responsible for this mess.
    On a personal note, one of the more telling sights I have seen in this vein was on a retreat at the big, former Jesuit seminary in Wernersville, PA: 
    On the road leading down the hill to the cemetery where all Jesuits in the Maryland Province are buried is a stream. The stream proceeds is a spring, next to which is a cement statute of a cassocked Jesuit (in the neo-realistic style of the 1930s) with a young boy, about waist height, next to the priest.  The priest’s hands were, once, cupped around the boy’s head.  The hands of the priest, in the statue, have been severed at the wrists.  This is the last thing older Jesuits see, time and again, as they lay their elderly brothers to rest.  The truth is inescapable, and the memorial presides over the last resting place of this generation of priests.
    God is bigger than any institution.

  • Anonymous

    whatever date is settled upon for the requirement of the vows of chastity, poverty and obedience … this abuse has been going on for centuries, not just the recent past…

    they used to castrate choir boys, remember?  so the clergy has been getting into the pants of the underaged for at least that long… there has been a systemic enabling and cover-up by the church….they are more concerned with their image and in denial…

    see the documentary “Deliver Us From Evil” about a pedophile priest who was sexually involed with babies, adolescents both male and female…and even the mother in one family….the priest even wrote a letter to the archdiocese of Los Angeles admitting his problem …. the church kept moving him to new parishes to enable his continuing ‘sins’ …

    as an agnostic…i don’t think absolution should be accessible to all sinners…actually civil and criminal fines, penalties and jail time are called for … it’s a shame that many of the perpetrators died and never had to answer for their crimes …

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