Researchers commissioned by the nation's Roman Catholic bishops to analyze the pattern of clergy sex abuse have concluded that homosexuality, celibacy and an all-male priesthood did not cause the scandal.
The study by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York instead said that the problem was largely the result of poor seminary training and insufficient emotional support for men ordained in the 1940s and 1950s, who were not able to withstand the social upheaval they confronted as pastors in the 1960s. Crime and other deviant behavior increased overall in the United States during this period, when the rate of abuse by priests was climbing.
"The rise in abuse cases in the 1960s and 1970s was influenced by social factors in society generally," the report's authors said. "Factors that were invariant during the time period addressed, such as celibacy, were not responsible for the increase or decline in abuse cases over this time."
What many of us would question, though, is whether the dynamics of an institutionalized world of celibate males did not cause the cover up and the absolutely negligent response to it all. Not the abuse itself; that just happens in our fallen world, sadly. But the scandal was really all the institutional self-preservation, and that I do think could be linked more to a celibate institutional world.
Which is to say, I agree with this:
Victims' groups dismissed the report as an attempt to focus blame for the scandal on priests, instead of on bishops who allowed offenders to stay in ministry without warning parents or police. "They want us to fixate on abusive priests, not callous bishops," the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests said in a statement.Only silly people believed that celibacy or the all-male nature of the priesthood or homosexuality could somehow cause child molestation to erupt in men after they're already adults.
The real question that this distracts from is whether entrenched institutional dynamics facilitated or led to all the cover-ups, lack of swift response, feet-dragging, denial, etc. I think people intuitively have an instinct that this is true (just like prisons, by nature, are going to breed all sorts of terrible things among both prisoners and guards).
Another article mentions the report saying, "the problem grew worse when the church's hierarchy responded by showing more care for the perpetrators than the victims." And yet, don't they see how that is very likely a result of the dynamics of clerical institutional culture?! A culture in which celibate homosociality, power and authority, and the bizarre interpersonal values emphasized by "human formation" in institutionalized seminary living...are structural features.
But they're choosing to blame the 60's and 70's rather than asking the deep questions about structural institutional reform. They're applying palliatives (and even then only fumblingly and after intense popular pressure) in the form of enforcement policies that will hopefully treat the symptoms; a great development, in itself, which will protect children in the future. But it treats only this one issue, not the systematic institutional dysfunction and spiritual sickness of clericalism that led to the negligence in the first place. So while these policies will thankfully help mitigate the most egregious results of this sickness, I can only believe it will continue to fester and manifest itself in a million more petty ways.
So they still don't get what this is about! They still don't get why people are outraged. It's not really because child abuse happened (as outrageous as that is). That happens in our schools, community centers, other churches (and, unfortunately, homes). No, what people were and are so mad about was a pattern of response to it that demonstrated absolutely warped and perverted priorities among the clergy. About a strange and self-justifying clerical culture that enabled the abusers to get away with it for so long.