I’ll be interested to review the new John Jay College study, “The Causes and Context of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests in the United States, 1950-2010.” David Gibson’s take: No Easy Answers. The Blame-the-60′s meme isn’t passing the smell test of NYT readers.
One big flaw on that score: the study begins in the 1950′s. Let me illustrate:
It seems the study covered the top graph, and their instances of abuse peaked around 1973, dropping off significantly from there. Better psychological testing, so the reasoning goes, weeded out the emotionally immature. Michael Rose refers to this as “corruption.” Clearly, everyone has their own take on it.
I suspect the real graph is more like the second, which postulates more of the stressful times of the twentieth century. Honestly, which is more likely to cause stress: an era of sexual promiscuity and counterculture, or a world war or two? Perhaps a worldwide economic depression?
Factor in the general disregard of children in previous generations, and who’s not to suggest the bottom of the three graphs isn’t true? What prevents us from knowing is that almost all the survivors and perps before 1950 are now dead. They could have easily done the survey with abuse victims forty and younger. That would tell us it peaked in the JP2 years.
One NYT comment:
It’s not important WHY the priests did what they did … what is important is WHY the church did NOTHING about it, all the time knowing full well what was going on. That’s what’s important about this story. The priests who perpetrated these acts on children were allowed to do so, and to continue to do so, apparently with the blessing of the higher-ups in the church.
The second flaw is that the study doesn’t seem to poke deeply into the sponsors. I’ll have to wait to see if there’s more of a factor of the thin scarlet line–that episcopal behavior was close to secular police closing ranks on instances of brutalizing citizens.
Finally, you can have good data, make accurate correlations, and get advice on it. Ultimately, the bishops will have to act. They will have to clean up amongst their clergy and their own numbers. They will have to discern some effective way to restore their trashed credibility.
This study won’t help the rehabilitation. It will spark new outrage. And even among those of us loyal to the Church, we will wonder what bombshell is next.