Persistence of Bad Vision

reading glassesI continue to be amazed at the persistent misreading of the John Jay Report by many online Catholics. Just recently, a priest blogger offered an off-hand comment that “most of the sex abuse by priests was against young men.” I found that interesting. Wikipedia has a table that profiles victims by age. Assuming that older victims were “young men” rather than younger boys, maybe we can say that males age thirteen and older are the ones referred to by the blogger. Maybe we can drop the age if we define a “young man” by the first time a boy is referenced as such. I might have been seven or eight when the term was first used for me. I don’t think it was in connection with being old enough to drive a car. But if one drops the threshold of manhood to age eight, you can tell yourself that nine out of ten victims were “young men.” But only by discounting that almost one in five of them were female.

I find it interesting that the most common age for victims is 12. Perhaps even more interesting is that there were almost as many victims under the age of ten as there were victims aged 16 or 17. We can also say that most victims, almost two-thirds, had yet to reach high school.

A pseudonymous commenter on another blog said that 81% of victims were male teenagers. That’s not at all accurate. 81% were males. That includes pre-schoolers. Male teenagers were in the minority of total victims.

Of course, the whole study is based on what was reported to the researchers. If there were any silent victims out there in the years 2002-04, they were not counted. If there were victims older than seventeen: women, men, elderly, developmentally disabled–they went uncounted too.

Assuming the male-female ratio holds up across age groups, I would figure 43% of victims were teenage males. Given that the study included pre-conciliar years, I would also wonder if sex abuse was in many cases a crime of opportunity: altar servers and sex-segregated schools. Notice the small bumps at age eight and fourteen: maybe that suggests First Communion and Confirmation. Another opportunity.

I think people will continue to read what they want into the report. They will demonize their favorite group: priests, bishops, homosexuality, Vatican II, and even the victims as needed to adjust the facts to their personal mindset. As long as conclusions deviate from the raft of knowledge we have, any attempts to resolve this crisis, even to heal from it, will be bound to fail.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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3 Responses to Persistence of Bad Vision

  1. Atheist Max says:

    “They will demonize their favorite group: priests, bishops, homosexuality, Vatican II, and even the victims…”

    Yes – Haters gonna hate. Because rape is a catastrophic crime no matter who
    the perpetrator is or the age of the victim. 22,000 rape victims constitute a tip of the iceberg. Many victims chose to commit suicide and take their testimony with them.

    Many things failed these victims – they are unique to Christianity and they corrupt absolutely:
    – dogmatic, universal forgiveness.
    – confessional absolution.
    – vicarious redemption.

    In other industries where such crimes are committed the response encourages immediate disclosure to authorities. But when Bernard Law was questioned about his secret ‘forgiveness’ and non-disclosure to authorities of Boston Pedophile Priests his answer was sickening:
    “We are in the forgiveness business.” – Cardinal Bernard Law

    Serial crimes need a grown up response in order to save humanity. The doctrine of Jesus Christ is exactly the worst thing to remedy any such problem:
    “Forgive not seven times but seventy seven times” – Jesus (Matthew 18:22)

    Before you complain that I am the one being a literalist about this immoral injunction, re-examine the very literal way in which the Catholic church has repeatedly used this philosophy as a shield from responsibility.
    Yet, I’m told Atheists have ‘ad hoc’ approach to morality? But what is more ‘ad hoc’ than the random implication of conveniently obstructionist, immoral dogma?

  2. Todd says:

    Thanks for the comment, Max. Just a few things: rape is only one form of sexual abuse. The Jay Study outlined several others.

    As for forgiveness, that is an action that does not belong to a third party in a sin. Cardinal Law, for example, had nothing to say about forgiveness. Unless he were himself abused.

    And lastly, I don’t ascribe to the notion of “ad hoc morality.” Many atheists and non-Christians have high moral and ethical standards. Many religious persons fail worse on the moral front. My main complaint about you, Max, wouldn’t be morality, but how unrecognizable is the god you claim to reject. Certainly not the God I believe in.

    • Atheist Max says:

      Cardinal Law heard the confessions of Priests who had committed pedophile rape.
      And…He forgave them…. and moved them to other parishes. You are not disputing this, are you?

      Furthermore, having any sexual relationship of any kind with underage children (anyone under 18) will not be consensual – which is why sex with children is always rape.
      All rape is abuse.

      Compulsory forgiveness is perhaps the most glaring flaw in Christianity. It is immoral. It is why I say Jesus is immoral. It bestows absolute power on the evil doer – and absolute power always corrupts.

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