Report: Catholic Sex Abuse Spurred by ’60s ‘Deviant’ Social Changes


Critics of a new report on the sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church say it minimizes church responsibility by concluding that the scandal was caused by the influence of sweeping social changes and increasing “deviant behavior'' of the 1960s and 1970s on priests who were inadequately trained, emotionally unprepared, and isolated. Researchers at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York spent five years conducting the most expensive and extensive study of sexual abuse in the Catholic church to date, and concluded that homosexual priests were no more likely to abuse than heterosexual priests, reports the Boston Globe. The study was commissioned by the nation’s Roman Catholic bishops.

They also found that celibacy could not be blamed for the abuse epidemic. Nor could seminaries have done a better job screening for likely offenders because abusive priests had no common profile. Wrote the authors: “The most significant conclusion drawn from this data is that no single psychological, developmental, or behavioral characteristic differentiated priests who abused minors from those who did not.'' The report also states that poor training of priests, combined with social isolation, job stress, and few support mechanisms likely contributed to the abuse problem. The decline of sexual abuse in the mid-1980s coincided with better training for seminarians in human sexuality and relationships.

The 300-page report, “The Causes and Context of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests in the United States, 1950-2010,'' is available at Click here.

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