Wednesday, July 23, 2014

A Very Grim Paper

"Stained Glass: The Nature and Scope of Child Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church" from Criminal Justice and Behavior 2008; 35; 549.  This was the first national survey attempting to determine the number of priests and monks engaged in sexual abuse of children, and not just a survey based on clinical data (which of course involves those who end up in trouble). The good news is that only 4% of priests active 1950 to 2002 had allegations of sexual abuse against them.  The bad news is that 4% of priests had such allegations.  The damage that such abuse does to children is horrifying, but when done by someone who claims to speak for God--even worse.  Unsurprisingly, 81% of the victims are boys, and generally, boys were more likely to be postpubescent.  Interestingly enough, priests with a single allegation were much more likely to have abused girls, suggesting that they learned to stop doing this.


  1. Question: the constant argument that you hear is that child sex abuse and homosexuality are not related. But if most of the abused kids are post-pubescent, that means those priests are not clinical pedophiles, correct? Since pedophilia = attraction to pre-pubescents. Rather, aren't these priests just gay men who prey on adolescents? Am I missing something?

    My chain of logic suggests the number of gay priests in the church is a serious issue.

  2. Nothing excuses the behavior of the few priests who actually engaged in sexual abuse or the coverups by some members of the Church hierarchy. However, this tragedy turned out to be a very useful club to be used for anti-Catholic bigotry. As a result, take all such data with a grain of salt - especially, statistics on accusations are inappropriate.

    An accusation is not proof of guilt - far from it. Part of the bad news is that a lot of those 4% of priests were innocent. Hatred of the Catholic Church by progressives and gays, the prospect of big money, along with a hysteria about child sexual abuse, led to over-blown complaints. The bogus recovered-memory area of psychology also led to a lot of bogus complaints. Just look at the McMartin Preschool craziness to see how, too often, the victims are the adults. If the subject had been reported evenly, we would have known this was primarily a homosexual crisis. I doubt anyone knows that who doesn't dig into the data.

    Using your own data (or the study and others), it is clear that the majority of actual abuse was by homosexual priests engaged, not in child sexual abuse, but statutory rape. The boys were sexually mature but young.

    Starting in the '60s, Catholic Church in the US experimented with allowing avowed homosexuals into the seminaries. This was partly due to the (valid) idea that all priests are to avoid sexual activity, so who cares what kind they are avoiding. But a "purple mafia" arose in some west coast seminaries, where homosexual activity was rationalized (to the point of ignoring vows of chastity), justifying this activity for many young priests. Others just fell prey to the temptation, from which nobody is exempt.

    The Church has corrected this. Homosexuals who are already priests are allowed to remain. No new homosexuals are admitted to the priesthood. Needless to say, this fuels even more attacks on the Church by the gay mafia, such as this week's executive action by Obama that forces all countries doing business with the federal government to be politically correct regarding LGBT. If upheld, this will destroy many Catholic charities who do a lot of good work, as they cannot go along with this, but they have long been recipients (appropriately) of government funds.

  3. The accusations that were apparently considered credible were provided by the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops. I suspect that really bizarre claims were ignored.

    Sad to say, some of the really bizarre claims later turned out to be true. There was a woman out of Ohio who, back in the 1960s, made a claim about a priest involving sexual abuse and a dead body. And other charges, made by someone else many years later, turned out to be true.

    It is interesting that the bulk of the charges were from the 1970s. My guess is that a lot of young men went into the priesthood to avoid confronting their homosexuality at a time when the Church seemed like a good hiding place. And yes, while some of the accusations involved prepubescent children, overwhelmingly, these involved those who were ephebophiles, not pedophiles.

  4. What Clayton said.

    What also happened in the 1970s was that priestly vocations among heterosexual men declined substantially, so that the proportion of homosexuals increased. And the Church needed priests, so standards dropped; the "recruiters" stopped trying to weed out the closet cases.

    Also, there was a great increase in the influence of "progressives" in the Church, so that enforcement of the strictures against homosexuality was weakened.

    The rise of "gay mafias" in some Church institutions was one result. There were many "lavender seminaries", where straight men felt uncomfortable - and left.

    Conquest's Second Law states that any institution which is not explicitly right-wing will sooner or later become left-wing. Derbyshire's (IIRC) Corollary to the Law is that any institution which does not explicitly exclude homosexuals will become exclusively homosexual.

  5. I wonder when someone is going to do a similar study about the public school system.

  6. Billy: When the public school system takes a stand against abortion. The problem was very real, but it is very real in a lot of other religions and in public schools as well.

  7. I once worked with a former priest---this was 21 or so years ago and he was probably in his mid 60's then. As I recall he had lost his faith in the Church and the Catholic religion as being part of the reason he left.

    Anyways, he wrote a novel (can't remember the title) and gave me a copy to read. It was about a priest who left the Church at least in part because of wanting to have sex with women. Not sure how autobiographical it was, but such books are always at least somewhat personal experience. The book was full of explicit descriptions of this priest having sex with a woman but also recounting his experience in seminary describing in repugnantly graphically ways how the seminary was essentially a gay bath house with the young students and older priests "servicing" each other. Even without being full of the gross detailed descriptions of gay sex the book was torture to read. I was young enough at the time that I didn't have the heart to tell him how awful I found the book to be--he was very proud of it and it obviously meant a lot to him. A personal catharsis was the impression I got about what the book meant to him.

    Assuming this book does have some basis in fact it would have to been late 40's/early to mid 50's when he was in seminary.

    The Church would be so much better off if they would let priests marry otherwise they are going to continue to attract fewer into their ranks. Or continue to have an environment like prisons and pre-20th century sailing ships.

  8. I suspect a lot of homosexuals who became priests did so to "desexualize" their lives, and many failed.