Saturday, March 9, 2013

May 2011 John Jay Report On Catholic Clergy Sexual Abuse Still Being Examined

Recently, in performing some additional research for I Am My Brother's Keeper Christian Advocacy Council, I came across a 2011 report from the John Jay College Research Team, which did one of the most comprehensive studies in recent times into the nature of clergy sexual abuse and misconduct within the Catholic Church. 

The results of the study were amazing and the information and suggestions that arose from it will be examined for years. There were some interesting notions, which I thought are apropos to our time and efforts in both understanding the mindset which has facilitated abuse within the church and understanding the urgency of delivering restoration of those who have been victimized and are hurting. one thing is for sure, if we look at this as simply a "Catholic issue", then we have missed the boat. This is a Christian faith issue and no matter what church one may attend, there are problems, whether one is aware of them or not. 


According to
Psychology Today's examination of the report (which is below), there were some links to behavior that previously went undiscovered, or at the very least were overlooked or minimized. 

Sheer (or not so sheer) Numbers

By the numbers it is suggested that slightly over 6,100 priests were responsible for the victimization of 16,300 people from 1950 to 2011 with certain numbers excluded from 2003.  Even in the face of much continued denial (many leaders continue to say that the figures are less than 1%) the most accurate numbers represent nearly 5.6% of the United States Catholic clergy.  While any and all incidents like this are deplorable, this number does not suggest a wholesale debauchery among Catholics or Catholic clergy. However, we do understand that many incidents such as this will never be reported due to shame among victims and priests who have died. 

Sexual Orientation?

It seems that sexual orientation was not a factor in egregious sins that the Priests committed. The Priests, whether heterosexual or homosexual (and some did confess to this sexual sin as well) yielded to their lusts and performed sinister and ungodly acts with children and whoever they could find or take advantage of. From this, the suggestion is that the attitude was one of privilege. That, to me, speaks self exaltation, pride and arrogance. This is almost all of the 7 deadly sins right there. But there's more:   

Situational Generalists, Not Pedophiles?

One of the most interesting things to note, is that the men who did these sins were men who were indiscriminate by far and large sexually. In other words, the intent was not to abuse children, it just so happened that children were available for abuse! They would have abused anyone to fulfill their lust for sexual activity and perversion. I think we can see this is what Paul calls "lasciviousness" (Gal. 5:19), when the flesh, with the inspiration of demons, becomes obsessed with sexual gratification and fulfillment at any and every cost, even the possibility of being exposed, which for some, makes the sexual activity itself even more intense and gratifying. The world calls it nymphomania, God still calls it SIN!

Decline In Incidents When News Spread

Another interesting fact is that when reports of clergy sexual abuse among Priests began to surface or be made public around 1990 and slightly before, incidences of abuse actually declined. In fact, 94% of the cases of clergy sexual abuse actually occurred prior to 1990. As stated, this is roughly the time when most reports started surfacing. What is further interesting is that the offenders in most cases were Priests or had an association with the church prior to 1970. From a sociological perspective I thought that was interesting. Here is why I say this: 

It seems that exposure actually decreased incidents, or at the very least altered behavior. So breaking the code of SILENCE was actually helpful to the community of believers and severely slowed down the flow and creation of victims. In other words, information, talk and exposure was harmful to the business of abuse. That is a good thing and something that should continue to be duplicated within the church as a proactive measure in dealing with this sort of sin. 

In addition, it seems that there may have been certain attitudes that existed among clergy prior to 1970 that facilitated abusive behavior or at the very least minimized it. This leads us to know that looking back to the past and relying on some of our elders, who held values similar to these can be a tricky thing. We must constantly examine behaviors and attitudes and even practices that have been facilitators of abuse from a historical perspective as well. There may be some that simply don't understand why certain "liberties" can't be taken or why some issues are so important in the modern context. There are some that think this issue is an issue for silence and backroom dealings, but those values are the values that facilitate the abuse in general and that do not bring or deliver healing to the victims. 

Impact Of Incidents On Societal Morals And Values

This report was especially interesting as it pertained to morals and values. There was a correlation in the rise of abuse incidents to the moral breakdown of values within society. Situations such as divorce and incidences such as drug addiction were correlating factors to the rise of abuse in general and sexual abuse in particularly.

Conclusion & Report

Form this we can see the utter importance of getting a handle on these issues, and dealing with both perpetrators of the acts and victims of the crimes in the most forthright and open way possible. Incidents such as clergy sexual abuse and misconduct have a direct link to the health and well-being of our community and society. Personally, I have always said, where there is a weak church, you will find a weak community. No matter how strong they may look or how large the church may be, when moral strength is compromised and goes by the way, the cohesiveness of the community goes as well and children and families are exposed to all kinds of atrocities that God never intended to survive or exist within the church or community.  

One thing is for certain, although we have talked about the Catholic Church, the Black community is at the weakest point ever even under a Black President and that is for shame. If we are going to deal with this, let's be like Nike and Just DO IT! 


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