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What produced the clerical abuse crisis?

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William Crawley | 16:00 UK time, Friday, 20 May 2011

Some commentators point to priestly celibacy and say that's the culprit -- that's why so many Catholic priests have been exposed as child abusers. Others say its the prevalence of homosexuality amongst the priesthood. But neither explanation is correct according to a new study. Being celibate does not make a priest more likely to abuse children, nor does being gay.

Indeed those looking for any simple explanation of the sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church will be disappointed by the latest report by a research team from the John Jay School of Criminology. The "Causes and Context of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests in the United States, 1950-2010" report states that "No single 'cause' of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic priests is identified as a result of our research."

"The bulk of cases occurred decades ago," said Dr Karen Terry, John Jay's principal investigator for the report. "The increased frequency of abuse in the 1960s and 1970s was consistent with the patterns of increased deviance of society during that time."

Some commentators have read this claim as an attempt to blame 1960s permissiveness for rise in sexual abuse, but in an interview with this week's Sunday Sequence, Dr Karen Terry describes that reading of her report as "simplistic".

This latest John Jay report is long and detailed but is now required reading for the contemporary discussion about clerical abuse.

Below the fold, the American Jesuit priest Fr Thomas Reese offers Will & Testament readers a synopsis of the main findings of the report.

The Causes and Context of Sexual Abuse of Minors: an analysis

What about all the causes that pundits have proposed?

Celibacy and a male priesthood? "[A]n exclusively male priesthood and the commitment to celibate chastity, were invariant during the increase, peak, and decrease in abuse incidents, and thus not causes of the 'crisis.'" (P. 3)

Homosexual priests? "Priests who had same-sex sexual experiences either before or in seminary...were not significantly more likely to abuse minors" (P. 4). "The clinical data do not support the hypothesis that priests with a homosexual identity or those who committed same-sex sexual behavior with adults are significantly more likely to sexually abuse children than those with heterosexual orientation or behavior." (P. 119) The most likely explanation of why more boys than girls were abused by priests is that boys were more accessible to priests than girls.

Post-Vatican II seminaries? "The majority of abusers (70%) were ordained prior to the 1970s, and more abusers were educated in seminaries in the 1940s and 1950s than at any other time period." (p. 118)

Pedophilia? "It is inaccurate to refer to abusers as 'pedophile priests'" because "less than 5 percent of the priests with allegations exhibited behavior consistent with a diagnosis of pedophilia (a psychiatric disorder that is characterized by recurrent fantasies, urges, and behaviors about prepubescent children)."(p. 3) "'Generalists' or indiscriminate offenders, constituted the majority of abusers...." (p. 119)

Only children? "The majority of priests who were given residential treatment following an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor also reported sexual behavior with adult partners." (p. 3)

Weirdoes? "No single psychological, developmental or behavioral characteristic differentiated priests who abused minors from those who did not." (p.) "Priests who sexually abused minors did not differ significantly from other priests on psychological or intelligence tests...." (p. 5) This means it is going to be very hard, if not impossible, to keep them out of the priesthood though pre-ordination screening.

What factors contributed to the abuse?

"The rise in abuse cases in the 1960's and 1970's was influenced by social factors in American society generally."(p. 3) The rise of abuse in the church paralleled its rise in American society.

"The priests with abusive behavior were statistically less likely to have participated in human formation training than those who did not have allegations of abuse." (p. 3)

"Priests who were sexually abused as minors themselves were more likely to abuse minors than those without a history of abuse." (p. 4)

"Priests who lacked close social bonds, and those whose family spoke negatively or not at all about sex, were more likely to sexually abuse minors...." (p. 4)

Abusive priests "had vulnerabilities, intimacy deficits, and an absence of close personal relationships before and during seminary." (p. 5)

"[A]buse is most likely to occur at times of stress, loneliness, and isolation." (p. 120)

"Many accused priests began abusing years after they were ordained, at times of increased job stress, social isolation, and decreased contact with peers." (p. 3)

"Priest-abusers are similar to sex offenders in the general population. They had motivation to commit the abuse (for example, emotional congruence to adolescents), exhibited techniques of neutralization to excuse and justify their behavior, took advantage of opportunities to abuse (for example, through socialization with the family), and used grooming techniques to gain compliance from potential victims." (p. 119)

Bishops: What did they know, when did they know it, what did they do?

"Prior to 1984, the common assumption of those whom the bishops consulted was that clergy sexual misbehavior was both psychologically curable and could be spiritually remedied."

On the one hand, "By the mid-1980s, all bishops had been made aware of the issue of sexual abuse of minors" (p. 118). On the other hand, "Though more than 80 percent of cases now known had already occurred by 1985, only 6 percent of those cases had been reported to the dioceses by that time" (p. 4). In other words, the bishops knew about abuse by the mid-80s, but had no inkling of how extensive it was.

"Diocesan leaders responded to acts of abuse, but with a focus on the priests and not the victims. Many bishops acted in good faith to help abusive priests, most often by sending the priest-abuser to treatment. There is no clear indication, however, of the bishops' or other diocesan leaders' understanding of the extent of harm resulting from sexual abuse. Although this lack of understanding was consistent with the overall lack of understanding of victimization [in American society] at the time, the absence of acknowledgement of harm was a significant ethical lapse on the part of leadership in some dioceses." (P. 119)

"There is little evidence that diocesan leaders met directly with victims before 2002; consequently, the understanding of the harm of sexual abuse to the victim was limited." (p. 4)

"Diocesan responses to abusive priests changed substantially over the sixty-year period addressed in this study. For example, abusive priests were less likely to be returned to active ministry and/or more likely to be placed on administrative leave during the later years." (p. 119)

"Some bishops were 'innovators' who offered organizational leadership to address the problems of sexual abuse of minors. Other bishops, often in dioceses where the Catholic Church was highly influential, were slow to recognize the importance of the problem of sexual abuse by priests or to respond to victims. The media often focused on these 'laggards,' further perpetuating the image that the bishops as a group were not responding to the problem of sexual abuse of minors." (p. 4)

"The count of incidents per year increased steadily from the mid-1960's through the late 1970's, then declined in the 1980's and continues to remain low." (p. 2) In other words, child abuse had been dramatically reduced in the church before Boston, the most prominent laggard, blew up.

"It is the voices and narratives of victims that have confronted priests, enabled diocese to act responsibly, and brought diocesan leaders to an understanding of the harm of abuse." (P. 119)

"Knowing that most potential abusers will not be identified before the abuse occurs, and knowing that many priests have vulnerabilities that may lead to the commission of deviant behavior, it is important to reduce the opportunities for abuse to occur. The church has taken an important step in risk reduction through the safe environment education programs; post ordination education and evaluation can also play a role in further reducing the possibility of abuse."

Evaluation of the study

The study is extraordinary and sophisticated. We will have to wait for other scholars to evaluate its more complex analysis, but we can only wish that other institutions will follow the Catholic Church in authorizing and funding such studies.

Since 149 priests were serial abusers (with more than 10 allegations against them) and were responsible for 27 percent of the allegations, I would have liked a separate analysis of them. How were they different from the non-serial abusers? How were they different from priests in general?

While less than 5 percent of the priests were true pedophiles, 51 percent of the victims were between the ages of 11 and 14, which is still quite young. Why? My guess is because of access and vulnerability, but I would like to hear from the researchers.


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  • Comment number 1.

    Awesome post William, thanks for this. I'm not entirely convinced they've covered all of the reasons, but at least something is being done to look into it. One of the first steps in prevention of something is understanding the causes and like any complex event, it's not going to be easy.

  • Comment number 2.

    Fascinating document, and one which will require several readings. However, on first sight, one or two things stand out. Firstly, I really can't see how celibacy in and of itself leads to child abuse. If it did, every man who wasn't having sex regularly would become a danger to children, which is clearly nonsense. I suspect the nub of the problem is the RULE of celibacy rather than the practice. Where it is expected that a man of a particular profession should remain celibate, nobody gives his unattatched status any notice. Simply put, he doesn't stand out. Add to that the fact that priests once had automatic respect in society and were trusted absolutely and what you have is the perfect cover for men who where ALREADY paedophiles. They would have been drawn to the cloth like flies to the proverbial. That being said, however, I still think that priests should be allowed to marry, but not for reasons of child protection (remember, the biggest single group of child abusers was always and remains to this day fathers abusing their own children), but simply because I think it would be a good thing for them and for the Church.

    Secondly, I have to say I find it incredibly difficult to believe the report's conclusion that boys were abused more than girls only because of their greater availability. In fact, I don't believe it at all. It strikes me as an extremely right-on effort to absolve gay men of wrongdoing and I simply don't buy it. I believe that the majority of victims were boys because the majority of abusers were gay men. It doesn't follow from this that gay equals paedophile, but we need to get past the idiotic notion that being a member of a minority gives you a free moral pass in life. It doesn't; get over it.

    Finally, how much did the bishops know? I suspect there was very little they didn't know, but they were utterly delinquent in their response. There is a rule in Catholicism that one 'must not give scandal to the Church'. It's a good rule, but unfortunately the bishops seem to have interpreted it to mean that when someone does wrong, you cover up for them. That attitude is what's killing the Church, even more than the abusers. Had the bishops come down on these men (if you'll pardon the expression) like the wrath of God at the first transgression the Church would be the stronger for it, and so would the rest of society. Oh, and at the risk of making it sound like an afterthought, there would also have been a lot less children abused over the decades too.

  • Comment number 3.

    What I find interesting in the report is this

    Other bishops, often in dioceses where the Catholic Church was highly influential, were slow to recognize the importance of the problem of sexual abuse by priests or to respond to victims. The media often focused on these 'laggards,'

    It's a problem for Catholicism if people outside the faith view Catholic culture as more susceptible to this type of abuse. This immediately brings up the celibacy rule- it's abstract and prone to being overridden by natural urges -but it's the culture of the Church thats created this problem in the first place. It shouldn't become an issue of gay men being scapegoated. It's very often the institutionalisation & conditioning of abuse & cruelty, at a formative age, which affects behaviour in later life- & is then perpetuated.Sort of like a closed loop, alt culture many young Catholics were subjected to. Perhaps the worst offenders being those brought up in an environment of Catholic care homes, boarding schools & orphanages, but who stayed in the system till death. Im sure this problem is not a mid/late 20th century one. I would hazard a guess this cycle of abuse has been played out for as long as the apparatus was in place for it to be. It's just that now our culture is more open and forthright about talking and dealing with things in the open- with the hope of eradicating such abuses of power

    Post 2
    ...but we need to get past the idiotic notion that being a member of a minority gives you a free moral pass in life. It doesn't; get over it.

    A heterosexual marriage doesn't make anyone a bastion of morality. It's the same stereotyping which handed Priests automatic respect in the first place. People think showboating a way of life is some Disney style pass to heaven.Very often real faith has nothing to do with the dogma or apparatus of Religion or Church life, but means quietly respecting yourself & anothers right to happiness , accepting difference, not harming others or treating them as second class citizens.

    People unfamiliar with Catholicism may see a religion failing to meet the demands of the modern world- a failure to embrace it and a failure to withstand it. The heirachy should normalise the culture of the Church. Allow people to marry, allow women priests. It would breathe new life into it & there are plenty of progressive, theologically literate Catholics who would know how to steer the Church if it did change direction (for the better)
  • Comment number 4.


    I think you have missed the point the report was attempting to make about sexuality.

    As I understand it the point was that many of the cases of abuse by priests against boys were by priests who did not identify as gay, but rather they simply took advantage of an opportunity and the cover that their position afforded. It is similar to sexual activity which occurs in prison between men, not all the men having sex with men in prison are gay but circumstances (and the fact that only men are available) only allow for same sex relationships. For many of them (and I would suspect the same is true of priests) it is more of a power thing rather than of sexual attraction or sexuality.

    No-one expects a free pass - but everyone expects the truth to be understood and even when complicated nuances like this are included people expect that the correct conclusions are drawn. This report acknowledges that not all men who have sex with men are gay, some are some are not. The report further acknowledges that those that are gay abused in no greater levels than those who were heterosexual so ruling out being gay as a factor in determining likelihood to abuse.

  • Comment number 5.

    This is a substantial report that tells us that the Catholic Church has fewer paedophile priests than the general public think. Of the 4392 priest-abusers described in the Nature and Scope study 98 (3.8 per cent) were paedophiles. A much larger group of priest-abusers - 474 (18.9 per cent) - were ephebophiles. This category of priest-abusers preyed on children aged 13 to 17 (I'm not sure what happened to 12 year-olds).

    If my very quick reading of the report is correct, for a priest-abuser to be classified as either a paedophile or an ephebophile he must have had 2 or more victims and be a "specialist". If a priest was found guilty of abusing, say, either a single toddler, a single 13-year-old, or a toddler and a 13-year-old, it would be inaccurate to describe him as either a paedophile or a ephebophile. Is this correct?

    We have seen many times how priests lie in court and force traumatised witnesses to testify. Where a priest has been convicted of only one offence is it reasonable to assume that this was his only outbreak of perversity? Recently, there was a court case involving a perverted priest who visited the home of two little girls aged under 11 at bath-time. He fought the case tooth and nail, but was found guilty of sickening abuse. I would like to know how this pervert would be classified. Had he abused only one of the girls would it have made a difference?

  • Comment number 6.

    "The peak of sexual abuse incidents in the Catholic Church occurred at a time of social upheaval."

    Does this argument hold true for Ireland?

    If countries experience more social upheaval are we then likely to expect an increase in the numbers of priest-abusers, particularly in light of the fact that measures designed to screen them out are likely to prove ineffective?

    In a section entitled "Condemning the Condemners" a techniques used by priest-abusers to justify their sickening acts is outlined. The abusers, we are told, blame church leaders "for the abuse and/or the responses to the accusations". Does this not show how deluded they really are? The story of priest-abusers has been one of cover-up after cover-up by the Church authorities!

    "No one priest said that the vow of celibate chastity was the actual problem but what they learned (or did not learn) about the realities of this particular religious practice was the central issue."

    What, did none of them know about sex or experience a sexual urge before signing up? So, it is nothing to do with celibacy and more to do with loneliness and isolation! Some of the most prolific priest-abusers have been charismatic individuals - the life and soul of the party. Priests with "pro-social" identities can be abusers too.

    "3 per cent of priests with allegations of abuse were criminally convicted and about 2 per cent received prison sentences."

    I find it very hard to believe that victims would have been mistaken or motivated by malice concerning the 97 per cent of priests who were not criminally convicted.

  • Comment number 7.

    Thank you, Will: for bringing us this latest and insightful summary of pedophile-priest research.
    Re: your queries “Serial abusers… How were they different from the non-serial abusers? How were they different from priests in general?” I think we can expect silence here as fellow poster, newlach, pointed out in an earlier thread: “In recent years new "recruits" have apparently be subject to psychological testing with a view to screening out potential child molesters…”.
    Its part of the Church’s profiling test which is best kept confidential and secret for greater effectiveness.

  • Comment number 8.

    Others say its the prevalence of homosexuality amongst the priesthood

    Eh are people still blaming gay people? Thats the kind of rubbish youd hear from fundies or the the Catholic League.

    How do lesbians make priests abuse boys?

    Or how does someone who is gay make someone torture and rape children?

    Being in a consentual gay relationship or a straght one for that matter cause people to torture or rape children.

    Religions like to control people torturers and rapists like to control people too while the do their dastardly deed how about making up links like that instead of blaming homosexuality or secularist or everythingelse the church can think of other than blaming themselves.

  • Comment number 9.

    Firstly, it's strange for Karen Terry to moan about overly simplistic reactions when her soundbite:

    The increased frequency of abuse in the 1960s and 1970s was consistent with the patterns of increased deviance of society during that time.

    is sitting there on John Jay Colleges's website in an introduction to the report. If are we not to infer common causation, why say it?
  • Comment number 10.

    Anyway, on a quick skim, I can't see how the claim that there was a big increase in the swinging sixties and the sordid seventies is justified. In society at large there was massive concern about child abuse, both sexual and non sexual in the sixties and seventies, but nobody thinks that it was a new phenomenon - it was an uncovering of what was already there but had never been widely recognised. The Catholic church would have had its own factors, but it stretches credulity to think that what was true for society at large wasn't true for the Catholic church as well.

    It looks to me as if the researchers are bending over backwards to pander to the view, common among the Catholic faithful that it was the loose morals of changing times that caused the crisis. (The term is scare quoted several times in the report, which is illuminating). It is not clear to me how the factors highlighted in the report - the rise in extra marital sex, the rise in crime, the use of drugs etc - as relevant to the "crisis" are relevant at all, even if there was a massive rise in the rate of abuse at that time.

    The crime rise is partially explicable in terms of the drug trade - the legacy that lives on. Users being convicted of possession and robbing to finance their habits, dealing, smuggling, turf wars - these pumped up the crime figures, but where is the connection between that and child sexual abuse - by priests? As for the rise in extra marital sex - in the population at large there is an argument to say it would tend to decrease the abuse of minors, as outlets for consensual sex outside marriage would be a preferred option for those that way inclined. But again, how the sex lives of the outside world was supposed to affect the priesthood is anyone's guess.

  • Comment number 11.

    So, I'd say the data is “consistent” with there being no big increase in the sixties and seventies, but with the Catholic Church, like society at large, coming to realise there was a dark secret in its midst. Changing social attitudes over that time, such as a decreased automatic respect for authority figures led to younger members of the laity speaking out in situations where their predecessors kept quiet.

    Also consistent with what we know from the report is that the Catholic Church responded by taking steps to ensure the priesthood became less likely to abuse minors than previously, which is, of course, to be applauded. Unfortunately, this was accompanied by a determination to keep the reputation of the Church intact and led to a disregard of secular law and the well being of victims. In that regard, at least, I think Casur has it right. It's the systemic abuse of the victims as a whole that is the real “crisis”, where those who hold themselves up as moral arbiters have the dirtiest hands of all.

  • Comment number 12.

    It seems to me that, disappointingly for people with an anti-authority, therefore anti-Catholic agenda, this detailed report does indeed strengthen the view held by many Catholics, that the abuse of children should be seen in the context of the "patterns of increased deviance of society during [the 60s and 70s]." Before AIDS there really was an 'eruption' of extra-marital sex, among both hetero- and homo-sexuals, which profoundly shook the moral foundations of society - if you'll pardon my precarious metaphor - as indeed it was intended to, by many of those who were involved. Self-control was the norm for generations, then the Pill arrived, homosexuality was de-criminalised, and suddenly - 'anything goes'. What was 'abnormal' became 'normal' and vice-versa. It doesn't excuse the abhorrent actions of some priests, but in this context i think it is reasonable to say that almost everyone re-calibrated their notions of what was or was not tolerable behaviour. The fact that Poland, having a relatively very high number of priests, was not exposed to this 'sexual revolution' (that's what it was called, remember), and has been barely touched by child clerical abuse allegations (they have their own controversies re. collaboration with the authorities etc), further indicates that the dereliction of morals in the West was at least a very important factor.

    At this point i think it should be noted that it is the Church which forcibly speaks out against a creeping 'normalisation' of child sexual abuse, in the way it is conducted as a lucrative form of slavery in the far East and other places.

  • Comment number 13.


    I'm impressed. You manage to take out of the report exactly the opposite of what the authors say. Perhaps, and this maybe hasn't occured to you, that the reason Poland has been 'barely' touched, is that due to the national origins of the previous pope (just given Pope of the Year award) and that Poland still retains an unfortunate attitute that the church is always right, the abuse has been covered up more successfully than normal.

    Besides, if it's the increase in 'sexual deviancy' ( nice to see how you really view homosexuals there) that caused all the abuse, then why has child abuse in the secular field been reduced?

    Despite the opening of people's sexual attitudes, child abuse is, and always will be, abuse and not 'normal'. You, and others like you, will always try to equate homosexuality with deviancy and paedophillia, but the link isn't there. Even this report shows that.

    What you think, your opinion on the causes for the abuse scandals, is irrelevant, as it's wrong.

  • Comment number 14.

    Relating to Ireland, found this which is quite interesting Liturgy of Lament & Repentance for the Sexual Abuse of Children by Priests & Religious

    It mentions for a brief period in the 1940's, child victims of sexual abuse were able to speak about their abuse in confidence at a "Soldality" & identify their abusers. The sodality was then discontinued

    The management did not listen to or believe children when they complained of the activities of some of the men who had responsibility for their care. At best, the abusers were moved, but nothing was done about the harm done to the child. At worst, the child was blamed… and was punished severely

    Witnesses spoke of being belittled and ridiculed on a daily basis....Personal and family denigration was widespread, particularly in girls’ schools. There was constant criticism and verbal abuse and children were told they were worthless.

    It's no surprise there's been a backlash against organised religion in some parts of the world
  • Comment number 15.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 16.

    I agree. If you look at events following the introduction of the birth control pill there seems a downward spiral of societal decency. Sex sells & society has been a willing buyer, sad to say. I don't think we realize what we have lost.

  • Comment number 17.


    Define 'societal decency' please, without reference to subjective personal values of your own. In addition, please show how this has been on a 'downward spiral' by, for example, comparing it to previous generations and how this is reflected in the lower crime rates, higher standards of living and improved education levels currently being experienced.

    If you scrutinise the past, especially the attitudes and behaviour exhibited before the Victorian era, you'll notice that sexual attitudes were a lot more lax, and considerably more lax the further back you go. Current cultural values, held by America in particular, are a result of Puritan influences in the past 100 years and the liberalisation since the 1960's is merely a return to attitudes previously held, buoyed up by the freedom that the contraceptive pill now gives women to avoid the risks of conception.

  • Comment number 18.

    I think it's rather subjective personal hedonism that has affected societal decency.

  • Comment number 19.

    Mscracker, What about 1940's Ireland? This is about the maltreatment of children in the Church's care. Apportioning blame somewhere else isn't very useful. For example, can harking back to a pre 60's time really demonstrate the actions of the Church were a shining example of social & moral decency- in view of abuse children were exposed to by the Church in the 30's & 40's?. Can blaming the pill or "hedonism" in the 60's & 70's exonerate the behaviour of the Church prior to these events? It's swings and roundabouts. Some things improve, some don't. I would hazard a guess the Church just carried on business as usual, until prompted by the changing society around it to clean up its act.

    Mens behaviour hasn't changed over millenia. The "moral" Victorians weren't any better, Catholic male clergy in 1930'/40's Ireland weren't any better. The only difference with the introduction of the pill from the 60's onwards is some levelling out of the sexes when it comes to sexual freedom and independence. It's created a level playing field, more transparency & honesty about how people conduct their lives & not just the hypocritical "front" people put up for society to protect their social standing & reputation.

  • Comment number 20.


    In other words, you don't see it as right, therefore it's wrong?

  • Comment number 21.

    The hedonism theory is my own & may or may not be correct. My personal values are not solely my own but are based on Catholic teaching & scripture, neither of which which I understand you believe in.
    And as a woman, I don't believe the birth control pill has helped women a bit.Our fertility is an integral part of our sexuality & being women.Rather than respect that, the Pill allows our sexuality to be treated as another commodity.Just my personal thoughts.

  • Comment number 22.

    Another attempt by the Catholic Church to shift the blame and smear Vatican II. The music playing in the background when the priest had his hands down my pants was not Janice Joplin, Creadance, The Who or Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young.

    It was Gregorian Chant!

  • Comment number 23.

    Sorry mscracker didn't intend to put so many question marks in, was not meant to come across grouchily! If you're interested, scroll down the link in post 14, you'll see the Lord's prayer written in the Irish language. Whenever I used to go (cajoled) to mass with my gran, it was always spoken in Irish. In Scotland,they also speak gaelic at some of the masses in the Highlands & Islands

  • Comment number 24.


    Dear Ryan,
    I appreciate your posts & I am in no position to make comments on the Church in Ireland.I would certainly defer to you in that.
    I agree that our actions as human beings are little changed over the centuries.We all fall short & have a weakness towards sin.
    Thank you for the link to the Our Father in Irish. I've heard bits & pieces of Gaelic spoken on the radio & TV. It's a beautiful language & one my ancestors spoke years ago, too.
    The prayers to St. Joseph in that same link were lovely, also.Thanks!

  • Comment number 25.

    Some people may find this article helpful https://www.nationalreview.com/articles/print/267600

  • Comment number 26.


    It's not really helpful as it contains inaccuracies, subjective conclusions and where the data does not support what they want to be the conclusions they unashamedly and blatantly make calls to incredulity.

    "... it may be that no clinically or statistically demonstrable linkage will be found, but it strains credulity to suggest that there wasn’t a cultural connection here"

    is about as blatant as it gets. Where there is no evidence we will infer it coz we are right.

    As an article it about as pro catholic morality and anti homosexual as I would expect (even had a swipe at vatican 2 as RJB noted), it is an attempt to bring the subjective morality of part of the catholic church to real world evidence and in that it is, at the least, dishonest.

    So helpful to people of a certain moral and religious standpoint as it supports the views they already had but not useful in an objective look at the causes of the abuse scandal in the catholic church, the original reports conclusion were better.

  • Comment number 27.


    I can't make out if the qualifying term in your post was 'some people' or 'may', but I found it more than a little baised and without proper references or bibliography.

  • Comment number 28.

    You guys crack me up - "without proper references or bibliography". It was a comment piece in a magazine.

    Here's the elephant in the room: “the majority of victims (81 percent) were male, in contrast to the distribution by victim gender in the United States [where] national incidence studies have consistently shown that in general girls are three times more likely to be abused than boys.”

    Anyone care to explain it?

  • Comment number 29.


    ".........Anyone care to explain it?"

    I thought the report already did, you may not like the answer because it does not fit with what you would prefer the answer to be, but there is an answer given.

  • Comment number 30.

    Oh yeah, I forgot; 81% of victims were male but it's nothing to do with homosexuality. What was it again, sunspots?

  • Comment number 31.


    I think that's what the report said, although i don't think your assertion of sunspots was there.

    You keep trying to blame homosexuality and you can't even get studies paid for by your own church to back you up.

    There is no evidence from your own church or from wider society to even suggest what you are trying to assert. In fact other explanations have been given - you just do not accept them. That is the nature of prejudice - it's irrational.

    You clearly do not understand homosexuality (or don't want to) nor do you understand the conditions under which heterosexuals engage in same sex activities whether consensual or not. I have already indicated about activities in prisons but similar evidence exists to show of it in the navy, the army, boarding schools, prostitution, pornography and in your own seminaries (between priests). Some of these are driven by need, some by money, some by loneliness and some by the exertion of power.

    You also cannot recognise that the male rape and consensual temple prostitution in you bible are not about homosexuality.

    I am not saying that no homosexuals have ever abused children but all creditable research (much of which is accepted by the catholic church, although not you) shows that homosexuals are no more likely to abuse than those of any other sexuality.

  • Comment number 32.

    28,Maybe the stats reflect accessibility. If Priests instead of Nuns ran Catholic Institutions for girls- such as Convent Schools, care homes for girls,reformatories etc, the stats may have then reflected that. From the reports in Ireland at least, it's clear Institutions run by Nuns had a high level of psychological abuse but not the level of level of sexual or serious physical abuse. At least the Catholic Church segregated control along gender lines.

  • Comment number 33.

    If 81% of the victims of clergy sexual abuse were male, why was it that the victims presented to the Pope on his recent visit to Britain were mostly, eh, female?

    From the very first time this debate surfaced on here, McCamley has attempted to pin the blame for abuse on so called 'modernists' and 'liberals.' Just exactly what the Catholic Church has done.

    The real elephant in the room is Ratzinger's total innaction over quarter of a century. His determination to now return us to pre-Vatican II Church is a disaster - for children.

    Abusers were produced in very austere, strict seminary systems where sexuality was never even discussed and certainly frowned upon. These immature 'men' were then unleashed on parishes and schools, subject to the same sexual urges as all men, but terrified of adult relationships, they acted out their carnal desires on defenseless kids.

    The Church will never admit this, so gay men and any other soft target will do.

  • Comment number 34.


    Serious referencing understanding fail.

    The magazine article talked about a study which was, apparently, independant and all that jazz. However, it gave no source for that study, didn't provide a link to where it was published or if it was available online. I could quote stats from a report that said all religious fanatics are inbred homophobes with the intention of using that 'report' to cover my own bigoted views, but without providing a reference to that report, I may as well have made it up!

    I'm sure the study they use was independant (although given it stemed from a Catholic funded educational facility I find that hard to believe), but without giving people the opportunity to review it themselves, you may as well pull the stats from your behind.

  • Comment number 35.

    mccamleyc writes:

    "Oh yeah, I forgot; 81% of victims were male but it's nothing to do with homosexuality. What was it again, sunspots?"

    100% of the abusers had taken vows of celibacy, so perhaps that's the cause. But the researchers rule out both explanations. Abusers - all male for obvious reasons - targeted the children available to them and during that time period this meant they had considerably more access to boys. In other contexts the same abusers also targets girls, and some vulnerable adults. Let's repeat the point: rape has nothing to do with love, desire or the expression of sexuality; it's about power, domination, abuse and violation.

    Similarly, researchers rule out the celibacy explanation. There are many more examples of celibate priests who do not abuse children or adults.

  • Comment number 36.

    100% of the abusers were also Catholic priests - someone with bad grasp of statistics and a desire to push a point could use this report, and it's statistic that 100% of all abusers were priests, to claim that all abuse, ever, is done by priests.

    Using the limitations of a study to claim things that are beyond the scope of said study is dishonest, however commonplace.

    I'd have to see similar reports conducted in other organisations with such levels of contact between authority figures and potential victims before any objective claims could be made.

  • Comment number 37.


    There was no cover-up of abuse in Poland. There just wasn't any abuse. Revealingly, and this is why mccamleyc's link is useful, there also wasn't any of the sort of dishonest intellectual and moral contortionism which is necessary to incorporate fashionable garbage into Catholic teaching.

  • Comment number 38.


    Are you sure there has been no abuse in Poland ?, I would be careful of pinning the crux of your argument on that one.

  • Comment number 39.

  • Comment number 40.


    Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

    Given the behaviour of the catholic church in other locales, I'd be more willing to believe that the church covered up the abuse as opposed to their being none at all.

  • Comment number 41.


    Yep - and there are several more cases and even a concern that Poland is the next Ireland being expressed, but that extreme is more speculation based on unsolicited victim statements coming into press outlets (who do suffer some gagging) rather than court cases.

    Not sure if Theophane left himself enough wriggle room to do a Camping.

  • Comment number 42.

    I can't believe I used their instead of there.

    Forgive me, all of you.

  • Comment number 43.


    I am not sure that I can forgive you - you do not seem to be tortured with enough guilt. Of course their is always the collection plate!

    Polish nun child abuser (see 39) worked in a place run by God's Mercy Convent.

  • Comment number 44.

    "Church of England senior clergy and Sussex Police have been criticised over how they dealt with claims of abuse by two Sussex paedophile priests."


  • Comment number 45.

    Sorry to say Ryan et al, but your examples actually reinforce what i said;

    "There wasn't any abuse."

    Your cases are from the last twenty years, after Poland has been exposed to the 'sexual revolution' of western countries, also known as the culture of death; ie pornography, the commodification of women's sexuality which mscracker referred to, and other "deviance" (to use the report's term).

  • Comment number 46.


    #37 "There was no cover-up of abuse in Poland. There just wasn't any abuse."

    #45 "Your cases are from the last twenty years..."

    So is there abuse or not?

    To try and blame the sexual revolution is strange, given priests are supposed to be celibate.

    And if it were the sexual revolution, then why have case child abuse cases outside the clergy decreased in occurance in the last 30 to 40 years?

  • Comment number 47.

    Aaaah, so the answer to the problem of clergy sexual abuse of children is...... let's all live in a Communist State. Problem solved!

  • Comment number 48.

    Or maybe an over-powerful religion in a Communist State is just the best way to keep it quiet.

    Without evidence to the contrary an equally plausible explanation of Theophanes statements is that the only reason we are hearing about child abuse in Poland now is that it is only in the last 20 years has anyone been able to speak about it. Poland still is where Ireland was 25 years ago - in thrall to the catholic church and made worse because they feel so grateful to have had a pope picked from their midst.

    Theophane has chosen his explanation from several based on nothing more than his wish to present the sexual revolution as a bad thing and to project that as an excuse for clerical actions elsewhere. That is called opportunism and deflection not reality and he needs significantly more than wishful thinking to blame the catholic churches ills worldwide on a possibility conjectured out of a specific (and somewhat unique) set of circumstances in Poland.

  • Comment number 49.

    There seems to be a slight disconnect if on the one hand, Pope John Paul II is celebrated & lauded as being a decisive factor in the fall of Communism in Europe, yet on the other his actions apparently ushered in a "culture of death".

    Except for a brief period between 1947/8-1956 when Poland was under the tight grip of Stalinism, the Catholic Church in Poland fared pretty well (all things considered) through the mid/late 20th Century

    This traces the power, influence & control of the Catholic Church through that period
    The Polish Catholic Church and the State

  • Comment number 50.


    Theo's not good with dichotomies, there is too much reality to cope with. But you are right, if what Theo says is true then JPII bringing down communism in his home did indeed bring in this culture of death and so by his own action started the abuse in Poland. Not sure that's the miracle they are scrabbling for.

    Mind you, what mccamleyc says I am responsible for because I don't like religion I think I have had more impact than the pope lol.

  • Comment number 51.

    Religious sex-criminals exist not only in the Catholic Church. In this case a 14 year-old girl was "kept tied to a tree like an animal and raped repeatedly by a religious fanatic" for 9 months. The fanatic's insanity plea was rejected and he received an appropriate jail sentence.


  • Comment number 52.

    There's an analysis of the report by blogger Miranda Celeste here.

    An interesting, to put it mildly, point she brings up involves:

    Pedophilia? "It is inaccurate to refer to abusers as 'pedophile priests'" because "less than 5 percent of the priests with allegations exhibited behavior consistent with a diagnosis of pedophilia (a psychiatric disorder that is characterized by recurrent fantasies, urges, and behaviors about prepubescent children)."(p. 3) "'Generalists' or indiscriminate offenders, constituted the majority of abusers...." (p. 119)

    It transpires that it is only inaccurate to refer to abusers as paedophiles if you decide arbitrarily to redefine paedophilia. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, heavily referred to in the report, defines it thus:

    A. Over a period of at least 6 months, recurrent, intense sexually arousing fantasies, sexual urges, or behaviors involving sexual activity with a prepubescent child or children (generally age 13 years or younger).

    B. The person has acted on these urges, or the sexual urges or fantasies cause marked distress or interpersonal difficulty.

    C. The person is at least age 16 years and at least 5 years older than the child or children in Criterion A.
  • Comment number 53.

    That definition can be found here.

    Anyway, the John Jay report handily lowers the age limit to below eleven, leading them to claim that the vast majority of abusing priests are not paedophiles. However, using the DSM definition, ie the one coming from people who actually know what they are talking about, it turns out that nearly 73% of victims are in the range that could identify the abuses as paedophiles.

    Another point Celeste brings up is the conflict of interest arising out of the funding for the report - with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops stumping up half the $1.8 million and various other Catholic bodies chipping in the rest. The USCCB had the final say on whether the report was published or not.

    So, ask yourself, you work for five years on report that will probably not see the light of day if the the bishes don't like it. What you gonna do?

  • Comment number 54.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 55.


    "To try and blame the sexual revolution is strange, given priests are supposed to be celibate."

    I can't help wondering - have you actually read any of the information contained in this report?

    "And if it were the sexual revolution, then why have case child abuse cases outside the clergy decreased in occurance in the last 30 to 40 years?"

    I assume you are talking about institutions like schools, scout groups etc. The report makes clear that allegations and sanctions began to be taken much more seriously from about the mid 1980s, so there was a sharp reduction across the board. It seems that child sexual abuse was, to some extent, a particularly foul 'unintended consequence' of the sexual revolution.

  • Comment number 56.

    To the question of partiality; isn't it reasonable to point out that, if the Church hadn't requested and funded a detailed study of the child abuse scandal, she would be (justly) condemned for a lack of contrition and compassion for the victims.

  • Comment number 57.


    "...the Catholic Church in Poland fared pretty well (all things considered) through the mid/late 20th Century"

    This (and it comes out to some extent in the article you link to) was thanks in large part to the fearless and brilliant leadership of first Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski, then Blessed John Paul II. The greatest 'concrete' triumph of the Church (to which, as i've said elsewhere, hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of Polish children and young adults owe their lives), was the restoration of constitutional protection of the inalienable human rights of unborn children. Democracy was also established; but it wasn't all "sweetness and light" that arrived from the West - was it? And by the way, if the authorities in Poland had had the slightest whiff of a credible allegation of clerical sexual abuse before 1989, it would have been blown up bigger than John Profumo, Lord Lucan and Monica Lewinski combined.

  • Comment number 58.

    Actually, i feel bound to say that #56 should have been addressed to grokesx, but i wasn't sure if we were on 'speaking terms', which seems sillier and siller the more i think about it.

  • Comment number 59.


    So was there abuse in Poland or not?

    And if so, it is because JP2 helped eliminate communism from the country?

  • Comment number 60.

    grokesx @52

    Thanks for sticking that in. Who would have thought that a theological diagnosis of a condition (which they know nothing about except how to cover it up) would let the church try and lay the blame elsewhere. Do these people think we are all stupid?

    I said to mccamleyc a little while ago, why would I go to a priest for a diagnosis of a medical condition when the people who actually know about it say there is nothing wrong with me. His answer was that the medical people were manipulated - paranoid stuff or a man who knows he has no argument?

    Theo is in the same vein, in thrall to shaman type bone rattling (or digging up people and parading them and praying to vials of their blood) I do wonder sometimes.

    I am really interested in the Camping that Theophanes will go through to backpeddle from the JP2 caused child abuse in Poland by liberating it from Communism. The corrollary of that is that catholicism is not safe without an autocratic regeme to curtail it. Interesting discussion ?

  • Comment number 61.

    On the subject of theological diagnosis I was gratified to read this today _

    Christian ‘gay cure’ therapist guilty of malpractice

  • Comment number 62.


    "So was there abuse in Poland or not?

    And if so, it is because JP2 helped eliminate communism from the country?"

    What i will concede is that, while communism has been effectively wiped out, the 'dictatorship of relativism', spawned in the West, is still at large.

    Here perhaps is a useful summary of Pope Benedict's pre-eminent 'bete noir', from Michael Novak, writing for the National Review Online on the 19th of April 2005;

    "...the new dictatorial impulse declares that the only view permissible among reasonable people is the view that all subjective choices are equally valid. It declares, further, that anyone who claims that there are objective truths and objective goods and evils is “intolerant.”"

  • Comment number 63.

    @Theo #58

    I wasn't aware we aren't on speaking terms. I might be a baby murder supporting fascist/communist, but I usually try to mind my ps and qs.

    To the question of partiality; isn't it reasonable to point out that, if the Church hadn't requested and funded a detailed study of the child abuse scandal, she would be (justly) condemned for a lack of contrition and compassion for the victims.
    But the point is, the study that she(?) funded is heavily compromised by the retention of a veto on publication. It has every appearance of a report navigating its way to a pre-determined conclusion. As theologians, the bishes would see nothing wrong with that, but academics should.
    It seems that child sexual abuse was, to some extent, a particularly foul 'unintended consequence' of the sexual revolution.

    Of course, that's why it is so widespread in that haven of sexual openness, India. It would also explain the child prostitution in Victorian England.
  • Comment number 64.


    Happy Easter!

    In the past there was a conventional view of the Catholic Church as "the scarlet woman of Rome", scheming and manoeuvring and hungry for political power. If you retain a vestige of this type of thinking you might see 'foul play' in the retention of a veto over publication - as if the cover-up (which is a fair way of describing the initial reactions of some Bishops) is still frantically being carried out. More realistically though, now that the Church is an accepted fixture of public life, this veto seems to me to be perfectly understandable. Governments order 'independent inquiries' with very similar provisos, and no doubt there are other examples. It's worth bearing in mind that the report deals with extremely sensitive and often confidential material.

    "It seems that child sexual abuse was, to some extent, a particularly foul 'unintended consequence' of the sexual revolution."

    The words 'to some extent' are crucial here; though i don't believe you are justified in smearing the entire Indian sub-continent with the idea that child sexual abuse is "so widespread" there, and i must admit that your implication about specifically "child prostitution" (except insofar as female prostitutes would very often have been young teenagers) in Victorian England is news to me.

  • Comment number 65.

    ...and i never said you were a communist (joke).

  • Comment number 66.


    You said "...now that the Church is an accepted fixture of public life..."

    Are you trying to claim that the church has more of a role and purpose in the modern day?

    Seriously? Compared to when? The far future?

  • Comment number 67.


    "Compared to when?"

    I think you know that the comparison is with the past, when English-speaking countries were still coming to terms with the legacy of a certain divorce case and the writings of a gentleman called Martin Luther. As to the future, Catholics don't put any store in crystal balls, but we can take comfort from a particular verse of what you call "an ancient book with dubious integrity" on another thread;

    "And I say unto thee; that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." Matthew 16:18

  • Comment number 68.


    #65 lol.

    Anyway, is 53% enough to count as widespread?

    As for child prostitution, I might be missing something, but if the subset of prostitutes who are children are not involved in child prostitution, then what are they involved in?

    As it happens, the reporting by William Thomas Stead in 1885 of the trade in children for prostitution pretty much marks the start of tabloid journalism, down to the the dishonest way he went about getting the story. He bought a girl for £5, for which he went to prison although he said of his time there: "Never had I a pleasanter holiday, a more charming season of repose."

    The thing is, to try and convince yourself that sexual abuse of children is even partially a product of the disgusting hippies, you have to ignore every bit of evidence going and construct yourself an alternative universe out of your own hopes, fears, prejudices and desires. Of course, as a theist that comes easily.

    And while we are on the subject, how does this consequence come about in your universe, both in the world at large and, more interestingly, among Catholic priests? I was around in the sixties and seventies and I am sure I would have remembered if the slogan was, "Tune in, drop out, make love not war but be sure to rape a child."

  • Comment number 69.

    "Thou art Peter..."

    Yep, that's the one the self-righteous can always fall back on.

    Bishop Stecher of Austria commented on that one. How many times did Jesus exhort his followers to be forgiving, compassionate, understanding, loving?

    He made forgiveness a prerequisite for the Christian life. 70 x 7!!!

    But Theo makes the whole Gospel irrelevant and snatches at three words, "Thou art Peter."



    Theo, why dont you sit down and read this, actually read it and take it in, absorb it and let it touch your heart? I havent read one solitary post of yours which shows an ounce of compassion.

    I preached today about John's words of Jesus, "If you love me, you will keep my commandments."

    It comes straight after Jesus stating, "I give you a new commandment, love one another as I have loved you."

    All of my adult life I have watched one group of Christians - who pride themselves on keeping every single Catholic 'rule' - and yet have treated their own brothers and sisters with shocking harshness.

    Yet I have watched those Catholics who have shown weakness, sinfulness, brokenness and those who have made mistakes - sometimes very public ones - display tremendous compassion for their brothers and sisters. Despite their weaknesses, they have loved one another.

    Theo, you are well versed in every single church rule and regulation, I have absolutely no doubt about that. However, you have not one iota of a clue about Christianity.

    However, on the bright side, at least you are quoting Christ now, surely a move in the right direction and a move away from the tripe you and MCC have been spewing about "hermeneutic of continuity."

  • Comment number 70.


    "Theo, why dont you sit down and read this, actually read it and take it in, absorb it and let it touch your heart?"

    - Because the server doesn't let me (no word of a lie). However, i've been re-reading Pope Benedict's Christmas address to the curia, which you kindly gave me at the end of last year. After a broadside against child pornography, sexual tourism and "the problem of drugs[...]an eloquent expression of the tyranny of mammon which perverts mankind" he goes on;

    "In order to resist these forces, we must turn our attention to their ideological foundations. In the 1970s, paedophilia was theorized as something fully in conformity with man and even with children. This, however, was part of a fundamental perversion of the concept of ethos. It was maintained even within the realm of Catholic theology that there is no such thing as evil in itself or good in itself. There is only a "better than" and a "worse than". Nothing is good or bad in itself. Everything depends on the circumstances and on the end in view. Anything can be good or also bad, depending upon purposes and circumstances. Morality is replaced by a calculus of consequences, and in the process it ceases to exist. The effects of such theories are evident today. Against them, Pope John Paul II, in his 1993 Encyclical Letter Veritatis Splendor, indicated with prophetic force in the great rational tradition of Christian ethos the essential and permanent foundations of moral action. Today, attention must be focussed anew on this text as a path in the formation of conscience. It is our responsibility to make these criteria audible and intelligible once more for people today as paths of true humanity, in the context of our paramount concern for mankind."

  • Comment number 71.


    On the 16th April you reported;

    "My irony meter just exploded."

    Manifestly you have not invested in a new one.

    "...you[...]construct yourself an alternative universe out of your own hopes, fears, prejudices and desires. Of course, as a theist that comes easily."

    What is "constructing an alternative universe out of your own hopes, fears, prejudices and desires" if not the quintessence of atheism?

    I think probably i was wrong to be so 'blase' about the involvement of very young girls in prostituton in Victorian England, but it just seems to be an, albeit sad, 'commonplace' of history.

    The article in the Times of India however needs closer examination (in another post...)

  • Comment number 72.

    This article deals with a...

    "...survey, sponsored by the WCD (Women and Child Development) ministry and carried out by the NGO Prayas in association with Unicef and Save the Children, [which] found that over 50% children were subjected to one or the other form of physical abuse and more boys than girls were abused physically. The first-ever survey on child abuse in the country disclosed that nearly 65% of schoolchildren reported facing corporal punishment — beatings by teachers — mostly in government schools.

    Of children physically abused in families, in 88.6% of the cases, it was the parents who were the perpetrators. More than 50% had been sexually abused in ways that ranged from severe — such as rape or fondling — to milder forms of molestation that included forcible kissing."

    "Forcible kissing"? If ever there was a report having the "appearance of[...]navigating its way to a pre-determined conclusion", to plagiarise your take on the John Jay report, it is this one. There is clearly an ulterior agenda to bring an end to all forms of corporal punishment - very apt in the context of a discussion about hippies, and most ordinary people's experience of them, namely trendy teaching methods.

  • Comment number 73.

    In related articles we learn that;

    "The NCPCR (National Commission for Protection of Child Rights)'s letter to the state reads, "Even a slap is detrimental to the child's right as grievous injury. There are no gradations since it must be seen that condoning so called small acts actually lead to gross violations."The first-ever survey on child abuse in the country disclosed that nearly 65% of schoolchildren reported facing corporal punishment — beatings by teachers — mostly in government schools.


    The report by Plan International, a children's organization here, said India is dubiously ranked third among 13 countries in terms of estimated economic cost of corporal punishment. Plan calculated that anything between $1.4 billion and $7.4 billion was lost every year in India by way of social benefits because of physical ill-treatment in schools. This is premised on how the larger economy is affected by the impact of such punishment, causing poor pupils' attendance and academic performance.

    Only the US and Brazil suffered greater economic damage in the same sphere."

    What is this guff about a slap being "detrimental to the child's right as grievous injury"? And to say that, in terms of "economic cost of corporal punishment", India is "dubiously ranked third" behind the United States and Brazil, is to put it very mildly indeed...

  • Comment number 74.

    N.B. in #73 i've inadvertantly put a bit of the original article at the end of the first paragraph (after "gross violations").

  • Comment number 75.


    Lol, Bishop's Stecher's retirement address. Google it, find it, read it, absorb it then live it.

    I know you read the dogma of Benedict so need to quote any more of it. Its all turgid, dead, suffocating, "I am Peter", nonsense.

  • Comment number 76.

    RJB, the link worked last night. I read most of it ,but when I came back to it today access was forbidden :s

  • Comment number 77.

    What is "constructing an alternative universe out of your own hopes, fears, prejudices and desires" if not the quintessence of atheism?

    Not sure we can go very far with this. The last time I has an argument of this form was when I was six:

    "You are [insert argument here]".

    "No, You are [insert ....]."

    As for the rest, I must say I am a little confused. Is child sexual abuse a sad, commonplace of history or a foul consequence of the sexual revolution?

    And if you think forcible kissing is no big deal, I'm glad you've never been near my kids.

    As for trendy teaching methods in Indian schools. Well, I've had some experience of the Indian Education system and trendy it ain't. Suffice to say Wackford Squeers would have found it very much to his liking.
  • Comment number 78.


    I think the address is posted in a variety of places on the net. It was a very good and compassionate speech. My only complaint was that he waited until he was retiring, to make it.

    Still, at least he spoke his truth which is more than we can say for the Cardinals and Bishops today, such is the climate of fear and intimidation presently gripping the Catholic Church.

    Collegiality has been demolished in quite a ruthless manner - a real rupture to the "continuity" of our Church - but you wont hear Theo or MCC mentioning it. It doesnt suit their agenda.

  • Comment number 79.

    RJB, As Dave says in another thread, it's difficult to opt out of being part of a religion's "head count", so it's hard to quantify who they're actually speaking for outside of those who actively engage and support the Church. If Theo & Mccamely are the Vatican apparachiks, you're good at representing a moderate,liberal Catholicism. If a large percentage of Catholics don't attend Churh regularly, their views are less likely to be reflective of conservative trends, or the current politics of the Church

    This is a report exploring attitudes of Catholics in America, Dave might also find it interesting

    Catholic attitudes & LGBT issues

  • Comment number 80.

    "Church youth leader had sex with schoolgirl"

    The sexual abuse of minors by the religious is not confined to the sickening acts of paedophile priests. In this case a former captain of Friends school rugby team exploited a child, causing lasting harm both to the youngster and to her wider family.


  • Comment number 81.

    And widening the scope slightly further still, beyond kids, there is this report of women who lived under what were almost slave labour conditions in church-run laundries.


  • Comment number 82.

    An example of what is going on in the RC Church was a recent incident in Rome. World renowned preacher, Timothy Radcliffe of the Dominican order of priests was booked to give the keynote speech to Caritas' international gathering in Rome, later this year.

    Unfortunately, Timothy said Mass for an LGBT group in London a while back. He has now been 'uninvited' and his place will be taken by the Pope's preacher, Cantalmessa.

  • Comment number 83.

    Peter Klaver, I never knew about that. Truely shocking. If the attitudes which facilitated this "depravity" have been swept away by the "sexual revolution" then we can only be thankful

  • Comment number 84.


    As you say. The catholic church must think back fondly of an age where they set the rules, they judged the sinners, they determined the sentence, they executed the sentence, they made a handsome financial profit from it.

    We can think back fondly of that hippy age in the 60s that put an end to it.

  • Comment number 85.


    I grew up very close to the Nazareth Lodge Orphanage and a Good Shepherd Convent (mentioned in Peter's link) and can tell you that by the mid seventies the impact of the hippy age had still to make itself felt in the treatment meted out by the nuns to the orphans, staff and 'fallen women' who lived there and worked in the laundry.

    A favourite was the trapping of hands in the hot press used to iron the sheets, not as a punishment you understand - just to make sure they were paying attention - it might just have been naked cruelty though, or righteous retribution which was a phrase they used.

    We played with the kids and the marks from their punishments were regularly visible. Punishments were for everything from 'moral crimes' to speaking to people outside the orphanage (they were quite often punished just for playing footie with us as 7 - 13 year olds).

    My memory of the nuns is of cruel, frightening bullies, thank goodness I only experienced it second hand - mind you the mouthfuls they could shout at you across the walls was an education to any kid and I knew a couple of kids got a beating for being in the grounds.

    Thankfully it closed soon after (now they minister their care on old people) but the stories continue to surface. Google Nazareth Lodge and you will get a flavour.

    The other things we heard about were about a priest (who turned out to be one Father Fortune, Curate of Holy Rosary Parish on the Ormeau Road) - the boys were particulary wary of him. He has since killed himself over the charges against him both from the Ravenhill/Ormeau area and elsewhere in the Republic of Ireland. Interesting that the sexual revolution had affected him but no-one else in the area - strange thing this sexual revolution.

  • Comment number 86.

    I was under the impression that you were all very aware of these things. I assumed that the likes of Fortune and Brendan Smyth, the laundries etc.. were known about when I was posting about abuse over the last two years.

    You might then understand how gauling it is for someone like myself to read posts by Theophane and MCC apportioning blame for the abuse on hippies, gay people, the parents, the police, liberals, secular society, everybody and their auntie except the archaic, unaccountable, clerical, pious, Latinate, Pharisaic church which they would have us return to.

    Vatican II Council had the honesty to see what was happening and what our church had become. Its attempts at reform have been fought against tooth and claw by one powerful man - Ratzinger! He listens to no-one and has now managed to silence the Bishops, intimidate the Cardinals, excommunicate the theologians, give the mop-buckets and brasso back to women and totally ignore one of the greatest scandals in the history of the Catholic Church.

    And Theophane wants us to ponder a while on this man's spiritual writings?

  • Comment number 87.

    It's quite freaky in a way, I met Fortune 3 or 4 times (quite by chance) when I was about 12 or 13. I was lucky in that it was always in public and my mum was there (not that there was any inkling about him then around the place), but at some level I knew because of what the boys at the orphanage said. I think at that age you don't really compute that sort of thing unless it is happening to you. Now I just feel weird that he patted my head.

    I know, like a lot of people, my Mum thought he was a great guy (she would have met him at least once a week) and when what he had done came out she had real difficulty believing it. For very different reasons the Bishop was round our house a couple of days after it broke and basically told her she had nothing to reproach herself for, how could she have known.

    Oddly, and to support another post on here, even at that age, we all knew what was going on at Kincora - kids talk. I knew 2 brothers who were there for a short period, the older one I am sure was never abused but the younger one 'something happened to' and then his brother beat someone up and it was all never discussed again.

    Oh the joys of East and South Belfast, it's a long way from the aseptic world of mcc and theo.

  • Comment number 88.

    grokesx, #77;

    "...I must say I am a little confused. Is child sexual abuse a sad, commonplace of history or a foul consequence of the sexual revolution?"

    This is the same confusion which i was trying to clear up earlier, by stressing the words "to some extent". Insofar as teenage girls, especially, have always been involved in prostitution, 'child sexual abuse' is a sad commonplace of history. However, the particular 'outbreak' of cases looked at in this report, co-inciding as they do with the 'sexual revolution' of the 1960s and '70s, appear - to some extent - to be an unintended consequequence of said sexual revolution; and this indeed is a finding of the report. The stark contrast with, for instance, Poland, over the same period, would tend to bear this out - oh, unless of course Polish parents from time to time "forcibly kissed" their own children in those years, like those notorious "paedophile parents" of India...

  • Comment number 89.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 90.

    Fair enough.


    I hope all is well. The thing is, as you know, there is an ideological "discrepency", shall we say, between the so-called 'liberal' and 'conservative' "wings" of the Catholic Church. You and i find ourselves, as it were, in opposing camps. I have had a look at Bishop Stecher's retirement address, but i'm afraid it doesn't contain anything which might incline me to go over to your side. It seems reminiscent of the open letter from German theologians earlier this year. For; "We can no longer remain silent", read; "We can no longer resist having a really long-winded moan, because the Pope won't admit that Che Guevara was canonised by Vatican II, and Rome is still dragging its feet over the ordination of married men" and so on and so forth...

  • Comment number 91.


    Come on! Che Guavara??? What utter nonsense!

    Can we talk seriously about Vat II?

    Your last post really doesnt do you any justice. Rome isnt dragging its feet about the ordination of married men. Just as long as they happen to be Anglican.... and right wing!

    Vatican II opened up the Scriptures to Catholics across the globe for the first time in our history. John XXIII was visionary enough to attempt to move us away from a very shallow praxis, a religiosity, towards a living faith where Mass actually flowed into how we treat one another.

    What resulted was not revolution in Bolivia, but ordinary Catholics being urged to practice the Beatitudes, the new commandment - Love one another as I have loved you.

    People who sat beside each other in the pews every Sunday for decades were actually encouraged to communicate about their faith, to get to know each other - to shake hands at the sign of peace. (My grandfather found that abhorrent at first, but to his credit, began to see what that actually meant.)

    The psychologically damaging fire and brimstone sermons and retreats which terrorized Catholics were stopped, by and large, and love was preached - not Hell!

    At midday today, the Vatican announced the new Bishop of Aberdeen, a man who has never served for even half an hour as a priest in an actual PARISH. An Anglican who became a Catholic at the age of 18, was ordained and immediately asked permission to say Mass in Latin every day. He was granted that permission. I have no problem with that. How he lives his spirituality, cloistered in Pluscarden Abbey is his own business. But to make him the new Bishop??????????

    It actually says it all. We dont need to guess any longer at what Ratzinger's agenda really is. Pax vobiscum, brother!

  • Comment number 92.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 93.

    Not sure why #92 was modded, but the bare bones, directed at Theo, was that sexual abuse is defined by the NSPCC as:

    ...when a child or young person is pressurised, forced or tricked into taking part in any kind of sexual activity with an adult or young person. This can include kissing, touching the young person's genitals or breasts, intercourse or oral sex.

    So, the Anglo-Indian phrase forcible kissing is a recognised form of sexual abuse over here as well. There's kind of a clue in the words.
  • Comment number 94.

    OK grokesx;

    This means we're left only with a suggestion, that if an ideologically motivated survey wanted to portray an entire people as having, as it were, "out-moded" "disciplinarian" attitudes towards parenting and education, they could exploit the NSPCC's definition, in order to find that a high proportion of parents "sexually abuse" their children - in virtually any country in the world. The fact that they came up with such a ludicrously inflated figure as 53%, in itself, as far as i can see, should make any normal person smell a rat.

  • Comment number 95.


    Of course, normal people, defined, naturally, as everyone who thinks exactly like you, are bound to see ludicrous inflation of figures in an Indian government report. Funnily enough, though, it has not, as far as I know, been seriously challenged in India since its publication 4 years ago. Maybe normal people in India know more about the subject than you do and know what sexual abuse is.

  • Comment number 96.


    Would that be in the same way that an Indian government agency (evidently under the influence of trendy western theories) knows all about corporal punishment?;

    "Even a slap is detrimental to the child's right as grievous injury. There are no gradations since it must be seen that condoning so called small acts actually lead to gross violations."

    Are there "no gradations" in child sexual abuse either? Is "forcible kissing" (by a parent) the same as rape?

    Recalling mscracker's brilliant phrase;

    "Figures can't lie, but liars can figure".

  • Comment number 97.


    And to use another phrase, debating you is the gift that keeps on giving.

    Bravely standing up against evil forces to defend the right to beat children.

  • Comment number 98.


    Bon soir!

    "Your last post really doesnt do you any justice."

    Blimey - that's not very promising, when the last thing you wrote was;

    "I havent read one solitary post of yours which shows an ounce of compassion."

    The thing is though, er, the bit about Che Guevara was meant to be a joke. In fact, it was supposed to have been part of a sort of 'double-barrelled' joke, but the moderator wouldn't let me fire the second barrel as i'd loaded it, so instead i just stuffed it with the thing about married men.

    About your post;

    "The psychologically damaging fire and brimstone sermons and retreats[...]love was preached - not Hell"

    Why did Jesus accept such a cruel, "shameful", 'excruciating' death, if not to SAVE us? Throughout the Gospels He gives us a promise of eternal life - in conjunction with a warning about eternal death. What otherwise are we to make of the rich man and Lazarus? When the message is watered down it doesn't primarily make

    "people who sat beside each other in the pews every Sunday for decades [talk] about their faith, to get to know each other"

    - it makes them spend their Sundays doing things that seem more important, like washing the car, or visiting the local carpet warehouse.

  • Comment number 99.

    The following appeared recently in the N Y Times. Note the final paragraph from Diarmud Martin,

    "Nobody could have read what I read and not did what I did."

    Yes they could, Diarmud. Ratzinger did.


  • Comment number 100.


    The title of the article works on so many levels,

    "An Archbishop Burns While Rome Fiddles"

    I think the article shows that the mainstream hierarchy of the catholic church, in either Rome or Ireland, have still not got it.


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