German cc study: Abusing priests were psychologically normal

"PARIS (Reuters)- A German Catholic Church study showed most priests found guilty of sexually abusing minors were psychologically normal, according to survey results presented on Friday.

Only 12 percent of those surveyed were diagnosed as paedophiles, said the report released by Trier Bishop Stephan Ackermann, the church’s spokesman on abuse cases.

Psychological tests commissioned by priests’ dioceses around Germany found only five percent could be classified as ephebophiles - attracted to teenagers, it said.

“There are no significant differences to results found in the general population in Germany,” said Dr Norbert Leygraf, one of the experts reviewing reports on predator priests found out in the past decade.

Victims advocate Norbert Denef dismissed the study as biased in favor of the Church that commissioned it, and called for an independent commission to study clerical abuse cases.

“You wouldn’t ask the mafia to investigate its own crimes,” Denef, head of an advocacy group called Netzwerk B, told daily newspaper Die Welt.

A wave of revelations of clerical sexual abuse, with many cases dating from previous decades, shook the German Catholic Church in 2010 and prompted it to order an overall study of diocesan reports to spot any trends."

“The alleged sexual abuse was committed for reasons that can mostly be described as within normal psychological bounds and only a few cases resulted from a specific psychopathology,”

Seems like abuse would by definition be a result of something other than “normal psychology,” although HuffPo doesn’t say how “normal” was defined. And evidently, Leygraf, the researcher, had no explanation as to why so many “normal” males would abuse young people.

And how in the world did the researchers get stats on who was heterosexual/homosexual/bisexual? The only way one could get numbers on that is self-report, which I wouldn’t believe in alot of cases anyways.

The reasons given for selecting boys for abuse are pretty silly too, ie, “they just had more contact with boys.” 1. If a man wanted to abuse girls, he would have found a way to be around them and 2. obviously guys who WANTED to abuse boys/young men infiltrated the priesthood for this reason. I agree with the critics too that research needs to be done by people with little to no stake in the outcome to be believable. If I want credible research on tobacco, I’m not going to RJ Reynolds to find it.


Agreed as well, although I’m not sure how this study could be biased in the Church’s favor.:shrug: By admitting that the majority of abusers were/are psychologically sound, wouldn’t this in fact criticize the Church’s screening methods?

“Agreed as well, although I’m not sure how this study could be biased in the Church’s favor.:shrug: By admitting that the majority of abusers were/are psychologically sound, wouldn’t this in fact criticize the Church’s screening methods?”

lol @ this. Great point, but I guess I’d have to respond, “not necessarily.” Why would the Church need to change or improve the screening process if the men are psychologically normal? How COULD they possibly weed out sexual predators if the predators are “psychologically normal”?

This study just seems SO weak, it’s hard to believe it’s simply HuffPo’s probably-biased reporting on it that makes it seem ridiculous. For the Church or the researchers it commissioned to use the word, “normal,” regarding abuse just seems to…idk, be an effort to normalize or downplay abuse, even if that wasn’t the intended outcome. If they were normal men, what does that mean? That the victims in some way share some of the blame? That the Church doesn’t need to act because there’s nothing anyone can do about “normal” men anyways?

Probably most people don’t realize the Church even has a psychological screening process for seminary candidates and you’re right - the study does raise questions about this process, although so did all the abusers who made it through the process and the joke psychologists who declared so many of the abusers not to be a threat, even AFTER they had abused young people.

Now I see where you were coming from. The bolded part makes sense.

Yeah. This also serves to illustrate the hypocrisy of the liberals when it comes to criticizing all of the scandals. (Not that I’m uncritical myself at the way much of it was handled by Church authorities - I still get angry at the abuse suffered due to the negligence committed) But it’s usually the liberals who are all about “rehabilitating” people, even those who have committed heinous crimes, and releasing them back into society.

I recall reading an article a couple of years ago in which the author documented the number of dioceses (what’s the plural form for that word anyway?:o) that *did *put some of those priests through therapy programs and sent them back to serve parishes on the therapists’ say-so that they had been “rehabilitated”. So when a convicted murderer gets released only to kill again, he just “fell through the cracks”, and the judge who oversaw his release is not convicted of poor judgment. But when a *priest *is professionally deemed to be “rehabilitated” and is released to abuse again. . . . . it’s because the Church is a corrupt institution?

I am a Licensed mental health professional and I can’t really make heads or tails out of what this report says.

I thought I was crazy. I was reading this article and thinking I am sooooo confused…why is this something HuffPo would report?

As I read the linked article, it appears the original study was looking to see if the abusers fit into specific categories of behavioral disorders, and they didn’t. These categories are presumably the European equivalent of the DSM-V. Psychologists, therapists, and clinicians are very supportive of the methodology of defining these categories, because that’s how they get paid. In medical systems that are increasingly socialized, the insurance companies or state health care systems that track therapy for reimbursement like to have disorders defined in neat categories.

I don’t think that’s very realistic, in trying to understand the incredibly broad spectrum of human behavior and misbehavior.

The more Catholic (both big-C and little-c) view is that we are not defined by our categories - one man may have affinity for other men, and the Church recognizes that as a same-sex attraction which could derive from genetics or upbringing or early exposure to unhealthy influences, but he is not a “homosexual,” if that view requires placing him in a rigid box that says his choices and actions are defined by that category. He is, first and foremost, a man, a child of God, and capable of moral choice. Some of those choices may be good, and some not. Sexual behavior and preferences can be quite elastic in some people, and behaviors are inherently capable of self-directed change.

The problem comes when we try to describe human behavior using such semantic distinctions as “paedophile,” “sociopath,” “ephebophile,” and so forth, and begin to think the map is the same as the earth. You commonly hear a lot of nonsense bandied about in abuse debates, such as, “well, heterosexual males are more likely to molest boys.” No, people who molest boys are more likely to molest boys. Behavior is the truth, not psychological categories.

If we look at the research on those who have committed the most vile of crimes - the abduction, sexual assault, and murder of children - less than half test out for psychopathy. If we look at the research on prison rape, few of those involved as aggressors identify as homosexuals. Much of the sexual assaults on children are done by people who just enjoy dominating and hurting less powerful people.

Sometimes, people just choose to do evil things. Categories have little to do with it.

To say that this or that psychological inventory test described an individual as a “paedophile” tells us a little something about the risk factors attached to that person, but by the results of this test, we can only say the (unnamed) psychological inventories used for assessment are fundamentally flawed, or that such categories are essentially meaningless.

My theory is that since homosexuality has been deemed “normal,” no longer in the DSM (or whatever the German equivalent) then homosexual priests are thereby considered normal. They are simply expressing their sexuality in a normal fashion…for a homosexual.

Since I converted to Catholicism at a high point in the scandal, I did a lot of research on the subject. The Jay Report has statistics and information dating back decades. I think to some extent the Church was blindsided by the psychological theories of the time. Priests were sent for “therapy,” deemed “cured” and then sent back into Parishes. As we know now, homosexuality whether genetic (I don’t believe this btw) or conditioned is not something that can be changed easily if at all once the pattern is etched into the brain. Just like true pedophiles can’t be fixed, the better part of valor would have been to remove those men from the Priesthood. I believe it was far more a case of ignorance than malice. Not excusable but certainly understandable given 2020 hindsight.


It is possible for a person to commit great sins and not be crazy.

There will be sane people who will be in Hell.

Are some of the abusers crazy? Of course.

How many? that’s hard to say.

If you murder someone are you necessarily crazy? No–even though murder is crazy.

For that matter ALL sin is crazy.

How can you discern between sexual sins that are sane and those that are crazy?

Sin can be so AWFUL that we automatically say that a person is crazy for choosing it.

Most sexual abusers are never rehabilitated.

Is that because they’re just that evil or just that crazy?

The Catholic Church should do what it can to identify those people that are crazy but even IF it could identify them all–which it can’t–it could never filter out beforehand GREAT sinners who would just do AWFUL things.

It can take action once evil happens–I wish it had perfect foreknowledge but it doesn’t.

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