The Perpetrators in Context. Applying some statistics and a little evidence


#1

It occurs to me with all the news on the PA scandal, and the others that preceded it, it might be really useful if some careful analysis on the perpetrators was done. Not that its’ going to get any light, but in order to really grasp a problem, that has to be done.

Maybe some of this has been done, but here’s what I’m curious about, and occasionally why I’m curious about it.

1. Is there a time line trend on these events, to the extent that we can reliably tell?

The reason I’d be curious about this is that its always portrayed as a current event, or if it is not, it tends to be portrayed in some quarters as a byproduct of a change of the 1960s. But is it? What are we seeing, if anything, regarding the number of events over time?

2. If did occur more frequently at one point in time over another, when did the perpetrators enter the Priesthood?

It will say one thing if most of the perpetrators came in more lately, as opposed to much earlier, but what exactly that says is another question.

Put another way, is there something that happened in the nature of seminaries at some point that resulted in what we’re seeing, in part or in whole? Or is there something about the recruitment of Priests that changed, or just in who was entering the Priesthood? Without knowing when they entered, we can’t really tell.

3. What are the ages and genders of the victims?

It’s constantly said that this doesn’t matter, but it really does in order to understand the behavior. Clearly some of these instances are men taking advantage of girls, but most of them seem to be in the nature of men taking advantage of teenage boys and young men.

That’s wrong and icky, I’m not saying otherwise, but if that is correct the common reply “this isn’t about homosexuality” is really wrong. At least prior to the current views on homosexuality, male homosexual “recruitment” of teenaged males was a well known phenomenon. Now nobody wants to admit that occurred, but it did occur. That’s pretty relevant to what we’re discussing, particularly in regards to what question no. 1 might reveal and might explain some of what we’re seeing and maybe no longer seeing (maybe).

A person ought to go where the data leads to help sort out answers and address a problem. So far, that doesn’t really seem to be the case. I wonder where the data actually leads?


#2

Doesn’t take the John Jay report answer all of these questions?


#3

Maybe it does, I’m just not familiar with it.


#4

You should look it up.

It pretty clearly outlines the fact that this is an issue of homosexual attraction, rather than pedophilia as the media likes to paint it. There were some instances of pedophilia, but the vast majority of instances where an official abused a minor were with a sexually-mature male.

Of course, all instances of abuse within the seminary were between men.

It may not be what people want to hear, but the evidence clearly shows that homosexual attraction is the core problem at work here. If it was merely a matter of being a power play, you would expect to see at least equal representation of women, if not a disproportionately large representation, as we see with the Hollywood scandals.


#5

I did just look it up, thanks for the two of you who pointed it out.

Just taking a look at it, the overwhelming number of incidents are homosexual acts directed at teenage males (and of course homosexual acts directed towards adult males, while against the laws of the Church, would’t show up in this story by and large), which does tell us part of the story.

The second things seems to be that the acts peaked in the 1960s and 1970s, and most of the perpetrators weren’t over 40, which would I suppose tell us something about those entering the Priest hood in the late 1950s through the early 70s, perhaps. But what? And what does that tell us about the seminaries of that period?

And what does it tell us about the situation now. All of these acts are horrific, but there’s always a danger in addressing a human problem if the data shows a peak of activity one period and valleys in others, without considering the peaks and the valleys.


#6

I agree with the statistics, but I disagree that homosexuality is the core of the problem.
The core of the problem is a culture of entrenched power that allows this particular attraction to flourish and abuse others.
Homosexuality has always been with us and will continue to be with us.
The structure of power and influence in seminaries and dioceses will be the tough nut to crack, cause people don’t give up power very easily.
Power corrupts people. Add in the fact that this culture is exclusively male and exclusively celibate, and homosexuality is allowed to flourish in this atmosphere.

Change the culture in seminaries and upper level Church circles. It can be done, and it can be done with complete faithfullness to Church teaching.


#7

I don’t know the answers to your first two questions, but the answer to the third question is that the victims were predominantly male. In the United States, the percentage is usually stated as 80-plus percent male, compared with less than 20 percent female.


#9

As I said in my post. If this was the case, then we would reasonably expect to see an equal representation of female victims. Honestly we should see a greater representation of women since heterosexuals make up a significantly larger portion of the general populous.

Seeing as how this is not the case, and seeing as how in other powerful positions it is the case, you cannot support your position with the facts.


#10

You misunderstand what I am saying. I’m not denying the statistics pointing to male-male abuse.
I’m merely suggesting the root cause is not sexual, it’s abuse of power.
That’s a cultural problem.
And we can change our Church/seminary culture, we can’t eliminate homosexuality.
I hope that makes sense.


#11

I get what you’re trying to say, but I disagree with your conclusion.

I agree that abuse of power is a cause. However, if homosexuality were not also a root cause, we would expect to see representation from female victims roughly in line with what we’ve seen from other abuse venues that are coming to light. The fact of the matter is that the instances of abuse are so overwhelmingly indicative of homosexuality that to ignore it is to entirely fail to address the problem.

Homosexuality is the root cause of this, emboldened by power and a society which celebrates immoral sexual behavior.


#12

Ok, as you state the problem it is hard to argue with.
My question would be, how is that particular problem flourishing in the priesthood/seminary and what can be done to change it? I don’t think trying to eliminate homosexuality is a productive strategy.

Married priesthood comes immediately to mind.
Involvement of more women in formation (not as priests of course).
Somehow eliminating the entrenched power that encourages abuse.

We are hearing from people here that the culture in seminaries and the diocesan priesthood is not broken. I don’t think that’s an adequate perception for the victims of abuse.


#13

What can be done? Exclude individuals with homosexual tendencies.

This flourished because certain officials turned a blind eye to it. It also flourished because, when you put a man with homosexual desires in a setting with other men, it’s just like putting a young man with heterosexual desires in a setting with young women. It’s a recipe for disaster.

Married priesthood won’t solve anything. Married men are just as likely to be abusers as unmarried men. This suggestion once against ignores the root cause of the problem.

Involvement of women also won’t accomplish anything, as it will have no impact on preexisting homosexual desires.

You can’t eliminate “entrenched power” because it doesn’t exist. The Church is a hierarchy, always has been and always will be. You can’t eliminate power without getting rid of the structure of the priesthood.

You solve this problem by holding those responsible accountable, putting severe punishments (defrocking, for starters) in place for abuse, and weeding out people who have these desires to begin with. (Whether they be homosexual, pedophilic, or just general sexual license.) That won’t catch everyone, but it would certainly go a long way towards preventing tragedies like this in the future.


#14

Married priesthood won’t solve anything. Married men are just as likely to be abusers as unmarried men. This suggestion once against ignores the root cause of the problem.

It would not be the same, because the culture is almost exclusively male and is exclusively celibate. There is a difference.
Married men are not just as likely to abuse in this scenario, for the reason you noted above. You don’t have this exclusively male celibate culture. And you have an increasing element of the priesthood that is oriented to healthy well-ordered sexuality. (every human being has a sexual component…)

Involvement of women also won’t accomplish anything, as it will have no impact on preexisting homosexual desires.

But involvement of women changes the culture.

You can’t eliminate “entrenched power” because it doesn’t exist.

It absolutely does exist. It’s self evident that people are entrenched in positions of power who should not be there. That’s why we have this problem.

The Church is a hierarchy, always has been and always will be. You can’t eliminate power without getting rid of the structure of the priesthood.
Not true. The priesthood is not about power, it is about service.

You solve this problem by holding those responsible accountable, putting severe punishments (defrocking, for starters) in place for abuse, and weeding out people who have these desires to begin with. (Whether they be homosexual, pedophilic, or just general sexual license.) That won’t catch everyone, but it would certainly go a long way towards preventing tragedies like this in the future.

I agree with this accountability.


#15

Not if you have someone with deep-seated homosexual desires. Even more so if you get multiple people with those desires in the same setting. You can claim it’s different all you want, but I know plenty of heterosexuals who have failed their vows of chastity when placed in temptation, and I have no reason to assume it would be any different for homosexuals.

I meant that statistically speaking, marriage has no impact on the likelihood that a person will be an abuser. Hence, having married priests would do nothing to address the problem.

There has been an overabundant representation of women in the operation of most churches for decades, and it hasn’t done much to stymied the problem.

Also, you’re making an assumption. It may help, it may not.

You mean that there are people in positions of power, who can be removed by the Pope should it come to it. I agree that these people shouldn’t have power, but they are still subject to the Holy Father, and to their presiding Cardinals and Bishops.

I wasn’t trying to imply that the priesthood was about power. I was only using your language to show that a hierarchy is inherent in the priesthood, and isn’t going anywhere.


#16

On the last several posts here, a couple of comments, regarding the reference I made to married priests as I think the replies might miss the point a bit I think.

Including married priests changes the dynamics not because married men never commit abuses, but rather because in a culture of hetrosexual married men the abuses, such as they are, are conventional and not part of a culture of homsexuality. Whether we are willing to admit it or not, traditionally homosexual subcultures have tended to feature a high degree of promiscuity and the recruitment of young males. Most hetrosexcual misconduct is of a more conventional nature, although not all of it is. As we’re mostly discussing abuses aimed at teenagers, this is worth noting.

That’s not a popular thing to say, but it’s tended to be the truth. It might no longer be the truth in the larger society, now that homosexuality is much less a secret matter than it used to be, but we can question what a homosexual subculture amongst clergy would mean.

That’s why perhaps doing away with the prohibition on married priests might be in order.

Also, fwiw, arguments about power structures and the like lean very heavily on Marxists social order theories which, while they may have some value, are just theories. Lots of times sexual misconduct is just about sex, and disordered sexual misconduct is just about that.


#17

This doesn’t at all explain how married priests would help prevent abuses better than exclusion of homosexual males.


#18

Because they would not be part of a sexual subculture. They’d be acting improperly, if they did so, but they would not be part of a subculture of homosexuality which tends to have, or did once have its own set of behaviors including recruitment.

If that doesn’t appear to at least partially address the problem, that’s likely because people don’t like to admit that such a culture exist, or perhaps existed (the two not being the same).


#19

They’re not supposed to be part of a sexual subculture to begin with. Putting them in a different situation where they’re not supposed to be part of a sexual subculture isn’t going to change anything,

I have no trouble acknowledging the terrible aspects of homosexual subcultures, and I find these aspects to still be just as prevalent today as they were back when homosexuality was less publicly accepted. That has nothing to do with the fact that married priests won’t change anything. In either case, men with homosexual desires acted against their beliefs and professions and engaged in illicit and damaging acts. Married men do that all the time…

I’m out for the day.


#20

I have read about half of the report. The Pennsylvania data goes back 70 years I believe. There are a lot of men born before 1940.
One thing is clear since 2000 or so a better job is being done to turn the offenders over to authorities.

Most of the victims are boys. Most 11 to 18 years old. Clearly most of the offenses are homosexual in nature.

The data cries foe statically analysis. It is a big job and some clear definitions have to be set down. The report includes a few deacons, brothers and other offenders. The vase majority are priest. There are a few cause where a priest touched the child through their clothing. It seems that is a separate category.

I am confident that there will be a lot of study to be sure that we fix what is broken. The news IMO is that the problem affects 6 - 8 % of out priest and the uniform cover up. Another thought I had is maybe because we are all so sinful and the priest hear it all in confession that they become numb and don’t react with shock anymore.


#21

Men don’t become gay because they were recruited into a homosexual subculture. That’s not how it works. Instead, they grow up and discover that they have feelings of sexual attraction to other guys and for a few years, they have to keep it a secret. But the first chance they get, they set out to find their tribe. If they grew up in some small town some place where they don’t know hardly any other gay men, they move to San Francisco or Los Angeles or New York City or some other big city to find other gay men like themselves. And that means going to places where other gay men go such as gay bars, gay organizations, gay pride parades, etc.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.