Omdat bepaalde bevindingen ook nuttig kunnen zijn voor onderzoek naar en bestrijding van misbruik hier te lande (dat helaas, ondanks dure commissies-Deetman, blijkens de recente uitlatingen van salesianer overste Spronck, althans onder de grootste 'risicogroep', de salesianen, tot nog toe helaas nauwelijks van de grond lijkt te zijn gekomen), citeren we (1) het eerste deel van de conclusies (p. 118-120) van het rapport zelf, (2) enkele alinea's uit een commentaar van JP2-biograaf George Weigel erop, en (3) tenslotte enkele passages uit een commentaar uit The Guardian (No Friend Of The Church):
(1) Uit de conclusies van het rapport van het John Jay College:
Historical Nature of Abuse(2) George Weigel becommentarieert dit laatste punt als volgt:
• The “crisis” of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic priests is a historical problem. Data from multiple sources show that incidence of abuse behavior was highest between the mid-1960s and the mid-1980s. Sexual abuse continues to occur, but 94 percent of the abuse incidents reported to the Catholic Church from 1950 through 2009 took place before 1990. Each year, fewer new reports are brought forward, and each set of new cases reflects the known pattern.
• Priests ordained in different decades committed their first acts of abuse after different periods of time in ministry, but the abusive acts for all cohorts were clustered in the 1960s and 1970s. The influence of the overall pattern of social change is seen in all ordination cohorts.
• Factors that were invariant during the time period addressed, such as celibacy, were not responsible for the increase or decline in abuse cases over this time period.
• Reports of abuse are associated with periods of publicity about the problem of sexual abuse.
• Before 1985, reports of sexual abuse were most likely to be made by the parent of the youth within a year of the abuse. By the mid-1990s, reports of abuse were being made more often by adult men and women reporting abuse incidents that had happened ten or more years earlier. In 2002, reports of abuse were most often made by adult victims or their lawyers twenty to forty years after the abuse took place.
[In Nederland, waar de wereld vijftig jaar later vergaat dan elders, bestaat een salesianer overste het nog in 2011 te verklaren dat sex tussen kinderen en volwassenen moet kunnen. Maar dat zelfs in onze uithoek van de Kerk de houdbaarheidsdatum van een bepaald type jaren-zestig-opvattingen ("kerk-zijn is een streelgebaar") eindelijk begint te verstrijken, blijkt uit het feit dat de overste kort na zijn uitlatingen toch ontslagen is -vh].
Seminary Education and Priestly Formation
• 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.
• Human formation in seminary is critically important. The drop in abuse cases preceded the inclusion of a thorough education in human formation, but the development of the curriculum of human formation is consistent with the continued low levels of abuse by Catholic priests.
• Sexual abuse of minors was a national problem, and those who abused were educated in mainstream seminaries. No significant increase in vulnerability was evident in those who attended minor or foreign seminaries.
Clinical and Individual Factors
• Priest-abusers are similar to sex offenders in the general population. They had some 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.
• Priest-abusers were not “pedophile priests.” The majority of priests who abused were not driven by particular pathologies, and most did not “specialize” in abuse of particular types of victims. The pathologically driven priests were not influenced by social factors as were the majority of abusers (for example, their behavior was consistent across the time period and did not peak from the mid-1960s to 1980s). “Generalists,” or indiscriminate offenders, constituted the majority of abusers and were influenced by social factors.
• The majority of abusers did not have diagnosable psychological problems. No significant psychological, personality, or IQ differences were found between priests who abused minors and those who were treated for other reasons.
• Most clergy in the clinical sample had been in sexual relationships post-ordination (77%), even if that was not the primary reason for treatment. The majority of priests referred for abuse of a minor had also had sexual behavior with adults (70%).
• Data indicate that the experience of having been sexually abused by an adult while a minor increased the risk that priests would later abuse a child.
• Sexual behavior before ordination predicted sexual behavior after ordination; however, such conduct only predicted subsequent sexual interaction with other
adults, not with minors.
• 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 a heterosexual orientation or behavior.
The John Jay study is less than illuminating on one point, and that is the relationship of all this to homosexuality. The report frankly states that “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.” But then the report states that “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 a heterosexual orientation or behavior.”Meer in het algemeen concludeert Weigel:
The disconnect, to the lay mind, seems obvious: Eighty-one percent of the victims of sexual abuse by priests are adolescent males, and yet this has nothing to do with homosexuality? Perhaps it doesn’t from the clinicians’ point of view (especially clinicians ideologically committed to the notion that there is nothing necessarily destructive about same-sex behaviors). But surely the attempt by some theologians to justify what is objectively immoral behavior had something to do with the disciplinary meltdown that the report notes from the late 1960s through the early 1980s; it might be remembered that it was precisely in this period that the Catholic Theological Society of America issued a study, Human Sexuality that was in clear dissent from the Church’s settled teaching on fornication, self-abuse, and homosexual acts, and even found a relatively kind word to say about bestiality. And is there no connection to be found between the spike in abuse cases between the mid-1960s and the early 1980s, with its victimization of adolescent males, and the parallel spike in homoerotic culture in U.S. Catholic seminaries and religious orders in that same period? Given the prevailing shibboleths in the American academy (including the Catholic academy), 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, one that bears serious reflection.
So: If the standard media analytic tropes on clergy sexual abuse in the Catholic Church in the United States have been proven false by a vigorous empirical study conducted by a neutral research institute, what, in fact, did happen? Why did the incidence of abuse spike dramatically from the late 1960s through the mid-1980s? The John Jay researchers propose that the crumbling of sexual mores in the turbulence of the sexual revolution played a significant role. As the report puts it, “The rise in abuse cases in the 1960s and 1970s was influenced by social factors in American society generally. The increase in abusive behavior is consistent with the rise in other types of ‘deviant’ behavior, such as drug use and crime, as well as changes in social behavior, such as an increase in pre-marital sexual behavior and divorce.”
This is not the entire picture, of course. A Church that was not in doctrinal and moral confusion from the late 1960s until the 1978 election of John Paul II might have been better armored against the worst impacts of the sexual free-for-all unleashed in the mid-1960s. A Church that had not internalized unhealthy patterns of clericalism might have run seminary programs that would have more readily weeded out the unfit. A Church that placed a high value on evangelical zeal in its leadership might have produced bishops less inclined to follow the lead of the ambient culture in imagining that grave sexual abusers could be “fixed.” All that can, and must, be said.
Empirical evidence is unlikely to shift the attention of the mainstream media or the plaintiffs’ bar from the Catholic Church in this matter of the sexual abuse of the young. It would be a good thing for the entire society, however, if the defenders of the sexual revolution would take seriously the question of the relationship between their commitment to lifestyle libertinism and this plague. If the John Jay study on the “causes ands context” of clerical-sexual-abuse problems in the Catholic Church prompts a broader public reflection on the fact that the sexual revolution has not been, and is not, cost-free, and that its victims are often the vulnerable young, then the Church will have done all of American society a signal service in commissioning this study that looks into its own heart of darkness.(3) Tenslotte, uit Andrew Brown's (The Guardian) commentaar op het rapport:
The pattern that the investigators have to explain is a steep rise in cases of child abuse though the sixties and seventies, followed by a steady decline but a simultaneous rise in reports of earlier incidents in the late Eighties and early Nineties. That, too, has declined towards the present day.
This is an unusual pattern both of reporting and of offending. For comparison I have extracted from the government's web site the Swedish figures for sex crimes against children under 15 and they show no decline at all since 1991. [...]
The John Jay Institute helpfully compares the number of reported offences with the number of confirmation candidates, to get a rough figure of reported assaults per 100,000. This will tend to overestimate the frequency, because obviously a priest has access to many more children than just confirmation candidates. But it is a consistent measure by which to compare year with year.
So in 1992, when the worst was over, the rate was 15 incidents of reported abuse per 100,000 confirmations. By 2001 it had dropped to of 5 incidents of abuse per 100,000 confirmations in the Catholic Church. There was a similar drop in American society as a whole but less steep and from a consistently higher rate.
For comparison, the Swedish figures for reported sex crimes against all children under 15 was 142/100,000 children in 1992, and 169/100,000 in 2001.
These figures suggest that during the 1990s a child in Sweden, possibly the most secularised country in Europe, was between 10 and 30 times more likely to be sexually assaulted than an American Catholic was by his priest. Even making allowances for the considerable margin of error that must be built into these figures, it's clear that what went on in US Catholic churches was terrible but rather less terrible than what went on at the same time in many other places where Catholicism was not involved. If the US Catholic church is a hotbed of child rape, Sweden is an awful lot worse. (Just to be clear here, I think the idea that Sweden is a dangerous country for children is entirely absurd.)
I picked Sweden for comparison largely because I know my way round the crime statistics there. But the US government figures quoted in the John Jay report show also that Alaska has a rate of reported child abuse that dwarfs Sweden's – 788/100,000 in 2001, or 140 times the incidence of reported child abuse in the US Catholic church at the same period. So there is nothing uniquely rotten about the American Catholic church.
[...] The statistics do show a clear and steady decline in reported cases for the last 30 years, even though much of the reporting did not come in until long after the event. If you want to believe that the level of crime has stayed steady while the number of reports has dropped, you would have to come up with some reason why American Catholics (unlike Alaskans or Swedes) would become less likely to report a crime in a period when the social stigma for doing so has almost disappeared and in some cases considerable financial compensation has been on offer. [...]
So perhaps it was celibacy, after all. The trouble with this theory is the same decline in incidence of abuse as was noted before. That was not accompanied by any relaxation in the celibacy rules. It's possible that the discipline of celibacy has simply collapsed in the USA. But the report doesn't suggest this; nor, for that matter does anecdotal (or any other) evidence.
Which leaves the "Woodstock" hypothesis: that it was all the consequence of rapid social change. The combined impact of the sexual revolution outside the Church, and of the Vatican II reforms inside simply broke down the traditional self-discipline of the priesthood along with much of its traditional authority. This is the hypothesis that the report itself favours. But there is a subtlety with this view: if it were only the morals of the surrounding society which made a difference, then – again – the incidence of abuse would hardly have gone down. American society is not more sexually puritanical now than it was in 1975. So, the report argues, it was the impact of the sexual revolution on men who had not been trained to withstand it which was the decisive factor.
[Misschien kunnen we het zo zeggen: onder Johannes Paulus II werd de Kerk weer op de rails gezet en dat had ook consequenties voor het geloof en de discipline van de priesters -vh].