The 70s were more permissive

Rome, Italy, Feb 7 (CNA/EWTN News).- One of the Catholic Church’s leading experts on clerical abuse says he welcomes a significant drop in the number of cases being reported in the United States – but won’t rest until that figure reaches zero.

“The instance of new allegations have dropped precipitously, it’s a marked drop, which is great news, although we’re not going to stop till we’ve stopped it completely,” Monsignor Steve Rossetti, associate professor at the Catholic University of America, told CNA Feb 7. 

Msgr. Rossetti was in Rome to address an international symposium on the issue of clerical abuse at the Jesuit-run Gregorian University. The Feb. 6 – 9 gathering has brought together representatives from over 140 bishops’ conferences and 30 religious orders worldwide.

Msgr. Rossetti said that recent research suggests two reasons for the sharp drop in reported cases in the U.S. First, “society has now mandatory reporting and prison sentences,” he explained, and second,“the Church has a much stronger prevention program.”

Such prevention programs, he emphasized, “do work.” By changing “the culture in which people live,” he added, “molesters realize they no longer have any safe haven in the Church or in society,” and if and when abuse does occur, “we respond much more quickly.”

Msgr. Rossetti, a priest of the Diocese of Syracuse, New York and licensed psychologist, served as a psychological consultant to the U.S. Bishops’ Conference in drafting the 2002 Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. He is currently a consultant to the USCCB ad hoc committee on revising that Charter.

He addressed delegates today on the topic of “Ministering to Offenders: Learning from Our Past Mistakes.”

“I was really trying to share with the bishops around the world many of the mistakes that had been made in responding to allegations with child sexual abuse, and so that they wouldn’t make the same mistakes,” he said.

His primary message was that the most important thing a bishop can do is to listen to victims as in doing so “you understand the pain caused, the need to reach out to the victims, to listen to their stories, and to bring some healing from the Church.”

Msgr. Rossetti also explained to CNA that the vast majority of cases of clerical abuse actually took place in the 1970s. His research provides two main reasons for the spike in criminal behavior at that time.

First, “the Church took in a cohort of men who had greater amounts of sexual deviancy for some reason, not sure why, but in that time frame, there were a number of men who had more, frankly, more sexual problems.”

He also added that statistically the 1960s and 1970s was a “more permissive environment,” when “crimes of all sorts, not just child abuse, spiked up during that time frame.”

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READER COMMENTS

Posted Friday, February 10, 2012 3:19 AM By Betty
MANDATORY reporting with PRISON sentences must be remembered by all. Parents have a responsibility to teach their children and parents must report crimes. CCC: “1550 This presence of Christ in the minister is not to be understood as if the latter were preserved from all human weaknesses, the spirit of domination, error, even sin. The power of the Holy Spirit does not guarantee all acts of ministers in the same way. While this guarantee extends to the sacraments, so that even the minister’s sin cannot impede the fruit of grace, in many other acts the minister leaves human traces that are not always signs of fidelity to the Gospel and consequently can harm the apostolic fruitfulness of the Church.”


Posted Friday, February 10, 2012 5:42 AM By FHKJ
Why aren’t the pedophile priests excommunicated? I heard Patrick Madrid on Catholic Answers Live addressing the “tool” of excommunication and wondered why it is not applied to priests, nuns and brothers who are child molesters.


Posted Friday, February 10, 2012 5:56 AM By Ted
During the 60’s I was in Catholic schools at the elementary and high school levels. There was one priest teaching at the high school who certainly seemed effeminate, but I never heard of even a hint of inappropriate activities on the part of the priests who taught us. I know all this happened, and it’s absolutely reprehensible, but had any male made a “pass” at me or one of my friends, it would be a serious mistake. The predators must have an ability to pick their victims very well. They were able to remain hidden for decades. It’s wonderful that this tragic problem is abating and I pray it will soon be the zero level of occurrances as it ought to be.


Posted Friday, February 10, 2012 6:23 AM By 4unborn
Our Pope needs to mandate that all sexual abuse claims be reported to outside authorities if a diocese cannot determine within 30 days that the report is not credible.


Posted Friday, February 10, 2012 6:23 AM By JLS
Is the drop in pedophile claims related to the drop in school population?


Posted Friday, February 10, 2012 7:58 AM By Juergensen
Given that homosexual abuse by priests outnumbers heterosexual abuse by priests by a ratio of 9 to1, the problem clearly is with homosexual priests. The Church needs to acknowledge this and come out from hiding behind the “John Jay Report,” which laughingly found no connection between homosexuality and the priest sex abuse scandal. The math doesn’t lie: keep sodomites out of the seminaries and sex abuse will decline by 90%.


Posted Friday, February 10, 2012 10:03 AM By MacDonald
@ FHKJ — “Why aren’t the pedophile priests excommunicated?” You know, I rather wonder why excommunication is not applied to EVERY person who molests a little child, whether it be a priest, coach, parent, or teacher. Just as abortion destorys a young life, abuse destroys a young life in another, but also terrible way.


Posted Friday, February 10, 2012 10:11 AM By MacDonald
@ Juergensen — I’ve wondered about this also, asking myself if the priests simply had more access to BOYS (such as altar boys), because no parent would allow her DAUGHTER to do a sleepover with a priest or anything like that.


Posted Friday, February 10, 2012 10:21 AM By Catholic Joe
This statement says it all: ““more permissive environment,” The incliniation or desire hasn’t changed, but deterrents work: Lawsuits, permanently tarnished reputation on the internet, banrkupt diocese, jail time, eagerness by media to shine light, etc. If only the wish to not dishonor God was the cause and not the deterrent.


Posted Friday, February 10, 2012 12:04 PM By Dave N.
I heard on Immaculate Heart Radio that there are still thousands of NEW incidents still being reported to the Vatican each year. And I’m sure the Vatican doesn’t hear of all cases, and of course all incidents don’t even get reported. I’m hoping this figure is worldwide–even though that’s appalling enough.


Posted Friday, February 10, 2012 12:15 PM By St. Christopher
This is not a story of pedophile priests, but of homosexual ones. The Church is foolish, or predetermined by its own growing homosexual clergy population, to ignore this reality. Tolerance of homosexual clergy, homosexual sexual relations, and of the connection of homosexually-inclined clergy to violate pre-pubescent boys, is at the root causes for the Catholic Churches decline and institutional fall. Remove homosexuals from active ministry, prohibit homosexuals from serving in any capacity in the Church, and return to a masculine form of liturgy, and much of the damage of the past half-century will begin to abate. Stop having bishops go on endless trips, to endless conferences, and issue useless and numbing papers on this “crisis”. Return to a Faith of warriors, of “triumphalists,” of the kind of priests that you see in the FSSP, and Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest, and other traditional groups (and some N.O. priests, as well). Monsignor Rossetti knows that the level of abuse will never be zero, nor will it even reduce much as long as homosexuals are permitted to be in the clergy.


Posted Friday, February 10, 2012 12:53 PM By Catherine
Juergensen, Once again, thank you for your truthful statement, “Given that homosexual abuse by priests outnumber heterosexual abuse by priests by a ratio of 9 to 1, the problem clearly is with homosexual priests.” You are right. The Church needs to address this issue. The effects are still deeply embedded within the structure of the Church. Some clergy feared expulsion when they awaited the findings of the Vatican document on homosexuals and seminaries. There were certain websites where homosexual clergy posted much hostility in nervous anticipation. The Vatican document on homosexuals and seminaries reads, “This Congregation confirms the necessity that the bishops, the superior generals, and all of the responsible involved, fulfill painstaking discernment regarding the qualifications of candidates for Holy Orders, from admission into the seminary to Ordination. This discernment must be done in light of a conception of the ministerial priesthood in concordance with the teachings of the Church.”… Where is the painstaking discernment to still remove the filth and heterodox teachings that are rooted in this filth? Yes, even Pope Benedict XVI referred to this as filth within the Church. The “permissive environment” of heterodox teachings has not changed. It is flourishing in our Catholic Universities, Chanceries, Parishes and schools. There are still many victims only these victims are victimized through the seriously sinful omission known as *spiritual neglect*. I wrote earlier that it is no accident that Kathleen Sebelius who proudly refers to herself as a good Catholic, helped to deliver the proclamation to her own Catholic Church. “I am informing you that I am removing your religious freedom.” These are the rotten fruits of the ongoing victimization of spiritual neglect in the United States. If we are taught not to fear what can kill the body, but to fear what can kill the soul, can there be any greater victimization due to the serious sins of spiritual neglect?


Posted Friday, February 10, 2012 5:18 PM By Reader of Canons
The constant demands the X,Y, or Z be “excommuncated for the crime X” shows a shocking misunderstanding of what the penalty is. IT IS NO THROWING SOMEONE OUT OF THE CHURCH. It bars the delinquent from the sacraments UNTIL THE DELINQUENT REPENTS AND ASKS FORGIVENESS. It is medicinal, not penal penalty. What you should be asking is why the molesters are not laicized. In fact, some are. But laicization in this case requires a canonical trial, with a defense for the accused — and the acused has right of appeal, all the way to Rome, and some make use of it. The “quickest” way to “punish” the abusers is to suspect them “a divinis” (take away their faculties) and hand them over to the state. This seems to be, with some exceptions, the usual course since the one-size-fits-all Dallas Charter.


Posted Friday, February 10, 2012 7:03 PM By gravey
St. Christopher , You clearly presented the problem and solution. Excellent post!


Posted Friday, February 10, 2012 7:07 PM By JLS
The Pope should remove the next bishop complicit in any way with pedophilia, and banish him permanently to a remote hermitage to do nothing night and day but pray.


Posted Friday, February 10, 2012 8:12 PM By JLS
A district attorney and coroner have opened an investigation into the death a week ago of Cdl Bevilaqua of Philadelphia. They will be making sure through coroner exam that the Cardinal died of natural causes. The district atty thought it odd that the high profile Cardinal was embalmed and entombed bypassing the usual autopsy. Just the day before his death a judge ruled him fit to testify in the trial of his aide regarding cover up of sex abuse priests. In other words the D.A. is looking into the possibility of murder or suicide.