The following comes from an article written by Father Regis Scanlon, originally published in Homeletic & Pastoral Review in August and re-printed in Crisis magazine on September 10.
In 2002, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops commissioned a 1.8 million dollar study, popularly known as the “John Jay study,” to uncover the patterns and causes of the sex abuse crisis since 1950. The National Review Board—the entity designated to implement the study—gave the first John Jay report in 2004. In this report, which describes the “Nature and Scope” of clergy sexual abuse, the board pointed out that more than 80 percent of the victims were teenage boys and young men.
This conclusion, in itself, should have been a solid roadmap for truly correcting the sex abuse problem.
Indeed, the bishops quickly responded. They issued guidelines for tough diocesan policies, such as the immediate reporting of abuse to civil authorities, and better oversight of children’s safety.
However, despite those good reforms, clergy with sexual abuse histories were still active in public Church ministry. In early 2011, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia revealed it was involved in yet another major “roundup” of sex abuse cases, a majority of them (82%) involving the original category of identified victims—male teens and young men.
Also in 2011, the Vatican called on bishops and local dioceses to develop comprehensive plans to stop sex abuse. It urged “an even greater importance in assuring a proper discernment of vocations.” Clearly, the Vatican still sees a need to encourage more thoroughness when screening priesthood candidates….
At the very least, it’s a cop-out to blame the crisis on the “field” of victims, and the implication is potentially dangerous: It suggests that future crises could be avoided if the Church bans “access to boys.” This inevitably would include banning: priests from all-male high schools; priestly vocation retreats; and any gathering designed to specifically encourage young men in the pursuit of a Christian way of life. These kinds of gatherings have raised generations of good Catholic men for centuries—and, rest assured, morally strong and healthy priests have never had any interest in sexually stalking young men at these gatherings….
In the John Jay report issued in 2011, homosexuality was definitively discounted as an issue. The study cited “organizational” (and institutional) causes among the explanations for the sex abuse crisis. It concluded that perhaps the real causes are the result of “certain vulnerabilities” accompanied by “opportunities to abuse,” as in “access to boys.”
The second report did not suggest screening anyone from the seminary. Rather, the “Conclusions and Recommendations” suggested that the solution lay in “education,” “situational prevention models,” and “oversight and accountability.” The report stated: “By regularly surveying priests, administrative staff, and parishioners about their responses to, and satisfaction with, the priests with whom they have contact, dioceses are more likely to be alerted to questionable behavior that might have been undetected in the past.”
In effect, now all priests will be considered guilty until proven innocent! More insidiously, the report calls for closer surveillance or “oversight” of the activities of all priests. According to a July 22, 2011 article in the National Catholic Reporter, this means “ensuring at least one adult is present whenever clergy and children (young men) are together.” Big Brother, welcome to the Church….
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