Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Cardinal Mahony's problem occasion for perspective on the Pedophile Problem in the Catholic Church

Pedophiles and Priests: Anatomy of a Contemporary Crisis
The Priest Pedophile scandal in the Diocese of Los Angeles that Hugh Hewitt
discussed with Father Joseph Fessio, S.J. gives Catholic bloggers like me who have been wounded by the sins of Holy Mother Church but nearly as profoundly
as the actual victims themselves. Then consider dollars it will have to pay out and the properties it will have to sell to pay this debt but a small price when you consider the damage to the souls of its victims. By far the biggest cost is its loss of credibility and relevance during a time when the Culture of Death is raging in the secular venue of government. She has loss much of her standing in this arena. No matter how disgusting and immoral the Catholic Church's conduct has been in this matter the sins of the secular world's Culture of Death involve the murder of nascent life in the womb.
This Pedophile issue needs to be explained:
Main Entry: pe·do·phil·ia
Function: noun
sexual perversion in which children are the preferred sexual object
Sexual attraction to boys (or girls) who have not yet entered puberty(prepubescent children) is termed pedophilia

Ephebophilia: is a sexual attraction to pubescent or post-pubescent males.

From the National Criminal Research Service
Looking at Ephebophilia Through the Lens of Cleric Sexual Abuse
Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity: The Journal of Treatment
& Prevention Volume:13 Issue:4 Dated:2006 Pages:347 to 359
Peter Cimbolic ; Pam Cartor
Publisher Url*:

This article analyzes data from a previous study on the nature and extent of clerical sexual abuse and proposes that the diagnosis of ephebophilia characterizes this population better than the diagnosis of pedophilia.
Data from the previous study conducted by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice revealed that 80 percent of Catholic priests who had allegations of sexually molesting children between 1950 and 2002, only molested boys. A full 65 percent of these boys were between the ages of 11 and 17 years. The current diagnostic system for identifying, assessing, and treating sexual offenders does not distinguish between pedophilia and other forms of sexual abuse against minors. The authors propose that the diagnosis of ephebophilia, which is a sexual attraction to pubescent or post-pubescent males, is better suited to the sample of Catholic priests in the John Jay study. While the diagnosis of ephebophilia has not been incorporated into the DSM structure, the authors argue that the characteristics of ephebophilia represent a distinct and separate disorder with different predictive variables for identification and treatment. Researchers for the John Jay study completed a Cleric Survey for every priest named in a complaint of sexual abuse of a minor between 1950 and 2002. Their research uncovered 4,392 Catholic priests and deacons that had been accused of sexual abuse of children during the study period. These priests and deacons overwhelmingly committed their sexually offending acts against older children who were predominantly male. While the original intent of the John Jay study was to describe the nature and scope of sexual abuse against minors by Catholic Clergy, the data was also useful to the exploration of factors that may enhance the validity of the diagnosis of ephebophilia.

Philip Jenkins', a non-Catholic scholar, and author of the book Pedophiles and Priests ,work reflects results from the most comprehensive study to date. Pedophilia or the sexual abuse of a prepubescent child) among priests is extremely rare, affecting only 0.3% of the entire population of clergy. This figure was based on a study which found that only one out of 2,252 priests considered over a thirty-year period(in Chicago) was afflicted with pedophilia. In the recent Boston scandal, only four of the more than eighty priests labeled by the media as "pedophiles" are actually guilty of molesting young children.

Pedophilia is a particular type of compulsive sexual disorder in which an adult (man or woman) abuses prepubescent children. The vast majority of the clerical sex-abuse scandals now coming to light do not involve pedophilia. Rather, they involve ephebophilia or homosexual attraction to adolescent boys. While the total number of sexual abusers in the priesthood is much higher than those guilty of pedophilia, it still amounts to less than 2 percent or comparable to the rate among married men (Jenkins, Pedophiles and Priests).

  • Distinguished Professor of History and Religious Studies at Penn State. His book "Pedophiles and Priests: Anatomy of a Contemporary Crisis" was published by Oxford University Press in 1996
  • The trauma stemming from the Boston case should not be used to accuse the whole Roman Catholic Church
  • Hard though it may be to believe right now, the "pedophile priest" scandal is nothing like as sinister as it has been painted -- or at least, it should not be used to launch blanket accusations against the Catholic Church as a whole.
  • We have often heard the phrase "pedophile priest" in recent weeks. Such individuals can exist: Father Geoghan was one, as was the notorious Father James Porter a decade or so back. But as a description of a social problem, the term is wildly misleading. Crucially, Catholic priests and other clergy have nothing like a monopoly on sexual misconduct with minors.
  • My research of cases over the past 20 years indicates no evidence whatever that Catholic or other celibate clergy are any more likely to be involved in misconduct or abuse than clergy of any other denomination -- or indeed, than nonclergy. However determined news media may be to see this affair as a crisis of celibacy, the charge is just unsupported.
  • Literally every denomination and faith tradition has its share of abuse cases, and some of the worst involve non-Catholics. Every mainline Protestant denomination has had scandals aplenty, as have Pentecostals, Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, Jews, Buddhists, Hare Krishnas -- and the list goes on. One Canadian Anglican (Episcopal) diocese is currently on the verge of bankruptcy as a result of massive lawsuits caused by decades of systematic abuse, yet the Anglican church does not demand celibacy of its clergy.
  • However much this statement contradicts conventional wisdom, the "pedophile priest" is not a Catholic specialty. Yet when did we ever hear about "pedophile pastors"?
  • Just to find some solid numbers, how many Catholic clergy are involved in misconduct? We actually have some good information on this issue, since in the early 1990s, the Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago undertook a bold and thorough self-study. The survey examined every priest who had served in the archdiocese over the previous 40 years, some 2,200 individuals, and reopened every internal complaint ever made against these men. The standard of evidence applied was not legal proof that would stand up in a court of law, but just the consensus that a particular charge was probably justified.
  • By this low standard, the survey found that about 40 priests, about 1.8 percent of the whole, were probably guilty of misconduct with minors at some point in their careers. Put another way, no evidence existed against about 98 percent of parish clergy, the overwhelming majority of the group. Since other organizations dealing with children have not undertaken such comprehensive studies, we have no idea whether the Catholic figure is better or worse than the rate for schoolteachers, residential home counselors, social workers or scout masters.
  • The Chicago study also found that of the 2,200 priests, just one was a pedophile. Now, many people are confused about the distinction between a pedophile and a person guilty of sex with a minor. The difference is very significant. The phrase "pedophile priests" conjures up images of the worst violation of innocence, callous molesters like Father Porter who assault children 7 years old. "Pedophilia" is a psychiatric term meaning sexual interest in children below the age of puberty.
  • But the vast majority of clergy misconduct cases are nothing like this. The vast majority of instances involve priests who have been sexually active with a person below the age of sexual consent, often 16 or 17 years old, or even older. An act of this sort is wrong on multiple counts: It is probably criminal, and by common consent it is immoral and sinful; yet it does not have the utterly ruthless, exploitative character of child molestation. In almost all cases too, with the older teen-agers, there is an element of consent.
  • Also, the definition of "childhood" varies enormously between different societies. If an act of this sort occurred in most European countries, it would probably be legal, since the age of consent for boys is usually around 15. To take a specific example, when newspapers review recent cases of "pedophile priests," they commonly cite a case that occurred in California's Orange County, when a priest was charged with having consensual sex with a 17-year-old boy. Whatever the moral quality of such an act, most of us would not apply the term "child abuse" or "pedophilia." For this reason alone, we need to be cautious when we read about scores of priests being "accused of child abuse."
  • The age of the young person involved is also so important because different kinds of sexual misconduct respond differently to treatment, and church authorities need to respond differently. If a diocese knows a man is a pedophile, and ever again places him in a position where he has access to more children, that decision is simply wrong, and probably amounts to criminal neglect. But a priest who has a relationship with an older teen-ager is much more likely to respond to treatment, and it would be more understandable if some day the church placed him in a new parish, under careful supervision.
  • I am in no sense soft on the issue of child abuse. Recently, I published an expose of the trade in electronic child pornography, one of the absolute worst forms of exploitation, and my argument was that the police and FBI need to be pressured to act more strictly against this awful thing. My concern over the "pedophile priest" issue is not to defend evil clergy, or a sinful church (I cannot be called a Catholic apologist, since I am not even a Catholic). But I am worried that justified anger over a few awful cases might be turned into ill-focused attacks against innocent clergy. The story of clerical misconduct is bad enough without turning into an unjustifiable outbreak of religious bigotry against the Catholic Church.

Pedophiles and Priests: Anatomy of a Contemporary Crisis
Abominable, disheartening and tragic for the Victims of Priestly Mortal Sin committed against children and adolescents but as bad as it is Abortion by the Secularists is Murder. God will judge which is worse. Pray for the Souls lost because of the Priests sins and for the Souls of the Aborted Nascent Life who never saw the light of day. May they all see the Light of God's Love in the next Life.......


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