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John Jay Study Equates Hierarchy’s Mentality to that of Abusing Priests [United States]

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By Vinnie Nauheimer

Did the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops unwittingly expose a direct link between their actions and those of sexually abusing priests with the John Jay Study? The recently released John Jay report The Causes and Context of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests in the United States, 1950-2010 indicates that they have. The study has received a lot of press over what wasn’t said; however, we may need to pay more attention to what was said. The study, which the USCCB commissioned, clearly demonstrates the behavior of the hierarchy when dealing with abusive priests is as fundamentally flawed as that of abusive priests!

In an effort to explain how abusers can continue to abuse, the researchers delve into the techniques employed by an abuser to rationalize his heinous crime thereby allowing him to continue abusing. When reading these techniques, one fact jumps out at the reader: “These are the same tactics the hierarchy has used.” If the reader happens to be a survivor, he or she says, “They did these things to me and in doing so re-victimized me!” It is astonishing that none of the researchers either recognized or pointed out how the behaviors of bishops and abusers mirror each other.  This information is critical to understanding just how sick the mentality of the hierarchy was when dealing with victims. Neutralization techniques also explains how and why bishops could live with their actions after permitting the rape, sodomization, and molestation of children by putting abusing priests back on the street and how they could re-victimize those survivors who summoned the strength to complain.

The techniques of neutralization are not something made up by the researchers at John Jay. They are accepted ideas upon which many books have been written and studies done. According to Wikipedia: “Techniques of neutralization are a theoretical series of methods by which those who commit illegitimate acts temporarily neutralize certain values within themselves which would normally prohibit them from carrying out such acts, such as morality, obligation to abide by the law, and so on. In simpler terms, it is a psychological method for people to turn off ‘inner protests’ when they do, or are about to do, something wrong.” As applied here, it allowed the bishops to cast off the mantles of both humanity and Christianity.

This is the relevant passage from the John Jay Study quoting Sykes and Matza, two well known researchers in this field:

One factor that is consistent with nearly all sexual abusers is the adoption of techniques of neutralization,” which alleviate feelings of guilt and shame, thus enabling offenders to commit the acts of abuse. Sykes and Matza list five primary neutralization techniques: the denial of responsibility, denial of injury, denial of the victim, condemnation of the condemners, and appeal to higher loyalties.1

For ease of understanding, the five techniques of neutralization will be listed as they appear above. Below each technique are annotated clear-cut examples citing how each technique was used by the bishops of the Roman Catholic Church against survivors of clerical abuse who had the audacity to speak out. Several of these techniques are addressed within the pages of the John Jay Study have been attributed to the hierarchy. However, they were identified as errors in judgment made by the hierarchy and not their true name, Neutralization Techniques.

Any neutralization technique admitted to in the John Jay Study is in bold and italicized. Underneath these examples may appear clarifications of just how harshly the example was used in real life. This list could go on ad nauseum, but for brevity’s sake, only a few examples are used under each technique to prove the point.

Denial of Responsibility

• Diocesan leaders attempted to deflect personal liability for retaining abusers by relying on therapists’ recommendations or by employing legalistic arguments about the status of priests.2

Nothing is more obscene than the repeated legal machinations used by bishops in their denial of their responsibility for the criminal actions of the priests under their jurisdiction.

Cardinal Egan, Archbishop of New York, while bishop of the archdiocese of Bridgeport, CT, presented this argument to the courts: The archdiocese was not responsible because priests were independent contractors and not employees of the diocese.3

A similar argument was put forth that stated the sexual abuse of minors was not part of the priest’s job description and therefore the diocese was not responsible for his actions. This same argument was later used by the Vatican to defend itself.4

• The response of diocesan officials to civil litigation by victims was often vigorous and perceived as aggressive and intimidating.5

The following is a list of the vigorous, aggressive, and intimidating devices used against victims and their families who spoke out: Blaming rape victims for their own recklessness, Hiring private investigators to track down incriminating evidence, Suing victims for slander, Suing minor victims’ parents for failing to watch over them, Intimidating witnesses, Concealing evidence, Stonewalling court proceedings, and Denying knowledge of abuse — unless the victims can prove otherwise.6

Persisting in his efforts to make the complaint, he faced a series of responses from diocesan officials: “You must be mistaken; you’re the only one; you’re going to ruin this priest’s life; you’re lying; why now after all these years? Their first response was denial; the second, you’re the only one; if they didn’t work, then obfuscation. Last was the appeal to guilt: It’s your fault; you seduced Father. You’ll ruin his life.”7

Denying the Victim

The hierarchy became incredibly astute at denying the victim with a plethora of well thought out strategies. As the abuse scandal grew, they honed these skills until a victim of clergy abuse who complained had about as much of a chance of being heard as a sparrow in the midst of a tornado.

Tactics were employed that insured victims and their families were run around in circles, sometimes for months or years.

• Diocesan leaders rarely provided information to local civil authorities and sometimes made concerted efforts to prevent reports of sexual abuse by priests from reaching law enforcement, even before the statute of limitation expired.8

• Diocesan officials tried to keep their files devoid of incriminating evidence. The exercise of the episcopal prerogative to maintain “secret archives” was at odds with the advice of counsel and the guidelines of the Five Principles.9

With Cardinal Mahony getting ready to retire from the Roman Catholic Los Angeles Archdiocese, his eminence is pulling some strange, ill-conceived moves again, now refusing to maintain an updated list of sexually abusive priests on the archdiocese’s web site.10

In California, a bishop reprimanded a priest for writing a letter of apology to an 11-year-old girl he had molested. After a transfer to a rural parish and a promotion to pastor, the priest was accused of abusing three victims at his new assignment, including a 3-year-old girl. The diocese’s lawyer sought to deflect responsibility from Church leaders, stating that a psychiatric evaluation of the priest, who admitted abusing 25 children, did not “render any diagnosis of pedophilia.”11

B. Archdiocese leaders employed deliberate strategies to conceal known abuse.
In the face of crimes they knew were being committed by their priests, Church leaders could have reported them to police. They could have removed the child molesters from ministry, and stopped the sexual abuse of minors by Archdiocesan clerics. Instead, they consistently chose to conceal the abuse rather than to end it. They chose to protect themselves from scandal and liability rather than protect children from the priests’ crimes.12

Roughly two-thirds of the top U.S. Catholic leaders have allowed priests accused of sexual abuse to keep working, a practice that spans decades and continues today, a three-month Dallas Morning News review shows.13

Appealing to a Higher Authority

The case files are filled with victims who were told that by going public they would hurt the church; to belabor the point is a waste of time.

Who better to use as an example appealing to a higher authority than that of Pope John Paul II? In 2002 he called the American bishops to Rome and made this proclamation about Clergy Abuse. He called it “Mysterium Iniquitatis” or in laymen’s terms, “the mystery of evil” thereby shifting the blame from priests to the second most powerful entity in the world, Satan. Not only did he appeal to a higher authority, but he denied any fault of their own.

In the world according to Father Benedict Groeschel, the Catholic Church’s sexual abuse scandal is largely the stuff of fiction. Reporters “doing the work of Satan” are driven to lie, the New York priest says, because they hate the church’s moral teachings.14

“I told my mom that he had hugged me in a very uncomfortable way and that he had kissed me in his bedroom on his bed and that I was lying down.” She said her stepfather contacted another priest, who reported the matter to Monsignor Dennis Dorney, vicar general of the Tulsa Diocese.
“They advised us so many times over and over again, ‘Don’t say anything until he is gone, because it would hurt the church.’ “15

The case files are filled with victims who were told that by going public they would hurt the church; to belabor the point is a waste of time.

Minimization of Harm

• Diocesan leaders failed to understand the importance of direct contact with victims, thereby giving the impression that they felt no personal responsibility for the harm sustained by victims.16

• The bishops did whatever they felt like doing and whatever they could to avoid tarnishing their image.17

Father Rogers was never punished or held to account for his unchecked sexual predations or the devastation they caused. He was permitted to retire in 1995, his “good name” intact. The message clearly communicated by the Archdiocese’s actions — to victims and abusers alike — was that it would protect the reputation of its priests at all costs. This twisted sense of priorities was not lost on Fr. Rogers. In 2002, according to a Philadelphia Inquirer article, Fr. Rogers admitted to having sexual relations with Russell but minimized its significance and questioned the importance of the disclosure. Father Rogers said that the abuse “may have happened but it was not as prolonged as he says it was … Naturally, he was young and I was older, so I should have known better. I don’t know why it has to come out now … It will just ruin my reputation.”18

To this day, bishops are still doing this. No greater example can be given then the John Jay Study itself; paid for by the bishops to exonerate the bishops. As noted in the first paragraph in this section, they paint a nice picture that says, “Bishops gave the impression” when in fact, they never gave a damn about the victims. Of the 300 bishops in the United States there has only been one advocate of survivors, Bishop Gumbleton, and he only became an advocate after he retired.

Of the 300 plus cardinals around the world, there is not one who can be called an advocate for victims.

Perhaps the most notable minimization of victims is the lack of the use of the word crime. Crime is omitted from the Title. Sexual abuse of minors is a crime and it was a crime prior to the Sexual Revolution. A far more accurate title would have been The Causes and Context of the Crime of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests in the United States, 1950-2010. Yet even this minimizes the harm done. The words “sexual abuse” are a very soft term that makes the rape, sodomization, and molestation of children more palatable because sexual abuse is a catchall. It keeps the readers guessing. Which sounds better, 1,000 children were raped by priests or 1,000 children were sexually abused by priests?

The second play on words was to reduce the impact of the word pedophile. To this extent, the ephebophile word was created. A word, that the studies authors are quick to point out, is not in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). So why use it? The ephebophile is someone who has rapes, sodomizes, or molests post pubescent children over thirteen, but under eighteen. The church wanted to create confusion, doubt and minimize the harm. By their standards, a priest sodomizing a fifteen year old is not as shocking as a priest sodomizing a ten-year-old. If a priest has anal sex with a fifteen-year-old, according to the church, that is a homosexual relationship and not “statutory rape” as it should be called. The hierarchy and their minions are adept linguists who are well practiced in the art of neutralization techniques and verbiage.

Condemning the Condemners

• The response of diocesan officials to civil litigation by victims was often vigorous and perceived as aggressive and intimidating18.

Persisting in his efforts to make the complaint, he faced a series of responses from diocesan officials: “You must be mistaken; you’re the only one; you’re going to ruin this priest’s life; you’re lying; why now after all these years? Their first response was denial; the second, you’re the only one; if they didn’t work, then obfuscation. Last was the appeal to guilt: It’s your fault; you seduced Father. You’ll ruin his life.”19

Roman Catholic Bishop Bernando Álvarez said “There are 13-year-old adolescents who are under age and who are perfectly in agreement with, and what’s more wanting it, and if you are careless they will even provoke you,” he said.20

A Roman Catholic bishop in Mexico has sparked outrage by suggesting eroticism on television and internet pornography were to blame for child sex abuse by priests. He also claimed sex education in schools was making it more difficult for priests to remain celibate. Bishop Felipe Arizmendi was speaking before the Pope arrived in Malta where he is meeting victims of abuse by Catholic priests.21

Boston’s beleaguered Cardinal Bernard Law is now making his yearly fund-raising appeal to the city’s 2 million Catholics. He needs $16 million for the chancery’s overhead–and won’t get it. His approval rating sank to a new low last week when he asserted in court papers that Gregory Ford was responsible for his own alleged abuse, through “negligence,” despite being 6 when it began.22

Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga, in a May interview with the Italian-Catholic publication 30 Giorni, claimed Jews influenced the media to exploit the current controversy regarding sexual abuse by Catholic priests in order to divert attention from the Israeli-Palestinian crisis.23

The Holy See press office director under John Paul II, Dr. Joaquin Navarro-Valls, has today criticized the media for “a raging phobia” against the Church over pedophilia while ignoring the problem in the rest of society which he says is widespread.24

Fr Anthony Charanghat, director, Catholic Communication Centre. “You must also understand that the global porn industry is responsible for blowing these reports out of proportion. They have been trying to demonise the Catholic clergy, since the Church has been fighting them,” he added.25

Some still complain, although privately, that the entire crisis, the Long Lent of 2002, was manufactured by the media and motivated by anti-Catholicism. There is only some truth in that. Without the media there would have been no felt crisis. There is a generous measure of anti-Catholicism in the media, as elsewhere, but without the deeper crisis of the infidelity and negligence of bishops, the media could not have produced the public and, consequently, episcopal sense of crisis. The scandal was in the chanceries, parishes, and seminaries before it was on the front page or television news.26

The Superiority Complex

Although it is alluded to in a paragraph the John Jay Study it bears mention because it adds another dimension to understanding the deplorable behavior of the bishops.

• Relative advantage—the perceived degree of relative advantage over the status quo. Rogers notes the significance of “social prestige factors” concerning this attribute. As it pertains to the sexual abuse crisis, this factor may have affected the way bishops weighed concern for victims against their expectation of institutionally damaging publicity.27

If one considers their victim less than, it is easier to justify inhumane treatment of them. Slave owners consider slaves their property. It took an 16th century edict from the Vatican to declare that Native Americans had souls. Hitler considered Jew and others “Mud People” so as to justify their destruction. The superiority complex of the hierarchy is legendary and because of it, it that much easier for them ignore the crimes of their priests, deny the claims of victims and allow priests to rape, sodomize and molest at will. Nowhere is this false ideology of Divine Right more clearly stated than in Vehementer Nos an encyclical promulgated by Pius X in 1906.28

Consider here what a pope had to say about the superiority of the clergy.

“It follows that the Church is essentially an unequal society, that is, a society comprising two categories of persons, the Pastors and the flock, those who occupy a rank in the different degrees of the hierarchy and the multitude of the faithful. So distinct are these categories that with the pastoral body only rests the necessary right and authority for promoting the end of the society and directing all its members towards that end; the one duty of the multitude is to allow themselves to be led, and, like a docile flock, to follow the Pastors.”28

This passage written about the sexual abuse scandal several years ago by then-director of the Conference of Major Superiors of Men (Notice the word Superiors), Fr. Ted Keating picks up on the point.

“The days of the pass or station house adjustment for Father or Brother by the Irish cop or prosecutor are over. Either we will learn to become more comfortable in the gaze of the rude and scoffing multitude (depending on our attitude) or we will be dragged kicking and screaming into a new future for religion and religious life”

There are two things to note in this statement. The first is the unequivocal admission by Fr. Keating that priests, who committed crimes, were not arrested by police. The second is Keating’s use of the term “the rude and scoffing multitude” when referring to the laity. It smacks of arrogance and superiority while mimicking Pious X’s statement on superiority of the clergy.

Conclusions

1. The above examples provide a concrete link between the mentality of the abusing priests and the bishops who protected them. The hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church has an abusive mentality when it comes to the victims of clergy abuse. To say otherwise is to spit in the face of reason.

2. The bishop’s abusive mentality is well documented and follows the same line of warped reasoning that allows all perpetrators of despicable acts against children to live with themselves their actions and their crimes.

3. The twisted mentality of the hierarchy is not limited to bishops and cardinals in the United States. The tactics employed by the US bishops are the same ones used by the worldwide hierarchy. It is indicative of mentality deeply ingrained in the culture of the Catholic Hierarchy.

4. John Jay tries to create the appearance of a them (abusing priests) versus us (bishops) situation where the offending priests are the bad guys and the bishops are the good guys. This is not the case at all. The number of credibly accused bishops is on par with the percentage of abusing priests as evidenced by the list of abusers on bishopaccountability.org. The only difference is that not one bishop has ever been defrocked. Let us not forget that most of the bishops currently in power were in the seminary during time period measured by John Jay.

5. The sexuality of bishops was never called into question. Bishops are human beings and therefore have a sexuality be it hetero, homo or bi sexuality. The study treats them as asexual only looking at the sexual norms of seminarians and priests. John Jay is not the only one to avoid mentioning bishops. In his twenty-four page response to the John Jay Study, John Jay 2011 Study on Sexual Abuse: a Critical Analysis, William Donohue, an ardent Catholic conservative and lays the blame for the sexual abuse scandal clearly at the feet of homosexual priests. He never mentions the word bishop and homosexual in the same sentence. He too holds that the bishops are above it all in his dissertation.

Donohue ends his dissertation on homosexuality as the root cause of the clergy abuse scandal with the following: “There is no way that priests who are faithful to the precepts of the Church’s teachings on sexual ethics could possibly live a life of sexual recklessness. Only by jettisoning the teachings—casting celibacy and chastity as anachronistic—could they do so.”29

This will end by saying: There is no way that a pope, cardinals or bishops who are faithful to the precepts of the Church’s teachings on sexual ethics could possibly have allowed criminal sexual abuse by priests to flourish. Only by jettisoning their faith, the teachings of Jesus, Holy Scripture, Canon Law and the Catechism could the bishops have done it. In other words, they had to adopt the mentality of an abuser and whole-heartedly endorse the techniques of neutralization while becoming heretics in the process to deal with victims seeking justice.

For further discussion see: According to Aquinas, There Are Heretics in the Vatican.30

Reference

1. John Jay College Research Team The Causes and Context of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests in the United States, 1950-2010 Retrieved May 23, 2011 from http://www.usccb.org/mr/causes-and-context-of-sexual-abuse-of-minors-by-catholic-priests-in-the-united-states-1950-2010.pdf

2. Ibid pg. 89

3. http://www.nytimes.com/2000/06/16/nyregion/egan-is-leaving-unfinished-work-on-abuse-victims-say.html?pagewanted=4 May 30, 2011

4. http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Justice/2010/0628/Supreme-Court-allows-sex-abuse-case-to-proceed-against-the-Vatican May 30, 2011

5. John Jay College Research Team The Causes and Context of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests in the United States, 1950-2010 Retrieved May 23, 2011 from http://www.usccb.org/mr/causes-and-context-of-sexual-abuse-of-minors-by-catholic-priests-in-the-united-states-1950-2010.pdf

6. http://www.bostonphoenix.com/boston/news_features/top/features/documents/01780639.htm May 30, 2011

7. John Jay College Research Team The Causes and Context of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests in the United States, 1950-2010 Retrieved May 23, 2011 from http://www.usccb.org/mr/causes-and-context-of-sexual-abuse-of-minors-by-catholic-priests-in-the-united-states-1950-2010.pdf

8. Ibid pg. 89

9. Ibid pg. 89

10. http://blogs.laweekly.com/informer/2010/09/cardinal_roger_mahohy_predator.php May 30, 2011

11. http://www.catholicsexabuse.com/THE_PHILADELPHIA_GRAND_JURY_REPORT/Section_III__Overview_of_the_CoverUp_by_Archdiocese_Officials  May 30, 2011

12. http://www.catholicsexabuse.com/THE_PHILADELPHIA_GRAND_JURY_REPORT/Section_III__Overview_of_the_CoverUp_by_Archdiocese_Officials

13. http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/spe/2002/bishops/stories/041702dnrelbg.

852d3201.html May 30, 2011

14. http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/spe/2002/bishops/stories/041702dnrelbg.

852d3201.html May 30, 2011

15.  http://www.bishopaccountability.org/news3/2002_07_31_Branstetter_Bishop

Admits_Kenneth_Lewis_4.htm  May 30, 2011

16. John Jay College Research Team The Causes and Context of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests in the United States, 1950-2010 Retrieved May 23, 2011 from http://www.usccb.org/mr/causes-and-context-of-sexual-abuse-of-minors-by-catholic-priests-in-the-united-states-1950-2010.pdf

17. Ibid pg. 90

18. Ibid pg. 89

19. Ibid pg 90

20. http://madmikesamerica.com/2010/04/tenerife-catholic-bishop-blames-child-abuse-on-the-children/ May 30, 2011

21. http://thecornfieldonline.com/index.php?topic=19504.0;wap2 May 30, 2011

22. http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-85590510.html May 30, 2011

23. http://www.adl.org/PresRele/ASInt_13/4135_13.asp May 30, 2011

24. http://www.ncregister.com/blog/navarro-valls_on_the_abuse_crisis#ixzz1Nm08iQi4 May 30, 2011

25. http://www.mid-day.com/news/2010/mar/310310-mumbai-catholics-reaction-vatican-paedophilia-scandals.htm May 30, 2011

26. http://www.firstthings.com/article/2009/02/scandal-time-iii-43 May 30, 2011

27. JJS

28. http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/pius_x/encyclicals/documents/hf_p-x_enc_11021906_vehementer-nos_en.html May 30, 2011

29. Donohue, W. John Jay 2011 Study on Sexual Abuse: a Critical Analysis, May 30, 2011

30. Nauheimer, V. According to Aquinas’ Definition, There are Heretics in the Vatican. http://reform-network.net/?p=6431

Voice from the Desert, 31 mei 2011

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juni 2, 2011 bij 4:48 pm

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