ethische non-monogamie / ethical non-monogamy

Numbers tell a terrible story [United States / Australia]

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Dick Gross

After a five-year wait, the second report of the academic institution examining the allegations of sex abuse against US priests has just surfaced, giving a more nuanced view of Rome’s shame.

In 2004, the first report of John Jay College of Criminal Justice of the City University of New York was released, verifying some shocking allegations of child abuse in the American Catholic Church. Here was some seemingly independent research on the nature and extent of the complaints that changed the world’s perceptions of the abuse phenomenon and cover-up.

And, because the John Jay report was the first objective study, its numbers became holy writ. In short these were as follows: a total of 10,667 individuals had made allegations of abuse, 6700 accusations were upheld against 4392 priests in the US, about 4 per cent of all 109,694 priests who served between 1950 and 2002 – a heinous overrepresentation when compared with the general community.

Since then, victims’ groups have attacked the data saying that it relied upon the Church providing information. Moreover, victims’ groups complain that as the Church paid for the John Jay research, it cannot be trusted.  The site is a mine of information and provides different data.  Put simply, it is argued that if the figures were not reliant on Church reports, then the John Jay numbers could be multiplied by a factor of two.  In April of this year, the numbers of ”not implausibly” accused priests based upon Church provided data were 5948 priests and involved 15,736 victims.

Last month, the second report looked at the context in which the abuse arose. In short it showed that the abuse peaked from 1965 to 1985 and since that time has declined.  Indeed in recent times it has slowed to a trickle.  The suppression of allegation has ceased.  In short, the crisis is over . . . or is it?

Whatever the arguments over the data, this priestly sexual probing has had incalculable implication for all of those interested in the nature and consequences of belief.  I will address several issues:

Is this a theodicy issue undermining faith?

What does this tell us about godliness and goodness?

What do we make of the priests who are left?


The question that is still open to debate is the causal factors.  The second John Jay report argues that predictable factors were at play here.  The organisational factors include the overzealousness of bishops protecting the brand, the role of forgiveness and concern for the perpetrator over the victim by way of speedy reassignment to another parish.

The psychology of the offenders is interesting.  Offenders were not gay or even paedophiles.  Critics of Catholicism naturally assume that it is celibacy at fault here.

The logic is that sexual repression leads to weird outcomes.  But the report is a bit half-pregnant on this issue. It says offenders were a pack of sad bastards ”with little or no exposure to a curriculum of what is now understood as ‘human formation’; the training in self-understanding and the development of emotional and psychological competence for a life of celibate chastity”, which is a partial exoneration of celibacy.  However, they wouldn’t need the training if they weren’t celibate.  Is it the training for celibacy or celibacy per se that is the problem?  But then later the report argues that offenders had poor social bonds and negative views on sex, which would be produced by the very ideological milieu that defends celibacy and all those other crazy sexual and contraceptive ideas of Catholicism. I believe the report is yet another opportunity to converse on the evils of celibacy rather than a definitive repudiation.

And so people will want to ”move on”.  The crisis is under control.  Benedict has apologised.  It’s all good.

The Sydney Morning Herald, 13 juni 2011


Written by lovingmore

juni 14, 2011 bij 9:26 pm

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