NOTE TO MY READERS:
A lot of ink will be spilt on the May 18, 2011
John Jay report on the clergy sex abuse crisis: some of it in the
blood sweat and tears of the victims of abuse and their advocates.
The invisible ink of the American hierarchy defensiveness hangs
heavy between the lines of the report — to be deciphered later.
People of good will can use this as an opportunity to reevaluate the
sex crisis on deeper and more systemic levels of clerical culture
than five years and 1.8 million could buy. Its conclusions are not
conclusive, but provocative.
This is an
important study because it outlines the geography of the Catholic
Church’s problems with human sexuality as they impact its clergy. It
shows how the church wants to be perceived:
preponderance of the data comes from church records.
It points to
the areas about the priesthood that still need exploration.
acknowledges that some Priests do have sexual experiences
before, during and after their seminary training with varying
consequences. Further denting the myth that priests practice
that there are deficiencies in seminary formation regarding
support for priests after ordination is lacking.
Aspects of the report are incomplete or
Not one of
the research team has any experience within the system as a
seminarian or priest.
voices who have intimate knowledge of the dynamics of the
hierarchy regarding the crisis are not part of the research team
(i.e. Anne Burke, Frank Keating, Dr. Fred Berlin)
and conclusions of Grand Jury reports that investigated the
crisis are not in evidence. They constitute the most objective
assessment of the crisis that we have.
structure, pattern, and practice of Church response revealed in
civil and criminal cases and trials are not taken into account.
(i.e. legacy of Marci Hamilton, Jeff Anderson)
observation and data is absent.
It lacks an
understanding of celibate development and practice.
Some of the information is inaccurate:
a psychiatrically defined syndrome, but the report does not
accept the official definition (i.e. 13 years as the age of
puberty not 10)
conclusion that the crisis is “historically” limited is simply
false. The excuse that the study was limited to 1950 does not
absolve the researchers from clear historical evidence of the
problem of clergy abuse within the system prior to that date. It
distorts the systemic nature of the problem.
homosocial structure of Catholic clergy is absent from
examination as if it did not factor into any causation of sexual
behaviors of authority figures as a cultural influence on the
clerical system are unexamined and not acknowledged as a vital
element in the operation of clerical culture. (the system of
of homosexuality within clerical culture is distorted by
dismissing it as a causative factor of abuse. Similarly, the
demand for perfect and perpetual chastity that includes celibacy
or non-marriage cannot be dismissed as a context for abuse.