A landmark five-year study conducted by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice and commissioned by Roman Catholic bishops has just been released to the public. The purpose of the study was to investigate the root cause of, or an explanation for, the sexual abuse scandals which broke within the clergy in 2002. Colloquially, conservative opponents of the church have blamed homosexuality and gay priests for such illicit behavior, while liberals place the onus on the male-dominated, celibate culture and lifestyle by which the priests must abide. In a surprise to both factions, the report concludes that a timely combination of poorly trained and supervised priests experienced undue stress at a tumultuous point both socially and sexually in the nation’s history: the 1960s and ‘70s. How does hierarchy, stress and matter of time period conflate to cause such a pattern of abuse? Is the study in anyway suspect due to who is behind it? How will the knowledge gleaned be used and implemented in the future?
David Clohessy, National Director of SNAP (Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests)