May 19, 2011. (Romereports.com)
The questions that constantly come up in the sex abuse scandal are “why?” and “how?” A new independent study by a prestigious criminology institution tried to answer those very questions. The findings show that no single factor provoked the abuse of minors by priests. It wasn't caused by mandatory celibacy or homosexuality.
To understand why the abuse happened and how it can be prevented, the U.S Conference of Catholic Bishops hired the John Jay College of Criminal Justice of the City University of New York. The study focused on cases that happened between 1950 and 2010.
The five year study shows the abuse peaked in the 1960's and 1970's when the country was going through its sexual revolution. It was this factor which mostly influenced offending priests. The study says, they had “vulnerabilities, intimacy deficits and an absence of close personal relationships before and during the seminary.” It also shows many of the abusers grew up in families where sexuality was never discussed.
Researchers say, offenders mostly chose to victimize boys because they had more access to them, not necessarily because they were homosexual.
Critics argue the study doesn't shed enough light on why repeat offenders weren't expelled immediately by the Church. They also say more support was given to offending priests than victims.
The study looked into thousands of reports and interviews, which are now summarized in the 142 page report. It shows that only five percent of clergy were credibly accused of abuse. Ninety percent of the cases happened before the year 1990.
The U.S Conference of Catholic Bishops hopes the study can help other dioceses from around the world, to understand and prevent these type of cases from happening again.