Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The elusive truth about those sex scandals

Have you seen "Weigel about the huge ( ____ ) in the John Jay Report" (WDTPRS, May 24, 2011), where Fr. Z asks: "Did you see the analysis by George Weigel about the John Jay Study? I am just getting to it. Weigel makes good points for National Review Online."

Here are the opening two paragraphs with enumerations inserted:
The American narrative of the Catholic Church’s struggles with the clerical sexual abuse of the young has been dominated by several tropes firmly set in journalistic concrete:
  1. that this was and is a “pedophilia” crisis;
  2. that the sexual abuse of the young is an ongoing danger in the Church;
  3. that the Catholic Church was and remains a uniquely dangerous environment for young people;
  4. that a high percentage of priests were abusers;
  5. that abusive behavior is more likely from celibates, such that a change in the Church’s discipline of priestly celibacy would be important in protecting the young;
  6. that the Church’s bishops were, as a rule, willfully negligent in handling reports of abuse;
  7. that the Church really hasn’t learned any lessons from the revelations that began in the Long Lent of 2002.
But according to an independent, $1.8 million study conducted by New York’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice, commissioned by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and released on May 18, every one of these tropes is false.
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Alan Aversa said...

It didn't necessarily find they were false; it just found that they are not always true, right?

Alan Aversa said...

I think this sums it up (my emphases):

1917 Pio-Benedictine Code of Canon Law:
Canon 2359, §2: "If they (clerics) have committed an offense against the sixth commandment with minors under sixteen years of age, or been guilty of adultery, rape, bestiality, sodomy, traffic in vice, or incest with blood-relatives or relations by marriage in the first degree, they shall be suspended, declared infamous, deprived of every office, benefice, dignity, or position that they may hold, and in more grievous cases they shall be deposed."

1983 new Code of Canon Law:
Canon 1395, §2: "A cleric who in another way has committed an offense against the sixth commandment of the Decalogue, if the delict was committed by force or threats or publicly or with a minor below the age of sixteen years, is to be punished with just penalties, not excluding dismissal from the clerical state if the case so warrants."

Just penalties such as what? Peeling potatoes in the seminary basement for a day? This is another typical, weak, Vatican II-esque escape clause...

Dan said...

Abuse in as large an organization as the Church is unfortunately inevitable. Consequently, some of the tropes are bound to be true in some cases. However, Alan Aversa, as statements about the general state of the Church these tropes are false. Some of them have never been true.

That being said, you make a good point about the Code of Canon Law.