Philadelphia Metropolis


The Hippies Made Us Do It

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haight-hippie.jpgIt wasn't the devil that made Roman Catholic priests chase after altar boys; it was the 60's that made them do it.

So concludes a study done for the U.S. Conference of Bishops by researchers at the John Jay College in New York.

The  folks at John Jay said that priests who were in seminaries in the 1940's and 50's were not given proper training in how to live a celibate life so they weren't able to handle the social upheaval of the 1960's, which was a time of sexual freedom and all sorts of kinkiness.  Sex, drugs and rock 'n roll!

In turn, this uncorked their libidos and off they went to diddle altar boys.  It's as simple as that. By the way, the researchers found, celibacy had nothing to do with it.

"No single 'cause' of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic priests is identified as a result of our research," the Jay researchers said.

The report also seeks to clarify the terminology used in discussing abuse: It is incorrect to say the priests were pedophiles because pedophilia involves pre-pubescent children. Only five percent of those abused fell into that category. Most of the abuse involved boys who were post-pubescent.

Isn't it a great comfort to learn that most priest abusers weren't sickos who engaged in oral and anal sex with 8 year olds. They preferred 13 to 15 year olds.

In brief, the John Jay report is ludicrous and dangerous.

It is dangerous because it gives the bishops an opportunity to argue that abuse is not an inherent side effect of celibacy; that it was a product of the times. It was the sexual revolution that caused it and since that period of rampant individual sexual self-expression is over (Please, someone tell Lady Gaga!) abuse will decline as well.

In fact, the John Jay researchers note that abuse cases peaked in the late 70's and began declining sharply after 1985. (They fail to mention that the number of priests declined sharply after 1985 as vocations dried up.)

So, there you go. Problem solved.

That's the ludicrous part.

In fairness, the report recommends vigilance over abuse and said that bishops must act quickly to remove abusers from their posts upon credible evidence of wrongdoing.  That is something the bishops are sure to agree to. In fact, that is the policy they have had in place for nearly 20 years, while they were simultaneously engaged in cover ups of priest abuse cases in Philadelphia, Boston and other diocese across the nation. Maybe the hippies were behind that, too.

Which serves as a perfect segue to the article written by Ana Marie Catanzaro in Commonweal, a Catholic magazine.   

Catanzaro is chair of the committee of lay people appointed by Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua eight years ago to review clergy abuse cases. The church was in its damage-control mode over clergy abuse and it wanted to assure the faithful that it was handling such allegations with, well, vigilance.

Fast forward to February of this year when a Philadelphia grand jury report asserted that 37 priests, still active in the archdioceses, had been credibly accused of abuse with minors.

The grand jury also blasted archdiocesan officials and the abuse review panel for not acting on these cases.  According to Catanzaro, panel members were stung by the criticism and shocked to hear the number 37.

Only 10 of these cases had come before her board, Catanzaro later told the Inquirer. Archdiocesan officials never told them of the other 27.

"The board was under the impression that we were reviewing every abuse allegation received by the archdiocese," she wrote.  She told the Inquirer that "somebody or some group" was withholding cases from them.  "We still don't know who."

Let me guess.  Could it be the priestly leadership of the archdiocese?  The same ones who are now saying they are cross-their-hearts-and-hope-to-die going to be get rid of priests who abuse and this time they really, really mean it.

Vigilance remains the watchword on these matters.  Eternal vigilance.


-- Tom Ferrick




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