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John Jay researcher: It's not about Woodstock

Karen J. Terry, who led the John Jay College study into the causes of clergy sex abuse of minors in the Catholic Church, has criticized news coverage that she said reduced her complex findings to a single point summarized in news reports as "blame Woodstock" - the idea that the sexual revolution in the 1960s and 1970s helped to cause the scandal.Dr. Terry made her comments in an article on the Web site The Crime Report, a resource for criminal justice journalists. She wrote:

A study of this complexity does not easily lend itself to an accurate sound bite.

Nevertheless, one early media report in a national paper attributed the explanation of social factors as a Blame Woodstock excuse, a phrase that went viral and was cited more than 14,000 times within the next two days.

The truth is, at no point in the report did we blame Woodstock or simplify the explanation of the abuse crisis to the swinging sixties, as some papers reported.

It's true that the report never singles out the cultural mores of the 1960s as the sole cause of an increase in clergy sex abuse of minors, but it is a significant part of the report. For example, the "Findings" section in the executive summary begins:

No single `cause of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic priests is identified as a result of our research. Social and cultural changes in the 1960s and 1970s manifested in increased levels of deviant behavior in the general society and also among priests of the Catholic Church in the United States.

Similarly, where the report lists the possible causes to be studied, the culture of the Sixties is first on the list, with the researchers to examine "general cultural factors, including the impact social changes in the 1960s and 1970s had on individual priests attitudes and behavior and on organizational life, including social stratification, emphasis on individualism, and social movements. Later, the report said that Social movements, such as the sexual revolution and development of understanding about sexual victimization and harm, necessarily had an influence on those within organizations just as they did on those in the general society."Even the press release John Jay College issued on the report focused on the Sixties immediately after announcing no single cause had been found. Dr. Terry's quote, contained in the second paragraph:

"The bulk of cases occurred decades ago," said Karen Terry, PhD., John Jay's principal investigator for the report. "The increased frequency of abuse in the 1960s and 1970s was consistent with the patterns of increased deviance of society during that time. She also stated that "social influences intersected with vulnerabilities of individual priests whose preparation for a life of celibacy was inadequate at that time."

I think Dr. Terry is mistaken to blame the news media for focusing on what was new and interesting in the study - the same aspects played up in her press release. The story was that the report showed the abuse peaked in the 1960s and 1970s, and why. But the claim that the sexual revolution helped cause increased clergy sex abuse of minors was the weak link in the study because it's speculation. The report otherwise consists of a lot of very useful data.

About the Author

Paul Moses, a professor of journalism at Brooklyn College/CUNY, is the author of The Saint and the Sultan: The Crusades, Islam and Francis of Assisi's Mission of Peace (Doubleday, 2009).

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But the claim that the sexual revolution helped cause increased clergy sex abuse of minors was the weak link in the study because its speculation

Straw-man alert. The "sexual revolution" was, of course, both symptom and cause. Nothing happens in isolation. Many social changes had been simmering and simply burst out at about the same time. Of course the spirit of social ferment - which very much included seeing sex very differently - directly affected numerous manifestations of sexual letting go. To say that the dramatic rise - the sudden huge peak - in sex-abuse cases was unconnected to it would be silly. Of course it was.

What was connected is that people felt freer to discuss what was formerly regarded as deviant behavior. Today's mores might well be considered more deviant with people not freely speaking about it as they did in the 60's and 70's. For example it was common to go to a party where marijuana and other drugs were passed around. Nowadays there is probably more usage of marijuana, which is only a violation in many states, but users do not speak freely about it except to fellow users. I remember members of pedophilia societies speaking openly and advocating the practice. While those societies still exist they have gone underground because of laws against them.So distinctions have to be made.

Dean Terry also claims not to have let the bishops off the hook. Yet this quote from the Causes and Context report in the section headed Oversight and Accountability suggests otherwise Organizational change often takes decades and requires not only buy in from those involved in the organization but also that changes become routine. Such changes can be achieved only through transparency in reporting and dealing with sexual abuse; with continued transparency and accountability mechanisms in place, changes can become institutionalized.This is unrelated to the question of bishops accountability and merely serves to delay the day of reckoning.Any bishop could issue a directive TODAY that all past and present charges of sexual abuse in his diocese should be reported immediately to him and from him immediately to the police, and that failure to do so would result in immediate termination of all clerical responsibilities of the person or persons who ignored this directive, followed by appropriate ecclesiastic review and penalties.Thats what I call management accountability. It could be done today. The John Jay report and your subsequent defense of that report simply side-step the issue.

Paul, in your opinion, was the phrase "Woodstock Defense" (I believe someone on the NY Times editorial board coined the phrase?) an exercise in responsible journalism?

If the study were useful and valid, there would be no need for the principal investigator to whine about the fact that its readers noticed the FIRST reason/excuse provided for the scandal. The fact that those who commissioned the study also selected the data to be examined makes the findings _____________.The expectation that educated people should accept without question (or horselaugh) a report that would not be acceptable in any business or government or academic setting is ___________.

It's easy to blame journalists for being woefully inept when it comes to fundamental concepts like causation and correlation, as well as the notion of something called a lurking variable -- but social scientists must be observant enough to understand that they are publishing into this mathematical void and so be very careful about how they convey concepts. In this regard, Bill M. is absolutely right, in my view: sexual abuse "peaked" in the sense that sexual abuse COMPLAINTS pent up over the previous decades began spilling out and, one hopes, ensuing efforts to protect children (at least by their parents if not curial authorities) curtailed their easy availability to predators, and so had some effect on the actual incidence going forward. Still, I don't think John Jay had enough evidence of prior decades to say much about the absolute incidence of abuse during any period.

No, I still blame the conclusions of the study. And if Dr Terry wants to be an apologist for it, she needs to take a wet noodle on this, too.The biggest flaw in the researchers' speculations is that they don't acknowledge they lack anywhere near a full data set prior to the 60's. To appear to claim that abuse went from zero in the 1930's to an all-out epidemic in the "peak years" of the 60's is a horrific blind spot. Sure there is a falloff of data prior to 1960, but that's because all the people who were abused in the first half of the century hardly ever reported abuse, or more likely, are just plain dead and unavailable for interviews. I have no explanation for this other than to suggest that the bishops were happy to see clergy sexual abuse as a "momentary" (in Vatican terms) lapse in morality. But we've righted the ship and everything is getting back the way it was in the 50's. Except for those darn lawyers and Vatican II types. Better for Dr Terry to make herself available as part of a serious panel discussion with at least one serious statistician who can point out the problem here.

The USCCB, NRB, and John Jay had 5 years to prepare the words they put out on May 18. They have known since 2003 the audiences to be addressed by their report. They controlled and issued the material. If the first five pages and the six pages of conclusions did not say _very_ precisely, clearly, and understandably exactly what they wanted recipients to hear and carry away, they have no one else to blame. Dr. Terry's addendum is reminiscent of Cardinal Law invoking the power of God against the local newspaper. The paper survived; he left the country. In terms of sociopolitical context, the study apparently didn't notice that the US endured in the period of interest a post-WWII transition decade, a Korean War, and a Cold War, all of which had massive impacts on the country and, specifically, on young males of seminary age, thanks to universal conscription ("draft"). Vast numbers of them went to Europe and Asia; most returned. Some were exempted because of "divinity studies". Most were exposed to, among other things, socio-sexual cultures and mores not readily observed on the streets and beaches of North America. Values starting with views of life and death and the dignity of a human were influenced by major events in this period that ought to be recognized and understood in addition to the specific focus adopted by the JJ study.

I think Dr. Terry and the media both share some blame for "misunderstandings" about the report as is evidenced above.I still have trouble with *what I thought was a major conclusion) that most cases were not about pedophilia but making the victim cut off age at 10 -an issue untouched on in her rebuttal. I would like to ask (again) her or any other poster here if they had a daughter age 11 who was raped by a clergyman, would they consider him a pedophile? I think the report notes the pronlem of secrecy (and analogizes it to the blue line of the PD.) What is lacking is the impact of secrecy inside the organization.That makes me think that though the report notes problems in the hierarchy and accountability, on balance, it lets bishops off the hook.The best suggestion here is that Ms. Terry, perhaps joined by Kathleen Mcchesney(see her America article) be joined by a panel of sociological and criminal justice experts to discuss the presentation of the report. (Maybe a Fordham Conference????)

At least three approaches to "Woodstock" were available to the report writers: Blame Woodstock, praise Woodstock or ignore Woodstock. Their approach was much closer to blame, as they ignored any positive influence from the cultural transformations of the 60s and 70s.The major problem, as I see it, is the finding that there was an "ncreased frequency of abuse in the 1960s and 1970s" whereas all they established was that there was an ncreased frequency of REPORTED abuse in the 1960s and 1970s. Someone please correct me if I am wrong about this. Bill, Todd, Barbara reached similar conclusions.The solutions identified move farther in the direction of openness, the characteristic that may have led to more reports of sexual abuse, rather than more sexual abuse. Seminarians being trained in more open environments, more mandatory reporting etc. These things happened thanks to Woodstock, which should be acknowledged to prevent slipping back into the more closed, defensive postures that foster these crises.

"To appear to claim that abuse went from zero in the 1930s to an all-out epidemic in the peak years of the 60s is a horrific blind spot."The basic problem. The abuse has been going on for centuries. The report ignored that entirely. The report made no systematic effort to examine clergy sexual habits generally, clergy sexual conduct with adults, and clergy sex abuse in other countries, not affected by "Woodstock."The report had little discussion on the conduct of bishops who had been warned since 1985 of a widepsread pedophile probelm in the church and the pedophelia was not amenable to treatment and likely uncurable.The report, at best, is a 30 year snapshot in one contry of a cneturies old worldwide problem.

Without going into exhaustive detail and agree that it would be helpful to use this in a forum with future, follow up studies, here are some obvious gaps:- already mentioned issue with limited time period as if nothing happened prior to 1950- report makes up its own definition of pedophilia altering current age limits (she doesn't even mention this)- she makes no mention that the complete report is based upon "REPORTED" events (experts agree that probably 50% or more of all abuse goes unreported)- report focuses on abusers that had both child and adult victims (vast majority of these cases were homosexual) and yet the study reaches no conclusions on this and rejects any type of finding that homosexuality was the cause (this may be correct but there was a real issue in the 1960s and 1970s with gay seminarians who had to hide their status and therefore did not develop in sexually healthy ways)- there is no mention in her f/u about the ten seminaries; what did the study find; why did certain ordination classes have more than 15% abusers? there was no sub=set on seminaries run by abbeys e.g. Conception, St. John's, St. Meinrad's, St. Benedict's, LA where we have documented proof of homosexual acting out among monks that spilled over to abuse with students (this reached a crisis point in the late 1980's)- the original report does not focus on "criminal" behavior - in fact, it dwells on all behavior but doesn't say much about criminal behavior- study does state that its mission was not to look into adult sexual behavior but, like Woodstock, these behaviors significantly impacted the overall sexual abuse situation - to quote Richard Sipe - a fact is that when sexual abuse is covered up by superiors/bishops, there is a high likelihood that the superior/bishop is hiding or reacting from his own sexual behaviors. (even if not criminal)Just off the top of my head.

Just to be clear about my criticism here and on my own web site: I don't fault Dr Terry and her colleagues for drawing a line at 1950. The problem is when professionals don't realize they're not getting the full boat of data until a good generation after that line.No doubt there are some people who could study the last sixty, seventy years of bishops and tell us all sorts of interesting things. That research would be potentially helpful for the universal Church, not just the US. I agree with Bill that adult victims and partners should be looked at. I don't share his sense that it's a gay problem. I've known misbehaving clergy and seminarians over the years. Two gay men, one pedophile, and six or seven womanizers. Somebody somewhere cited 50% sexual acting out. If a bishop thinks his clergy are in trouble, he owes it to them and to the people to do whatever he can to get to the root of the problem--loneliness, addiction, past abuse, and demonstrate that he cares about his clergy and he's willing to expend diocesan resources and his own best effort at helping these guys live happy, effective, ministerial lives. We lay people kvetch long and loud about episcopal transgressions against us and our kids. But for heaven's sake, the least these guys could do is be proactive in looking out for their more troubled brother priests. That would do us all a lot of good.

The comments of Joe, Bill and Todd all underscore the limitations of the report.Takin gup on Todd, the revsions by USCCB at their June meeting were minimal and offered litte hope for episcopal accountability in the real sense.

Needless to say, I don't share most of the criticisms leveled at the John Jay report listed here, and see much of the criticism as evidence of a classic case of "moral panic" rather than rational thinking. But regarding Jim P's query about the "Woodstock defense" line that has gone so viral, to set the record straight that was not a coinage of the New York Times but was cited by the writer, Laurie Goodstein, as a rationale that bishops and even Pope Benedict have posited for years:

Known occurrences of sexual abuse of minors by priests rose sharply during those decades, the report found, and the problem grew worse when the churchs hierarchy responded by showing more care for the perpetrators than the victims.The blame Woodstock explanation has been floated by bishops since the church was engulfed by scandal in the United States in 2002 and by Pope Benedict XVI after it erupted in Europe in 2010. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/18/us/18bishops.html

With the John Jay authors, I think the spike in abuse cases in this period has some correlation with the "social deviance" of the era, but I agree with the report writers (and with Karen Terry) that there are many other factors, including the seminary training of the "golden age" of the 1940s and 1950s. For those who don't think any of those explanations suffice, I think it is perhaps incumbent on them to offer some sort of explanation for the spikes.I agree with Mark Silk's point that the higher number of priests of a certain age at that time is something that deserves to be explored more thoroughly.

"They controlled and issued the material," writes Jack. Who controlled what now?And, no, there is nothing similar between Law's condemnation of the Globe and Terry's article.

Comments can be made directly to the article by Karen Terry that is linked to in the post. She welcomes comments, the site states. I don't know if she plans to respond to the comments there but, if so, this would be an opportunity to express your opinion directly. If any of the criticisms made here are misguided she would have a chance to quickly clear up any misunderstandings.Or perhaps she could be persuaded to guest blog on this site and respond to thoughtful comments.

Responding to Jim Pauwels' question about the use of the phrase "blame Woodstock" ... As David Gibson indicates, the "blame Woodstock" line appeared first in the N.Y. Times news coverage of the report (rather than in an editorial). The sentence:The blame Woodstock explanation has been floated by bishops since the church was engulfed by scandal in the United States in 2002 and by Pope Benedict XVI after it erupted in Europe in 2010. In a brief check of Lexis-Nexis, I couldn't find any use of the specific term before this in news coverage about clergy sexual abuse. "Blame Woodstock" is clever but pejorative, since it makes the study look ridiculous. I would have hated to be the editor to say such a catchy but loaded phrase was inappropriate in a news story (as opposed to an editorial or column), but would at least have wanted to explore the factual basis for using that term to summarize previous remarks by the pope and bishops. So I would say it is debatable. Overall, the story responsibly reports, on deadline, what was in the John Jay study. But others who picked up the "blame Woodstock" phrase in later coverage may not have been as responsible.

BTW, regarding Cardinal law's infamous remarks about the Globe, it's important I think to note that the context gives it a bit of nuance, though he was at the time -- 1992, ten years before the Really Big Scandal -- trying to deflect attention away from the Porter case and other uncomfortable questions. Law was speaking at an antiviolence march at a Baptist church and said:

"The papers like to focus on the faults of a few. . . . We deplore that," said Cardinal Law. "The good and dedicated people who serve the church deserve better than what they have been getting day in and day out in the media."St. Paul spoke of the immeasurable power at work in those who believe. . . . We call down God's power on our business leaders, and political leaders and community leaders. By all means we call down God's power on the media, particularly the Globe."We call on the media to tell the good story about Morning Star Baptist Church, to tell the good story about the Catholic parishes in the inner city."Referring to Jesus' instruction not to hide a lamp under a bushel basket, Cardinal Law said: "It's time we take the bushel basket and the media off the light and let the light shine so all can see it."http://www.boston.com/globe/spotlight/abuse/archives/052492_porter.htm

In a sense, Law's prayer came true, though not in the way he expected. Perhaps the Holy Spirit does move in mysterious ways.

Todd - just to clarify.....I did not say or mean to say that it is a gay problem. What I tried to raise is that the vast majority of victims under a certain age were male - there appears to be no explanation for this. And I don't buy the casual explanation that priests back then had more access to boys. That is only part of an explanation.

Grant - As indicated above, "they" refers to USCCB, NRB, and John Jay. As for control and issuance, the report's pedigree is shown on the back of its title page. It ends up with authorization for publication signed by the General Secretary, USCCB, as of May 2011. Understandably, the sponsor/principal funding agency retained control over the publication of the report. Public issuance was done by a trio representing the three organizations involved in May. From report:"In June 2002 the full body of Catholic bishops of the United States in their General Meeting in Dallas approved the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. The Charter created a National Review Board, which was assigned responsibility to oversee the completion of the study of the causes and context of the recent crisis. The National Review Board engaged the John Jay College of Criminal Justice of the City University of New York to conduct research, summarize the collected data, and issue a summary report to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops of its findings.This report by the John Jay College is authorized for publication by the undersigned.Msgr. David J. Malloy, STD General Secretary, USCCBFirst printing, May 2011" http://www.usccb.org/mr/causes-and-context-of-sexual-abuse-of-minors-by-...

Jack Barry, the research arm of the federal Justice Department paid for about 25 percent of the study, so I guess your conspiracy theory reaches all the way into the corridors of power in Washington. But that's no surprise, given that the Masons run everything that the Catholics don't. I'm just trying to figure out where the Jews fit into this...

Hmm. I had thought it was the bishops themselves who commissioned the JJ report, not the National Review Board.One can hardly fault JJ for answering the questions it was hired to ask and answer. My question is: why didn't the Review Board ask not only whether many the bishops were at fault (it says they were) but also why the bishops acted, or didn't act, as they did, and what could be done to change the bishops' behavior.Or perhaps the Review Board did ask. I'd like to see their commissioning letter(s).

"What I tried to raise is that the vast majority of victims under a certain age were male there appears to be no explanation for this."Altar servers, all-male schools, re-living past abuse by perpetrating on boys, the impropriety of priests hanging with girls, especially when their vocation prospects would be 100% male.Did JJC break down victim age-ranges by decade? That would be interesting to know.

David G. -You stray. The subject is management and control of an asset of value, which the study report is. As the quote above shows, John Jay, overseen by the NRB, was to deliver its report to the USCCB. It evidently did. The USCCB in the person of its General Secretary "authorized [it] for publication". Had they not done so, the report would have remained within the USCCB, and the public would have been deprived. Nothing odd involved. Normal business. My earlier point was that what the media and many others are reacting to is the study material the USCCB deliberately, voluntarily decided to provide - no duress. They had choices. If they hadn't wanted reactions to that particular material, they had alternatives, e.g., a summary of the report, selective sub-reports, or a series of journal articles as John Jay published earlier in this program in May 2008. http://cjb.sagepub.com/content/35/5.toc ******** It just occurred to me that saying "They controlled . the material" may easily sound as if I am talking about the details done by JJ. Not so. I have in mind the final report and/or pieces of it and didn't make that clear. Sorry. Karen Terry explicitly excluded the possibility of bishops' influence on findings in her article this week. She didn't mention the NRB, which was charged with study oversight. ********

Jack,Your clarification doesn't make you sound less like a conspiracy theorist. The NRB is not an independent body. The group was created by the USCCB, and it reports to the USCCB.What is the basis for your claim that had the USCC decided not to publish the report (you deem so biased) it never would have seen the light of day? Do you have one, or are you just floating that theory? Think about it? Everyone knew John Jay was working on the report. Do you really think the bishops could have gotten away with not publishing it? Or just pieces of it? Of course not. And do you think John Jay would enter into an agreement that allowed the bishops to decide whether to publish the findings? That would be absurd. It would taint their reputation as an academic institution. They aren't fools.

" Do you really think the bishops could have gotten away with not publishing it?"Grant --Who's to stop them?

Grant - Please note in the quote above (6/24 6:15P) from the study report that it was _authorized for publication_ by the USCCB under the signature of its General Secretary as of May 2011. That would be senseless if publication was already a given. Specific contract requirements tend to rule on study publication. (See Ann O, 11:46A) You say bias, not I. Study report problems related to the scope of analyses, data validity, logic, and communication have been noted by a handful of people here and by many others who have paid close attention to this study report over a month. These are errors which limit the validity and credibility of some of the results and conclusions in view of the stated purpose of this study. See commenters above and Bill deHaas (6/24 1:39P) for his quick summary. Valid criticisms for cause (see above) are distinguishable from accusations of evil bias. (Questions about liking or disliking conclusions are (or should be) irrelevant until after the validity of the analysis that leads to them is confirmed.) Enough.

It is very hard for me to not dismiss as merely politically correct the comments of those who nay say the connection between the sexual abuse of so many teenage boys and the homosexual orientation of the priests involved. Yes, not all homosexual priests acted out with teenagers, but these molesters did just that. Since we have no way of knowing the total number of so-called gay priests, we also can't know what percentage this subset amounted to. I entered seminary in the mid-sixties. My path to ordination took me to four seminaries in the northeast, deep south, and Midwest. As the years progressed, the openness to homosexual conversation and acting out increased dramatically. Many of us wondered why seminary and church authorities turned a blind eye to all this. The high tolerance to such misbehavior has to correlate to the almost instinctive behavior of the covering up or dismissal of so many reports of deviant and criminal behavior. There was a widely prevailing attitude that these were just sexual transgressions in which no one intended any real harm. They're just sick and need a little treatment so they could resume their ministry. I am not dissing treatment since I have experienced it's benefits myself. I am questioning those who wish to avoid offending those who are proud to be gay Americans by always dismissing any connection between widespread homosexuality in the priesthood as homophobic nonsense. There are upstanding celibate priests who have learned to live with same sex attraction, some of whom are members of the hierarchy. And there were and are some who engaged in deviant and criminal behavior. Let's attempt to be objective.

Jack - excellent comments and your experience was mine in addition to doing formation work from the late 1970's and 80s. The study says nothing about a number of significant changes in terms of data, percentages, etc.- 20,000-30,000 priests left the priesthood from 1965-1975.....- this means that whatever % you arrive at is using a total number of priests to abusers when the total number is being significantly changed....could that result in % decreasing after 1975?- in addition to seminaries starting in the mid-1960's, parish life changed. With decreasing priests and increasing catholics, more and more single priest parishes emerged. The "artificial" priestly parish structure of the 1950's changed dramatically - in some cases, parish priests lived in apartments not rectories; there already exists little oversight and accountability in a priest's personal life and these changes only increased opportunities; coupled with overwork; little oversight; fear of losing a priest; etc. resulting in acting out behaviors (some criminal) and moving abusers around.Given that this is a study - wonder why current experts in sexual abuse were not consulted (even if one feels that there is a bias)? If the end goal is to improve our understanding and arrive at best practice, why weren't folks such as Thomas Doyle, Richard Sipe, Donald Cozzens asked for input, direction, and advice. As one who did formation in the 1970-80's, the increase in gay seminarians; an almost accepted "experimentation" culture; and other impacts (like the 1960's society) had to have had an impact on abuse patterns. Cozzens has highlighted many challenges in his books; CARA has done a number of studies around this issue; Cozzens makes statements that in some seminary environments, heterosexual candidates left given the predominant gay culture. There is no exploration for the dissonance between "official" church policy on homosexuality and priests and the fact that 40% or better of all priests are gay. How and what does this dissonance do in terms of human development, acquiring a healthy adult emotional state, etc. David Gibbons - make these points without any "moral panic" involved. As we say in Texas; no bull just the facts.

!) Iam not a conspiracy theorist and I think that term has been used here with some facility about posters.2)At Bishop Accountability today, ther eis a background on the report done by a e. Pieter Schulz in the Netherlad,He cites and perhaps we should haveknown about four articles published or copublished in 2008 by Ms. Terry which clearl yanticipates the final report(including pedophiloia cut off at 10.)I think there was much then in the works over the years that should not havel ed to the surprise in some quarters that greeted the report when it arrived.3)The main issue of this discussion is the impact on wher ewe are headed first and foremost in protecting children (or more correctly victims) and secondarily, but still vital, the related issues of episcopal (and up the line) accountability and credibility!I think the emendations of the charter at USCCB in June added little.The Vatican has announced it will hold a conference on the subject at the Gregorian next February.That move is already being criticized because no victims are to participate,I think that important as well as I beleive until we appreciate the voices of victims directly, we won't get past this.I often wonder how many posters here have dealt with victims of sex abuse.The conference is also being criticized because Archbishop Martin is not an invirted participant. As some would say"Hmmm....'I'm sure they'll be some excellent speakers, but I susopect it will be like the Vatican conference on AIDS, needing to hear far more from the trenches and less from red hats.

Jack,Yes, enough. Enough ill-informed speculation about the USCCB. Close observers of the bishops conference know that everything the conference publishes has to be "approved" for release. It's a formal process that all USCCB-published documents go through (such as the Committee on Doctrine's critique of Beth Johnson's 'Quest for the Living God'). That this one was approved implies nothing about whether its release was a sure thing. How strange that we are arguing about this, given that the thing was published by the USCCB.

One should consider the documented physical and sexual abuse of women in the laundries of Ireland which preceded the Woodstock generation. One should also look at the abuse of British children removed from the cities during the blitz in WWII and shipped off to Australia as orphans. There is a film about the abuse of these children by Marists in Australia who used them barefoot in construction and for other purposes. One ought to consider the practice in the days of American frontier settlement of sending orphans to the West to be taken in by families or individuals and used as laborers and who knows what. The practice of child abuse has been rampant, built into the practice of slavery going back prior to the days of the Greek city states and Roman empire and existing today in Muslim societies in East Africa. Some Arab societies accept the practice of slavery with its built-in abuses; some societies when confronted with openness of abuse are shocked. The relevant fact to this report is that the Catholic Church, its bishops and religious orders had a culture of acceptance which continues in some bishoprics today.

I don't buy into the idea that sexual abuse was on the rise in the 1960s and 1970s. It was always at the same levels as during those years, but it was carefully kept under raps, as was the widespread violation of celibacy by priests, bishops, and cardinals. I personally knew "as a friend" one of the leading American theologians who had repeated sex with a friend of mine and with her mother. My friend had to go into therapy for years because of her experience with this man. Also, one of the leading theologian-cardinals of the 20th century was found in a long-term sexual relation with a woman. I had been in the seminary for a number of years, and it was not an unusual thing for priests to come to the rooms of seminarians for sex in the dark. The reason why in the past we never heard of these violations on the part of priests of their vow of celibacy and of the virtue of chastity is that they were covered up by bishops, cardinals, and the Vatican, who were doing the same thing themselves. It must be clearly understood that most of the violations came to light because the victims would no longer accept hush-money at the cost of their own psychological well being. The majority of the abuses were perpetrated not by young seminarians and young priest affected by the "loose" morals of the 60s and 70s, but by bishops and priests who were much older that the hippy generation. I personally was aware of many priests who no longer observed their vows of celibacy, but the Church was more interested in "image" and protecting the myth that it had a successful and spiritually productive centuries-old policy of priestly celibacy. Keep appearances alive at all costs was the order of the day.

"The relevant fact to this report is that the Catholic Church, its bishops and religious orders had a culture of acceptance which continues in some bishoprics today."In fairness to Rome, it must be noted that the Vatican been active in trying to stem the de facto slave trade of girls from very poor countries to rich ones. Some of them end up in the US today, according to CNN.

.George (6/25 4:35 pm):

One should consider the documented physical and sexual abuse of women in the laundries of Ireland which preceded the Woodstock generation.

Absolutely, but that wasn't part of this study..

My comments relate to the issue of academic integrity and conflict of interests. Specifically, investigation has discovered that Dr. Terry was the academic supervisor for a masters level candidate at John Jay and this individual is a long-time news reporter with Catholic New York, the newspaper of the Archdiocese of New York. Claudia McDonnellTopic: Child sexual abuse by Catholic PriestsExpected completion date: December 2008 As a matter of fact, this reporter covered the news conference in Washington, DC in May 2011 where the USCCB presented Dr. Terry's study. Did the Archdiocese of New York pay for the masters program and courses attended by this news reporter? Is such involvement and interaction between researcher, journalist and funding source (Archbishop Dolan, New York, is President of the USCCB which funded the study) acceptable according to the rules, regulations and protocol that is standard practice in such research and study work? Is such involvement by a journalist (with the study and work being covered and reported on) acceptable and approved conduct according to the rules of professional conduct in the journalism field?

How do you think graduate programs work, Michael? Let's say the archdiocese was footing the bill for McDonnell's master's degree. Do you believe that means Terry received direct payment from the archdiocese? Or that the tuition money received from one student or her sponsor would be enough to persuade Terry or her bosses at John Jay to throw the study? What nonsense.By the way, Jack (and Ann O.): I was in touch with Margaret Smith from John Jay, who confirmed that John Jay's agreement with the bishops made clear that if the USCCB didn't publish the report, John Jay would. Smith told me: "We (through RFCUNY, the research unit of CUNY) had a complex formal contract with the USCCB committing the John Jay research team to deliver a Report in a specified time frame and establishing our right to publish it after 60 days if the USCCB declined to do so." What's more, Smith emphasized that the USCCB never gave John Jay any indication that they would not publish the report. So that's that.

that wasnt part of this study.Paul's initiating remarks claimed that "The story was that the report showed the abuse peaked in the 1960s and 1970s." This implies that there was more abuse in the 60s than there was before, something that the report does not show. There were more reports of abuse than there were before, but this is not the same as there was more abuse. Abuse existed before, as the Irish situations shows, even when reports of it were scarce.HBO currently is running a documentary on the Sex crimes unit of the NYPD, which was established in 1974. A number of people comment on what led to the creation of this unit; no one says it was because there were more sex crimes being committed in the 70s. Before 74, victims and their testimony were treated dismissively; marital rape was unheard of; etc. The SCU came about as accusations were taken more seriously, possible crimes were investigated, and the insensitivity of police became more obvious.This growth in awareness of sex crimes came about at the same time as the increase in reports of sexual abuse by priests. If there is a reason to think that either was caused by an increase in sex crimes, I have not heard it. It is possible that in both cases it was an increase in awareness.This is important for at least two reasons. The alleged peak is used as evidence that celibacy and homosexuality were not the causes of the abuse. This explanation falls apart if there was no peak.Second, and more important, is the role of openness is preventing abuse. The Church had been in a defensive posture since at least the French Revolution, but probably going back before the Reformation. Condemnation of perversity in society was a part of this defensiveness. This kind of intransigence often leads to cover ups and denial like that behind the current crisis. The openness that was ushered in by the 60s is an important part of the effort to address sexual abuse by clergy.

Ms Terry and her colleagues have not received anywhere near enough critical examination of the serious methodological shortcomings of her paid PR exercise. Many commentators point out that the reports are based on reported abuse, which is quite different and considerably less than measuring the actual incidence of abuse. But the John Jay reports are actually based on an even smaller subset of the actual abuse - the abuse that is reported to the Catholic Church and not dismissed, ignored, hidden, or denied. The methodology allows the prime culprits in the widespread cover-up of sex crimes against children, Bishops, to exclude from the John Jay analysis any abuse they are not inclined to admit as true, with no reason given, and no outside confirmation of the validity of such deletions. Or even, if they are in complete denial, to not report at all.Yet Catholic officials and apologists consistently misrepresent the John Jay reports as representing incidence of abuse and compare it willy nilly to other populations in order to make the dangerous claim that children are safer with the Catholic Church than other, less secretive organisations. Ms Terry does not correct this misleading use of her work. No wonder Ms Terry and her colleagues in their latest work were unable to find any significant difference between abuser priests and the general population of priests. Because so many abuser priests were hidden in the non abuser sample by Bishops hiding the truth and by the appalling re-abuse of victims making it almost impossible to come forward, that the two populations were essentially the same.Under such circumstances it perhaps makes a little more sense to blame Woodstock. It does not, however, make it true.

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