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This blog is maintained by the Ruth Institute. It provides a place for our Circle of Experts to express themselves. This is where the scholars, experts, students and followers of the Ruth Institute engage in constructive dialogue about the issues surrounding the Sexual Revolution. We discuss public policy, social practices, legal doctrines and much more.
Posted on: Tuesday, January 22, 2019
The Ruth Institute honors Bishop Glen John Provost of Lake Charles, Louisiana, for his spiritual leadership regarding the clergy sex abuse and cover-up scandal. Bishop Provost issued a letter outlining a systematic spiritual response to the worldwide crisis. He stated:
We in the Church either transform society by witnessing to it or risk being absorbed by society through acquiescence. We either act as a pro-active force for good or retreat into irrelevance.
He decreed that the St. Michael prayer be said after every Mass, and that every parish have a weekly hour of Eucharistic Adoration and an annual Eucharistic procession.
Bishop Provost explained:
We cannot continue to live as passive bystanders. A change is necessary, and it begins with the way we worship and pray...The Devil and the forces of evil… are not resisted with a ‘business-as-usual’ attitude, nor has what some would call a ‘Catholic-lite’ approach ever proved effective in facing challenges to the Church and the Gospel. When the disciples of our Lord complained that their attempt at combatting a demon was ineffective… Our Lord answered, ‘But this kind does not come out except by prayer and fasting.’ (cf. Matthew 17:21, Mark 9:29)
Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse stated:
With so many bishops failing their flocks, we felt it appropriate to express our heartfelt thanks to our bishop and pledge our support for his decrees. As a sign of support, the Ruth Institute, along with more than 300 residents of Lake Charles, offers white roses and our prayers for Bishop Provost and for everyone in our diocese.
Bishop Provost issued his decrees, which took effect January 1, 2019, on the First Sunday of Advent, 2018.
The Ruth Institute is a global non-profit organization that equips Christians to defend the family and traditional Christian sexual morality. The Ruth Institute has taken a leading role in responding to the clergy sex abuse crisis since it broke in the news in August. Ruth Institute President, Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, has written extensively on this issue. Senior Research Associate, Fr. Paul Sullins, has produced the definitive Report on Clergy Sex Abuse.
The “Roses From Ruth” initiative honors clergy who take a public stand in defense of the traditional teachings of the Church regarding marriage, family and human sexuality.
To schedule an interview with Dr. Morse email@example.com
Posted on: Monday, January 14, 2019
by Paul Sullins
A review of: Regnerus, Mark, Cheap Sex: The Transformation of Men, Marriage and Monogamy (New York: Oxford University Press, 2017).
This article was first published at humanumreview.
Cultural norms—the tacit, taken-for-granted expectations that structure human society—adapt to institutional and technological change. In our day, as the life tasks and realms formerly integrated within marriage—sex, intimacy, shared residence and meals, childbirth, raising children, economic sharing, and career planning—increasingly uncoupled from that institution, the related norms shift. When, as in America today, most children experience the dissolution of their parents’ relationship, the norms of mating and parenthood implicitly shift from the prospect of stability to the prospect of instability. When less than ten percent of women experience sexual onset within a permanent relationship, the norm shifts from regarding virginity with admiration to regarding it with ridicule. When more than half of births to women under 30 occur outside marriage, the norm of “first comes marriage” shifts to “marriage comes second”—if marriage comes at all.
In his book Cheap Sex: The Transformation of Men, Marriage and Monogamy, University of Texas sociologist Mark Regnerus argues that this shift in marital and mating norms has now extended to sex itself. Bringing to bear an impressive array of data, including Regnerus’ own large survey of over 15,000 Americans (called the Relationships in America [RIA] survey project) and over 100 interviews conducted for the book, he ably demonstrates that “cheap sex is plentiful—it’s flooding the market in sex and relationships—and … this has had profound influence on how American men and women relate to each other, which has in turn spilled over into other domains” (29). In case we need to be convinced, he presents detailed data and evidence that young Americans of marriageable age (ages 24‒32) engage in sex relations more quickly, casually, frequently and with more variety than ever before. Waiting until marriage is becoming a rare option; many do not wait until the second date. Or even the first date. In the RIA data, Regnerus reports, over a third of men and a quarter of women reported that they had sex with their current or most recent partner before the relationship actually began (97). Like text messaging has replaced, for young Americans, the intrusive investment of time and interpersonal energy in an actual phone call, Tinder and the hookup has rendered almost quaint the notion of investing time and interpersonal energy in an actual date. If you think that this is a description of the commodification of sex, you are beginning to get the idea.
Sex has become cheap, explains Regnerus, not because it leaves young people feeling cheap or is less desired by them—in fact, quite the opposite—but as a matter of hard-headed rational social exchange: “Sex is cheap if women expect little in return for it and if men do not have to supply much time, attention, resources, recognition or fidelity in order to experience it” (28). This definition follows the little-known branch of sociology known as “sexual economics,” which analyzes sex relations on the model of a transaction in which a man offers his resources—summarized above as “time, attention, resources, recognition or fidelity”—in exchange for sexual access to a woman’s body. The popular formula which says that men give love to get sex, while women give sex to get love, expresses roughly the same idea. But sexual economics goes further, analyzing the sum of these transactions as a kind of mating market, using the tools and concepts of classical economics to expose what many would call cultural insights.
In the mating market of young Americans, explains Regnerus, well-documented gender differences show that men are largely the source of demand for sex, while women function as gatekeepers controlling supply. Sex has become cheap not because demand has decreased—male sexual desire is reliably constant—but because supply has become much more plentiful. The key drivers of this change, he maintains, are not cultural or even sociological, but something more fundamental: technological change. Since the 1960s, and particularly since the turn of the present century, norms of sex and marriage have been upended by the confluence of “three distinctive technological achievements: 1) the wide uptake of the [birth-control] Pill as well as a mentality stemming from it that sex is “naturally” infertile, 2) mass-produced high-quality pornography, and 3) the advent and evolution of online dating/meeting services” (11). The Pill has eliminated the perceived risk of pregnancy, thereby greatly lowering risk which had formerly inhibited casual sex relations, particularly for women; Tinder and similar online meeting sites have increased the supply of willing short-term partners, particularly for men; and ubiquitous pornography allied with masturbation (“the cheapest sex” ) has made sexual experience available for men (and for women, but mostly for men) without even troubling to find an actual partner.
The result of these technologies is that women’s gatekeeping power is largely undermined in the sexual exchange. If men give love to receive sex, and women give sex to receive love, then in today’s mating market, young women must give much more sex in exchange for much less love.
The young women who do so, in the vast majority, are not reluctantly lowering their moral standards (though they may have other reasons for reluctance), but conforming to a new standard, a shift of norms, as abundant non-fertile sexual experience has become for them an assumed social fact. “[Cheap sex],” Regnerus observes, “is a presumption, widely perceived as natural and commonsensical, and hence connected by persons to expectations about their own and others’ future sexual experiences (as similarly low-cost). It has become normative, taken for granted” (30). In the popular mentality and cognition of today’s young Americans, sex is for fun, not for procreation.
Many of the developments Regnerus documents were predicted 25 years ago, in the influential analysis of modern sexuality presented in Anthony Giddens’ 1992 volume The Transformation of Intimacy. Giddens, a pre-eminent Marxist sociologist who is the longtime Director of the London School of Economics, proposed that the emergence of “plastic sexuality,” i.e., sexuality freed from the needs of reproduction, reflected a fundamental transformation in the constitution of sexual relationships. Sexuality, love and eroticism were increasingly being shaped by aspirations for personal fulfillment, sexual attraction (and repulsion), and psychic needs, and decreasingly by collective control imposed by the state, tradition or moral norms. The result was a restructuring of sexual intimacy, not around marriage and family or any social or moral norms, but around what Giddens called (ironically, to Catholic ears) the “pure relationship,” which is “a social relationship which is entered into for its own sake, for what can be derived by each person from a sustained association with another; and which is continued only in so far as it is thought by both parties to deliver enough satisfactions for each individual to stay within it.”
Although marriage, through the rise of the romantic love complex, had played a major role in the rise of the pure relationship, eventually the connection between love and sex via the pure relationship would undermine marriage. Women tended to lead, while men lagged, in the present and future development of such relationships; they were therefore the most advanced, in many ways, among lesbian couples. Regnerus examines Giddens’ predictions throughout the book, partly as a kind of guide, and partly as a foil to his own analysis. He finds that most of Giddens’ predictions and insights hold up well, although he is less positive about them than Giddens may have been, as evidenced by the fact that what Giddens called a “pure relationship” roughly corresponds to what Regnerus calls “cheap sex.”
For women, the Pill has reduced the ability to form a good marriage by splitting the mating market into parts: at one extreme, persons looking for casual sex with a minimum of strings, and at the other extreme, persons looking to marry. Consistent with the sex differences already noted, Regnerus notes, “there are more men in the sex corner of the pool than women, and more women in the marriage corner of the pool than men” (35). Due to the imbalance of males in the sex corner, although sex is cheap for men, it is still much easier, as we all know, for a woman to have casual sex, if she wants to, than it is for a man. As Regnerus points out, men looking for a no-strings sex partner often come up short, but “[w]hen women signal interest in [casual] sex, men pounce” (35). But at the other end of the pool, where there are far more women than men who are interested in the “expensive” sex of marriage, men dominate the exchange.
Since women are less likely to marry a man with lower education and earnings than themselves, the pool of men available to marry has grown even smaller as women become, on average, more highly educated and employable than men (another, less direct, effect of the Pill). The result is that women who want to marry struggle to find a marriage partner and some will fail to do so. Others may settle for a less than optimum partner, which contributes to increased rates of divorce—the large majority of which are initiated by women—and relationship churning. In this way, cheap sex directly lowers the quality and duration of marriage.
But the effect of cheap sex on women is dwarfed by its effect on men. A central concern of the book, pursued in a chapter with the same name as the subtitle, is that “cheap sex has transformed modern men …, undermined and stalled the marital impulse, and stimulated critics of monogamy” (191). This is more than just a matter of the proverbial milk and cow effect. Shorn of the need to offer significant resources in exchange for sex, cheap sex has not just lowered men’s interest in marriage, but more importantly their marriageability: that is, their economic and social capacity to marry, or to attract a marriage partner. The rise of underemployed and underachieving young men in the past 15 years has been a widely observed trend, puzzled over by a spate of books across the ideological spectrum, from Hanna Rosin’s left-leaning The End of Men to Lionel Tiger’s right-leaning The Decline of Males. One largely overlooked reason for the lassitude of young men today, Regnerus argues, may be cheap sex. “Cheap sex, …”, he writes, “does little to stimulate the [men] of our modern economy toward those historic institutions—education, a settled job, and marriage—that created opportunity for them and their families” (154). Faced with no need to attain a higher education or well-paying job in order to attract a woman, many young men lose the motivation to attain a higher education or well-paying job at all.
It gets worse. Because marriageability and productivity are closely allied, the decline of marriageability resulting from cheap sex has also reduced young men’s general social productivity. On this point Regnerus cites the sexual economists Baumeister and Vohs: “giving young men easy access to abundant sexual satisfaction deprives society of one of its ways to motivate them to contribute valuable achievements to the culture” (152). The Freudian idea here is that sexual deprivation energizes the development of civilization. Catholic thought arrives at the same place by a different route, affirming that as marriage (the only proper realm for sex) contributes to the common good, when men fail to contribute to marriage they also deprive the common good of valuable accomplishments. In this way, however understood, cheap sex beleaguers not only men and marriage, but society more broadly.
The overall effect of this book is like watching a train wreck in slow motion. Each well-documented fact, each clinical insight, contributes to the growing realization that marriage is in more trouble than is currently imagined, and in a way that is not likely to recover very soon, if at all. By the end of the book it has become clear that the analogy of market exchange, which has helped to explain male-female interactions throughout the book, has now become the defining reality of sex relations for young Americans. As Regnerus explains, it is not just that “marriage … is in the throes of deinstitutionalization” (195) but that cheap sex is in the throes of mass-market commodification, becoming “a synthetic compound of our Western penchant for bigger, cheaper, better, diverse and more—an ironic postmodern intersection where Wal-Mart meets [explicit sex advice columnist] Dan Savage” (197).
Shed of transcendence and uniqueness, disconnected from larger life goals or relationships, cheap sex has become a rationalized commodity, discounted even further for being mass produced in bulk. Cheap sex has become junk sex. Like McDonald’s burgers—the prototypical rationalized commodity—it has become a kind of ersatz product which can be obtained ever more quickly, cheaply and reliably, and which is tasty and attractive, but not very nourishing as a steady diet. Regnerus, citing Wendell Berry, terms it “industrial sex”: “Industrial sex, characteristically, establishes its freeness and goodness by an industrial accounting, dutifully toting up numbers of ‘sexual partners,’ orgasm, and so on, with the inevitable industrial implication that the body is somehow a limit on the idea of sex …” (198). Regnerus sums up the accounts from his interviewees of “orgasmic experiences, partner numbers, time in pursuit, exotic accounts, one-night stands, regrets, pain, addictions, infections, abortions, wasted time, and spent relationships” as metrics “of an industrial sex whose promises consistently exceeded its deliveries” (198).
When sex becomes this cheap—affordable to all like a Big Mac—, marriage by comparison becomes prohibitively expensive, like a five-star dinner affordable only to the select few. The problem industrially cheap sex presents for marriage is not only that fewer young men will marry—that process is well advanced—but that fewer older ones will marry as well. The metrics of good industrial sex listed above by Berry and Regnerus omit, not by accident, the most important measure of good sex relations in Catholic and traditional thought: children. Older men, more than younger men, have typically eventually settled down to become more open to marriage for the sake of children and family. If, in their minds, sex is really for fun and not for children, and women can have and raise children without their lifelong commitment, there is little need for them ever to step up to parental responsibility, nor for women to demand of them that they do so. In the era of cheap sex, men (and women) who in the recent past may have married for these very reasons (and then perhaps divorced) are increasingly likely never to marry at all.
To make this point Regnerus presents the above figure (146), which shows, from Census data, the proportion of young Americans who have not married by the age of 35. Strikingly, just since the turn of the century, that proportion has risen by almost 20 percentage points, from a third of young Americans in 2000 to well over half of them today. At the turn of the century, by the age of 35, over half of young Americans had married; today, over half remain unmarried. For decades, even though younger Americans have increasingly deferred marriage, by the time of their mid-thirties the vast majority of Americans had eventually married. Figure 5.1 suggests that that cultural pattern no longer holds. Regnerus attributes this change to the fact that the new norms of cheap sex are still diffusing gradually throughout the population:
[M]any people are marrying because they are still following the cultural practices of their parents and grandparents, even though historically compelling reasons—like babies, financial and physical security, or the desire for a “socially legitimate” sexual relationship—no longer hold. … The next generation, today no older than teenagers, will wonder why they should marry at all. (147)
The picture Regnerus paints is a grim one, not because marriage will fully disappear—marriage rates will remain high among the wealthy and the very religious—but because the rise of cheap sex and its consequences are the result of technological change, which is generally irreversible, rather than social or cultural trends which may recover. After several generations of predicating sexuality on effective infertility due to the Pill, as Regnerus points out, “a return to the patterns witnessed prior to the ‘sexual revolution’… is very unlikely” (8).
And yet. In a world of commodity sex, industrial sex is not just emotionally unsatisfying, as Regnerus observes, but may contain the seeds of its own destruction. Literally. The logic of the sexual economics which Regnerus deploys so well can be maintained only by treating children as an externality to coupled pleasure, the cost of which, like polluting smokestacks in an industrial market, is largely ignored. But children are not merely external to sex: they add distinct value to the exchange. Children, of course, do not negotiate or offer any exchange goods to the sexual partners who may produce them. But more than marriage, it is the prospect and eventual presence of children that, like religion, lifts the perspective of sex partners from the present experience to the future, not only a future state of society in which their children can thrive, but also the future beyond the horizon of their own lives. Children personalize sex and endow it with meaning, an exchange to be sure, though one that may be better understood in terms of gift, rather than a sexual economics based on transaction.
The value of children is pertinent, because what Regnerus does not address is that the Pill’s promise of reliably preventing conception, which he, like his study subjects, accepts largely at face value, is false. As a matter of simple fact, hormonal birth control fails to prevent pregnancy in actual use at a rate—between 10 and 20 percent of the time in most studies—unacceptably high to be reasonably considered a foolproof method of preventing pregnancy. The effect of the Pill, then, is not technological, as Regenerus holds, but symbolic, because as a technology, it clearly fails to deliver. Like mythology, young Americans believe in the efficacy of contraception because it enables and explains the hypersexualized world in which they have been socialized. More than a few discover, after much pain and regret, that that world is a lie.
The mythology of the Pill’s infallible bar to conception is maintained only by the prospect of the efficient elimination, through widespread legal abortion, of the children who slip past its provision. This is not a new social dynamic. Children inconveniently resulting from illicit sexual liaisons have long been cheapened, considered “illegitimate” and denied the recognition and care of their natural parents. Today’s bastards are the “unwanted” children, who comprise about half of conceptions in America, who are denied both parental and social recognition before birth and are routinely subject to death. One could say—and many do—that the technology of abortion completes the technology of effective contraception, but this ignores the inconvenient externality even more blindly. Cheap sex is enabled only by cheaper children; and the low value placed on unwanted, unborn infant life is not a product of technology but of a culture, possibly reparable, that has forgotten what it means to be human.
 Anthony Giddens, The Transformation of Intimacy: Sexuality, Love and Eroticism in Modern Societies (Stanford University Press, 1992).
 Ibid., 58.
 Ibid., 154.
Rev. D. Paul Sullins, Ph.D. is a tenured Associate Professor at the Catholic University of America and a Senior Research Associate of the Ruth Institute. His most recent book is Catholic Social Thought: American Reflections on the Compendium (Lexington).
Posted on: Monday, January 14, 2019
by Jennifer Roback Morse
This article was first published on January 8, 2019, at The Stream.
Tucker Carlson is right. But his method is wrong.
Tucker Carlson’s monologue on January 2 set off a firestorm of negative commentary. I want to say for the record: I agree completely with Carlson’s closing statement, “If you want to put America first, you’ve got to put its families first.” I also want to say for the record: I disagree with the wrappings in which Carlson presented his important message.
Here is why he is profoundly correct: A free society needs adults who can take care of themselves, follow the rules, and use their freedom without bothering other people too much. Yet, we all enter the world as helpless babies, incapable of taking care of ourselves, or following rules. But we are quite capable of bothering other people. How do we transform people from helpless infant to self-regulating adults? Inside the family. The love of mothers and fathers teaches children to have regard for others, to care for themselves and to control themselves.
This was the theme of my first book, Love and Economics: It Takes a Family to Raise a Village. Without mothers and fathers caring for their children in a personal and loving way, we can’t have a free market, or a free society. We will have a collection of individuals, all looking out for themselves, doing whatever they can get away with. People like that can cause a lot of problems. They need external controls because they cannot control themselves.
The family is really indispensable to the project of sustaining a free society.
At the same time, I must disagree with the manner in which Tucker Carlson presented his argument. He made his arguments in the context of defending numerous other policy points. I have learned from experience that if you want to talk about the family, you have got to talk about the family and nothing else.
That is because most of our thought leaders do not want to confront family issues. They prefer to change the subject. If you give them the slightest opening, they will skate away from the family issues. The commentary on Carlson’s monologue demonstrates this point.
Carlson offers an economic explanation for the decline in marriage. He says:
Male wages declined. Manufacturing, a male-dominated industry, all but disappeared over the course of a generation. All that remained in many places were the schools and the hospitals, both traditional employers of women. In many places, women suddenly made more than men.
This paragraph leaves an opening for people to start yammering about economics and feminism and trade and just about anything but family. Mr. Carlson’s larger point about the importance of married mothers and fathers slipped away.
Another crucial bit of slippage is over the question of who is to blame. Carlson stated:
But our leaders don’t care. We are ruled by mercenaries who feel no long-term obligation to the people they rule. They’re day traders. Substitute teachers. They’re just passing through. They have no skin in this game, and it shows. They can’t solve our problems. They don’t even bother to understand our problems.
I happen to believe that there is a lot of truth in his point here. The leadership class, the people actually making the big decisions in this country, are isolated, educationally, socially, and even geographically, from the rest of the country. (I say this as an educated person who gratefully lives in “fly-over country.”) But, naturally, those people resent being told that they are the problem, that they don’t care, and that they are culturally blind.
Naturally, this gives them an opening to glide away from Carlson’s crucial points. Jim Geraghty at National Review, said:
Leaders may want those things for us, but we should have no illusion that they can provide those things for us. Dignity, purpose, self-control, independence, and deep relationships have to come from within, and get cultivated and developed by our own actions. Good parents and relatives, teachers and communities can all help cultivate that, but it all starts with the individual — and if the individual isn’t willing to try to cultivate that, no one else can cultivate it for him.
I applaud individual initiative as much as the next person. But Geraghty assumes the basic unit of society is the individual. This is not true. Mother and father collaborating to care for their own children is the most basic unit of society. Kids in foster care are individuals. Is that really the kind of existence we wish for children?
David French chimes in:
We must not create a victim class of angry citizens. We must not tell them falsehoods about the power of governments or banks or elites over their personal destinies. We must not make them feel helpless when they are not helpless. … This is still a land where you can determine your own success more than can any political party or group of nefarious elites. The fundamental building block of any family is still your love, your discipline, and your fidelity.
This analysis dodges the question of whether poor public policy is contributing to family breakdown. People who have been kicked out of their families by no-fault divorce are in fact, victims. So are welfare recipients whose marriage decisions are distorted by marriage penalties built into social assistance payments. So are children whose minds are poisoned against both self-discipline and fidelity by sex “education” in government-funded schools. (Who gave the State the right to teach children how to put condoms on bananas? Where are the libertarians when you need them?)
My doctorate is in economics. I spent the first 15 years of my professional life defending free market economics. When I realized that the market actually depends on the family, I did my best to convince my colleagues. Most of them were completely uninterested.
Since then, I’ve spent twenty years defending the family. I’m convinced: if you want to defend the family, stick to the subject. Shut up about immigration
or the free market or trade policy or Donald Trump or anything else. Defend the family and nothing else.
Posted on: Tuesday, January 08, 2019
Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, founder and president of The Ruth Institute, will appear on The Mike Huckabee Show on the Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) on January 19 and 20, and speak at the Family Research Council in Washington, D.C. on January 22 at noon ET.
Morse’s latest book, The Sexual State: How Elite Ideologies are Destroying Lives and Why the Church was Right All Along, covers three interlocking ideologies that are destroying families and society:
The Contraceptive Ideology (separating sex from childbearing),
The Divorce Ideology (separating sex and childbearing from marriage), and
The Gender Ideology (eliminating all distinctions between men and women except those that individuals explicitly embrace).
The Family Research Council (FRC) is America’s foremost thinktank on issues impacting the family. Among other activities, it sponsors the Values Voter Summit, an annual meeting of leaders and activists dedicated to the defense of the family. Past speakers include President Trump and Vice President Pence.
TBN is the world’s largest Christian-based broadcasting network, available to an estimated 98% of households in the US. Former Arkansas governor, Mike Huckabee, was also a two-time Republican presidential nominee.
For information on Dr. Morse’s speech at FRC, which will also be webcast:
For information on the Mike Huckabee Show: https://www.tbn.org/huckabee
The Ruth Institute is a global non-profit organization that defends the family at home and in the public square. Dr. Morse was a campaign spokeswoman for California's winning Proposition 8 campaign, defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman. She has authored or co-authored six books and spoken around the globe on marriage, family, and human sexuality. Her work has been translated into Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Polish, and Chuukese, the native language of the Micronesian Islands. Her other recent books include The Sexual Revolution and Its Victims and 101 Tips for Marrying the Right Person, coauthored with Betsy Kerekes
She earned her Ph.D. in economics at the University of Rochester and taught economics at Yale and George Mason Universities. Dr. Morse was named by Our Sunday Visitor as one of the "Catholic Stars of 2013" on a list that included Pope Francis and Pope Benedict XVI.
For more information on The Sexual State https://thesexualstate.com/
For More information on The Ruth Institute http://www.ruthinstitute.org/
To schedule an interview with Dr. Morse firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted on: Monday, January 07, 2019
By Kevin Jones
After years in decline, Catholic clergy sex abuse could be on the rise again, warns a professor-priest’s analysis of relevant data.
The professor’s report sees a rising trend in abuse, and argues that the evidence strongly suggests links between sexual abuse of minors and two factors:
a disproportionate number of homosexual clergy, and the manifestation of a “homosexual subculture” in seminaries.
“The thing we’ve been told about the sex abuse is that it is somehow very rare and declined to almost nothing today is really not true,” Father D. Paul Sullins, a Catholic priest and retired Catholic University of America sociology professor, told a Nov. 2 press conference.
“I found that clergy sex abuse did drop to almost nothing after 2002, but then it started to creep up,” he continued. “It’s been increasing. And there are signs that the bishops or the dioceses have gotten complacent about that.”
“It’s not at the great heights that it was in the mid-1970s, but it’s rising. And it’s headed in that direction,” he added.
Clergy sex abuse incidence is today about one third as common as in the late 1980s. While sex abuse by clergy is “much lower” than 30 years ago, it has not declined “as much as is commonly thought.” Most of the decline since the 1990s is consistent with “a similar general decline in child sex abuse in America since that time,” Sullins’ report said.
The decline is not necessarily related to measures taken by the U.S. bishops. Sullins told the press conference he saw no link between a decline in abuse and the implementation of the U.S. bishops’ 2002 Charter for the Protection of Children and Young Adults.
“Recent experience calls into question whether the current understanding of the nature of the abuse and how to reduce it is accurate or sufficient,” said Sullins in his report.
Efforts to address clergy abuse must acknowledge both “the recent increase of abuse amid growing complacency” and the “very strong probability” that the
surge in abuse in past and present is “a product, at least in part, of the past surge and present concentration of homosexual men in the Catholic priesthood.”
The report was released Nov. 2 by the Louisiana-based Ruth Institute, where Sullins is a senior research associate. It has been reviewed by several scholars, including four social scientists, and is planned to be included in an upcoming book.
His study aimed to address a common question: is the sex abuse related in any way to homosexual men in the priesthood?
“I hear on the one hand denial of that, almost without even thinking about it, and I also hear advocacy of that, almost without even thinking about it,” Sullins said Nov. 2. “The question comes up logically because the vast majority of victims were boys. Usually in sex abuse of minors, two-thirds of victims are girls.”
Sullins’ report is titled “Is Catholic clergy sex abuse related to homosexual priests?” and he does not avoid the sometimes controversial question. The report compares “previously unexamined measures of the share of homosexual Catholic priests” and the incidence and victim gender of minor sex abuse victims by Catholic priests from 1950 to 2001.
Sullins’ sources included a 2002 survey of 1,854 priests by the Los Angeles Times that included questions about respondents’ sexual orientation, age, year of ordination, and whether they thought there was a homosexual subculture in their seminary. He measured abuse using data provided by the authors of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice reports, which themselves used reports of abuse provided by Catholic dioceses.
“Although over 8 in 10 of victims have been boys, the idea that the abuse is related to homosexual men in the priesthood has not been widely accepted by Church leaders,” said Sullins.
“(T)he data show that more homosexual men in the priesthood was correlated with more overall abuse and more boys abused compared to girls,” he added.
The increase or decrease in the percent of male victims correlated “almost perfectly” with the increase or decrease of homosexual men in the priesthood, he said, citing a 0.98 correlation. While the correlation was lower among victims under age 8, it was “lower but still strong,” 0.77. The statistical association between homosexual priests and abuse incidence was “extremely strong,” given that this scale ranges from -1.0, an inverse correlation, to 1.0, an absolute positive correlation.
Such results were “as close as you can get to a perfect correlation as I have ever seen,” Sullins said Nov. 2, adding that researchers usually consider correlation association above 0.3 or 0.4 to be a strong effect.
He took care to say it is the disproportionate presence of homosexual men in the priesthood, not the simple presence of any homosexual men, that appears to be the major factor.
“What I say in the paper is that when homosexual men were represented in the priesthood at about the same rate as they were in the population, there was no measurable problem of child sex abuse,” Sullins said. “It was only when you had a preponderance of homosexual men.”
The percentage of homosexual men in the general population is estimated at two percent. In the 1950s, homosexual men in the priesthood were about twice their percentage in the general population, making up four percent. in the 1980s they were eight times the percentage in the general population, 16 percent, according to Sullins.
“When you get up to 16 percent of priests that are homosexual, and you’ve got eight times the proportion of homosexuals as you do in the general population, it’s as if the priesthood becomes a particularly welcoming and enabling and encouraging population for homosexual activity and behavior,” he said Nov. 2.
Sullins was clear he wanted to avoid recommending any particular action based on his research.
“I would certainly not recommend that we remove all homosexuals from the priesthood,” he said. “The reason for that is: the abuse is not necessarily related to someone’s sexual orientation.” He cited his knowledge of men with same-sex attraction who are “strong, faithful persons,” adding “I would hate to have some sort of litmus test for that.”
If the Catholic Church in the U.S. were like most institutions, where two-thirds of abuse victims were female, people would reject the suggestion to eliminate all heterosexual men from the priesthood. That suggestion would be an “ideological reaction,” he said.
He suggested the priesthood should reflect the general population, as a sign priests are selected for “holiness and commitment to Christ and the things that we would hope would make for a good priest.”
“When you start to get a larger proportion of homosexuals It looks like you are actually selecting for same-sex orientation,” he said.
Seminary candidates have reported about the problems this disproportion creates, he continued. According to Sullins, Donald Cozzens' 2000 book “The Changing Face of the Priesthood” discusses accounts of homosexual students being so prevalent at some seminaries that heterosexual men felt destabilized and disoriented and left.
“That’s not a positive outcome. I do not think we would want to have that proportion of a homosexual culture in the priesthood,” said Sullins.
There appear to be verifiable trends in increases and decreases in the ordinations of homosexual priests.
“From 1965 to 1995 an average of at least one in five priests ordained annually were homosexual, a concentration which drove the overall proportion of homosexual men in the priesthood up to 16 percent, or one in six priests, by the late 1990s,” said Sullins’ report.
“This trend was strongly correlated with increasing child sex abuse,” he said.
Drawing on his findings, Sullins predicted that if the proportion of homosexual priests remained at the 1950s level “at least 12,000 fewer children, mostly boys, would have suffered abuse,” he said. As a percentage, this means abuse would have been about 85 percent lower.
The presence of homosexual subcultures in seminaries, as reported by priests considering their own seminary life, accounts for about half the incidence of abuse, but apparently not among heterosexual men.
“Homosexual subcultures encouraged greater abuse, but not by heterosexual men, just by homosexual men,” Sullins said Nov. 2. He suggested these subcultures encourage those who may have been attracted to male victims to act out more than would have been the case otherwise.
Sullins, a former Episcopal priest, has been married for 30 years and has three children. He was ordained to the Catholic priesthood in 2002 by then-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of Washington.
“I was surprised and shocked, like most of us earlier this year, to hear about Cardinal McCarrick,” Sullins said. “I was particularly impressed by that because I was ordained by Cardinal McCarrick in 2002, and probably knew him better than most people would have.”
His report follows the June revelations that former Archbishop McCarrick was credibly accused of sex assault on a minor, revelations which prompted men to come forward saying he had sexually abused them as seminarians—and prompted Pope Francis to accept the archbishop’s almost unprecedented resignation from the cardinalate. McCarrick was deeply influential and had been a leading personality in the U.S. bishops’ response to the 2002 scandals.
In August, a Pennsylvania grand jury released its report on Catholic clergy sex abuse in six dioceses. It tallied over 1,000 credible accusations against hundreds of priests over decades, though many of these accusations had been reported in 2004.
“What was new in 2018 was not primarily the revelation of abuse by priests, but of a possible pattern of resistance, minimization, enablement and secrecy—a ‘cover-up’—on the part of bishops,” said Sullins, who used some of the grand jury report data for his study.
As part of the U.S. bishops’ response to the first sex abuse scandal in 2002, the John Jay College of Criminal Justice issued two bishop-commissioned reports: a 2004 report on the nature and scope of clergy sex abuse and a 2011 report on the causes and context of sex abuse.
Sullins criticized the 2011 report’s claim that sex abuse perpetrators are mainly “situational or opportunistic” and the sex of the victim is less relevant to them. In his view, multiple offenders “abused a higher proportion of male victims than did single offenders, and the proportion increased with higher numbers of victims.” If multiple offenders were better at acquiring victims, “they appear to have used their skills to obtain access to more boys, not fewer.”
Abuse of girls dropped off at the same rate in the 1980s and 1990s, and the data suggest that as girls became more prevalent in priestly life, such as in the introduction of altar girls, abusers of boys “responded to the presence of fewer younger boys primarily by turning to older boys, not to female victims.”
For clergy offenders who were “classic or fixated pedophiles,” targeting only victims under age eight, they still strongly preferred male victims, “conditional on higher proportions of homosexual men in the priesthood.”
Sex abuse by Catholic clergy is “substantially less” than in similar institutions or communities, but it is notable that underage victims of sex assault by Catholic priests in U.S. Catholic parishes and schools have been “overwhelmingly male,” said Sullins. Comparable reports in Germany indicate that up to 90 percent of abuse victims of Catholic clergy have been male, compared to about half of victims in Protestant or non-religious settings in that country.
Some Catholic commentators have blamed clericalism for the abuse. Pope Francis’ August 20 letter on sex abuse, which did not mention homosexuality, said communities where sexual abuse and “the abuse of power and conscience” have taken place are characterized by efforts to reduce the Catholic faithful to “small elites” or otherwise replace, silence or ignore them.
“To say ‘no’ to abuse is to say an emphatic ‘no’ to all forms of clericalism,” the Pope said.
In a May 21, 2018 audience with Italian bishops, the Pope said it is better not to let seminary candidates enter if they have “even the slightest doubt” about the fitness of individuals with homosexual “deep-seated tendencies” or who practice “homosexual acts,” but want to enter the seminary.
These acts or deep-seated tendencies can lead to scandals and can compromise the life of the seminary, as well as the man himself and his future priesthood, he said, according to Vatican Insider.
A 2016 document from the Vatican’s Congregation for Clergy, “The Gift of the Priestly Vocation,” cites a 2005 Vatican document which says: “the Church, while profoundly respecting the persons in question, cannot admit to the seminary or to holy orders those who practice homosexuality, present deep-seated homosexual tendencies or support the so-called ‘gay culture’.”
The bishops’ 2002 child protection charter drew criticism from Sullins. Its failure to acknowledge that bishops can commit abuse or cover up abuse “seemed to confirm the suggestion of a cover-up: indeed, to the extent bishops may have covered up priestly misbehavior, the charter itself may have covered up episcopal misbehavior.”
He faulted the 2011 John Jay report on the causes and context of clergy sex abuse, which said that a reported increase in homosexual men in seminaries in the 1980s did not correspond to the number of boys abused. Sullins noted that the authors acknowledged they did not collect or examine direct data on priests’ sexual identity and any changes in it over the years. They relied on “subjective clinical estimates and second-hand narrative reports of apparent homosexual activity in seminaries,” Sullins said.
The Ruth Institute, which published Sullins’ report, was founded in 2008 by Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, an economics-trained author and writer on marriage, family and human sexuality. She served as spokesperson for Proposition 8, the California ballot measure which defined marriage as a union of one man and one woman. The institute was backed by the National Organization for Marriage Education Fund until 2013.
Groups including the Human Rights Campaign, GLAAD, and the Southern Poverty Law Center have criticized the Ruth Institute’s stance against same-sex marriage and other LGBT causes.
The Southern Poverty Law Center, which originally monitored foes of the civil rights movement, in the 1980s began tracking neo-Nazi groups and Ku Klux Klan affiliates. In recent years it has listed mainstream groups like the Ruth Institute, the Family Research Council and Alliance Defending Freedom as “hate groups” for their “anti-LGBT” stance.
In an Aug. 23, 2017 response to the listing, the Ruth Institute said it “categorically condemns white supremacy, racism, Nazism, and all violent totalitarian political movements.”
“People who cannot defend their positions using reason and evidence resort to name-calling to change the subject away from their anemic arguments,” the institute said. “The ‘hate group’ label is a club such people invented to bludgeon their political opponents.”
Posted on: Tuesday, January 01, 2019
The Sexual Revolution of the sixties is portrayed as a rebellion against the Establishment. It was a spontaneous love fest that allowed youth to do their own thing in an atmosphere of serendipitous freedom. Women were liberated from past oppression. It set in motion other movements that advanced ever greater sexual freedom.
At least, that’s the official story.
Few people tell the other side of the story. This woefully skewed portrayal overlooks the millions of damaged lives. The revolutionary upheaval of the sixties radically changed America for the worse. Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse’s The Sexual State: How Elite Ideologies Are Destroying Lives and Why the Church Was Right All Along is a book that challenges these myths and sets the record straight.
The book reflects the author’s academic background. It’s convincingly documented and logically presented. But it reads more like a battlefield report from the frontlines of the Sexual Revolution. She manages to insert the very real human element into the debate by passionately reminding readers of those whose lives are even now being destroyed by the myths introduced in the sixties. Dr. Morse wants to destroy these myths once and for all.
One key myth is the Sexual Revolution as a spontaneous movement of liberation. It was and still is a war with all its characteristics. There is nothing haphazard about it. It has two sides engaged in a deliberate battle for the hearts and souls of Americans. There are massive casualties in this unbloody Culture War that has polarized America for the last decades. And it is not over.
Dr. Morse identifies three offensives on this battlefield which she calls the Contraceptive Ideology, Divorce Ideology and Gender Ideology. Each has its philosophy, generals and foot soldiers.
Each offensive is part of a single process in a broader plan of destruction. Each needs the other to survive and progress. Contraception separates sex from childbearing. Divorce separates sex and childbearing from marriage. Gender Ideology eliminates distinctions between men and women. Dr. Morse traces the history of these offensives, attacks their weaknesses and reveals their tactics and catchphrases.
The Sexual Revolution never was a revolt against the Establishment. It was and is a revolt by the liberal Establishment against Christian morals. Indeed, such a massive, meticulous and carefully planned revolution could not progress without bad elites from decadent institutions to carry it forward. This Establishment forms a liberal culture that creates the myths, spreads the fashions and molds the opinions that eventually pressure all to conform to their ideological mindset. It pushes the more moderate elements of society toward its goal of total, unrestrained sexual license.
This revolt can also be documented and traced by the currents, media and figures that have long pushed this agenda forward.
Such an effort would never progress but for a cooperative State. Throughout history, revolutions are always carried out with State sponsorship. Even the States that the revolutionaries want to destroy often participate in their own destruction. The Sexual Revolution needs the vast resources and platform of the Sexual State because “the premises of the Sexual Revolution are false,” Dr. Morse claims. All the machinery of government must be brought to bear to override human nature. To assume the State is neutral in this great battle is the height of naiveté.
To avoid the battle, many try to frame the debate in a way that discourages resistance. It is, for example, very easy to simplify everything by turning it into a class struggle between rich people who stand to profit from the revolution and poor people who are its unfortunate victims. There is this “who profits” side to the present war (the George Soros connections), but Dr. Morse carefully avoids turning it into the center of the debate.
There is also the temptation to take a fatalistic approach of throwing in the towel in the face of such overwhelming opposition. It is easy to blame everything on social forces that determine history and thus throw off any personal responsibility to oppose them.
We should also not flee from the problem. There is no “Benedict Option” in this war in which all are in some way combatants. Dr. Morse is an activist not content to watch the enemy advance unopposed. The final chapters of the book contain powerful, practical suggestions for those who want to fight.
Wars have sides that need to be defined. There can be no illusions. Morse claims America is facing “a world at war with our bodies, with all creation, and with God.” It is a “war on the human race.”
The stakes are indeed high. This war has its human agents, but it is a battle of good and evil, truth and error. The Sexual Revolution is only one important part of the overall war against what little remains of Christian civilization.
Those who defend Christian morality are entirely disproportional to the fight. A lone individual would be rightfully discouraged from such a challenge. However, Dr. Morse reassures the reader that “the Church was right all along.” The Church has the answers, which are laid out very clearly in the chapters refuting each ideology.
Of course, not only has the Church been right all along but it has been fighting the world, the flesh and the devil all along. The Church has weathered other storms throughout her long history and always wins in the end.
The present Culture War is no different. This particular war is violent and brutal. However, it will be defeated. The Sexual Revolution is one of the most important components in this war. Dr. Morse’s battlefield report provides a much-needed perspective to clear the fog of war for those in the trenches.