Ruth Speaks Out

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.


Opposition to Mutilation Isn’t Hate Speech

November 13, 2019

For Immediate Release

For more information, contact media@ruthinstitute.org.

You-tube: “Criticizing Transgender Surgery = Hate”
Ruth Institute: “Banning Speech = Cowardice”

Ruth Institute President Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, Ph.D. condemned YouTube’s decision to ban a Daily Signal/Heritage Foundation video with Dr. Michelle Cretella, M.D. over her comment on transgenderism.

“The Sexual Revolutionaries running YouTube are cowards. They cannot refute Dr. Cretella and the Heritage Foundation. They ban their opponents instead of confronting them. Big Tech is making Big Brother seem benign,” Morse said.

YouTube claims an observation by the eminent pediatrician, and executive director of the American College of Pediatricians, violates its hate speech code. In the 2017 interview, Cretella said: “If you want to cut off a leg or an arm, you’re mentally ill, but if you want to cut off healthy breasts or a penis, you’re transgender.”

“Dr. Cretella’s remarks did not promote violence toward or hatred of anyone,” Morse declared. “Instead, it’s the type of mutilation which Cretella spoke out against that’s an act of violence.”

Morse continued: “YouTube has decided that a perfectly reasonable remark by a medical professional is hate speech. It uses this to justify banning inconvenient expression.”

Dr. Cretella also appeared in the October 4 edition of The Dr J Show, the Ruth Institute’s new video podcast. Drs. Morse and Cretella discussed a variety of concerns, including the medical consequences of so-called gender-transitioning. The Ruth Institute is urging its supporters to promote this interview as a way to counter the censorship against our friends at the Heritage Foundation.
youtube.com/watch?v=LQovehloA2k&t=660s

In another case the Ruth Institute has been involved with, divorced parents were in a bitter custody dispute. The wife wanted to transition her 7-year-old son to a transgendered “female.” The husband fought it. After a public outcry, the judge granted joint custody. But she also issued a gag order preventing the parties from discussing the case publicly. Said Morse “This is another outrageous example of censorship involving transgenderism.”
ruthinstitute.org/press/ruth-institute-decries-judge-s-gag-order-in-savejames-case

Despite YouTube’s attempts to silence dissent, the Heritage Foundation has made the public aware of the injustice through its direct email communications with supporters. The Ruth Institute urges the public to subscribe to its lists, so we can inform them if we’ve been de-platformed on social media.

“We intend to keep fighting to get the truth out, regardless of what Big Tech thinks or does,” Dr. Morse said.

The Ruth Institute is a global interfaith non-profit organization equipping Christians to defend the family and build a civilization of love.

Dr. Morse is the author of The Sexual State: How Elite Ideologies Are Destroying Lives.

Find more information on The Ruth Institute here.

To schedule an appointment with Dr. Morse, email media@ruthinstitute.org.


'The Sexual State': How Government and Big Donors Gave Us the Sexual Revolution

By Tyler O'Neil

This article was first posted October 4, 2018, at PJMedia.com.

Cover of "The Sexual State" by Jennifer Roback Morse
 
In 21st century America, sex is all around us: on television, in movies, in classrooms, in politics, and even in churches. Sex permeates our desires, our expectations for relationships, even our identity. The Sexual Revolution goes far beyond the LGBT movement, and it has fundamentally reshaped American society. But few Americans actually grasp exactly where this revolution came from. An explosive new book reveals that government and wealthy donors, rather than impersonal historical forces or newly liberated women, propelled the Sexual Revolution.

"The State bears the greatest responsibility for the toxic sexual culture in which we live," Jennifer Roback Morse, founder of the Ruth Institute (RI), writes in "The Sexual State: How Elite Ideologues Are Destroying Lives And Why the Church Was Right All Along." She presented five other explanations for the Sexual Revolution, and found each one wanting.


Many have suggested that the Sexual Revolution came about through the inevitable and impersonal "march of history." This view does not work "because it robs us and our forbears of human agency." Even the overhyped birth control pill "is just an inert piece of technology" that people could decide to use or not use, or use in different ways.

Morse also rebuts the feminist narrative, which suggests that "these changes have been one long string of victories for the benefit and advancement of women." Ironically, the very success of women's liberation "undermines the claim that women have been completely powerless and dominated by the patriarchy throughout all of recorded history." Furthermore, the author argues that "the pro-life movement is dominated by women," suggesting that not all women want more of the Sexual Revolution.

Perhaps the most common explanation for the Sexual Revolution is the "liberationist narrative," which posits that everyone is more free thanks to new sexual norms. This view also cannot explain how age-old oppression was immediately dissolved in one generation, Morse argues.

Furthermore, many people "have become less free, in fact actually oppressed, by the very forces that are supposedly liberating us. The breaking of family bonds has increased the size and scope of the State, including the intrusion of the State into the everyday lives of ordinary people." She mentions college sex tribunals, family courts — which even rule on which schools and churches children can attend — and higher taxes to pay for social workers who manage tough divorces and family breakdown.

Morse also rejects the "over-population narrative," which suggests that "too many people create ecological disaster and economic backwardness," so the State needs to control population through birth control and abortion. Interestingly, advocates of this narrative "haven't been able to adapt the narrative to the changing circumstances of population decline, which the Over-Population Narrative itself helped bring about."

Finally, the author turns to a "steal capitalist narrative," explaining the Sexual Revolution by pointing to the many people who benefit financially from family breakdown. Abortionists, pharmaceutical companies, the fertility industry, pornographers, divorce professionals, family court judges and lawyers, medical professionals who specialize in sexually transmitted diseases, and social workers all perversely benefit from family breakdown, contraception, and abortion.

Even higher education and employers benefit from women choosing to get married later, to go to school and to work, rather than raising a family. Morse claims that employers benefit from easy divorce as well, as women are less able to rely on their husbands to financially support them. She suggests that these factors cement the Sexual Revolution, but they do not explain it.

The author boils the Sexual Revolution down to three basic "ideologies:" the Contraceptive Ideology separates sex from childbearing; the Divorce Ideology separates sex and childbearing from marriage; and the Gender Ideology eliminates the distinctions between men and women that individuals do not explicitly embrace.

"The Sexual Revolution needs the State for one major reason: the premises of the Sexual Revolution are false," Morse declares. "Sex does make babies. Children do need their parents, and therefore marriage is the proper and just context for both sex and childbearing. Men and women are different." The Sexual Revolution requires "reconstructing society" around a rejection of these basic truths, so it involves a great deal of propaganda.

"If you can make people believe Bruce Jenner, the 1976 male Olympic decathlon winner, is a woman, you can make them believe 2 + 2 = 5. If you can make people afraid to say, 'Bruce Jenner is a man,' you can make them afraid to say anything," Morse quips. "The Sexual Revolution is a totalitarian ideology with a blind commitment to the implementation of its tenets, regardless of the human costs."

The book begins with a list of victims of the Sexual Revolution, a topic for a future article. Those victims include children of divorce, spouses who did not want to get divorced, women who waited too long to have children, young women who wanted to abstain from sex, and more. Suffice it to say, the Sexual Revolution has harmed many people.

Morse narrates how the state unleashed the Sexual Revolution, beginning with the Supreme Court contraception case Griswold v. Connecticut (1965). The Contraceptive Ideology predated this decision and played a large role in pushing the Court to change the law on contraception.

The author cites liberal attorney Leo Pfeffer and conservative historian Allan Carlson, who agreed that governments will consider contraception necessary once they have established welfare states — in order to prevent the subsidized poor from having children. Tragically, the U.S. government pushed contraception before Griswold, pushing contraception in post-World War II Japan and other foreign countries considered to be U.S. interests.

In the 1960s and 1970s, USAID started pushing contraception and abortion, thinking these "family planning" efforts would help other countries defeat poverty. These policies were also wrapped up with the ugly eugenics movement in America.

In order to downplay the ugly history of eugenics, contraception activists turned to the work of Alfred Kinsey, an academic who claimed that "up to" 67 to 98 percent of American men ha had premarital sex and that 69 percent of American males had at least one experience with a prostitute. His claims were shot down by other researchers, who exposed his shoddy methods. But the Rockefeller Foundation funded his research and sent his crackpot theories mainstream.

Planned Parenthood and its allies enjoyed connections to elites, and helped push the Court in the direction of legalizing contraception for anyone across the country.

Similarly, elite institutions and big donors pushed no-fault divorce, Morse argues. After Ronald Reagan signed the first no-fault divorce law in 1968, the American Law Institute (ALI), founded with support from the Carnegie Foundation, crafted model legislation to insert the state in between husbands and wives — and favor the spouse who wanted a divorce.

The ALI pushed for decriminalizing private sexual acts between consenting adults, a key plank that struck down states' ability to regulate obscene materials and contraception.

By 1974, all but five states had adopted a form of no-fault divorce.

Morse argues that no-fault divorce positions the power of the state on the side of whichever spouse least wants the marriage to continue. This damages spouses who are committed to the marriage, but it also damages children who do not grow up with both of their parents. It also empowers the government, which now mediates between divorced mothers and fathers.

The author argues that the claim "the kids will be all right" is propaganda. She cites the work of Judith Wallerstein, who found that divorce has a long-term impact on children — damaging their prospects for romantic relationships in adulthood. Similarly, the worries about husbands abusing wives are overblown, as studies have shown that women and children are more likely to be abused in cohabiting relationships than in marriage.

Finally, Morse argues that the government and elites pushed the "Gender Ideology" — long before transgender identity went mainstream — in order to encourage women to be "ideal workers:" "a person who never takes time off, is never sick, whose mental and psychological focus is entirely on the job."

"We've built a society around the premise that our educated women must be permitted to time their 1.6 pregnancies right down to the minute when it's most convenient. But convenient for whom? All too often, it means the convenience of the employers, or the interests of the career path, or of those who hold the student debt which the young woman or young couple must pay down," Morse claims.

The author does not lament the fact that women have entered the "managerial class," highly paid professions which do not involve manual labor. She herself is a member of this class. Rather, she suggests that the pressures of work and the benefits of this class enable people to overlook the obvious differences between men and women.

"People who do manual labor aren't deluded for a moment that men and women are interchangeable," Morse quips. For this reason, men are vastly over-represented in the dangerous professions.

Women's involvement in the workforce need not be connected to the Sexual Revolution's Gender Ideology, the author argues. "I claim the right to participate in the labor market as women, not as men in skirts." She suggests that "educated women would be better off if they accepted that their fertility peaks during their twenties and planned their lives around this fact."

Morse lays out a basic life plan: Women should go to college for a liberal education, not a vocational one. They should et married and have kids early, using their higher educations to be involved in educating their kids. "Let your husbands support you. Trust them. Be grateful for them," and when the children are older, go back for an advanced degree and work.

Tragically, activists are pushing on all these issues and more. Morse discusses same-sex marriage in a chapter on the Gender Ideology. She recalls the battle over California's Proposition 8.

"The 'Yes on 8' campaign was arguably the largest grassroots campaign in history," she writes, noting that California's secretary of state website crashed because there were over 5,000 pages of contributors to the campaign. Yet modern "progressives" "took Proposition 8 to court on flimsy pretexts and rich people's money."

After Proposition 8 passed and the people had amended their constitution, California's attorney general refused to defend it. The people's will failed thanks to an effective pocket veto. in the case Hollingsworth v. Perry (2013), the Supreme Court ruled that proponents of ballot initiatives like Proposition 8 could not defend such laws in court, enabling Gov. Jerry Brown (D-Calif.) to resume same-sex marriage in the state. Now-Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) performed the first same-sex marriage after this ruling.

As with Proposition 8, wealthy liberals continue to push Sexual Revolution issues, particularly abortion and contraception. George Soros and Warren Buffett continue to fund abortion groups, and they use their money to "shape political institutions so they can use the government to recreate the world in their own image and likeness," Morse alleges.

Importantly, the book notes that contraception carries health risks for women, and some studies have shown that hormonal contraception is as likely to cause cancer as smoking. "Smoking has been all but banned, tobacco companies have been sued, and smokers have been socially shunned," Morse writes. "By contrast, the government actively promotes the use of hormonal contraception while the media plays down the risks."

Abortion, often considered an alternative should contraception fail, also carries tremendous health risks to the mother, which medical associations keep secret for political reasons, the author argues. She also notes that wealthy donors funded abortion activists who convinced the Supreme Court to strike down Texas regulations treating abortion clinics like any other medical facility.

"When the people of Texas, acting through their duly elected state legislators, enacted health and safety legislation for abortion clinics, the elites of society knocked it down," Morse declares.

"The Sexual State" makes a compelling case that state power and wealthy elites pushed the Sexual Revolution, and people should fight back. While Morse does address LGBT issues, her book mostly focuses on the negative impacts the Sexual Revolution has had on family life, harming faithful spouses, children of divorce, and many others.

Morse, a Roman Catholic, presents a very Catholic view of these issues and champions the Catholic Church's approach. Her book was ill-fated to release shortly after the sexual abuse scandal broke, but her points still stand.

The book may be too polemical, but it raises important questions about the hidden harms of the Sexual Revolution and who benefits from this humongous social change.

"The Sexual State" is an important book for libertarians to wrestle with, as it presents a compelling case that big government benefits from the Sexual Revolution, and that marriage and family would help weaken the power of the state.


Ruth Institute Responds to Fr. James Martin’s Fuzzy Teaching with Clear Teaching

In announcing an upcoming speech by Hudson Byblow, a faithful Catholic who once embraced a gay identity, Ruth Institute President Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, Ph.D., said, “The best response to fuzzy thinking is clear, unambiguous positive thinking,especially on the Catholic doctrine on sexuality.”

“We are concerned about the confusion spread by people such as Fr. James Martin, who spoke at an Interfaith gathering in Rochester, New York, on November 7,” Morse explained. “A group of loyal Catholics in Rochester asked for the Ruth Institute’s support.”

In collaboration with the Station of the Cross Catholic Radio Network, the Ruth Institute is sponsoring a talk by Hudson Byblow November 23, 7 pm, at St. Pius X Church Parish Center (3010 Chili Avenue, Rochester). The title of his talk is “Something More Beautiful – From LGBTQ to Jesus Christ.”

Rochester Bishop Salvatore Matanohas given permission for the event to take place on Catholic property and be advertised in Catholic media. Byblow’s own bishop, The Most Reverend Mark A. Hagemoen of the Canadian Province of Saskatoon, says “Mr. Byblow’s approach is informed by his own journey and ongoing conversion, and by his intellectual, human and spiritual formation. I am confident that Hudson is faithful in presenting the fullness of the Church’s teaching in these areas and that his presentations will be of great benefit to his audiences.”


Archbishop Donald Bolen of Regina, Canada, formerly bishop of Saskatoon, said, “Mr. Byblow’s frank yet tempered approach to some of the most difficult topics facing our youth today is an important part of dialogue and witness so needed by our church on matters including chastity, homosexuality, same-sex marriage, and contemporary gender issues.”

Morse said, “We are honored to work with The Station of the Cross Catholic Radio Network and others to let the full truth and beauty of Catholic teaching shine forth.” She also noted, “The teaching of the universal call to chastity has been a part of the Christian tradition from Apostolic times, stretching back to Judaism. These teachings are often regarded as strictly Catholic, but historically, all branches of Christianity and Judaism taught the same things. Mr. Byblow’s talk is open to anyone who wishes to learn more about the beauty of living a life of self-command.”

Byblow is a teacher and Catholic speaker. He shares his journey from being bullied and abused and thinking he must be gay, to being a free man, living in the freedom of Christ as a Catholic, joyfully striving to live a life of chastity.

For more information on Hudson Byblow, watch this video by Ascension Press or this video by grandinmedia.

Find more on the November 23 speech here.

The Ruth Institute is a global interfaith non-profit organization equipping Christians to defend the family and build a civilization of love. Find out more here.

Dr. Morse is the author of The Sexual State: How Elite Ideologies Are Destroying Lives.

To schedule an interview with Dr. Morse, contact media@ruthinstitute.org. 



New Sex-Abuse Report: Homosexual Priests Decrease, Sex Abuse of Girls Increases

According to Ruth Institute sociologist Father Paul Sullins, a generation of younger clergy formed for lives of chaste celibacy is a major reason why clergy abuse rates are much lower than before 2000.

This article was first published June 10, 2019, at NCRegister.com.

by Peter Jesserer Smith

LAKE CHARLES, La. — Some promising news on the clergy sex-abuse crisis is joined by some warning signs, in a new report by religious sociologist Father Paul Sullins and the Ruth Institute.


According to the report, the overall number of homosexual priests has declined sharply since a peak in the 1980s — and so have the number of victims, who previously have been predominantly male. And it indicates that more recently ordained priests collectively have a far greater commitment to orthodoxy than the preceding generation of the priesthood, including faithfully living out the Church’s teachings with respect to chastity.

However, it states that the reports of sex abuse have also risen somewhat after hitting a low in 2002 and that the majority of victims of current reports within the last decade are likely to be female teenagers.

“Our long-standing interest at the Ruth Institute has been concern for the victims of the sexual revolution, of whom the victims of clergy sex abuse certainly are a prime interest,” Ruth Institute President Jennifer Roback Morse told reporters on a media call Thursday presenting the report, titled “Receding Waves: Child Sex Abuse and Homosexual Priests Since 2000.”

The Ruth Institute made four recommendations: continuing vigilance in protecting all minors against clerical sexual abuse; paying particular attention to the persistent sexual abuse of girls; researching further into clergy self-description of their patterns of sexual attraction and behavior; and increasing educational programs on authentic Church teaching on human sexuality, including St. John Paul II’s theology of the body, at “all levels of education such as seminaries, universities, high schools, elementary schools, and parish catechism classes.”

Sociologist and Catholic priest Father Paul Sullins, who authored the report, found that since the 1960s priests engaged in child sex abuse have been relatively concentrated in two age groups: one ordained in the late 1960s and the other ordained in the early 1980s. The report stated the pattern of 20th-century clergy abuse of minors “closely tracks the estimates of numbers of self-identified homosexual clergy” and the decline of homosexual clergy “roughly equals fewer cases of clergy sexual abuse” in the U.S.

His report admitted there is no concrete data on the number of ordained homosexual priests after 2000, but stated that “statistical projections estimate that recent ordination classes have contained very few homosexual men.”

Father Sullins noted in the media call that the drop in ordinations of homosexual men is concurrent with the rise of a newer generation of young, orthodox candidates for the priesthood coming through seminary.

According to the data Father Sullins analyzed on clerical sexual abuse alleged to have taken place since 2000, priests ordained within the past 10 years accounted for 11% of those recent abuse allegations. More than half (52%) of the recent alleged abuse was perpetrated by priests ordained 30 years ago or more.

Changing Picture of Sex Abuse

Father Sullins said the proportion of male and female victims is changing in recent abuse reports: Seventy-four percent of reported victims were male in 2000 compared to only 34% by 2016.

The report highlights a “disturbing rise of the sexual abuse of children by priests after reaching an all-time low just after 2002.” While reports of current abuse averaged 7.0 per year from 2005 to 2009, he said, they rose to 8.2 per year from 2010 to 2014, a 17% increase.

“We have more abuse today than a decade ago,” he said.

Morse said Catholics should not fool themselves that the sex-abuse crisis is limited to homosexual clergy. The Ruth Institute has a place for survivors to tell their stories, and she said girls were by far the largest group telling their stories.

Still, Father Sullins said the overall abuse rate is well below the 1980s, when there were an average of 26.2 reports of current abuse per year.

Father Sullins clarified on the media call that the numbers from current reports only reflect trends, not the total numbers of abuse victims. The scope of the abuse crisis in real numbers is difficult to quantify. He said abuse victims on average take 28 years to process and report. Even then, he told reporters, only three or four victims out of 10 will come forward.

Father Sullins noted also that the national review board is warning about this very thing, pointing to rising complacency, failure to implement proper screening procedures, and failures to update trainings of adults and children at the diocesan and parish level on possible harms.

At the same time, Father Sullins stated that the rate of abuse in Catholic settings is “much lower” than comparable secular settings. He cautioned against the idea that “clergy sex abuse is a thing of the past.”

Critical Reception

However, the Ruth Institute report has drawn criticism. Mark Gray, director of CARA Catholic Polls and a senior research associate at Georgetown University’s Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate, told the Register he is concerned that a substantial part of Father Sullins’ data cannot be independently examined.

The data Father Sullins cited from the site VictimsSpeakDB is no longer available online. Gray said it seemed “deeply suspicious” to him the researcher who compiled it would cite “limited interest in statistical data about clergy sex abuse in the Catholic Church” as his reason for taking the data offline.

Gray said most sociologists and criminologists would disagree with Father Sullins’ conclusions indicating a connection between the rise and fall of homosexual men in the priesthood and the rise and fall of sexual abuse cases.

“The consensus among researchers who study abuse is that sexual orientation is not a causal factor,” he said.

While there are no doubt specific factors for why the cohort of priests who committed acts of abuse, concentrated between the 1960s and 1980s, were abusers, Gray said there is no single cause, such as active homosexuality, that would be sufficient to explain the phenomenon.

Further Studies Needed

Both Father Sullins and Gray stated the Church does not have any studies that could give meaningful data on clerical sexual activity, or even whether that sexual activity varies depending on settings involving different levels of supervision and mutual accountability: such as whether the priest lives alone, with other priests in a rectory, or in a monastic setting.

Understanding the sexual activity of celibate clergy is key to understanding the phenomenon of clerics who sexually abuse minors and even adults. Stephen De Weger, an Australian researcher of adult sexual abuse, told the Register that elastic definitions of celibacy among the clergy are a component to the crisis.

He noted the most concentrated eras of documented sexual abuse correlate with a certain zeitgeist in seminary that was reacting against a previous culture of repressed sexuality. Books in vogue between the 1960s and 1980s stressed that clergy were “sexual beings,” which, De Weger said, may have given a vast number of psycho-sexually immature men (and women) in religious and clerical life a kind of permission to engage in sexual activity, and to justify it as normal, or an expression of love. Many others, he said, such as serial-offender types, “simply consciously take advantage of their positional power and use such terms as ‘God approves because this is love and God is love.’”

De Weger, who had briefly been in religious life during this time, indicated that some of these works seemed “a short step from the sexual celibate to the sexually active celibate.”

One popular book, he noted, outlined several different “expressions of celibacy” that basically gave justifications for different kinds of sexual contact under the guise of maintaining one’s promises or vows. However, for the faithful who expect that celibates are living chastity, “this makes no sense at all” and also exposes the faithful to potential harm.

De Weger said his research strongly found that because Catholic faithful expect the clergy they turn to for spiritual help and guidance will not sexualize their spiritual relationships, they are vulnerable to that abuse of power and breach of trust.

Father Sullins said he’s encountered those elastic rationalizations in the older generations of priests and religious. One factor behind why incidents of sexual abuse are lower in younger priests, he said, may be due to how celibacy is taught now in seminary by priests who are now fully molded in St. John Paul II’s theology.

He said celibacy in the theology of the younger clergy is not simply about not having physical sex or being unmarried, but rather is a “conscious relinquishment of marriage and the prerogatives of marriage for the sake of the Kingdom of God.”

Moving Forward

Mary Hasson, president of the Catholic Women’s Forum, told the Register that the Ruth Institute’s report helps the Church to “better understand what went wrong” and the critical importance of “sound human formation” for the priesthood.

While it is “good news” that the number of abuse cases has dropped, it is a vital reminder that Catholics cannot be any less vigilant or urgent about dealing with the abuse crisis, and there are both adults and children who have been victimized by clergy.

Hasson said she’d like to see the U.S. bishops at their assembly next week in Baltimore give a “demonstration of their resolve” to face the crisis and recommended they implement lay-involved “accountability and transparency” mechanisms, such with the lay review board, so the Church can move forward.

“There’s a wide range of victims,” she said. “We can’t rest until there are none.”


Clergy Sex-Abuse Victims and Perpetrators Have Changed Since 2000

by Jennifer Roback Morse

This article was first published Jun. 25, 2019, at NCRegister.com.

 
COMMENTARY: Part II — The Ruth Institute report ‘Receding Waves: Child Sexual Abuse and Homosexual Priests Since 2000,’ finds surprising changes in both the victims and the perpetrators of clerical sexual abuse.

The clergy sexual abuse and cover-up scandal evokes powerful emotions. Some people become protective of their views of interecclesial politics. Others become defensive of the Church in general. And the subject of clergy sex abuse itself is intrinsically revolting. Precisely because of these varied and visceral emotions, we must examine the facts with as much sobriety and objectivity as we can muster.

In “Receding Waves: Child Sexual Abuse and Homosexual Priests Since 2000,” Father Paul Sullins finds surprising changes in both the victims and the perpetrators of clerical sexual abuse — and also, more generally, from the more general standpoint of today’s Catholic priesthood. Every one of these changes is sure to upset someone’s preconceived notions about what is going on and what we ought to do.

Read Part I here.

Recent Abuse Is Different

First, let’s take a look at the victims of clergy sexual abuse since 2000.

Fewer males are being abused: The most striking finding in this new report is the decline in proportion of male victims. The percent of abuse victims who were male plummeted from 74% in 2000 to only 34% by 2016. In 1985, males comprised 92% of victims and averaged 82% from 1950 to 1999 (Figures 3 and 4). This finding may disturb those who think that getting the active homosexuals out of the priesthood will solve all the problems. We will still have to be vigilant to protect girls from abuse. The data clearly show a steady number of female victims, year in and year out.

On the other hand, reducing the number of homosexually active clergy will solve a big chunk of the problems. The data show pronounced changes in the numbers of male victims over time. In fact, the changes in male victims pretty much account for the changes in total victims (Figure 14).

And, as Father Sullins showed in the Ruth Institute’s earlier report from 2018, the numbers and percentages of male victims track almost perfectly with the numbers of priests who describe themselves as homosexual (Figure 10 from the 2018 report).

The combination of these facts makes “clericalism” highly unlikely as a causal factor. What sort of undue deference to the clergy could account for a steady stream of female victims and, at the same time, wild swings in male victims? Clericalism is not a good thing, to be sure. But as a causal explanation, it is looking thinner all the time.

Victims being abused today are older: Recent abuse has involved older victims past puberty. Since 2000 half (50%) of abuse victims were teenagers aged 14-17; before 2000, only a third (33%) were this old (Figures 3 and 4). This means that true pedophilia, meaning sexual activity with pre-pubescent children, has been declining. Separating out pedophilia distinctly from sexual orientation as a causal factor is becoming a greater stretch.

Recent Perpetrators Are Different

Mostly not newly ordained priests: Since 2000 only a small fraction (11%) of abuse has been perpetrated by newly ordained priests (that is, those who have been ordained for less than 10 years), while over half (52%) of abuse has been perpetrated by priests ordained 30 years or more. This reverses the pattern before 2000, when a third (31%) of abuse was due to newly ordained priests and only 10% by priests ordained 30 years or more. (See Figure 7.) This suggests that we cannot blame young, testosterone-fueled men for clergy sex abuse.

In fact, since the 1960s, priests engaged in child sex abuse have been relatively concentrated in two age groups: one ordained in the late 1960s and early 1970s and the other ordained in the early 1980s (Figure 8). Tracking these men over the years, one can see that men ordained in these time periods account for an outsized number of abuse incidents.

For instance, Father Michael Guidry was in his 70s when he molested the 16-year-old son of one of his parish’s deacons. Father Guidry was ordained in 1971. Father Robert DeLand, the Saginaw, Michigan, priest who was finally caught when a detective “wired” the 17-year-old potential victim, was ordained in 1973. Men in their 70s usually do not normally groom teenagers for sex.

Few are homosexual: We do not have data on homosexual ordinations after 2000. Based on the sharp decline in the numbers of male victims of clergy sexual abuse, we surmise that fewer men of homosexual inclination are being ordained. In the 1980s as many as half of new ordinations were of homosexual men.

This is a good time to emphasize one of the Ruth Institute’s recommendations: “The Church or interested scholars and lay organizations should conduct further research on clergy self-description of their patterns of sexual attraction and behavior.” Father Sullins’ analysis of self-described sexual orientation of the clergy is based entirely on a 2002 Los Angeles Times survey. No systematic survey has been conducted since that time. It would be beneficial to have direct information, rather than having to draw inferences.

Recently Ordained Priests Appear to Be Different

Orthodox, faithful, younger priests: The drop in homosexual ordinations is congruent with the rise of a newer generation of young, orthodox candidates for the priesthood. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the current generation of seminary directors is more likely to exclude men with deeply rooted homosexual tendencies from the path to priesthood. This policy, if indeed it is a conscious policy, conforms to long-standing papal instruction as well as a theology of priestly celibacy as a calling reserved for heterosexual men, capable of marriage and fatherhood.

Aging homosexual priests: Today, half of all Catholic priests are between the ages of 60 and 84. Father Sullins estimates that about one in five of these priests self-describes as homosexual compared with less than one in 30 priests under age 50 who describe themselves as homosexual. As the wave of older homosexual priests passes on in coming years, the share of homosexual men in the Catholic priesthood will drop rapidly.

What does all this mean to the average Catholic? It means that the truth of the Church’s teaching on marriage, family and sexuality has not been undone by the recent scandals. We have reason to be hopeful that the younger generation of priests, the “John Paul II generation,” are less inclined to sexual misbehavior.

At the same time, as I indicated in my previous column, not all is well in the Church just yet — and we must continue to be vigilant to protect girls and boys alike. It means that people who are tempted to “jump ship” and abandon the Church have every reason to be hopeful and stay. We need the most sensitive and morally serious souls to stay!

We know that God writes straight with crooked lines. With God’s grace, and our fidelity, our Church and our country may yet become the holiest ever known. Let this be our finest hour.


Clergy Sex Abuse Has Changed Since 2000 — and Why It Matters

by Jennifer Roback Morse

This article was first published Jun. 14, 2019, at NCRegister.com.


COMMENTARY: Part I — Clergy sex abuse is rising, not falling.

The Ruth Institute recently released a new report by Father Paul Sullins, Ph.D., on clergy sexual abuse since 2000, showing that clergy sexual abuse has been rising in the years since the “Dallas Charter.” Around the same time, the Catholic League released a statement saying the clergy sexual abuse today is negligible.


Oddly enough, both the Catholic League statement and the Ruth Institute report referred to the “2018 Annual Report on the Implementation of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.”

What accounts for our very different conclusions?

Let’s start with the point on which we agree. The Catholic League states: “During this period (July 1, 2017- June 30, 2018) there were 26 new allegations involving current minors. But only three were substantiated (all three men were removed from ministry). Seven were unsubstantiated; three were unable to be proven; two were referred to a religious order; two were reported as unknown; and three were boundary violations, not instances of sexual abuse” (Page 25 of the audit report.) Don’t those low numbers sound encouraging?

Here is the problem with taking these figures at face value: These are the reports received in 2018 about incidents that took place during 2018. In that same period of time, 1,385 survivors of child sexual abuse by clergy came forward making 1,455 allegations. Obviously, the bulk of these incidents did NOT take place during the most recent year, but from earlier years. Most survivors do not report their abuse until much later. In fact, in the 2018 Ruth Institute study using the Pennsylvania grand jury reports, Father Sullins found that the average reporting lag was more than 28 years!

This means that trying to get a reliable handle on the trend in sexual abuse requires us to be careful with the conclusions we draw from our data. We could easily (and wrongly) conclude that all is well and that clergy sexual abuse is declining. We must make some correction for this very substantial reporting lag.

Father Sullins addressed that issue by comparing year-to-year allegations of current abuse. In other words, he went back to the historic data and asked this question, “In 1950-1954, how many people came forward to say they were abused in 1950-1954? How does that compare with the number of people coming forward between 1955-1959 to say they were abused between 1955-1959?” And so on. Bringing those numbers up to the present does not paint such a rosy picture of rapidly declining clergy sexual abuse.

In fact, this is precisely where Father Sullins found a disturbing increase in sexual abuse of minors since 2002. The priest sexual abuse of children dropped to an all-time low just after 2002, but it has since risen. True, clergy sexual abuse of minors remains well below its peak in the 1980s. Reports of current abuse averaged 7.0 per year from 2005 to 2009, rising to 8.2 per year from 2010 to 2014, a 17% increase. In the 1980s, there were an average 26.2 reports of current abuse per year. (See Figures 2 and 6 in the report.)

This suggests that the 2002 Dallas Charter, for all its improvements, did not solve all the problems. We still need to be vigilant. As a matter of fact, the “Annual Report on the Implementation of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People” made this very point. “The current allegations point to the reality that sexual abuse of minors by the clergy should not be considered by bishops as a thing of the past or a distant memory. Any allegation involving a current minor should remind the bishops that they must rededicate themselves each day to maintaining a level of vigilance that will not permit complacency to set in” (page vii).

Recommendations

Catholics must remain vigilant in protecting minors against clerical sexual abuse. In fact, the audit report clearly states,

“The National Review Board calls for a more in-depth audit, as well as ensuring the complete independence of the audit if the bishops hope to regain the trust of the laity in assuring that children and young people are indeed safe within our institutions.”

We as Catholics must also step up our efforts to proclaim authentic Catholic doctrine about marriage, family and human sexuality. At the Ruth Institute, we agree wholeheartedly with Pope Emeritus Benedict’s analysis. Poor theological formation of clergy and seminarians and rampant dissent on sexual teaching are significant factors in the current crisis.

In fact, that is one of the main recommendations we make in our report:

“The Church or interested lay organizations should increase educational programs on authentic Church teaching on human sexuality. Such educational efforts should include all levels of education, such as seminaries, universities, high schools, elementary schools and parish catechism classes. The topics covered should include Pope St. John Paul II’s ‘Theology of the Body’ and how traditional Christian sexual ethics promotes and protects the interests of children, women, men and society.”

The answer to poor formation, is quite simply, more and better formation.

Most serious Catholics are fed up with clergy sexual abuse: One case is too many. We want it to go away and stay away. In fact, we want it all gone — yesterday! But, as rational adults, we realize that this deep problem will not disappear overnight, no matter what we do.

It behooves us all to figure out what is really going on, to the best of our ability. Sugarcoating the truth does not serve the Church. This is no time for self-congratulation or complacency. This is the time to take our lumps when necessary. And above all, this is the time to roll up our sleeves and get to work.

 

 



Is Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church Really No Bigger Problem Than the Rest of Society?

by Jennifer Roback Morse

This article was first published Oct. 27, 2019, at NCRegister.com.

COMMENTARY: If Catholics face this issue courageously, we could win many souls.

 

A recent study reported, “only 6% of seminarians report sexual harassment.” The McGrath Institute for Church Life at the University of Notre Dame produced this path-breaking survey. One optimistic conclusion people might draw from this report is “Sexual abuse in the Catholic Church is no worse than in any other institution of society. People who keep talking about sexual abuse are just bashing the Church.” In my opinion, comparing sex abuse in the Catholic Church with that in other institutions can serve a valid purpose. But I think we need to be careful. Some such comparisons can be actively harmful.


Let me take as an example, The Catholic League’s response to the Notre Dame survey. I choose them because they make a fair statement of a sentiment many people share:

In 2013, Hollaback! commissioned a College Harassment Survey and found that 67 percent of students experienced harassment on campus. In 2006, the American Association of University Women reported that nearly two-thirds of college students experienced sexual harassment at some point during college. In 2018, an online survey by Stop Street Harassment found that 81 percent of women and 43 percent of men said they experienced some form of sexual harassment during their lifetime.

Definitions of sexual harassment vary widely, and incidents range from a sexual joke to rape, thus making comparisons difficult. No matter, compared to life outside the seminaries, the condition in most seminaries today is far better than on college campuses or in the workplace. And they are a vast improvement over what existed in many seminaries not long ago.

The Catholic League’s mission is to defend the Church from slander. Our highly secularized world is filled with people who hate the Catholic Church and miss no opportunity to criticize her. The truly committed sexual revolutionaries honestly believe the Catholic Church is not only bad, but the worst institution ever. I don’t think we should even dignify that statement with a response, should anyone be blunt enough to just blurt it out. The Catholic League, and anyone who loves the Church, is not wrong to defend the Church against scurrilous attacks.

So far, so good.

We might also console ourselves with comparisons with the average state university or our own institutions in years past. Many faithful Catholics are discouraged by the sex scandals. They are looking for good news and solace wherever they can find it. Let’s breathe a sigh of relief, avert our eyes and “move on.”

I understand. I don’t blame people a bit for feeling this way. But we should only take comfort in news that is true. There is plenty of reason for continued suspicion that things are not A-Okay in our seminaries. As Janet Smith recently observed, less than half the seminaries and houses of formation even participated in the Notre Dame study. “Moving on” would be premature and even negligent.

To see why, let me offer an analogy that many readers will recognize. Let’s suppose you have a loved one who has a serious addiction or mental illness. The various family members have complex and contradictory feelings: worry, shame, embarrassment, fear, inadequacy and many others. We are afraid our drug addicted son is going to permanently ruin his life. We feel helpless to aid our anorexic daughter. We are ashamed that our family’s problems reflect poorly on us as parents.

In that circumstance, we might look around at our next-door neighbors. On the plus side, maybe we want to emulate someone who dealt with a similar situation successfully. Maybe we’re trying to avoid something that didn’t work out so well for someone else. That kind of comparison is potentially beneficial.

Alas, we are not always so high-minded. We’re tempted to use the comparison to console ourselves. “At least we aren’t as bad as that family over there.”

But what would be the point? We still have to deal with our own situation. Whatever momentary comfort we might take in keeping one step ahead of the Jones’s, we still have to get on with our business of taking care of our own hurting family members.

To be sure, our neighbors are watching us, but not necessarily the way we think they are. They are not only judging us for the problem itself. They are judging us for how we conduct ourselves. “His daughter is on life-support with anorexia and he’s worried what the neighbors will think. What an idiot.”

The secular world criticizes us for our doctrine, which they find too difficult to live by. But living up to our doctrine is the only lasting and authentic solution to the problem of sexual abuse of the weak and vulnerable. We must show by our actions that we truly believe that Jesus is the “way, the truth and the life.” Deflection or averting our eyes or changing the subject won’t lead anyone closer to Christ and His Church.

And that really is the bottom line for faithful Catholics who love the Church. How we compare to the Boy Scouts or the Baptists doesn’t matter. Catholic clergy sex abuse is our mess. We have an obligation to clean it up. We owe it as a duty of justice to those who have been harmed, directly and indirectly. The world is watching how we handle ourselves.

Our Church really is metaphorically on life support. (Yes, I know about the gates of hell not prevailing and all that. Don’t change the subject.) We must face this issue squarely and honestly. If we do, we could win many souls. If we don’t, well, let’s just say, Our Lord will have pointed questions for us on our own judgment day.

I can speak for myself when I say, I intend to see this through to the end.



Dr. Morse Welcomes Paul M. Jonna, Esq. to Ruth Institute’s Board of Directors

Ruth Institute Founder and President Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, Ph.D., today welcomed Paul M. Jonna, Esq., as the newest member of the Ruth Institute’s Board of Directors.

“Given his work on behalf of religious liberty and against the Sexual Revolution, Paul and the Ruth Institute are a natural match,” Morse said.

Jonna is a partner with LiMandri & Jonna LLP, a civil litigation practice based in Rancho Santa Fe, CA. He is also Senior Trial Counsel with the Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund, where he has successfully defended clients such as David Daleiden (attacked for his videos showing Planned Parenthood selling aborted fetal body parts) and the Center for Medical Progress, Tastries Bakery in a same-sex wedding cake case, and parents against the San Diego Unified School District in a case involving an "anti-Islamophobia" initiative.


Jonna was selected by the San Diego Business Journal as one of the “Best of the Bar” for 2016 and 2017, and was named to the Super Lawyers’ 2019 San Diego Rising Stars list.

Jonna previously worked at national law firms handling multi-billion-dollar cases for a broad range of large corporate clients. He earned a J.D. from the University of San Diego School of Law, where he was Comments Editor of San Diego Law Review, and earned a B.S. in Business Administration from the University of Southern California. He is also a former three-term President and current member of the Board of the St. Thomas More Society of San Diego.

“It is an honor to join the Board of the Ruth Institute,” Jonna said. “I’ve followed Dr. Morse’s important work for years and look forward to contributing in any way that I can. The Ruth Institute’s focus on defending the family and helping victims of the Sexual Revolution is more important than ever in today’s cultural climate.”

The Ruth Institute is a global interfaith non-profit organization equipping Christians to defend the family and build a civilization of love.

Dr. Morse is the author of The Sexual State: How Elite Ideologies Are Destroying Lives.

Find out more about The Ruth Institute here.

To schedule an interview with Dr. Morse, contact media@ruthinstitute.org.

Support the Ruth Institute