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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: Saturday, July 04, 2020
Ruth Institute Research Associate, Fr. Paul Sullins, Ph.D., responded to the newly released 2019 Annual Report from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and the independent lay National Review Board (NRB) about on-going clerical sex abuse.
“The report showed a significant increase in both allegations and findings of sexual abuse by priests. The Ruth Institute, along with the National Review Board, believes this is due to a lack of sufficient oversight. Clergy sex abuse is out of the news. We think it should be news.”
Fr. Sullins has dealt extensively with this issue, having done reports on clerical sex abuse in 2018 and 2019. His analysis of the findings and recommendations from this latest report can be found here.
In summary, Fr. Sullins noted:
1. Cases of current, ongoing abuse: 37 -- almost three times as many allegations as have been reported in any previous year of the audit.
2. New reports of past abuse: 4,434 previously unreported incidents of abuse, in some cases going back decades, which were only made known in 2019.
3. Priests removed permanently from priestly ministry: 142 -- about one-tenth of all new priests ordained in the past decade.
4. The percentage of male and female victims is now roughly equal. In years past, the victims were predominately male.
The Ruth Institute endorses the recommendations of the National Review Board, which provides the USCCB these reports on an annual basis:
1. Every diocese should mandate parish-level audits. Currently, only 60% of dioceses require these audits.
2. Every diocese should require ongoing training and renewal of background checks. Currently, 25% and 15% respectively do not meet these requirements.
3. Clergy and laity must remain fully engaged about the safety of children and faithfulness of clergy.
Ruth Institute President, Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse Ph.D., concluded: “Given the tragic history of the sexual abuse of children in the Catholic Church, which scarred the lives of so many, we must not become complacent. We must be vigilant to ensure no repetition of the scandals of the ‘70s, ‘80s and ’90s.”
Posted on: Friday, June 26, 2020
by Paul Murano • ChurchMilitant.com • June 25, 2020
The sexual revolution, a revolt waged by modern man against God and His Sixth Commandment, will be taking the proverbial prosecutor's stand in Louisiana this July.
The Ruth Institute has scheduled its "Survivors' Summit 2020," a conference whose focus is "Surviving the Sexual Revolution." It will cover the gamut of sexual deviancy unleashed in the sexual revolution, from fornication to transgenderism. The Ruth Institute is a research and educational institute dedicated to supporting "individuals and families harmed by divorce, the hook-up culture and other forms of family breakdown."
"Our speakers are not celebrities," Ruth Institute founder Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse told Church Militant. "They're people just like you" and experts in their field. "If you come you will be inspired ... and our experts will demonstrate that the Church's teaching has always been correct."
Morse also said that there is no hope to expect to win the war for souls through legal or judicial means. The courts, she claims, are now essentially lawless. Her grassroots aim is to equip people with information and moral truth in order to overcome the dark, spiritual deluge.
Since the invention and popularization of the birth control pill, a Pandora's box of sexual deviancy has become normalized throughout the Western world. The resultant confusion and pain has caused a new normal of walking wounded, for whom the conference will provide a safe space in which to tell the truth — restoring "sexual sanity to our culture, communities and churches." This Summit will cover the what, how, why, when, where and who of the sexual revolution — a revolution that continues to this day — and engage participants from diverse backgrounds in the #FightforFamily.
According to the Center for Family Justice, one in four women have been sexually abused in their lifetime, as well as one in six men. Those are the numbers for assaults that were not consensual. But those who survive the sexual revolution also include those who have consented to its great magnetic pull, who have been lured in by the strong winds of the culture, and this includes virtually everyone who has come of age in the 1960s through today.
Conference topics include surviving childhood sexual abuse, pornography addiction, the LGBT subculture and transgenderism. Other topics will focus on the global sexual revolution; Christian anthropology, history and social systems; medical tragedies of the sexual revolution; social science evidence about the sexual revolution; human rights catastrophes of the sexual revolution; population control; and the decline of the human family — explained in the film Demographic Winter.
Featured speakers include distinguished scholars and survivors, as well as journalist Doug Mainwaring and Pulse nightclub shooting survivor Luis Ruiz, both of whom left the LGBT subculture.
Also scheduled to speak is Ruth Institute sociologist Fr. Paul Sullins, author of the groundbreaking report, "Is Catholic Clergy Sex Abuse Related to Homosexual Priests?" which revealed a striking correlation between the rise in the number of homosexual priests and the explosion of clerical sex abuse. Sullins will address gender theory, the characteristics of homosexual relationships and parenting, and the implication of homosexual priests in the wave of child sex abuse that peaked in the 1980s.
"My goal," Sullins told Church Militant, "is to present the facts and evidence that will help persons struggling with the widespread misinformation and deception that gay parents or homosexual priests are benevolent, innocuous influences on the children in their care. The empirical evidence strongly indicates otherwise."
The conference will also include activists' panels, question and answer sessions and general discussions.
The Keynote speaker is Sue Ellen Browder, journalist and author of Subverted: How I Helped the Sexual Revolution Hijack the Women's Movement. Browder worked for Cosmopolitan magazine for years, writing what she calls "fake news" for potential victims of the sexual revolution. As an eyewitness to the birth of the revolution, Browder will talk about how two movements going in different directions — the women's movement and the sexual revolution — merged to become one movement leading to a Culture of Death.
The Ruth Institute calls itself "a global interfaith coalition equipping Christians to defend the family and build a civilization of love." Its Resource Center provides decades of research and educational tools to support individuals and families harmed by divorce, the hook-up culture and other forms of family breakdown.
The group's website states that "Every person has the right to know his or her cultural heritage and genetic identity," and "Every child has a right to a relationship with their natural mother and father except for an unavoidable tragedy." It supports natural law on morality related to sexuality and human life, and "rejects the idea that a child is a problem to solve if you don't want one and an object to purchase if you do want one."
In the wake of the Supreme Court's June 15 Bostock v. Clayton County decision, Morse explains that the summit will analyze the many ways the sexual revolution needs the power of the State to do its destructive work.
"The Bostock ruling redefines 'female' and 'male' for purposes of law. ... This terrible ruling shows that the conservative legal establishment has no idea how to address sexual and social issues. The sexual revolution attacks both the individual and the family," she adds. "At our Summit, we'll take a hard look at some of the most destructive pathologies the global ruling class has inflicted on ordinary people."
The Survivor's Summit will take place in Lake Charles, Louisiana on July 17–18.
Posted on: Monday, June 22, 2020
In the wake of the Supreme Court’s disastrous Bostock decision, the Ruth Institute’s Summit for Survivors of the Sexual Revolution takes on extreme urgency. The Summit, to be held July 17-18, in Lake Charles, LA, will analyze the many ways the Sexual Revolution needs the power of the State to do its destructive work.
Ruth Institute President, Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, Ph.D., stated, “The Bostock ruling redefines “female” and “male” for purposes of law. The Obergefell decision redefined marriage. The Federalist Society vetted Gorsuch, appointed by Pres. Trump, who wrote the majority opinion. This terrible ruling shows that the conservative legal establishment has no idea how to address sexual and social issues. The Sexual Revolution attacks both the individual and the family. At our Summit, we’ll take a hard look at some of the most destructive pathologies the Global Ruling Class has inflicted on ordinary people.”
Expert presentations will include:
The program will also include testimony from Survivors of the Sexual Revolution, as well as activists’ panels, question and answer sessions and general discussions.
Among the participants on the Surviving the LGBT subculture panel are journalist Doug Mainwaring and Pulse Nightclub shooting survivor, Luis Ruiz. Both left the LGBT subculture.
Morse observed: “After the Bostock ruling, social conservatives of all faiths have realized beyond any shadow of a doubt: we are on our own. Participants at our Summit will have the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be part of redefining the direction of the social conservative movement. The encounter with experts and their analysis, the first-hand testimony of Survivors, and the experience of effective activists, will inspire participants. They will come away with new friends as well as practical tips on how to get involved and make a difference.”
Posted on: Tuesday, June 02, 2020
The Ruth Institute will hold its Third Annual Awards Dinner and Summit for Survivors of the Sexual Revolution on July 18, in Lake Charles, LA. Ruth Institute President Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, Ph.D., said, “This Dinner and Summit will take those who’ve suffered from the Sexual Revolution from victimhood to healing, empowerment and activism.”
The event will be held live, in accordance with the gradual reopening guidelines for the state of Louisiana. Morse said, “We are not cowering in fear, wondering whether we will have a future. We will comply with all public health guidelines in place at the time. But we want the public to know that we at the Ruth Institute are filled with hope for the future. We will act as if we have a future.”
The Awards Dinner Friday evening kicks off the festivities. The Institute will give awards for activism and public witness, including a keynote address on How the Sexual Revolution Hijacked the Women’s Movement. The Summit for Survivors of the Sexual Revolution on Saturday includes these sessions:
Surviving Childhood Sexual Abuse – Statistical analysis and strategies for healing, including testimony from survivors of childhood sexual abuse, including clergy sexual abuse.
Surviving Pornography Addiction – Understanding pornography as a public health crisis, and offering strategies for protecting children.
Surviving the LGBT Sub-Culture – Including health and psychological risks commonly associated with same-sex sexual activity and gender dysphoria.
Morse added: “Last year’s Survivors Summit was an overwhelming success. This year, we’ll be hearing expert input and testimony from survivors on a new range of issues associated with the Sexual Revolution.”
“The Ruth Institute is the only organization fighting for the family and exposing the interconnectedness of such diverse issues as divorce, pornography, sexual abuse, gender dystopia, the LGBT movement and the sub-cultures it’s spawned.”
Morse concluded, “Our Third Annual Awards Dinner and Summit for Survivors of the Sexual Revolution will be about healing, hope and unity.”
The Ruth Institute is a global non-profit organization leading an international interfaith coalition to defend the family and build a civilization of love.
Jennifer Roback Morse is the author of The Sexual State: How Elite Ideologies are Destroying Lives.
To schedule an interview with Dr. Morse, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted on: Tuesday, May 12, 2020
Commenting on the controversy surrounding Vice President Joe Biden and allegations of sexual assault, Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, Ph.D., President of the Ruth Institute, said the case must be considered in light of the Sexual Revolution.
“We are not taking a position on Mr. Biden’s guilt or innocence,” Morse said, “but it should come as no surprise that powerful men have taken advantage of the general loosening of morals brought about by the Sexual Revolution to prey on the innocent.”
Tara Reade says that when she was an aide in his office in 1993, then-Senator Joe Biden sexually assaulted her, a charge the putative Democratic nominee denies. “It’s quite possible we’ll never know the truth of the matter,” Morse commented. “But the rise of sex crimes is another poisonous fruit of the Sexual Revolution.”
Between 2013 and 2017, the number of reported rapes in this country increased almost 20%. The 2018 FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports reveals there were 127,258 reported cases of rape that year.
“The Sexual Revolution holds that sex is an entitlement – an ideology that promotes both casual sex and exploitation,” Morse said.
“How great a leap is it from the idea that ‘you have a right to sex,’ to ‘you can take whatever you want, if you think you can get away with it?’” Morse asked.
As to why it took her so long to come forward publicly with her story, Reade says she felt no one would believe her. Morse responded: “The Sexual Revolution has empowered abusers and silenced victims. It took decades for the crimes of Jeffrey Epstein and Harvey Weinstein to come to light. Like Reade, their victims feared that no one would believe them, that they had in some way encouraged the offense or that these rich and powerful men would retaliate against them.”
“We don’t need a blanket policy of ‘always believing women’ to realize that something is seriously wrong here,” Morse said of Reade’s specific allegations. “But one thing is certain, the Sexual Revolution empowers predators and disarms victims. This toxic ideology has created a hunter’s paradise for predators.”
A well-documented expansion of these arguments is contained in Dr. Morse’s book, The Sexual State: How Elite Ideologies Are Destroying Lives.
The Ruth Institute is a global non-profit organization leading an international interfaith coalition to defend the family and build a civilization of love.
To schedule an interview with Dr. Morse, contact email@example.com.
Posted on: Wednesday, March 18, 2020
Educating yourself is the first step in fighting the effects of the sexual revolution in your life and among loved ones.
The Ruth Institute is hosting its Third Annual Awards Dinner and Summit for Survivors of the Sexual Revolution, and you're invited.
Learn how to confront and survive trends in transgenderism, the LGBT subculture, the pitfalls of population control, post-abortion trauma, same-sex parenting, childhood sexual abuse, and more.
The summit will include various sessions loaded with information. Have you ever wondered, for example, how pornography is affecting people’s lives? The Summit’s class “Protecting Our Children from Our Pornified Culture” will open your eyes. These and other facts about pornography will be discussed:
For this and many other well-researched presentations, save the date:
July 17-18, 2020
Posted on: Monday, November 18, 2019
By Jennifer Roback Morse
Published on October 31, 2019, at The Stream.
Seminary in Florence, Italy. Image courtesy of pixabay.com.
You see, this Notre Dame study is a good news, bad news situation. The good news is that only 6% of seminarians surveyed reported sexual harassment. The bad news is that less than half the seminaries in the U.S. participated in the survey. The problem is: we don’t know which half is which.
My organization, the Ruth Institute has a special interest in this study. These results are completely consistent with the results of Fr. Paul Sullins’ second report, Receding Waves: Child Sex Abuse and Homosexual Priests since 2000. Fr. Sullins is no slouch. He holds a doctorate in sociology and taught at Catholic University of America. He finds that recently ordained clergy are less likely to be abusers, and less likely to have male victims. Priests ordained within the last 10 years of his data collection are more likely to be orthodox, faithful and chaste. So, the Notre Dame findings are fully consistent with Fr. Sullins’ findings from a very different set of data. The young guys are good guys. Good news, for sure.
But don’t break out the bubbly. We still got problems.
You see, the Notre Dame researchers are serious people, doing serious work. They made good faith attempts to include all the seminaries and houses of religious formation. When some didn’t respond, the McGrath Institute at Notre Dame went the extra mile. Their Executive Director, Dr. John Cavadini, wrote letters to U.S. bishops, archbishops, cardinals, and superiors of religious orders. He told them about the study. He asked that they grant permission to participate in the study to their seminarians.
In spite of this diligence, only about 50% of the seminaries participated in the survey. Nearly 40% (37% to be exact) of seminaries and houses of formation never gave him the courtesy of a reply. Another 15% of seminaries or houses of formation either flat out declined to participate, or they said they were interested but then never responded to multiple attempts to follow up.
It is hard to believe all these schools didn’t know about the request.
It is also hard to believe that the schools that participated and the schools that didn’t are similar in every relevant respect. Some seminary authorities decided to not respond to repeated inquires. Some seminary rectors decided to not allow their men to be informed about the opportunity to participate in the survey. I wonder why?
Do you think the institutions that tolerate sexual activity, voluntary or otherwise, would be eager to encourage their men to participate in a survey about sexual activity and harassment? A school with a corrupt rector, or a diocese with a history of tolerating sexual acting out in the clergy, do you think those are the places rushing to tell Notre Dame, “yes, oh yes, you can ask our students anything?”
Maybe it’s just me. But I’m thinking, “no,” and “no.”
Wouldn’t you like to know, which schools had the students that said, “sexual harassment isn’t a problem here?” Wouldn’t you like to know which seminaries had students who said that seminaries should “automatically expel all men who do not live chastely?” Wouldn’t you like to know which schools couldn’t be bothered to forward the invitation to participate emails to their students?
I’d love to know. I’m thinking you would too.
Now, I’ve done social science research. Promising confidentiality to participants is standard protocol. The professionals at Notre Dame are not going to reveal which schools participated.
But we, dear reader, have every right to ask our bishops and seminary rectors: did our seminary participate in this survey? We, the faithful, have every right to say, “If your school participated, we congratulate you with our sustained financial support! If our school didn’t participate, why not? If you had a good reason to decline to participate, we would like to hear it.”
If they don’t answer a simple “yes or no” question, we have every right to draw our own conclusions.
At the same time, those seminaries that did participate can claim “bragging rights.” They could say, “We released a list of our students for the Notre Dame research team to contact and invite to participate. We encouraged our men to cooperate.” This would be no violation of any confidentiality agreement or of anyone’s privacy. This would be perfectly ethical.
The students who participated in this survey sound like fine young men. When asked to volunteer suggestions for improving seminary life, they wanted their schools to provide stronger formation in chastity. But what about the other half of our seminaries? We have no way of knowing what is going on. Are they all corrupt? Just how bad are the bad schools?
Church authorities who have responsibility for seminaries, I call on you to address this question. If your men participated, we applaud you. Your men are an encouragement to us all. We thank you for them. We wish to help support you, and them.
If you don’t answer these questions, our imaginations are left free to roam. You will have only yourselves to blame if our suspicions increase.
Posted on: Saturday, November 09, 2019
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.”
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.”
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.”
Posted on: Saturday, November 09, 2019
by Jennifer Roback Morse
This article was first published Jun. 25, 2019, at NCRegister.com.
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.
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.
Posted on: Saturday, November 09, 2019
by Jennifer Roback Morse
This article was first published Jun. 14, 2019, at NCRegister.com.
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).
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.