Bishop Cupich, and Dr. Karen Terry of the John Jay College, discuss findings at the USCCB Spring 2011 meeting
Clergy Sexual Abuse: Questions Remain | Fr. Regis Scanlon, O.F.M. Cap. | Homiletic & Pastoral Review
The original John Jay statistics state that the sex abuse crisis was the overwhelming work of a very small number of clergy, targeting young males as their victims … the one reform not addressed: screening out clergy candidates with same-sex attractions.
In 2002, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops commissioned a 1.8 million dollar study, popularly known as the “John Jay study,” to uncover the patterns and causes of the sex abuse crisis since 1950. The National Review Board—the entity designated to implement the study—gave the first John Jay report in 2004. In this report, which describes the “Nature and Scope” of clergy sexual abuse, the board pointed out that more than 80 percent of the victims were teenage boys and young men.
This conclusion, in itself, should have been a solid roadmap for truly correcting the sex abuse problem.
Indeed, the bishops quickly responded. They issued guidelines for tough diocesan policies, such as the immediate reporting of abuse to civil authorities, and better oversight of children’s safety.
However, despite those good reforms, clergy with sexual abuse histories were still active in public Church ministry. In early 2011, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia revealed it was involved in yet another major “roundup” of sex abuse cases, a majority of them (82%) involving the original category of identified victims—male teens and young men.
Also in 2011, the Vatican called on bishops and local dioceses to develop comprehensive plans to stop sex abuse. It urged “an even greater importance in assuring a proper discernment of vocations.” Clearly, the Vatican still sees a need to encourage more thoroughness when screening priesthood candidates.
These developments—still surfacing seven years after the original John Jay findings—suggest that reforms have not been wholly adequate. Why? I would suggest that, from the start, reforms concentrated on defensive measures—protecting young people from predators who may be lurking in the clergy. That is well and good. However, a more important question remains unanswered: why should the Church allow predators to be lurking among the clergy in the first place?