Preliminary findings: John Jay Report to USCCB

The US Bishops Conference has just completed its annual fall meeting and has issued a press release on preliminary findings from the so-called John Jay report:
Researchers from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice presented an Interim Report on the Causes and Context Study on sexual abuse of minors by clergy at the November assembly of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). The bishops called for the Study as part of their response to the sexual abuse crisis when they adopted the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People in 2002.
Read the full text of the press release here.

Over at Politics Daily, David Gibson offers more detail on what the bishops heard in a post including material from Margaret Smith and Karen Terry, researchers working on the John Jay report for the bishops.

Read Gibson's post here.

Until the John Jay report is completed and released, these preliminary findings offer a glimpse of what's to come.



  1. David is spot on. Gay priests were never the problem.

    The Vaticans document in 2005 barring homosexuals from the priesthood is not based on fact.

    A persons sexual identity has nothing to do with sexual abuse, and needs to be separated from the problem of sexual abuse.

    There was never and still is no connection between homosexual identity and an increased likelihood of predatory sexual behavior.

    Why people still believe this is beyond me.

    The mention that the American church is a model for how to deal with abuse and ensure the safety of children.


  2. I recently read a letter written in August 2009 by Sean O'Conaill, Acting Coordinator, Voice of the Faithful Ireland. In it he stated:

    "VOTF's declared mission is the best that has yet emerged here to cope with what amounts to a national Catholic disaster - by far the worst we have ever seen because it results from what is essentially a catastrophic failure of leadership, and of the system the bishops preside over."

    In my opinion, the United States bishops have been guilty of that same catastrophic failure of leadership. If, in 2002, the Boston Globe had not been relentless in its efforts to uncover the clergy sexual abuse scandal, thereby opening the floodgates in dioceses across the country, would the USCCB have commissioned the John Jay Causes and Contexts Study? As it is, bishops continue to try to block efforts to reveal the history of abuse in their dioceses. Recently, the Supreme Court has ruled that the diocese of Bridgeport, CT must open its files.

    I wonder if the bishops fully realize the impact their catastrophic failure of leadership has had on the Church.


  3. Count me in the part of the population that is still trying to understand the whole thing. None of it makes sense to me.

    80% little boys of course makes you ask the question of sexuality's role. What unbiased researcher would not at least look at that data given the 80/20 victim ratio? Given the accepted lack of data on the topic generally, I think it is a reasonable research question, as are all the heterosexual factors that could explain the unexplainable. Just asking the question, or not knowing the answer, does not make one a homophobe, it might just mean (like these researchers) someone genuinely doesn't know the answer.

    4400 sexually abusive priests is too large to contemplate in any limited population. If this study starts to shed more light on the entire issue, it is nothing less than crucial to our understanding.

    Personally, it is really hard for me to understand how they point at the general cultural changes of the 60's and 70's as a direct cause. The hypothesis that the most horrific personal behavior exhibiting itself in the population that should be most aware of human morality is simply a product of the sex, drugs and rock and roll revolution seems dubious. It is kind of hard to attack "the culture" as causal to this massively deviant and damaging behavior.

    I sure hope they find something more tangible than "the permissive culture made me do it" to explain some of this insanity.

  4. The findings to date are from a preliminary report - I presume much more is to follow.

    I can't answer for the John Jay folks, I'm just the messenger here.

    On the one hand, I think we need to acquaint ourselves with the reality that sexual abuse is more often about "power over" than "attraction to." I'm no expert here, but I believe that dynamic applies here. I hope a complete JJ report will help us understand.

    I, too, believe that something more than "the culture" is at play here - but I'm not sure yet what it is.

    Thanks for your reasoned and reasonable comment!

  5. From my conversations with members of SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) they say the split between abused males and females ranges from 30% to 50% females. However, females are far less likely to come forward and report abuse because they know their entire sexual history will be brought put under a microscope. They know they will be accused of "tempting" Father. Most are not willing to endure that process.

    They also believe this is more about "power over" than "sexual attraction". Some priests have abused both boys and girls.

    I agree there is more to this than the crazy culture of the 60s and


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