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The John Jay Report Print E-mail
By Brad Miner   
Monday, 23 May 2011

The headline at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops website: 

“John Jay College Reports No Single Cause, Predictor of Clergy Abuse” 

So after all the years, money, and study, are we to conclude there is no conclusion?

Maybe it doesn’t matter: a paragraph on page eight of The Causes and Context of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests in the United States, 1950-2010 shows that reports of clerical abuse have fallen off dramatically, and the Church has taken steps to see there’ll be no similar “crisis” in the future.

Lead researcher Karen Terry is quoted in the USCCB’s press release as saying that “neither celibacy nor homosexuality were causes of the abuse.” (About celibacy the report is surely correct.)

The report’s Executive Summary offers this summary consideration:

Social and cultural changes in the 1960s and 1970s manifested in increased levels of deviant behavior in the general society and also among priests of the Catholic Church in the United States.
This is being called the “Woodstock Defense.”

And the Church must be grateful that priests weren’t also engaged in the “drug use and crime” that, as the report states, characterized this period of upheaval, although why priests did not in significant numbers succumb to the allure of other crimes of the times is not explained.

And no “specific institutional cause” was discovered. Nothing in seminary admissions; nothing in parish management; nothing in diocesan attitudes. The abusers themselves “were not found, on the basis of their developmental histories or their psychological characteristics, to be statistically distinguishable from other priests [emphasis added],” except, of course, that they abused kids and teens but other priests didn’t. We learn, though, that those who were ordained in the Sixties and Seventies “engaged in abusive behavior much more quickly after their entrance into ministry” than had their older (or would their younger) colleagues.

Ms. Terry’s co-researcher, Margaret L. Smith, suggested last year that the overwhelmingly homosexual nature of the priest abuse cases doesn’t prove the priests involved were “gay.” She compared the conditions under which priests live to those of men in prison, where sexual encounters are necessarily homosexual: it’s situational. It’s context.

The research team must have faced a serious, albeit familiar, problem: since most of the abuse cases were male-on-male, they were in a pickle as to how they’d deal with the confirming data without demonizing the “gay” subculture. So . . . they barely mention it. Apparently this is fine with many at the USCCB, despite the fact that the bishops, who commissioned the study, ostensibly consider homosexual behavior gravely sinful – and not just for priests. Oscar Wilde was a prophet: it really is the sin that dare not speak its name; not anyway in polite academic and clerical circles; not with a “gay”-friendly media brooking no dissent from its notions of the new normal. The assertion that the abusers weren’t “statistically distinguishable” from other priests puts a heavy burden on statistics.

Yet the crisis was self-evidently homosexual in its genesis. This we know from the fact that eighty-plus percent of the abuse was same-sex, whereas sexual abuse in the larger culture is overwhelmingly heterosexual. And the John Jay social scientists limited their research and analysis strictly to the abuse of minors, and so don’t present (nor did they seek) data on the extent to which priests were engaged sexually with other adult men (or women for that matter).

Not knowing how many homosexuals went into and came out of seminaries during the period, we are missing absolutely critical data. Other studies have sought this information, but the results vary widely, as do their methodologies and reliability. Some estimates suggest the homosexual population in the priesthood has been as high as fifty percent. That seems unlikely. Others have claimed the percentage is less than five percent. But that seems too low.

“Individuals who molest children may be heterosexual, homosexual, or bisexual with regard to victim selection,” the report states, and this is the only time those descriptors of sexual preference are used, underscoring the report’s complete rejection of any association between said preferences and sexual abuse.

But priests are not incarcerated criminals, normal heterosexuals do not engage in homosexual acts, and anybody who was actually around certain seminaries in the 1970s, as I was, knows that homosexuality – like dissent against Vatican teaching and leadership – was rampant. I spent time in two seminaries as I considered entering the priesthood. One was run by faithful priests and impressed me as rather like an Army base: everybody was in uniform and a sense of personal decorum and doctrinal discipline permeated the place. The other seminary resembled a college dormitory crossed with what I suppose a “gay” bathhouse would be like. Nobody wore clerical garb and conversation among seminarians, faculty, and visitors was heretical and profane. I became a Catholic at twenty-six. By the time I was twenty-seven, two young priests had come on to me sexually, which I found both repulsive and discouraging. All this played a role in my decision not to become a priest.

If academics or bishops wish to believe the Church didn’t have a homosexual problem, they have their heads firmly inserted into quicksand. Rome’s commitment to put things right began with the 2005 directive to weed out “gays” from seminary admissions and was re-emphasized by the Holy Father in Light of the World. Cardinal Levada recently wrote a letter outlining new procedures for responding to abuse. The Vatican knows what John Jay won't admit.

The Causes and Context report is long (140-plus pages), and deserves more careful scrutiny than I’ve given it here. But does anybody seriously believe that without so many active homosexuals in the priesthood there’d have been an abuse crisis? A handful of homosexual and heterosexual abuse incidents, no doubt. But nothing on the scale we actually witnessed.

 
Brad Miner, a former literary editor of National Review, is senior editor of The Catholic Thing and a senior fellow of the Faith & Reason Institute. One of his books, The Compleat Gentleman, was recently published in a revised edition.
 
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Comments (22)Add Comment
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written by Jill, May 22, 2011
Why were there so many homosexual men entering seminaries? Was it a unique phenomenon? I entered the Church four years ago and on my first visit to my current parish, knew the priest was gay. He confirmed me and then, a year later, came "out" at Mass in front of news cameras as he would not speak against Prop 8 here in CA. Yes, my confirmation is valid, and our hope does not rest in man, but I still would have preferred a different memory.
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written by Graham Combs, May 22, 2011
Like Mr. Miner, I also spent two years in a high school seminary in the late sixties. In fact I attended but a minor seminary and a Catholic high school. Homosexuality was evident -- adult and/or student -- at both. I also recall a high school retreat for boys in which a priest from the order hosting it spoke graphically about sex in an attempt -- I guess -- to impress on us that the priesthood was hip and young. Inappropriate is one word for it. The original John Jay report stated that 80% of the abuse cases involved boys and male teens, not females. Recently on the Dennis Prager show, William McGowan, author of COLORING THE NEWS and GRAY LADY DOWN (about the decline of NY Times) made a brief but startling announcement that the abuse crisis was about homosexuality and that priests and teens with same-sex attraction were at the heart of it. My observations from boyhood confirm this. The anger and ferocity of one priest to whom I gave a wide berth would have consequences including a threat not to forward my academic record to a college admissions office. And today every gay person I meet, especially men, insists that "homosexuality" was not involved. Apparently this is now the official line of the Human Rights Campaign. Sadly most friends and acquaintances also accept this. (I was recently shouted down at a Thanksgiving dinner when I suggested what really happened.) Certainly the media and the establishment in general do (more support for William Russell Mead's recent blog about American's alienation from -- even contempt for -- their "elites"). The dishonesty and corruption of discourse continues. Confusing and disorienting as a boy. Infuriating as a man. I pray the Church does not acquiesce as well.
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written by Billy Bean, May 22, 2011
"The Woodstock Defense," eh? I'm wondering: in what sense can a frank confession that even a single Roman Catholic priest (to say nothing of his bishop) surrendered so abjectly and shamelessly to the spirit of the age be considered a "defense"? In the present reality, with so many priests and bishops implicated (however few comparatively speaking), can this analysis of Church's failure be seen as anything less than an admission of grossly disgrsceful and culpable compromise with evil? I remember the Woodstock generation, and participated in its sins. Believe me, this is no "defense."
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written by Michael Paterson-Seymour, May 23, 2011
At the risk of stating the obvious, the distinction between a victim's gender and a perpetrator's sexual orientation is important because many child molesters do not really have an adult sexual orientation. They have never developed the capacity for mature sexual relationships with other adults, either men or women. Instead, their sexual attractions focus on children – boys, girls, or children of both sexes.

In other words, many child molesters cannot be meaningfully described as homosexuals, heterosexuals, or bisexuals (in the usual sense of those terms) because they are not really capable of a relationship with an adult man or woman. Instead of gender, their sexual attractions are based primarily on age. These individuals are attracted to children, not to men or women.
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written by Brad Miner, May 23, 2011
To Mr. Paterson-Seymour: A point well-taken. But two things: 1) John Jay's data indicate that the largest amount of the abuse was of teens between 14 and 17, so I'm not sure if that squares with your sense of "child". 2) As I indicated (and I wish there were more solid data), there is a strong probability (and not just anecdotally) that there was a lot of homosexual activity at the time studied between priests and other men. It's important, I think, to take in the whole picture.
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written by Chris in Maryland, May 23, 2011
The current attempt by John Jay academics, and some forces in the USCCB, to suffocate the conclusions of the 2004 Report on the Crisis (by the Review Board) asks us to reject the conclusions of some of the most prominent Catholic lay men and women in the U.S. Church (Leon Panetta, Robert Bennett, Anne Burleigh et al) in favor of the conclusions of "no name" academics at John Jay. In other words, we are not to take counsel from Robert Bennett, one of the foremost attorneys in the world, when he examines the evidence. This offends the sensibilities of John Jay and the those riding the Trojan Horse inside the USCCB. Shout it from the rooftops - That game is over, and that goes for the "Virtus" propaganda program too.
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written by Michael Paterson-Seymour, May 23, 2011
To Brad Miner: Oh, I agree with that - "Child" in the context I was using it means pre-pubescent or lacking secondary sexual characteristics, so chronological age is an imprecise guide at best. The Report's choice of 10 seems rather early and the alternative suggestion of 13 seems, perhaps, rather late.

Again, puberty is an event in females and a process in males

For what it's worth, the only age group in which females predominate is the age-range 1 - 7, clearly pre-pubescent. I would hesitate to describe such contact as "heterosexual" in any meaningful sense.





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written by murtheol, May 23, 2011
The so-called "Woodstock" defense is apt. But what the bishops are really saying is that the devil made them do it. Very lame. It's always somebody else's fault, yes?
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written by Lorraine Murray, May 23, 2011
Thank you for writing this! You eloquently point out the blinding light of the obvious, which evidently wasn't noticed by the "experts" who compiled this report: Of course the abuse scandal was a homosexual problem! By definition, heterosexual males do not go after teen-age boys.
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written by Ann, May 23, 2011
Thank you for this! You tell the truth. I pray the bishops will get their heads out of the sand. In the 1940's, Fr. Gerald Fitzgerald, who founded The Servants of the Paraclete, and the Handmaids of the Precious Blood (to support priests with prayers and Adoration) allegedly saw a problem of men with homosexual inclinations entering the seminaries at that time. I read, but cannot verify, that he went to Rome and tried to get the Vatican to address the problem of homosexuals being ordained at that time. Apparently this problem was evident long before Woodstock! It is evident that priests and bishops need much more prayer and sacrifice from the laity.
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written by avyanez, May 23, 2011
The reason why there were/are homosexual priests is because there were/are homosexual bishops. This study is cover for that fact.
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written by Chris in Maryland, May 23, 2011
I just read this @ CNS: The study showed that "the only significant risk factor related to sexual identity and behavior was a 'confused' sexual identity, and this condition was most commonly found in abusers who were ordained prior to the 1960s."

In other words, John Jay says if you are a criminal homosexual predator, it's because you're confused about your "sexual identity." So if you've determined you are a "homosexual" you would never prey on boys in their tweens and teens.

Wow, see how college researchers solve all problems? Predatory crimes against boys in their tweens and teens was because the perps were confused - not because they were predators.

So to John Jay - their are no real criminals here - everyone is a victim.

And to those riding the Trojan Horse inside USCCB, their is no sin, only inadequate access to therapy.

This explains the rhetoric of ArchB. Dolan (so disappointing in this case); and the headline over at USCCB (same old same old with them): the perps "had risk factors that made them vulnerable" to abusing boys in their tweens and teens; and "no single cause of the abuse" (i.e., those who cry homosexual predators are anathema!).
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written by Achilles, May 23, 2011
With any report beholden to political correctness, or for that matter conducted within the confines of the American university, the findings are sterile. The contraceptive university, aborting all ideas that dare to threaten a perverted notion of individual freedom (read the right to self esteem) is the spokesperson for the culture of death, which is the satanic manifesto. He was a liar and a murderer from the very beginning. Determinism, the lens of the university, is not the lens through which we must examine this crisis. Christ tells us to be “as wise as serpents and gentle as doves.” We as Catholics must recognize this as the moral problem it is, not as one social worker called it “an historical problem.” When the Catholic Church lines up its assessment with social workers, university professors, or the dsm vii, I hope we can all admit that this constitutes a very unhealthy attachment to the temporal and ever changing world. The USCCB News Release is pathetic.
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written by Billy Bean, May 23, 2011
@Achilles & Chris in Maryland: I believe we are in substantial agreement.
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written by Chris in Maryland, May 23, 2011
Amen to Billy and Achilles.

What is USCCB's gift to the Church? Progressive "Voters Guides;" the "Nabbish" (New American) Bible (hat-tip to Tony Esolen in the Jun/Jul issue of First Things); and now the landmark 2011 John Jay "Report on The Crisis of Confused Homosexual Predators in The Church."

Dismantle the USCCB.

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written by Achilles, May 24, 2011
I am surrounded by those intoxicated on the spirits of this age, though I am a bad Catholic, it is a certain peaceful joy to commune with those faithful to the Body of Christ. Billy Bean and Chris, I always find your insights edifying and my most fervent prayers are that we are given the grace to remain faithful to the Way the Truth and the Life. No saint would rape a teenager, a homosexual would use every advantage to act on perversion. Such plain language evokes death threats, but isn’t death always threatening?” The wages of sin are death.” I would still be a dead man were it not for Christ. All of you are in my prayers, please pray for me. Achilles
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written by Suzanne Malavasic, May 24, 2011
+JMJ I have been very confused, by what I see as a lot of ambuguity, as to what the purpose of the John Jay Commission was in the first place. I thought it was to study and evaluate the reported 'sexual abuse by priests' in the USA. If the largest number of reported cases involved boys between the ages of 14 and 17 years, why did the John Jay Study address the younger, and smaller percentage, of victims? Do the boys who were teenagers when sexually abused by priests not deserve the same attention and arbitrated resolution as to what happened to them? Sex with a minor, under the age of 18,regardless of gender, is a felony; is it not?
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written by Ben H, May 24, 2011
A 'friend of the family' of ours, a homosexual man, was arrested within the past year for some sort of sexual contact with a teenage boy. This man did not see his actions as having any moral significance whatsoever. Neither did any of his homosexual friends, several of whom also have been arrested for similar activities (according to him). The whole incident for him has been nothing more than a legal hassle.
Fewer people than should be are aware that sex with teenage boys is not considered abnormal or wrong throughout much of the gay community, though of course their publicists will not admit it (the gay community publicity-wise has come a long way from the time when their biggest issue was the 'right' to be sent out in the woods with a bunch of boy scouts). People prefer to believe that propagandistic TV stories, with gay guys falling emotionally in love with other grown men, are real.
Its amazing that an otherwise apparently decent report should, on one point, assume that no one in the world can count or has any experience with human behavior. Evidently its not important to understand sexual abuse if to do so would interfere with our most cherished prejudices.
Living a life steeped in sin is death for the soul. May Jesus have mercy on poor sinners.
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written by Chris in Maryland, May 25, 2011
Bravo Ben, Brava Suzanne.

Go to The Catholic League website and see Bill Donohue's 24 page review of the 2011 JJ report. He hi-lites how Ms. Terry and Ms. Smith are painted into the corner of the 2004 abuse data, how every plausible explanation falls away except homosexual statutory rape of male tweens and teens, but they refuse to admit even the description. They make a mockery of their own work by characterizing the abuse as "male abusers" of "male victims."

Here's an apt re-titling of the name for the 2011 Jay Report, using the very own psycho-babble of Ms. Terry et al:

"The Report on the Crisis of Confused Sexual Identity of Male Abusers of Male Tweens and Teens Inside the U.S. Catholic Church - which is not Homosexual Abuse because the Abusers didn't say they are Homosexual."

John Jay 2011 is "double-speek."

If the Bishops do not reject this report, then I must conclude that the USCCB is formally engaged in the coverup, and that the USCCB is, as an entity, an enemy of The Church.
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written by Blake, May 27, 2011
I have only the time to peruse the comments, but it appears that y'all are being misled by the overly academic wording in the report. They are writing this with the assumption that it will be primary discussed in academic settings where people have a grasp on the complexities of sexual identity. Gay identity is complex. I can be gay and celibate. I can be gay and have sex with women. Just as you can be straight & celebrate or (believe it or not) straight and have sex with men. It stems not just from the actions, but from open identification too. People who are in denial (or in gay parlance, "in the closet") are difficult to classify and easily offended if asked, which complicates things. But a large part of being gay is identifying as gay. This is why in research you'll often see MSM (men who have sex with men) rather than "gay men". In the religious context, however, we've been taught that it is precisely the actions that identify. You can see the disconnect between academia and religion. Academia takes a very nuanced view and religion takes a very black-and-white view on gay identity. The researchers are closer to reality (you might be surprised at the number of straight men who have taken a "Steven Tyler"). Researchers understand these subtleties(that at any moment all of the men having sex with men are not necessarily gay), hence the obscuring. While I think things are better when discussed frankly (if they may be momentarily painful), the researchers at J.J. were clearly trying to protect the gay community from a backlash. To say there is no connection with closeted gay men and the abuse handed out to teenage parishioners is being disingenuous. But remember there is very little that is similar between a priest who abuses his office to have sexual situations with young parishioners and a gay man you might meet somewhere in life.

There is nothing about being gay that encourages, promotes, or means you want to have sex with children. As to the teenage victims, well... Fewer people than should be are aware that sex with teenage girls is not considered abnormal or wrong throughout much of American society. I really thought I was going to have to kill myself if I heard another friend say the Olsen Twins were hot when they were 15! (I really did get angry at a lot of people.) I guess people prefer to believe that propagandistic TV stories, with girls falling emotionally in love with grown men, are real. If we, as a society, want to discourage men from having sex with teenagers (boys and girls) than we need to stop sexualizing teenagers in our culture. But good luck with that. Sex sells and we live in a commercial culture. As long as money is the center of our lives money is going to determine cultural currency. Sex sells. So corporations want our children sexualized as soon as possible. Hence BRATZ, teenage love-stories on MTV and the like, not to mention the cultural staying power of Paris Hilton.
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written by Achilles, May 28, 2011
Blake, while I am sure you are well intentioned, your errors are so immense I can't address them at the moment. Your talk of reality is insane. You have mistaken permanent things for temporary things and mistaken empirical evidence for truth. Most commenters here are here because they have long since passed through and beyond the limits of "academia"- your analysis is perverted, permissive and utterly of this world, not to mention sophomorically simple. I doubt it will sell here, though I guess it was worth a try. No amount of clever talk, parsimony, or dearth of words has the power to change reality and I would wager that most of us here will let Christ be the arbiter of that reality, not academia.
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written by Scott H., June 01, 2011
I just got a hold of this article and am baffled, by the emphasis of both the article and the comments on two fronts.

1. The concern about whether the offenders are gay or not. Who Cares? Why do you care? Whether they are gay or not is irrelevant, They abused Children. That is the main issue. The priest's own sexual identity issues are another whole issue. This twisted attempt to tie the two together seems to obfusate the effect on the victims and concentrate on the ancillary issue of the perpetrator's sexual identity. I think that if you want to write an article about the problem of homosexuality in the priesthood then write one, but to criticize a report on sexual abuse of children because it doesn't talk enough about the homosexual priest problem, this is just non-sensical and almost totally irrational thought.

2. What is this talk about cover-ups, secret agenda's, white-washing, etc.? What Planet are you on folks? The Catholic Church has done more to prevent the sexual abuse of children throughout the last seventy years than almost any other public organization that works with children (probably longer). Most of the cases that were brought forward for prosecution are a result of Church's own records for crying out loud! I hate to be so blunt and harsh, but the ignorance, or maliciousness of such assertions are just astounding. Mistakes were made, no doubt, but we know of them because there are records. The records are not "swept under the rug", hidden., etc. To somehow imply that this report is not an attempt to better understand what the situation was, is just beyond absurd.

I don't think that people understand that this report highlights a fact that has been little reported. There never was, or definitely is there any "Church Sexual abuse crisis". Even at it worst (the '60's and '70's) the abuse of children were still at levels lower than the society at a whole. Of course, at present, the Catholic Church can report that it is one of the safest places to have your children, by far. The "crisis", if you want to call it that, was purely internal. The Church had a significant spike of abuse during the 1960-1985 period relatively speaking. However, an all "A" Student getting a few "C"'s is not a public crisis.

I am not trying to down play the effect that this has had on the victims, in fact, just the opposite. All this focus on the failings of one of the best institution that works with Children takes away attention from institutions that have similar to worse problems like public schools, boy scouts, other Churches, etc. None of which have the protection measures that the Church has taken.

I think that problem of child sex abuse will be better served if we quit worrying about the leaky kitchen faucet, while the whole rest of the house is burning.

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