The National Catholic Review

Here is Sister Mary Ann Walsh, director of media relations for the USCCB, in Huffpo about the "Woodstock explanation" of the clergy sex abuse crisis: "The gray-haired hippies, who are now retiring from proper jobs in areas such as education, law, medicine, and public service, agree. They reflect nostalgically on Woodstock. They look wistful when they hear the strains of 'Where have all the flowers gone?' and they smile for 'Puff, the magic dragon.' The Catholic hippies might even hum the sing-songy 'Sons of God, hear his holy Word....' Woodstock evokes memories of wise or unwise passion. It doesn't, however, equate to sexual abuse of a child. Sexual abuse of a child is an intolerable aberration for which there is no excuse. For those who ever thought it was not harmful or even, incredibly, thought it was acceptable, education and prison time sent a message. But it had nothing to do with wearing love beads and tie-dyed shirts. "  Read the rest here.


6466379 | 6/7/2011 - 7:54pm
  (Somehow the above post #20 got messed up so I tried again.)

Although Woodstock didn’t cause sex abuse, I believe it capitalized  in some ways on  a certain moral looseness afloat, a certain spirit of license, that  intertwined with a mishmash of theological “explorations”  helping to strengthen immorality that did give  rise to the moral craziness of the mid twentieth century and all that followed.  Including sex abuse scandals in the Church?  Sister Walsh is right, Woodstock didn’t cause sex abuse, sex abuse has always existed although I imagine sex abuse did happen in Woodstock’s mud, at least a few times. It doesn’t take much to unbridle unbridled sexuality!
As the old saying goes, “It takes little to satisfy necessity, but nothing can satisfy sensuality!” To some degree Woodstock validated that saying.
6466379 | 6/7/2011 - 7:33pm

 Although Woodstock didn’t cause sex abuse I believe it capitalized  in some ways on  a certain moral looseness afloat, a certain spirit of license, that  intertwined with a mishmash of theological “explorations”  helping to strengthen immorality that did give Sister Walsh is right, Woodstock didn’t cause sex abuse, sex abuse has always existed although I imagine sex abuse did happen in Woodstock’s mud, at least a few times. It doesn’t take much to unbridle unbridled sexuality!
rise to the moral craziness of the mid twentieth century and all that has followed. Including sex abuse scandals in the Church? As the old saying goes, “It takes very little to Sister Walsh is right, Woodstock didn’t cause sex abuse, sex abuse has always existed satisfy necessity, but nothing can satisfy sensuality!” 
Thomas Piatak | 6/7/2011 - 5:38pm

I generally find the reasoning of the John Jay report persuasive, including its reasoning on the issues you mention.
Vince Killoran | 6/7/2011 - 3:42pm
I didn't realize that divorce was "deviant behavior." The report's authors list that as "changes in social behavior."

The '60s were a period of turmoil, social protests, and liberation-no doubt a complex time with a complicated legacy. War, "white flight," riots, civil rights, rise of new conservatisim, gay rights, etc. There's lots there.  I don't see it necessarily as a Magical Age" nor do I see the 1940s/50s as the "Golden Age."  A working woman, for example, who suffered from sexual harrassment and unequal pay, would welcome feminist gains of the '60s/'70s.

I've posted too much so a couple of points and that's it:

The JJReport is 144 pages in length with very little given over to the '60s "deviance"; in fact, most of the clerics guilty of sexual abuse were in priestly formation in the 1940s & 50s. The stronger case they make is that the screening, training, and culture of the clergy shaped this abuse and the subsequent coverup.

I was interested to note that the report's authors' conclude that celibacy and homosexuality did not play a role in this-I wonder if you would agree?

This is an important document with some controversial findings but a real opportunity for debate.
Thomas Piatak | 6/7/2011 - 2:49pm

I'm not excusing anything.  I'm doing what the John Jay study did, attempting to explain why clerical sexual abuse spiked in the 60s and 70s and subsequently declined.  This is what the Executive Summary to the John Jay study said:  ''Social and cultural changes in the 1960s and 1970s manifested in increased levels of deviant behavior in the general society and also among priests if the Catholic Church in the United States.''  The body of the report includes a discussion of the sexual revolution and notes dramatic increases during that period of time for ''deviant behavior,'' including the use of illegal drugs and divorce.

These statenents are what led to much complaining by the likes of Laurie Goodstein, who hold the sixties in general and the sexual revolution in particular to be holy and good and unquestionable.
Vince Killoran | 6/7/2011 - 2:41pm
No Micheal, I'm not living in a cave but, with high temps in the 90s today, I wish I were.

If I read the argument part of your response it is that we ought not to pay attention to historical scholarship but depend on our own personal memories of a period.

I don't know how to respond to your question about what goes on in a jr. high school bus. Why are your post always about graphic sexual practices? This isn't that kind of website.
Vince Killoran | 6/7/2011 - 1:09pm
I'm surprised the Dutch Salesian didn't blame Socrates for his pedophilia.

Sexual abuse is not about sexual autonomy or self-fulfillment so give up on blaming the Sexual Revolution for the Church's criminal acts.

There were a lot of things that were "illegal or subject to social disapproval" before the '60s, including disclosing clerical misbehavior. As for people's sexual practices, pre-1960s, well, historians of sexuality have well-documented the prevalence of premarital sexual, extra-martial sex, homosexual relations, etc. There were no "Good Old Days."
Thomas Piatak | 6/7/2011 - 12:48pm
What mischaracterization of the '60s/70s?  Before the 60s/70s, divorce, fornication, pornograpy, abortion, and homosexual acts were either illegal or subject to social disapproval.  This was, of course, consistent with Christian morality.  Beginning in the '60s/70s, the laws against those activities began to disappear, followed by the social disapproval, as society began making the pursuit of sexual pleasure its summum bonum.  There is a reason that people talk about ''the sexual revolution.''  To take just one example of many, ''living in sin'' used to be scandalous behavior; now, in many places, couples who follow Christian morality and don't live together before marriage are looked at strangely. 

Here is the interview with the Dutch Salesian who cited Foucault to justify pedophilia:  
Vince Killoran | 6/7/2011 - 12:30pm
"Why does anyone think those ideas won't ultimately contribute to the normalization of pedophilia? "

Leaving aside Tom's mischaracterization of the 1960s/70s, the direct answer to his question is: what proof is there that the social protest movements and "rights revolution" of the period caused pedophillia? Raw self-assertion is not evidence. Winifred et al. are spot on in terms of the psychological and sociological evidence that explains sexual abuse, in and out of the Church.

In a time when conservatives are beating up on the Progressive Movement, ca. 1890-1910 it's amusing to re-visit the older "the '60s ruined this nation" perspective. I'm surprised someone hasn't blamed the New Deal & FDR as well.
Thomas Piatak | 6/7/2011 - 10:33am
Of course the toxic ideas unleashed in the '60s had something to do with this crisis, just as those ideas have contributed to the normalization of divorce, pornography, abortion, fornication, and now homosexuality.  Why does anyone think those ideas won't ultimately contribute to the normalization of pedophilia? 

Just recently, a Dutch Salesian got in trouble for saying in an interview that pedophilia was not as big a problem as people make out.  The authority he cited for this revelation was Michel Foucault, the French intellectual who was himself a product of the '60s and who was also a promiscuous homosexual who died of AIDS. 
William Atkinson | 6/6/2011 - 10:03pm
What people will do and say to excuse their behavior and keep from accepting responsibilities for their actions.

Priest, and others who sexually abuse children, predominently is caused by two major factors.
  1st Men and women are assked, actually forced by church law, if they want to serve the Lord to live a un-natural life style, single and with out natural human recourse to their sex and urges to be with opposite sex.
  2nd  When entering isolated lifestyle (seminaries and convents) at early age, usually early teens men young adults men and women forgo the natural developmental steps of growth which results in them living out in later years the actions they missed during their youth and associating and becoming attached to youth and with some including easy sexual acts leading to patterns and habits.

Church leaders, who even today, refuse to admit their responsibilities as accomplices by indifference and loyalities perpetuated on a grand scale through history the systematic growth of this abusive social order within their ranks and continue today the massive coverup and excusive escapism of their faults and sin.  they (church leaders) have givin history and the world a holocaust greater than that caused by the Pharos in Moses time, Herod in Jesus's time, Hitler in our time.  Responibility and excuses for sytematic child abuse that has lasted centuries causing murder, mayhem, apostacy, and as Jesus put it "Anyone who would lead these innocent astray" is the hugh millstone church leaders today have to bear on into history.   Even today they fail to fix the problem, to change the church methodologies that have caused this epidemic holocaust, and recognise that by their actions the systematic abuse of children continues even today......
Helena Loflin | 6/6/2011 - 6:53pm
Let's be clear that many of the victims of pedophile priests were not "young men" but grade school little boys and little girls below the age of 10.
Winifred Holloway | 6/6/2011 - 5:58pm
I did not read the JJ report as saying that the 60s caused the crisis.  What I believe it said was that abuser priests, who were ordained before the 60s, were unprepared for real world ministry and were immature in general and immature in particular about sexuality.  No talk about it in the seminary, xcept "don't do it." Then, when the 60s erupted and sexual liberation was all the rage, the abusers were threatened and confused.  I'm not sure that I agree with this analysis, but I see that it a reasonable one to make.  However, why did said abusers not join the sexual liberation and seek out age appropriate partners?  Children?  Really?  I'm a proud 60s person and never, never saw or heard anyone promoting the idea that sex with minors was cool  or okay.   And I must point out that this study, as all such studies, is necessarily data driven.  It covers the period 1950-2000 and then only in the US.  Not the decades and centuries before and not Europe or Africa and Asia.  This is not to dismiss its conclusions, just to put them in context.    I tire of saying the obvious, but I will do so again:  this crisis is not a liberal vs. conservative issue.  I do believe that this horrific crisis has much to do about the structure of the institutional church and the enormous hold the institution had on its adherents, not just clerics, but laity also - parish employees, the victims and their parents- and also the pass that priest abusers got from district attorneys and law enforcement back in the day.  That's all past now and church authorities, at least in the first world, will no longer get that automatic fear and loyalty from ordinary Catholics.
Matthew Pettigrew | 6/6/2011 - 3:41pm
When I tell friends that I read this blog because of the often amusing comments, they sometimes look at me as if I'm from another planet. So I'll  be sure to direct them to the first comment above. I attended college from 1968 to 1972, and my experiences had absolutely nothing to do with "principals espoused by Frankfurt School and other surviving post-McCarthyism communist forces - particularly with respect to society's perceptions about sex." First of all, sex was important, but mostly because it was more wishful thinking than reality. And, yes, along with millions of others who were experiencing the same revolution that I was, I showed my individualism by wearing tie-died shirts, ratty jeans, army jackets, long hair, a beard, and a Peace medallion on a leather necklace. I listened to music that was so scandalous that it's now mainstream and listened to on oldies stations by my nieces and nephews. Personally, I preferred cheap beer to alter my mind, not drugs, but that was by choice not by principle. And I opposed the war in Vietnam, but so did my Republican, country club parents. I don't know why some priests abused children, but I believe it is way too simplistic to blame it on the era.
Helena Loflin | 6/6/2011 - 1:48pm
Most researchers say that pedophilia is probably a result of psychological factors. There are theories that pedophilia is the result of being sexually abused as a child. If a pedophilic person were sexually abused as a child, he might be more likely to sexually abuse children. Another possible cause of pedophilia is arrested emotional development, which means that a person will find an attraction towards children because he never fully matured psychologically himself. One other possible cause is the need to dominate a sexual partner. Since children are smaller and weaker than adults, they are more easily dominated. This drive for domination could also be the reason there are so many more male pedophiles than there are female pedophiles.  Researchers have also found physiological (brain studies) differences in pedophiles.

Nowhere in the credible literature is there the remotest suggestion that communism or liberalism (or any other -ism) causes pedophilia.  If an -ism caused pedophilia, wouldn't there be about as many female pedophiles as there are male?

Instances of pedophilia go back hundreds of years within the Church and society in general.  There's nothing especially 1960s about it.  

Woodstock had a lot of influence, but increasing the incidence of pedophilia among priests was not one of them. 
Vince Killoran | 6/6/2011 - 1:23pm
"[E]spoused by Frankfurt School and other surviving post-McCarthyism communist forces"

I have no idea what Michael means by this but I can't believe Marcuse's ONE-DIMENSIONAL MAN contributed to the abuse scandal.  The "rights revolution" of the period did go far in developing the notion of children and victim's rights-and perhaps threw light on an old and serious problem of sexual abuse.
Anonymous | 6/6/2011 - 12:43pm
Anyone who denies that the 1960's attacks on all religious and social institutions would have affected all of society except for the Catholic priesthood must still be wearing rose-colored glasses and taking bong hits, man. 

Sister's characterization of the Woodstock generation as mere tye-dye and love-bead-wearing youth ignores the dramatic impact on the whole world from this radical liberal movement - founded on principals espoused by Frankfurt School and other surviving post-McCarthyism communist forces - particularly with respect to society's perceptions about sex.
Anonymous | 6/7/2011 - 2:19pm
Vince -

Ah, yes, those historians; nothing like a review of the literature to tell those of use who lived through a time period about how things were then.  Are you living in a cave, Vince?  Any parents here want to share their experiences about how societal sexual practices have changed since the 1960s?  Am I the only one here familiar with the common practice of oral sex on the junior high school bus? 

And as for Socrates - where, incidentally, we have nothing but the historians to rely upon - what do his sexual practices with boys tell us about where liberal sexual attitudes can lead?  Ah, yes, it's not pedophilia if we lower the age of consent to 10. 

Todd Flowerday | 6/6/2011 - 5:34pm
I think it's far more likely the poverty of pre-conciliar priestly formation contributed to a friendly environment for perpetrators. Sex addicts will always find an authoritarian, unimaginative system easier to manipulate. Superiors and victims to groom, and the hermeneutic of secrecy likely made the Church a playground for abusers for decades before Vatican II.

It's a sick system, and a rump of an approach to the Gospel we've best left behind us.
Anonymous | 6/6/2011 - 5:23pm
Matt -

Of course I'm not suggesting that the student radicals all read Marcuse's Eros and Civilization as their motivation for acting as they did during the 1960s and 70s, just as I don't think anyone decided to get pregnant and have an abortion after the SCt legalized abortion.  But I don't think it's fair to deny the causative link between Marcuse's work and the sexual acts of individuals not only in the 1960s but today, any more than it's fair to deny that more women decided to have abortions rather than keep their babies after the Roe decision.

So, yeah, I understand the chuckle, but it's just as amusing to suggest that one day someone just decided to start on a whim a counter-cultural trend about sex and drugs and everyone bought into it.  And I think it's amusing to suggest that as sexual repression was lifted throughout the world, that priests, facing the ultimate in sexual repression would not be tempted to experiment in this sexual revolution in a way that could be done secretly, i.e., by taking advantage of young men over whom they held the power to coerce their silence.