David Gibson at Politics Daily has the story of what the US Bishops Conference heard yesterday at their national meeting from a "sweeping study" conducted by John Jay College.
[Preliminary] results from a sweeping study of sexual abuse in the priesthood show that the Catholic Church has been much like the rest of society in terms of the incidence of abuse and the response by its institutional leaders.
The data, which was presented to the U.S. hierarchy on the second day of their annual meeting here, also appears to contradict the widely held view that homosexuals in the priesthood were largely responsible for the abuse.
"What we are suggesting is that the idea of sexual identity be separated from the problem of sexual abuse," said Margaret Smith, a researcher from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, which is conducting an independent study of sexual abuse in the priesthood from 1950 up to 2002. "At this point, we do not find a connection between homosexual identity and an increased likelihood of sexual abuse."
When asked by a bishop at Tuesday's meeting whether homosexuality should be a factor in excluding men from the seminary, Smith responded, "If that exclusion were based on the fact that that person would be more probable than any other candidate to abuse, we do not find that at this time."
The John Jay study was commissioned by a blue-ribbon board of Catholic lay people in November 2005 with the goal of exploring and explaining exactly why the abuse occurred. An earlier study commissioned by the board, with the cooperation of the bishops, found that more than 6,700 victims were molested by nearly 4,400 priests over the five decades surveyed; that represents about 4 percent of all the priests who served in the United States over that time. The "causes and context" study, as it is known, is scheduled to be completed by next fall. --Gibson
Let's hope that this study helps the bishops to continue their work in combating sexual abuse in the priesthood, and also begins to bring to a close the false conflation of homosexuality and pedophilia, and the vilification of celibate gay priests.