Belief Beat

UPDATE: Whispers in the Loggia has a link to the lengthy report. Also, see the Comments section for more links and information, such as The New York Times revelation that this study used 10 as the victim age cutoff for pedophile vs. ephebophile priests — even though age 13 is the norm!

Check out this exclusive Religion News Service story from former Beliefnet blogger David Gibson, an expert religion reporter on Catholic issues, concerning a new study coming out tomorrow on the U.S. clergy abuse scandal.

“The Causes and Context of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests in the United States, 1950-2010” examined how pedophilia, homosexuality, celibacy and other proposed factors impacted the clergy abuse crisis. According to Gibson’s write-up (I haven’t seen the report yet), the blame for the “huge spike in abuse cases in the 1960s and 1970s” instead stems from the Catholic Church’s “emotionally ill-equipped priests who were trained in earlier years and lost their way in the social cataclysm of the sexual revolution.”

Hmmm. I still think mandatory celibacy contributes to the problem — it’s created such a tiny pool of clergy candidates (much smaller nowadays, due to smaller Catholic family sizes), and perhaps this bizarre tendency of looking the other way in “isolated” abuse cases — though some have argued that the cover-up culture has more to do with the all-male priesthood than sexual repression or not being able to imagine your own kids as victims. (Sidenote: Celibacy for priests wasn’t an original requirement, and the present-day church continues to allow married priests among converts and the eastern branches, so why not reconsider the policy? Then again, I was raised Orthodox Christian — to each his own, as long as it doesn’t hurt children, right?)

What do you think? Share your thoughts in the Comments section below.