A report on the putative "causes" of sexual abuse in the American Catholic Church over the past 60 years has been released. The study, titled "The Causes and Context of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests in the United States, 1950-2010," claims celibacy and homosexuality were not prime catalysts for mistreatment.
If pedophilia, homosexuality, and celibacy aren't to blame, what is?
Apparently many priests were unable to deal with the pressures of the "sexual revolution" of the 1960s
I know this report is based on a study in the USA but it will come as a big surprise to Peter Tyrrell, a former resident of Letterfrack industrial school (1924-32), and who committed suicide by setting fire to himself on Hampstead Heath in 1967! During Peter's sojourn in Letterfrack he was subject to, and witnessed clergy who were "unable to deal with the pressures of the sexual revolution."
In the Institutions in Ireland during the 1930s, 1940s, 1950s and the 1960s sexual violence was just one of the tools used to dominate us along with starvation, denigration, hard physical labour, extreme physical and psychological conditions, fear, religion......
From a Judicial Report in Ireland in 2009 - which investigated Institutions managed by Roman Catholic Religious Orders [Nuns and Brothers] - the investigation heard witnesses from people who were in these Institutions between the years 1914 up to 2000 ... most of the witnesses were from the period 1940s to the 1960s
Sexual abuse was endemic in boys’ institutions. The situation in girls’ institutions was different. Although girls were subjected to predatory sexual abuse by male employees or visitors or in outside placements, sexual abuse was not systemic in girls’ schools. It is impossible to determine the full extent of sexual abuse committed in boys’ schools. The schools investigated revealed a substantial level of sexual abuse of boys in care that extended over a range from improper touching and fondling to rape with violence. Perpetrators of abuse were able to operate undetected for long periods at the core of institutions.
Cases of sexual abuse were managed with a view to minimising the risk of public disclosure and consequent damage to the institution and the Congregation. This policy resulted in the protection of the perpetrator. When lay people were discovered to have sexually abused, they were generally reported to the Gardai (Irish police). When a member of a Congregation was found to be abusing, it was dealt with internally and was not reported to the Gardaí. The damage to the children affected and the danger to others were disregarded. The difference in treatment of lay and religious abusers points to an awareness on the part of Congregational authorities of the seriousness of the offence, yet there was a reluctance to confront religious who offended in this way. The desire to protect the reputation of the Congregation and institution was paramount. Congregations asserted that knowledge of sexual abuse was not available in society at the time and that it was seen as a moral failing on the part of the Brother or priest. This assertion, however, ignores the fact that sexual abuse of children was a criminal offence.
The recidivist nature of sexual abuse was known to religious authorities.
The documents revealed that sexual abusers were often long-term offenders who repeatedly abused children wherever they were working. Contrary to the Congregations’ claims that the recidivist nature of sexual offending was not understood, it is clear from the documented cases that they were aware of the propensity for abusers to re-abuse. The risk, however, was seen by the Congregations in terms of the potential for scandal and bad publicity should the abuse be disclosed. The danger to children was not taken into account. When confronted with evidence of sexual abuse, the response of the religious authorities was to transfer the offender to another location where, in many instances, he was free to abuse again. Permitting an offender to obtain dispensation from vows often enabled him to continue working as a lay teacher. Men who were discovered to be sexual abusers were allowed to take dispensation rather than incur the opprobrium of dismissal from the Order. There was evidence that such men took up teaching positions sometimes within days of receiving dispensations because of serious allegations or admissions of sexual abuse. The safety of children in general was not a consideration.
Sexual abuse was known to religious authorities to be a persistent problem in male religious organisations throughout the relevant period.
Nevertheless, each instance of sexual abuse was treated in isolation and in secrecy by the authorities and there was no attempt to address the underlying systemic nature of the problem. There were no protocols or guidelines put in place that would have protected children from predatory behaviour. The management did not listen to or believe children when they complained of the activities of some of the men who had responsibility for their care. At best, the abusers were moved, but nothing was done about the harm done to the child. At worst, the child was blamed and seen as corrupted by the sexual activity, and was punished severely. In the exceptional circumstances where opportunities for disclosing abuse arose, the number of sexual abusers identified increased significantly.
For a brief period in the 1940s, boys felt able to speak about sexual abuse in confidence at a sodality that met in one school. Brothers were identified by the boys as sexual abusers and were removed as a result. The sodality was discontinued. In another school, one Brother embarked on a campaign to uncover sexual activity in the school and identified a number of religious who were sexual abusers. This indicated that the level of sexual abuse in boys’ institutions was much higher than was revealed by the records or could be discovered by this investigation. Authoritarian management systems prevented disclosures by staff and served to perpetuate abuse.
The Congregational authorities did not listen to or believe people who complained of sexual abuse that occurred in the past, notwithstanding the extensive evidence that emerged from Garda investigations, criminal convictions and witness accounts. Some Congregations remained defensive and disbelieving of much of the evidence heard by the Investigation Committee in respect of sexual abuse in institutions, even in cases where men had been convicted in court and admitted to such behaviour at the hearings.
In general, male religious Congregations were not prepared to accept their responsibility for the sexual abuse that their members perpetrated. Congregational loyalty enjoyed priority over other considerations including safety and protection of children.