Report finds many factors in church abuse

May 18, 2011 at 3:44 PM
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WASHINGTON, May 18 (UPI) -- The Catholic child sex scandals have many causes, but celibacy and homosexuality are not among them, a church-sponsored report said Wednesday.

The study, "Causes and Context of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests in the United States, 1950-2010," was carried out by researchers at John Jay College of Criminal Justice of the City University of New York at the behest of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The researchers found that clerical abuse of minors began rising in the mid-1960s and declined sharply from the mid-1980s (though often exposed decades later), and that the millennium-old celibacy rule was in effect throughout, so it could not be blamed.

The report cited increased homosexual activity among seminarians and priests beginning in the 1970s, but said it mostly involved adults, and that gay priests were not more likely to abuse children. Men ordained after 1975 also "had a lower level of subsequent abuse."

The researchers also said fewer than 5 percent of priestly abusers could be properly labeled pedophiles, i.e. those attracted to prepubescent children.

"Many accused priests began abusing years after they were ordained, at times of increased job stress, social isolation and decreased contact with peers," the report stated, and the church did little to help them.

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