That’s essentially the audacious claim made in a recently concluded “5-year study” commissioned by U.S. Roman Catholic bishops.
It is a chillingly unconscionable assertion, a deplorable denial of accountability, even if you do read some placement of blame on the church in the finding that priests were “ill-equipped” to deal with the so-called sexual revolution.
Big questions about the study abound, beginning with:
- Can we trust a $1.8 million study, half of the cost of which was paid for by the very U.S. bishops who have been blamed for their abhorrent response to the priest child abuse crisis?
- Who, exactly, paid the other $900,000?
- Was the methodology of the study sound, particularly the definition of “prepubescent” children as those age 10 and under, which almost too obviously seems an attempt to deflate the number of cases that can be categorized as pedophilia?
- Was the study peer-reviewed?
Certainly, it’s incredibly suspicious that the study seems to absolve the church of any celibacy, homosexuality, and pedophilia problems. (Of course homosexuality is not a problem, but I suspect that the church doesn’t agree with me on that matter.)
As an aside, the truth is that I don’t consider the church’s celibacy requirement, in and of itself, to be a problem. I of course don’t agree with the church’s views on sexuality, but if they feel that abstaining from sex is an important spiritual practice, that’s fine with me.
The basic failures of the church, in my view, have been their having not adequately prepared prospective priests for a life of celibacy — particularly a life of celibacy amidst a community of sexual people — followed by ongoing support and counseling; their years of denial and resistance to investigating allegations of abuse; and, most egregious, their attempts to cover up incidents of abuse.
Meanwhile, as if the Republicans needed any help perpetuating negative stereotypes of the counterculture of the late 60s and 70s, this study’s findings absolutely feed on and contribute to a rewriting of history that sensationalizes the easy targets of promiscuous sex and drugs, while obfuscating the very democratic challenges to authority, protests of war, promotion of social justice, and the birth of the environmental movement.