Last week, the news was full of stories about this report that supposedly explained the Catholic church’s history of pedophilia: the major surprising conclusion that was reported is that the problem wasn’t gay priests, it was all those dirty rotten hippies who were miseducated in the free-love Sixties. Until now I’ve seen one substantial ‘analysis’ of the report, but unfortunately, it was by Crazy Bill Donohue, who is frothingly angry that it didn’t blame the homosexuals. He also blames the hippies, but it’s all the fault of all those gay hippies who infiltrated the church, with their weird ideas about being nonjudgmental. Catholics are supposed to be angrily judgmental about any deviance from whitebread procreation, and Bill is the world’s expert on angry denunciation of any variation from his narrow version of Catholicism.
Now, though, Miranda Hale has read the whole ugly thing, and it doesn’t sound good…but for very different reasons than Donohue’s. She points out that the study was entirely funded and approved by Catholic organizations — if it hadn’t arrived at pre-approved conclusions, it would not have been permitted to have been released. They also fudged the data in unconscionable ways: by changing the definition of pedophilia in an entirely arbitrary way, they changed the frequency of pedophilic abuse in the church from 73% down to 22%. Tsk, tsk. Not only were they dishonest, they were stupidly dishonest.
And what about those hippies?
In other words, the researchers believe that the vast majority of priest-abusers, whether they attended seminary in 1930 or in the early 1970s (or any time in-between), committed their crimes during the 1960s and 1970s (the time they refer to as the “peak”), and that this is primarily due to the fact that their seminaries failed to provide these priest-abusers with a proper “human formation” curriculum.
All of this begs the question (one that the researchers completely ignore): why would any priest have to be taught (in a “human formation” curriculum or otherwise) that it’s never acceptable, ethically or legally, to sexually abuse a child? According to the researchers, we should unquestioningly accept their baseless assertion because, without a proper training in “human formation”, these priest-abusers were unable to understand “appropriate forms of closeness to others” (121) and that certain behaviors are not “appropriate to a life of celibacy” (120).
That argument never did ring true. I’m old enough to have known hippies, although also young enough that I just missed most of the fun, despite at least living in Eugene, Oregon for 9 years, where the hippie subculture still lingers. And never did I encounter a hippie who endorsed the idea that child-raping is OK.
I guess you had to be brought up in the amoral atmosphere of a Catholic seminary to absorb that message.