A 300 page report concerning the sexual abuse of minors by Roman Catholic clergy done by researchers at John Jay College of Criminal Justice was recently released. Some of its findings were summarized in a Religious News Service article by David Gibson, Causes of Catholic Abuse Scandal Pinpointed by Study.
Being a member of the OCA’s Sexual Misconduct Policy Advisory Committee, I’ve read some of these articles with interest. There were two excerpts from the article I thought particularly relevant for Orthodox in this country.
1) “The John Jay researchers take pains to credit the hierarchy for making important strides in combating child abuse — an assertion victim advocates will strenuously dispute — and they point out that society as a whole was only slowly coming to understand the nature of child abuse as U.S. dioceses were swamped with cases.
At the same time, however, researchers note the bishops’ abysmal track record in so many tragic instances, and say church leadership was reflexively defensive and self-protective — behavior that fits a well-defined pattern of crisis management in large institutions.
Indeed, the authors convincingly argue that the clerical culture that fostered and concealed deviance by priests is remarkably similar to the law enforcement culture that allows police brutality. The church, like the police, is a hierarchical organization that operates in a decentralized way, with each department (or diocese) an authority unto itself and not inclined to open itself to oversight.”
2) “The doctrine of the undiluted authority of the bishop, combined with the hierarchy’s track record as a group of crisis managers concerned with protecting the institution, may be the central problem for the bishops revealed by the sex abuse crisis.
That’s certainly the main challenge put forth by authors of the new John Jay report, who argue that the American Catholic hierarchy must finally adopt uniform, secure policies characterized by genuine transparency and true accountability, especially for bishops.
Taking that difficult step is the only way the bishops can begin to show that the hierarchy is different from Wall Street financiers or a protective police bureaucracy. It’s also perhaps the quickest way for the bishops to restore the Catholic Church’s credibility as a compelling witness to the faith rather than just another suspect institution.”
A list of other blogs I’ve posted on church sexual misconduct with links to them can be found at Blogs on Church Sexual Misconduct.