Tuesday, February 5, 2013

What Was The Cause of The Rise Post World War II Catholic Clerical Abuse

Robert Royal has a good post over at the Catholic Thing looking at the abuse claims in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles . See Signs of the Beast .

The chart has an interesting, and of course very depressing chart , looking at reported abuse claims over the time span of 1935 to 2005. The Chart indicates what we seem to have seen nationwide. A huge post World War II spike followed by a rather dramatic decline from around 1981 onward..

The question that has always bothered many people and in fact needs to be answered to prevent this in the future is the why of the post World War II spike. Sex abuse in the Church has always been with us , but it does seem to come in some massive waves at times.

Royal makes the points that explanations by both the Catholic "left" and "right"  are not exactly as airtight as some might think. As to the post World War II generation:

What I find most surprising is the large bump in the late 1950s, the pre-Vatican II years. Some reports claim that as many as 10 percent of the students at St. John’s Seminary in Camarillo CA – Cardinal Mahony’s own alma mater – are known to have gone on to sexual abuse troubles. Is this evidence of the pre-Conciliar clerical culture or something else?

I’ve talked with some people who have worked on these kinds of problems for years and several seem to think that we’ve underestimated the cultural influence of American optimism in the post-World-War-II era. The very success that American Catholics always wanted earlier, and that translated within the Church to large numbers of vocations of all kinds, may have led to a deep complacency – and failure to adequately police the kinds of men entering seminaries long before the disorders that followed the Council.

This cuts across our usual assumptions that wealth and peace make virtue easier – but those are American and secular assumptions, not Catholic or philosophic ones. The reported numbers from the 1950s – high as they are – are probably on the low side, too, given that many victims have probably died or are too old now to want to revisit painful experiences from half a century ago.

No one element, of course, can explain evil of this kind and scale. But it would be wrong to ignore what those earlier numbers may tell us. Complacency is a perennial temptation.

We may be seeing here a confirmation of the line from the Psalms: “Man living in wealth and not in understanding is like unto the beasts that perish.”

Well that could be a part of it. I do agree that " quality control " seem to fail perhaps some after WWII.

Still that explanation does not seem that air tight though again is one of the factors I believe. I still think there is evidence of a general uptick of sexual abuse as a whole after World War II. The Church is indeed a reflection of society. Could the absolute horror of that period and what young men experienced affected the hard wiring of some of them in a way in some way? I am still think that is yet to be explored. It does seem as some of this generation left the priesthood /Brothers or retired to a less active status. that is was when we started seeing a dramatic decline.


StevenStreets said...

you got any interest in the eyewitness testimony of a sex abuse victim of a priest on this matter?
The who what where when how and why as Good God showed it to me first hand getting nailed to the rectory rug under authority of the nails in Christ's Cross? My seminal anointing in my Holy Catholic faith?
I was a military orphan and the PTSD from priest rape made me a casualty at US Army Chaplain school.
Can you handle the truth of a soldiers cross? Better than the supporters of the High Priests of Israel could handle the news of the resurrection of he who they had slain?
Call me if you are made of the right stuff Christian.
The Holy Spirit has been shut out of this conversation by those who love religion more than they love God.

Anonymous said...

wow, that's heavy

Unknown said...

The trends in abuse are tough because of the selective self-reporting nature of the issue.

It is like with domestic abuse between husbands and wives. Does a rise in reported abuse incidents really mean that abuse is increasing, or does it mean that women are less afraid to report it?