The present severe crisis of sexual abuse by bishops and priests in the Church worldwide has resulted in a number of opinions regarding its origins.
The recent Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report identified the homosexual predation of males; the Holy Father and Cardinal Cupich blame “clericalism”; the John Jay Causes and Context study (2011) postulated “availability.”
My professional opinion as a psychiatrist with forty years of clinical experience is that the cause of the abuse crisis is rooted in psychological and spiritual conflicts in bishops and in priests, specifically a narcissism and a profound weakness in male confidence which inclines them to homosexual predation.
The recent Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report helps to clarify the origins of the sexual harassment of youth. It identifies 73% of the victims as being subjected to homosexual predation.
This finding is also consistent with the reports of the sexual harassment by Archbishop McCarrick of children, teenagers, young adults and adults.
Again, this finding is consistent with my clinical experience as a psychiatrist over the past forty years in treating priest abusers. In every case I knew of sexual involvement with children or adolescents, the perpetrator had previously been involved in adult homosexual relationships.
Summary of Pennsylvania Predator Priest Activity
Heterosexual Predation – 23%
- child – 6%
- female teenage victims- 16%
- female adult victims -1 %
Homosexual Predation – 73%
- child victims 11%
- male teenage victims – 60%
- male adult victims -2%
- Gender Non-Specific – 4%
(Source: 40th Statewide Investigating Grand Jury REPORT 1 / Interim – Redacted. 2018.)
The Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report notably identifies the sexual harassment of children, teenagers and adults as “homosexual predation of children, teenagers and adults by an adult male.” It specifically did not use the terms of the John Jay report of pedophilia for child abuse or of ephebophilia for adolescent-abusive acts. Instead, the Pennsylvania Report clarified that a male’s engaging in sexually abusive behaviors toward another male is homosexual predation regardless of the age of the victim.
Pope Francis on August 20, 2018, stated that “clericalism” was the root cause of the sex abuse crisis in Pennsylvania. He stated:
“Clericalism, whether fostered by priests themselves or by lay persons, leads to an excision in the ecclesial body that supports and helps to perpetuate many of the evils that we are condemning today. To say ‘no’ to abuse is to say an emphatic ‘no’ to all forms of clericalism.”
Clericalism has been described elsewhere as a “disordered attitude” toward clergy which often results in an “excessive deference and an assumption of their moral superiority.” Pope Francis has noted that such an attitude can be “fostered by priests themselves or by lay persons.”
Clericalism, however, does not result in a psychological need in a priest for a sexual encounter with another male, especially an adolescent.
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