Just as a by the way, when’s the last time you stopped to pick or get a bouquet of flowers for our Lady, placing them before a statue of her in your local parish church? I’m asking you priests and bishops too!
Daily Archives: 2012/05/10
O.K. The irony couldn’t possibly be more intense. LOL. O.K., so, no 50cal. pistols needed. Hah!
April 27, 2012
William O’Donohue, Ph.D.
Olga Cirlugea, B.A.
Lorraine Benuto, Ph.D.
Department of Psychology
University of Nevada, Reno
We are clinical psychologists (the second author is a graduate student in a doctoral training program) who have watched the sexual abuse scandal unfold over the past few decades. We have been treating sexual abuse victims (the first author for over 30 years); we have treated adults who when they were children have been abused by priests. We have been involved in cases where adults alleged that they have been abused by priests, but the priests were denying that any wrongdoing. We currently work in a university based clinic that is funded by a grant from the National Institute of Justice that allows us to provide free treatment to children who have been sexually abused and adults who have been sexually assaulted. Collectively, we have treated over 2,000 children who have been sexually abused and also have worked in cases where children have falsely accused others of sexual abuse. We have also published books on child sexual abuse (O’Donohue and Geer, 1989: Laws and O’Donohue, 2008). and also a number of peer reviewed journal articles. Thus, we believe we are in a position to make several points regarding this scandal that we believe that are not fully appreciated.
First, we believe that this matter is quite complex—and it needs to be seen with an appreciation of its complexity and not reduced to simple statements. Statements like, “All priests are pedophiles;” “Most priests are pedophiles;”. “The Catholic Church tried to sweep all of this under a rug.;” “Celibacy causes pedophilia;” “Children never lie;” etc are just that—simplistic, even prejudicial, views that do more harm than good. We all need to be careful that the tragedy of some children being abused by some priests are not hijacked to be used by those with secular biases or with longstanding problems associated with prejudices towards Catholics for their political agenda against the Catholic Church. This in an important sense would be a second victimization of these individuals. Below we list what we think is a more accurate understanding of this phenomenon.
A Bit of Key Background: What are the Facts?
The facts—what actually happened—are sometimes difficult to discern. These can be partially shrouded in the mists of history. People offer differing accounts. There are certainly motivations to lie or distort—abusing a child is a serious crime and serious moral failing. But there are also motivations to falsely accuse—individuals can gain significant sums of money in settlements; individuals can have a political agenda against the church, or individuals may even deny that they have abused when they actually have been, to avoid their feelings of shame or embarassment—or even to protect their abuser. The reporting of abuse and deciding what actually has occurred is, again, no simple matter.
In 2002 the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops commissioned an independent study to address growing concerns about child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church in the United States. The Conference enlisted the Jon Jay College of Criminal Justice to conduct this study examining rates and characteristics of the sexual abuse within the Catholic Church. This study presents the best and most objective data on this phenomenon. The researchers found that a total of 10,667 individuals had made allegations of child sexual abuse against 4,392 Catholic priests between 1950 and 2002, and that most such acts took place between 1960 and 1984. The 4,392 priests made up 4% of all Catholic priests in the 14 Dioceses/ Eparchies in the United States.
These statistics contradict the misconception that a majority of priests commit sexual abuse and even that priests are more likely to abuse than the general population. In fact, priests offend at the similar rates as the general population. Another common misconception is that most priests committing child sexual abuse were pedophiles, that is individuals attracted to prepubescent children. It turns out that the majority of victims (almost 75%) were between 11 and 17 years of age; therefore, a more accurate clinical term for these priests is hebephiles (showing sexual preference for children in their early years of adolescence)—rather than pedophiles. The major distinguishing feature of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church is that the majority of alleged victims are male (81%), while in the general population females are more likely to be sexually abused (Pereda et al., 2009). This fact also suggest that part of the problem is a hebephilic homosexual orientation on the part of priests—adolescent boys are the most vulnerable population to be victimized—which becomes a political hot potato, given the secular agenda to normalize homosexuality.
Another key difference found in the study is that a little less that half of the priests (1881) were found to be subject to unsubstantiated allegations. An unsubstantiated allegation was defined as “an allegation that was proven to be untruthful and fabricated” as a result of a criminal investigation. This rate of false accusations is much higher than found in the general population. Additionally, 23% of the priests who were accused of abuse were identified as suffering from behavioral or psychological problems ranging from alcohol and substance abuse to depression and a past history of coercive sex, although most never received treatment for these problems. This would suggest that helping priests with their mental health issues would be an important part of future prevention efforts.
More than half of the priests had only one allegation brought against them. Also, it is important to note that a few priests accounted for a disproportionate number of victims: 3.5% of priests accounted for 26% of victims. Even though an investigation was conducted almost every time a report was filed, only 217 or 5.4% of priests were charged with a crime by a district attorney. Of the 217 priests that had criminal charges brought against them, a substantial majority (64%) were convicted; but still a significant number were not found guilty. Most received probation (88%) and/or a prison sentence (73%), while 44% went to jail and 18% were fined.
Do Priests Abuse More Than Other Clergy?
A 2011 John Jay College follow-up study examined sexual abuse in other religious institutions around the U.S. and found that most evidence came from case settlements, policy changes and trials receiving media attention. For example, 10% of Protestant clergy were involved in sexual misconduct, 2-3% of which committed sexual abuse. In 2007 Jehovah’s Witnesses settled 9 lawsuits with victims alleging that the church’s policies protected child sexual abusers. The Church Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints reported 3-4 yearly lawsuits over the course of the last 10 years, which translates to allegations in .4-.5% Mormon wards. The Jewish community has founded two sexual abuse survivors’ organizations, Survivors for Justice and Awareness Center, the latter of which provides “the names of 107 rabbis accused of sexual misconduct and 279 other trusted officials (for example, parents and counselors), as well as 85 unnamed abusers”. While we were were not able to find specific numbers concerning the prevalence of child sexual abuse in other religious institutions, we hope that the previous examples serve to show that the Catholic Church isn’t the only religious establishment faced with this problem.
Did Abuse Occur Simply Because Somebody Said it Happened?
The clear and simple answer to this question, is “No”. Although we do not know the exact percentage of false reports, it is our clinical experience and the consensus in the field that the majority of children reporting that they have been abused are telling the truth. It is clear that many children have been abused by adults, including priests, and this is morally reprehensible, a serious crime and effective measures need to be put into placed to prevent this in the future. However, again, as we stated, the matter is complex. Our field, for example, does not have clear statistics regarding the percentage of adults, who allege that they have been abused as children, are in fact telling the truth. Again, we believe that the majority, but not all, are indeed telling the truth. However, adults have unique pathways to false reporting (for example, they can be motivated by money; can be suffering from adult psychological problems such as delusions found in psychosis, etc). What causes false reporting?
Children and adolescents do not always tell the truth nor are there special topics (e.g., sexual abuse) in which they are incapable of lying. In fact while we don’t know exactly how often they lie about being sexually abused, research shows that those numbers are above zero (e.g. Kendall-Tackett, 1991 and Jones & McGraw, 1987; O’Donohue & Cirlugea, 2012). Furthermore, because children at times recant (meaning that they first stated that they had been abused and later stated that they were not abused; see Bradley & Wood, 1996) we know that children sometimes claim that they have previously lied or at least were mistaken. A variety of factors can influence the likelihood of children making false allegations. For example, children may have been coached by a parent involved in a bitter custody battle to make false statements against the other parent, or may have had a personal vendetta against the alleged perpetrator (see Heaton & O’Donohue, 2012 for a full explication of pathways to false allegations). It’s important to note that children can also lie by claiming that the abuse did not occur when in reality it did. This is more likely to happen if the child was threatened or coerced by the perpetrator.
Beyond lying, false memories can also be formed. In fact, well over 100 scientific research studies have shown that both children and adults can and do form false memories. This research was spurred by the infamous McMartin Day Care case in the 1980s Manhattan Beach, California in which over 360 children alleged that they were abused, often in bizarre ways (for example, placed in planes and forced to watch babies being fed to sharks). In what was then the longest and most expensive criminal trial in California history, all parties were found not guilty. Dr. Michael Maloney examined the interviewing of the children and found that the interviewer used improper methods to question the children and that these were extremely suggestive, biased, and which lead to false memories on the part of the children. This spurred a number of academic research studies which attempted to understand what causes and how easy it is to form a false memory.
For example, in a study conducted Ceci and Liechtman (1992) young children were told that a visitor, Sam Stone, was clumsy and always broke thing that were not his. When “Sam” came to visit the children he did not touch or break anything. The next day the children saw a soiled stuffed bear and a torn book. Even though no child had seen Sam do anything, when asked a quarter of the children (25%) hinted that he might have had a part in the problem. Even though the children had not seen Sam do anything, their prior experience of being told that he was clumsy mixed in with their actual experience of observing him and they concluded that he might have had a part in the torn book and soiled bear.
In addition, over the next ten weeks the children were asked misleading questions/statements by the first interviewer such as, “I wonder if Same Stone got the teddy bear dirty on purpose or by accident?” On the tenth week, a second (seemingly independent) interviewer asked what had happened to the toys. The majority of children (72%) accused Sam of having ruined the toys, and nearly half of the children (45%) reported that they remembered seeing Sam do it. Thus the children’s new experiences (being interviewed and having it suggested to them that Sam Stone dirtied the teddy bear) are mixed into the memory of the past event (when Sam Stone came to visit).
Adults are not except from forming false memories. In fact, among adults research has demonstrated time and time again that eyewitnesses often confuse misleading post-event information with what they have witnessed (e.g., Steffens & Mecklenbräuker, 2007) thus developing false memories. Elizabeth Loftus of the University of California, Irvine has consistently found that about 25% of adults are so suggestible that fairly simple suggestions result in significant false memories of events that in fact did not occur when they were children (e.g., that they were lost in a mall).
A repressed memory is a memory of some major event that while initially stored in memory (for example, while it is occurring—is allegedly completely erased (allegedly by some sort of process beneath awareness), often for decades, that suddenly emerges often after some triggering event. Historically there has been much debate regarding the existence of repressed memories (McNally, 2003) despite the large amount of scientific evidence that clearly shows that repressed memories simply don’t exist (McNally, 2003; McNally, 2004; Piper, Pope, & Borowiecki, 2000). Furthermore research studies that involve traumatic events that have been verified as having actually occurred indicate that people do not forget their trauma (Pope, Oliva, & Hudson, 1999) and instead traumatic events are actually quite memorable and can even lead to the development of PTSD for many victims (McNally & Geraerts, 2009). McNally and Geraerts (2009) further discuss evidence that suggests that some repressed memories are simply not plausible due to their fantastical nature (e.g., space alien abduction) and usually surface after a problematic recovered memory procedure.
Despite the scientific evidence, the legal system has used repressed memories to convict people, including priests, on charges of child sexual abuse. For example, the Massachusetts Supreme Court affirmed the conviction of Paul Shanely (a defrocked priest accused and convicted of sexually abusing a child who later recalled this abuse and alleged repressed memory) despite an amicus brief signed by almost 100 distinguished psychologists and psychiatrists essentially categorizing the repressed memory phenomenon as junk science (FMS, 2009).
Children have been abused by priests and it is clear that this is a terrible betrayal of trust, a serious injury to these children, and a criminal as well as a moral failing. However, an examination of the best studies suggests that priests abuse at about the rate found in the general population; and that it is not clear that Catholic priests abuse children at a higher rate than other clergy. Certainly, beliefs that “most priests abuse” or that priests are more risk to children than other individuals, are not justified. Second, the pattern of abuse is rather unique: individuals who are victimized by priests are more likely to be adolescents and males. Thus, clinically these are cases of homosexual hebephilia rather than pedophilia—i.e., adolescents are being abused rather than prepubescent children. This does not make it any less of a crime or a moral failing—but it does suggest that an improved understanding of who is at risk which can be particularly important in future prevention efforts. Thirdly, there is evidence that priests have a higher rate of false and unfounded allegations than adults in the general population. Less than half of the allegations were found to be substantiated and even with those that were criminally prosecuted a large number—nearly a third—were found not guilty. This raises important questions about the phenomenon of false allegations. Evidence is reviewed regarding the formation of false memories, and lying for secondary gain. In addition, there is concern that cultural prejudices against the religious and particularly against Catholics can come into play.
Thus, we conclude by warning against a rush to judgment. Concern for past victims, and intelligent prevention efforts to reduce the rate of abuse to zero, certainly must be prioritized. But should also be a priority to make sure that prejudices against priests or against the religious, or against Catholics do not come into play to demonize innocent individuals and to besmirch what can be a noble profession and an important cultural institution.
References Continue reading
From a reader’s email: Thomas Jefferson was a very remarkable man who started learning very early in life and never stopped.
- At 5, began studying under his cousin’s tutor.
- At 9, studied Latin, Greek and French.
- At 14, studied classical literature and additional languages.
- At 16, entered the College of William and Mary.
- At 19, studied Law for 5 years starting under George Wythe.
- At 23, started his own law practice.
- At 25, was elected to the Virginia House of Burgesses.
- At 31, wrote the widely circulated “Summary View of the Rights of British America” and retired from his law practice.
- At 32, was a Delegate to the Second Continental Congress.
- At 33, wrote the Declaration of Independence.
- At 33, took three years to revise Virginia’s legal code and wrote a Public Education bill and a statute for Religious Freedom.
- At 36, was elected the second Governor of Virginia succeeding Patrick Henry.
- At 40, served in Congress for two years.
- At 41, was the American minister to France and negotiated commercial treaties with European nations along with Ben Franklin and John Adams.
- At 46, served as the first Secretary of State under George Washington.
- At 53, served as Vice President and was elected president of the American Philosophical Society.
- At 55, drafted the Kentucky Resolutions and became the active head of Republican Party.
- At 57, was elected the third president of the United States.
- At 60, obtained the Louisiana Purchase doubling the nation’s size.
- At 61, was elected to a second term as President.
- At 65, retired to Monticello.
- At 80, helped President Monroe shape the Monroe Doctrine.
- At 81, almost single-handedly created the University of Virginia and served as its first president.
- At 83, died on the 50th anniversary of the Signing of the Declaration of Independence along with John Adams.
Thomas Jefferson knew because he himself studied the previous failed attempts at government. He understood actual history, the nature of God, his laws and the nature of man. That happens to be way more than what most understand today. Jefferson really knew his stuff. A voice from the past to lead us in the future:
John F. Kennedy held a dinner in the white House for a group of the brightest minds in the nation at that time. He made this statement:
“This is perhaps the assembly of the most intelligence ever to gather at one time in the White House with the exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone.”
- “When we get piled upon one another in large cities, as in Europe, we shall become as corrupt as Europe.” — Thomas Jefferson
- “The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not.” –Thomas Jefferson
- “It is incumbent on every generation to pay its own debts as it goes. A principle which if acted on would save one-half the wars of the world.” –Thomas Jefferson
- “I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care ofthem.” — Thomas Jefferson
- “My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government.” — Thomas Jefferson
- “No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms.” — Thomas Jefferson
- “The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.” –Thomas Jefferson
- “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.” — Thomas Jefferson
- “To compel a man to subsidize with his taxes the propagation of ideas which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.” –Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson said in 1802:
“I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies.
If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around the banks will deprive the people of all property -until their children wake-up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered.”
Perhaps some might think I should be arrested for this.
Instead, think of it this way.
Obama supports Planned Parenthood’s placement of abortion mills in poor, black neighborhoods, guaranteeing the elimination of the black population.
The creator of Gilligan’s Island, years after the end of the show, said that he had made the characters analogies of the seven deadly sins:
- The Professor – Pride
- Thurston Howell III – Greed
- Ginger – Lust
- Mary Ann – Envy (of Ginger’s looks)
- Mrs. Lovey Howell – Gluttony
- The Skipper – Anger or wrath
- Gilligan – Sloth
Of course, these are pretty easy to spot and, we might think, avoid, not trusting so much on the grace of our Lord, but on ourselves, because, you know, we’re so clever at seeing these obnoxious things at the ready (or at least we should), right?
And what happens then, with all this trusting in ourselves? Well, we fall a little bit here and a little bit there, not so much, perhaps, but enough to get frustrated, for if we depend on ourselves, we cannot avoid falling. But it doesn’t strike us that we are trusting in ourselves so much because the seven deadly sins are so obvious that, well, that we don’t have to turn to God to avoid them, right? And so it goes, falling a little bit here and there. And then, discouragement, depression, despair… Crash!
With that in mind, let’s review a very short piece of prose that was sent in by a Western North Carolinian. It was first published when the Titanic first sailed (by the way):
This story comes from a research conducted on Ruth Coleman, formerly of College Walk in Brevard, North Carolina. Ruth was a resident there for quite some time. She was highly respected, admired, and adored by her close friends. She also was a published author back in the 70’s and 80’s, in the publication known today as Guideposts, a faith based publication. Guideposts is still published and appreciated by many devoted readers and subscribers.
The Devil’s Auction was originally written by Mr. Roedel Rathvon about 1911. Copyrighted in 1912, the story was published in Guideposts Magazine in 1952.
The Devil’s Auction by Roedel Rathvon
It was once announced that the devil was going out of business and would offer his tools to anyone who would pay his price. On the night of the auction they were all attractively displayed, and a bad looking lot they were. Malice, envy, hatred, jealousy, sensuality, deceit, and all the other implements of evil were laid out, each marked with its price. Apart from the rest was a harmless looking wedge-shaped tool, much worn and priced much higher than the others.
Someone asked the devil what it was. “That’s discouragement” was his reply. “Well, why do you have it priced so high?” “Because,” replied the devil, “it is more useful to me than any other tool. I can pry open and get inside a man’s consciousness with that when I couldn’t get near him with any other tool, and when once inside I can use him in whatever way suits me best. It is so much worn because I use it with nearly everyone; as very few people yet know that it belongs go me.” “You say you use this wedge of discouragement with nearly everyone-with whom can’t you use it?” The devil hesitated a long time and finally said in a low voice, “I can’t use it in getting into the consciousness of a grateful man.”
It hardly need be added that the devil’s price for discouragement was so high that it was never sold. He still owns it and he still uses it!
Of course, Satan is the father of lies. He can’t sell us our sin or weaknesses because those are the only things that we can honestly say are our own!
At any rate, Jesus transforms all these weaknesses into the cross which He commands us to recognize and carry, not looking at them, but looking to Him, following Him. We know with ease just how weak we are because of how he has invited us, drawn us, to His good friendship, to the redemption and salvation He enthusiastically provides.
All the justice, all the mercy, all the goodness and kindness. Nothing is overlooked. Our Lord is just so very majestic in His resurrection, bearing those wounds on His risen body, wounds which are not an incrimination but an invitation to know Him, love Him, adore Him, glorify Him, actively, unapologetically believe in Him. He provides the wherewithal, His grace, His life within us. He is just that good, just that kind.
Her head is totally swollen and the skull ready to bust as the brain has swollen. No more pain killers either. The pain is horrific. And… and…sigh… she is on an island with no hospital capable of doing an operation and is now being transported by plane across the Pacific to another island where they will attempt the operation… if she arrives alive… God can and does work miracles, if we only ask. Please ask. Hail Mary…
UPDATE 11 May 2012 7:25 AM: No news at all. The flight is long and arduous. Being in a different country presents all sorts of new problems with phones, etc., not to mention everyone being in a tumble of being distraught mixed with hope and stress and prayer and… Hail Mary…
UPDATE 12 May 2012 4:15 AM: The family wants to please thank those who have prayed for this little girl. The family wants you all to know that she pulled through. However, the ordeal is not over, the first battle was the major one. — Thank you so much and please do keep praying. – Now her father has fallen seriously sick and he looks after seven children aged sixteen down to just one years old. A member of the family makes the plea for you to pray for them as this is really hard: a daughter is fighting for her life and now her father is terribly sick. One continues to trust and the family is sure that the Lord is taking care of them all. /// Many have been praying the Emergency Chaplet to the Immaculate Conception.
The mother said to thank you and let you know they are praying for ye as well.
This girl is a member of a family praying the Saint Michael prayer for me. Would you say it, please, once for my intentions and then once for all of ye who are praying this prayer? Thank you!
Sancte Michael Archangele,
defende nos in proelio;
contra nequitiam et insidias diaboli esto praesidium.
Imperet illi Deus, supplices deprecamur:
tuque, Princeps militiae Caelestis,
satanam aliosque spiritus malignos,
qui ad perditionem animarum pervagantur in mundo,
divina virtute in infernum detrude.
Saint Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle; be our protection
against the wickedness and snares of the devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray:
and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly host,
by the power of God, thrust into hell Satan
and all the evil spirits who prowl about the world
seeking the ruin of souls.