Church-Backed Study Blames '60s for Sex Abuse

Priests were ill-equipped to deal with social change, study finds
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 18, 2011 3:05 AM CDT
Updated May 18, 2011 6:00 AM CDT
A victims' group displays childhood photographs of adults who say they were sexually abused by priests.   (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

(Newser) – The Catholic Church's requirement for all priests to be celibate is not to blame for the church's sex abuse scandals, according to a study commissioned by and partially funded by America's Catholic bishops. The study concludes that most sex abuse cases involved priests trained in the '40s and '50s who were left ill-equipped to deal with social upheaval and the rise in "sexual deviancy" in the '60s, AP reports. The study notes that abuse cases peaked in the '70s, and then declined sharply—a trend researchers say is due to priests being better trained in how to live a celibate life.

The study concludes that homosexual priests were no more likely than heterosexual ones to abuse children, and that since abusers did not share a common profile, seminaries could not have done a better job screening for abusive priests. The researchers—using a very narrow definition of pedophile—say less than 5% of priests accused of abuse could be technically defined as pedophiles. Victims' groups were quick to criticize the study, which used raw data provided by the bishops themselves, the Boston Globe notes.

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