Blame it on the 60’s

The NY Times has published a story this morning about the US Catholic bishops 5-year study on the root causes of the priest sex abuse scandal. The John Jay College of Criminal Justice conducted the study and concluded that the abuse scandal can neither be blamed on celibacy or homosexuals. Rather, the study concluded, the tumultuous period of the 1960’s and 1970’s contributed to the overall social upheaval that led to the priest abuse scandal.
This conclusion neither angers the traditional crowd who oppose any loosening of the celibacy requirements for priests nor the homosexual community who perceive themselves as unjustly targeted by those who want to blame somebody for the priest abuse scandal.
It’s a cynical stroke of genius. Once again, the Catholic Church gets to show us all how concerned they are by issuing a comprehensive report that took five years to compile. They also get to blame a decade (not a person or institution) for causing the scandal.
Just like those who want to blame drugs and sex on the 60’s, the Catholic bishops get to heap their woes on the decade of “peace and love”.
However, it’s simply not true. The 60’s didn’t cause or create the pederast priests to terrorize children. A closer inspection of the US Catholic Church in the 1960’s reveals a Church still celebrating the sacraments in Latin. The Second Vatican Council didn’t end until 1965. Nuns were still, for the most part, wearing their traditional habits. Nothing had changed culturally in US Catholicism in the 1960’s. The Church, apart from a courageous lot who participated in the Civil Rights Movements, looked no different in 1965 than it did in 1945. Sorry, but you can’t blame this on the 60’s. That decade deserves much better.
I would have been hopeful if the John Jay study had actually examined the insular culture of the institution that preferred to protect predatory priests than children. I would have been interested in a study that examined the mindset of bishops who colluded with these abusive priests by transferring them and covering for them. Finally, I would have liked to have seen a study that looked at a Church that stubbornly refused to report crimes to law enforcement.
We didn’t get such a report and we many never receive such from a Church sponsored study. The John Jay study is another ecclesial exercise in navel gazing with its sole purpose to deflect blame and criticism. They still don’t get it.