Nov 15, 2007 / 10:12 am America/Denver (CNA).
The sexual abuse scandal has hung like a pall over the Catholic Church for the last five years. During their conference, the U.S. Bishops learned from the John Jay College report on sexual abuse that the incidence of abuse in the Catholic Church is the same as its occurrence in the rest of society.
The investigation, titled the “Causes and Contexts Study”, aims to answer the questions: “Why did the abuse crisis happen as it did? And what caused this problem?”
Though the study is only in the first of its three years, the researchers made certain to point out an interesting finding. Contrary to the popular belief that the Catholic Church has some characteristics that exacerbate the sexual abuse problem, the researchers’ preliminary finding was that the occurrence of abuse was parallel to the rest of society.
That "is in conflict with the idea that there was something distinctive about the Catholic Church that led to the abuse of minors," said primary researcher Karen Terry.
The sociologists also disputed the theory that a change of moral theology in seminaries beginning in the 1970s led to the abuse. Of more than 4,000 priests who are known to have abused minors between 1950 and 2002, Ms. Terry said, 90 percent were ordained before 1980 and 70 percent were ordained before 1970.