A Bishop Responds to the John Jay Report

“The Bishops’ Priorities: Responding to the new John Jay Report on Sexual Abuse,” by Blase J. Cupich (Bishop of Spokane, Washington) for America, The National Catholic Weekly, May 30, 2011

“Yet just as the report reinforces what we have done and are doing right in facing the problem, it also calls for additional initiatives to address shortcomings so that the abuse of minors does not happen again in the Catholic Church.

Bishop Cupich offers a solutions-based response to the John Jay Report. Not all Bishops have proven themselves to be as interested in child protection. His commentary notes improvement and includes the call to refine those efforts. However, he doesn’t address the very real issues still happening today in Philadelphia and around the world.

He also gives credence to the report’s finding that isolation, drinking and stress can lead to child sex abuse. The study inexplicably used the victim age of 10 or under to determine whether or not abusive priests were pedophiles. The American Psychiatric Association uses the age of 13. If they had used the latter, the majority of abusive priests would have been pedophiles – a psychiatric disorder. I don’t take issue with his solution, though. Priests do need more education on these matters and support in general.

Most important, is that a Bishop is speaking out on the subject.

8 thoughts on “A Bishop Responds to the John Jay Report

  1. My impression is that Bishop Cupich is speaking to other bishops in this article more than to anyone else. And the archbishop of Baltimore seems to have responded in an article in the Baltimore archdiocesan newspaper. I pray that our bishops are granted the nerve and strength to engage in the neccessary confrontations with each other at their June meeting–they have to work this out and clear the air!

  2. Just addressing your point, Susan, about the age of a victim which the creators and interpreters of the report gave as the pivotal age (10) for a victim to differentiate between pedophilia or just an inappropriate liason. In my opionion it is twisted to think that an adult’s sexual contact with an 11 or 12 year old is not pedophilia. The age of 13, as dictated by the American Psychiatric Association, is much more on target, though, to me, even a sexual relationship with a 14 year old is pretty darn questionnable. It seems obvious that the age of 10 was picked in order to avoid the inclusion of many abusers as pedophiles. The report’s validity is so weak and its findings unreliable. It really is simply another attempt at positive PR by the Archdiocese which many of us are able to see through, but sadly, some will not.

  3. I am less than convinced that pedophilia as a psychiatric diagnosis should apply to men who sexually assault children. It is too easy for The Church to use this as another excuse.

    People with mental illnesses should take responsibility for their illness, for their behavior and for their lives and get treatment. People with a proclivity to assault children are not seriously mentally ill as are many people who have schizophrenia – they do not have verbal and visual hallucinations, they do not have “command” voices in their heads telling them to do some psychotic thing.

    The priests who prey on children have the sense of reason to tell themselves that what they are doing is wrong. Priests especially should have all of the social, cultural, spiritual safeguards regarding what is right and what is wrong – they receive years and years of training and indoctrination to do the Lord’s will. They, of all of us, know that what they do is wrong. That it is criminal.

    If, IF, there is a culture in an institution where sexual assault on other persons is allowed to exist, it is always covered up and denied. This is true of The Church, the U.S. military, and any other organization where the vulnerable are seen as easy pickin’s.

    For years we have heard men “justify” bullying and rape of women by saying that “they asked for it, they shouldn’t have done so and so, they dressed provocatively, they wanted it.” These are all lies and the men know it.

    Pedophilia is not an excuse.

  4. Bishop Cupich’s response to the John Jay report is well done. I would be happier had he included the civil consequences that accrue to lawbreakers–the millstone!

    And, let us be for real, the age of consent reminds me of angels dancing on the head of a pin.

    However, to give the bishop his due, he did call for ongong education of clerics, he did decry to culture of clericalism, and he did accept that the bishops have a sacred responsibility.

    It is now up to the Faithful to let the bishops know that Bishop Cupich has set forth the minimum standard.

    re the recently released John Jay College study on clergy sexual abuse:

    I discovered that a long-time newsreporter at the New York Catholic newspaper was in the Masters Program at John Jay during the time of this study and as a matter of fact, her thesis had the same focus as that of the USCCB sponsored study. Interestingly, her monitor/supervisor for her these was the principal investigator for the USCCB’s study, Dr. Karen Terry. If you check out Dr. Terry’s curriculum vitae on her own personal website, you will find this newsreporter’s name.


    And then this same news reporter has been covering the release of the USCCB report and the press conference in Washington, DC. I would like to know if the NY archdiocese paid for her masters program at John Jay.

    Given the relationship between the Archdiocese of New York through the news reporter at its Catholic newspaper and the fact that the archdiocesan’s news reporter’s master level research was being supervised by the principal investigator in the USCCB directed study, are there any concerns regarding the objectivity, fairness, and professionalism of the research conducted in this report?

  6. I am NOT a psychiatrist nor an expert on mental illness; I am NOT a pedophile nor a sexpert on sexual disorders; so I can NOT state with any kind of certainty what goes on inside the mind of a man who is driven to rape children. However, as one who has lusted, I CAN speak on the nature of sin although I really would prefer NOT to be considered an expert on that topic. I have also experienced the mercy of God’s forgiveness in my soul and in my marriage. I could speak on that subject for hours if any wants to hear about it.

    But let me speak on the matter of “isolation, drinking and stress”. For a period of time my parish seemed to be getting and losing seminarians or newly-ordained priests every six months or so. One of the newly-ordained that I had spoken with decided to leave the priesthood as he felt no real connection to the congregation. While this was not his only reason, it did get me thinking and praying. In a decision to be part of the SOLUTION, my wife and I agreed to invite our parish priests to our home for dinner. Not once, or twice, but on a regular basis, in the hopes of making them feel welcomed, cared about, connected, or whatever you might want to call it. We even have a pet name for this; we call it “dinner with the clergy” night. During one dinner we asked our priest guest if he had also dined with other families in the parish and he responded “no”. He mentioned that many say “we have to have you over for dinner” but you are the first who actually followed up on it. Really?

    Of course this is only one small part of the solution.

    Holding those who have offended accountable for their behavior is another part. Is there anyone who would like to accompany me the next time I protest at the front doors of the “palace on the parkway?”

    1. agreed – need training on how to deal wth the loneliness and other issues – like treating women as equals after 10 years of dealing with only men/boys. Would get into it, but my blood boils after a few minutes and my 5 doses of BP meds put me to sleep. Sorry, Philly is too far for me.

      Yes, at least three priests expressed deep problems with loneliness while a religious and more while I had leadership positions with the parish CYO and Campus ministry. Except for one all either left the priesthood or (at least three) are abusers in Philly. Between, studies, ethic conferences, social justice – central americans preparing to report the problems in the early 80’s(one night), and working with dying kids I didn’t have the time to be lonely or engage in the immature “fun” (so called gay behavior – I was working with gays, they didn’t act that way) that was happening around me. The problem then becomes burnout.

      Just for the record, catholic religious, married in the Methodist church – dispensation, taught in the Lutheran School System, had dealings with several other church groups and heard of sexual abuse in each and had to listen to some very inappropriate discussions in each from ministers and leadership.
      Of course the RCC hasn’t learn what the other religions have and unless legal action is taken, they won’t. We are second class citizens – other churches,the laity has power. So I agree, the Catholic Chuech has no C & B and is too euro- centric to be effective.

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