Sex-abuse accusations against the nation's priests were down last year, but the flood of millions of dollars in payouts more than tripled and shows no signs of stopping, the United States' Roman Catholic bishops said yesterday.
"It is disheartening to us bishops, as it must be to all Catholics, to find that there are still some allegations of abuse by clerics against today's children and young people," Bishop William S. Skylstad, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), said during the release of the conference's annual report on sex-abuse statistics.
I found this a startling statement, and while I'm noexpert, hard to believe:
A supplemental report, issued by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, said there were no warning signs for the typical abuser, who is a priest in his late 30s who has been ordained 11 years. Diocesan priests tended to be abusers twice as much as priests from religious orders.
"The red flags aren't there," said Karen Terry, the report's principal investigator. Except for a small group of serial abusers who began abusing children around the time of their ordinations, "there are no identifiable psychological problems."
No, we're not talking about greasy men in trenchcoats, but I'm having a hard time believing that a sexually abusive cleric has "no identifiable psychologcial problems." I cannot even figure out what that means.
-- 532 clergy (463 diocesan and 69 religious institute) were accused. About 82% of these clergy were already out of ministry: 418 (including 374 diocesan clergy) are deceased, already removed from ministry, already dismissed from the clerical state, or without a known address; and another 20 (including 18 diocesan clergy) were permanently removed from ministry in 2005.
-- 57 (including 44 diocesan clergy) were temporarily removed from ministry in 2005. Twelve (all diocesan) were returned to ministry in 2005. Fourteen (including 13 diocesan clergy) identified in 2005 were still in active ministry pending investigation of an allegation. Fourteen diocesan and three religious institute clergy with an allegation prior to 2005 were also described as still active pending investigation.
Of the 532 clergy accused in 2005, over 61% had already been identified in prior allegations.
Karen Terry, a researcher at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, said the vast majority of the abuse took place from the mid-1960s to the mid-1980s. There has been a sharp decline in the number of cases since the early 1990s, which an analysis indicates is not just a matter of a lag in reporting, she said.
"We know that sexual abuse is underreported and that more people will come forward," she said. "But the decrease in sexual abuse cases is real." She added that the decline mirrors the general societal decrease in crime, substance abuse and sex abuse in the 1990s.
Teresa M. Kettelkamp, a former Illinois state police officer who heads the bishops' Office of Child and Youth Protection, said "it is important to acknowledge how much has been done" to remove abusers from the priesthood, including 57 priests who were suspended in 2005.
She said U.S. dioceses have conducted background checks on 1.6 million adults who work with minors and have provided "safe environment" training to 5.7 million children, 95 percent of all those entrusted to the care of the church.
22 dioceses are not "in compliance," most of them, as this article states because they've not instituted "safe environment" programs - controversial, as we well know.
Like most other dioceses in that category — cited in the bishops' third annual report on sex-abuse prevention policies — the Twin Cities archdiocese has lagged in offering "safe-environment training" to all children in its schools and parish programs.
Archdiocese officials say their noncompliance was no surprise because they have tried to methodically introduce programs that nonetheless have brought about a firestorm of opposition from some local Catholics.
The archdiocese — which has conducted abuse-prevention training for its priests, deacons and staff and continues offering it to volunteers — plans to implement the training in its schools and parish education programs beginning this fall.
Since last year, however, some local Catholic groups have deluged the archdiocese with complaints about the proposed programs, particularly those intended for pupils in kindergarten through fourth grade.