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Does the Catholic Church attract sexual abusers…or create them?

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In the wake of the $660 million settlement for sexual abuse by priests in the RC Archdiocese of Los Angeles I have seen dozens of articles and blogs asking the question of whether the Catholic vow of celibacy plays any part in what seems to be the disproportionate number of Catholic priests accused or convicted of sexual abuse.

I believe that the institutional structure of the Catholic Church provides an opportunity for pedophile priests to attract, groom, manipulate and abuse their victims (see also the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision in Doe v. Bennett).

I had not considered that there was something about the Roman Catholic Church that might actually contribute to the creation of sexual abusers.

Until I read an article in the American Chronicle by Dr. Richard Cravatts. He suggests that: ” the very process of accepting celibacy and entering the priesthood at an emotionally immature age level predispose priests to conflicting notions about human sexuality…”

Dr. Cravatts quotes Dr. Donna Markham, the president of Southdown Institute in Ontario, Canada. Southdown is a treatment center for Catholic priests with what are referred to as “boundary issues” a euphemism for sexual abusers. Some of the priest sexual abusers that I have sued received treatment (but unfortunately not a “cure”) at Southdown.

“Many priests entered seminary before they reached mature psychosexual development,” says Markham. “For some men, the institutional life in the same-sex environment may have served to further postpone social and sexual development. For these men, at the age of their ordination in their mid- to late twenties, they were intellectually and physically adults, but emotionally they remained far younger.”

I recommend anyone the article to anyone interested in an objective discussion of clergy sexual abuse.