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Church Report Cites Social Tumult in Priest Scandals
Published: May 17, 2011

A five-year study commissioned by the nation's Roman Catholic bishops to provide a definitive answer to what caused the church's sexual abuse crisis has concluded that neither the all-male celibate priesthood nor homosexuality were to blame.

Instead, the report says, the abuse occurred because priests who were poorly prepared and monitored, and were under stress, landed amid the social and sexual turmoil of the 1960s and '70s.

Known occurrences of sexual abuse of minors by priests rose sharply during those decades, the report found, and the problem grew worse when the church's hierarchy responded by showing more care for the perpetrators than the victims.

The "blame Woodstock" explanation has been floated by bishops since the church was engulfed by scandal in the United States in 2002 and by Pope Benedict XVI after it erupted in Europe in 2010.
"Woodstock"? We seem to remember that another event, of great "ecclesial" significance, took place at that same time period. Any guesses?


  1. Archbishop Martin of Dublin (a man of fairly liberal sympathies) has himself stated on TV --- on both Irish Prime TV and BBC Newsnight --- that the serious malhandling of sex abuse allegations in Dublin started in the 1960s.

    According to the Pope: “The Archbishop of Dublin told me something very interesting about that. He said that ecclesiastical penal law functioned until the late 1950s; admittedly, it was not perfect – there is much to criticise about it – but nevertheless it was applied. After the mid-sixties, however, it was simply not applied any more.

    "The prevailing mentality was that the Church must not be a Church of laws but, rather a Church of love: she must not punish . . . This led to an odd darkening of the mind, even in very good people.”

    Commenting on Archbishop Martin's remarks, Joseph Foyle observed: "It seems that around the 1960s a major policy change emerged. In line with the secular anti-punishment mood of the times, it was decided that the defrocking sanction was inhumane and that, instead, rehabilitation should be attempted to enable offenders to continue to work as priests. The policy change backfired when offenders re-offended. That hurt children and blighted lives gravely, cost Dioceses and Congregations hundreds of millions, evoked ‘cover-up’ allegations that undermined Bishops and the priesthood in general, and ushered in our current era of Catholic laity who are effectively priestless."

  2. The Murphy Report into abuse in the Dublin Archdiocese also made note of the slackening standards in the 60s:

    “There is a two thousand year history of Biblical, Papal and Holy See statements showing awareness of clerical child sex abuse. Over the centuries, strong denunciation of clerical child sexual abuse came from Popes, Church councils and other Church sources. A list covering the period 153 AD to 2001 is included in an article by the Promoter of Justice in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. These denunciations are particularly strong on „offences against nature? and offences committed with or against juveniles. The 1917 code of canon law decreed deprivation of office and/or benefice, or expulsion from the clerical state for such offences. In the 20th century two separate documents on dealing with child sexual abuse were promulgated by Vatican authorities (see Chapter 4) but little observed in Dublin.

    [...]The Commission is satisfied that Church law demanded serious penalties for clerics who abused children. In Dublin from the 1970s onwards this was ignored; the highest priority was the protection of the reputation of the institution and the reputation of priests. The moving around of offending clerics with little or no disclosure of their past is illustrative of this.”


    “As is shown in Chapter 4, canon law appears to have fallen into disuse and disrespect during the mid 20th century. In particular, there was little or no experience of operating the penal (that is, the criminal) provisions of that law. The collapse of respect for the canon law in Archdiocesan circles is covered in some detail in Chapter 4.”

  3. The USCCB concluded this‽ How is Vatican II to blame? For creating loopholes through which idolatry could more easily seep?

    From Romans 1:21-32:
    idolatry ⇒ homosexuality
    According to Card. Bertone et al.:
    homosexuality ⇒ pedophilia

    So Vatican II could have indirectly enabled this to occur?

  4. @shane: Boy is this true, especially with respect to the annulment fiasco.

  5. We have an old saying for this type of situations: "No hay peor ciego que el que no quiere ver” (There is no worse blind than the one that does not want to see)

  6. Comment on the original post and Shane's comments -

    They are all extroardinarily useful.

    Thank you both.

    I note that the original post cites "known occurences".

    A liberal, cynical attitude is likely to be:

    Ah, but before the 60's these things were just "unknown", just covered up better - not effectively disciplined.

    The hypothesis in the original post and Shane's comments is that 1960's liberal tolerance - whether "Woodstock" or Vatican II has much to do with this terrible terrible tragedy.

    I repeat: this is the hypothesis.

    What is needed now I think is as much evidence as possible, which can either support (or defeat) this hypothesis.

    Personally I think the hypothesis has a lot of truth to it.

    If so, we need to establish, know more.

    More that will counter liberal aversion to what will be for them such an unpalatable idea:

    That a 1960's upbeat, tolerant "let's trust human nature and forget about sin" attitude is the real culprit here.

    More is needed. This is why Shane's additions here are so appreciated.

    And why I would appreciate any more that might be said to further contribute towards *establishing* if this hypothesis is true ...

    Note: I think in the future I will want to blog/write about this and therefore would be collecting and using any evidence, quotes etc cited here.

  7. Anonymous8:51 AM

    Instead of criticizing "Vatican II" as a big buggy man all the time, why don't you all make actual intellectual critiques and realize that you are dealing with the Ordinary Magisterium of the Universal Church as well; perhaps that will help you to be more careful and respectful as you speak of the Bride of Christ's Teaching Office.

  8. It is not we who "fear" Vatican II. Those who mention the 1960s and 1970s as moments of "social upheaval" and dare to use a "blame Woodstock" defense when the writing is on the wall... They are the ones who fear that all may see "The Council" and what it unleashed.

    Vatican II: thou art weighed in the balance, and art found wanting.

  9. I wonder if the liberal councils had anything to do with it?.........[just asking myself]

  10. Anonymous11:59 AM

    Anonymous 08:51 said:

    "Instead of criticizing "Vatican II" as a big buggy man all the time, why don't you all make actual intellectual critiques...."

    I guess you don't get around much. There have been a veritable waterfall of intellectual critques of the Council and its aftermath. However, it's like spitting into the wind when those who hold authority in the Church have wills in full agreement with the past 50 years.

    "...perhaps that will help you to be more careful and respectful as you speak of the Bride of Christ's Teaching Office."

    The irony here is that those whom you so eagerly defend would never use that language themselves: far too traditional, you see.

    However, just out of curiosity: since when does legitimate criticism indicate disrespect?

  11. The wine when sour in the 70s, and continue to be sour until lately when the wine skin break and the management of the winery found that all the wine had turn sour since the year that begin in 1967, so the management get to get to gather and decided to tell the owner that the main causes of the sour wine was indeed the worker of the vine yard such as the picker, the stomper, the planter, but one thing the management would not want the owner to know was that in the year 1962 they have decided to change the formular of making wine, before that they had always used the same formular since the 1500s, the wine produce by this formular was indeed prize winning and never a drop of sour wine produce, so who change the formular, or is it the worker of the vine yard that cause the wine to become sour or the change of formular occur in the year 1967? on a reasonable note where do you think the problem layed? the management or the worker, the cowboy or the cow? a chinese proverb " blind fear no bullet, when lead into battle by blind general"

  12. Commenting on Archbishop Martin's remarks, Joseph Foyle observed: "It seems that around the 1960s a major policy change emerged. In line with the secular anti-punishment mood of the times, it was decided that the defrocking sanction was inhumane and that, instead, rehabilitation should be attempted to enable offenders to continue to work as priests. The policy change backfired when offenders re-offended.

    And another factor that played helped encourage bishops to opt for "rehabilitation" rather than the Christian discipline that God expects is the massive defections from the priesthood that began almost immediately after Vatican II's conclusion. With the loss of so many priests, and the sudden and calamitous drop in vocations, bishops needed any and every priest they could get, no matter how unworthy of Christ they were. That, with the new attitude of false charity, was bound to lead to disaster.

  13. Pope John Paul XXIII's opening speech at the V2 Council formalised the error or suspending Ecclesiastical Discipline- without which all is chaos.

    I am the same age as Israel and I have witnessed the steady descent into seeking an accommodation with our ancient enemies, the World, The Flesh, and The Devil.

    In the execrable 60s the Church decided to "read the signs of the times" but ,apparently, it had fallen into spiritually illiteracy and it read those signs as a sign that the world had matured to the point where it would loves us and eagerly desire to hear what we had to Teach.

    Such an orientation is stunning in its madness and who can explain it?

    This recent study is a flat-out embarrassment and it will, rightly, cause the world to mock us.

    In, "The LIturgical Year," Dom Gueranger reminds us of the ancient truth that abandoning penitential acts would, axiomatically, result in a rise in effeminancy in the Catholic Church.

    So, queer clergy? No problem.

    Queer Clergy committing sexual crimes against adolescent males? What's the big deaL?

    Send the Queer Cleric to a shrink because we KNOW the adepts of Psychiatry love the Catholic Church and its Dogmas and Doctrines.

  14. oops..of course it was Pope John XXIII, not Pope John Paul XXIII

  15. If VCII was a imprimentation of a CEO policy where billions of {souls} dollar were loss, store world wide closure,customer loss of confident, bankrupt the company, corruption throught out the company, what would the standrad pratice of the board of director action be?
    Oops nothing was ever done, white become black, oh well it is still OK, evil is good, it's still OK, only in VCII can one see such a show of power, such a pride, such greed!!!

    How Long Lord! How Long!

  16. Anonymous2:02 PM

    Archangel wrote:
    "If VCII was a imprimentation..."


  17. Anonymous3:36 PM

    The unspoken commandment of Vatican II: "Thou shalt not condemn sexual man-love..."

    So much cognitive dissonance backed up by impressive credentials and lengthy tomes. The answer is as it has always been...prayer, confession, the Blessed Sacrament and penance. Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary, ora pro nobis.

  18. @Anonymous: Here is both an intellectual and magisterial critique: Humani Generis. See also Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P.'s good article on it, too.

  19. Anonymous4:45 PM

    "Instead of criticizing "Vatican II" as a big buggy man all the time, why don't you all make actual intellectual critiques and realize that you are dealing with the Ordinary Magisterium of the Universal Church as well; perhaps that will help you to be more careful and respectful as you speak of the Bride of Christ's Teaching Office."

    Spare us, please!!


  20. Anonymous4:47 PM

    I wonder how much this "study" cost them? So they paid hundreds of thousands of someone's hard-earned money to be reassured that the emperor is indeed wearing clothes and there is no, repeat no, elephant in the middle of the room.

    We have a saying too: There are none so blind as those who refuse to see.


  21. Anonymous7:34 PM

    All great and wonderful. It was the free-love mentality of the 60s to blame.

    But since the USSBC admits that penal law being ignored was the start of the collapse of discipline, will it be restored?

    And what of those imperfections in penal law that preceded Vatican 2?

    How about "reforming" them and getting a little closer to Christ's idea of penal law for those who scandalize little ones - capital punishment by drowning (it would be better for a millstone to be tied around their necks and drown them in the sea)?

    At that point, defrocking becomes an academic debate.

    Sincerely, Neophyte

  22. Isn't it wonderful to have V2 on which to blame things?

  23. John McFarland7:52 PM

    You should read the whole Goodstein piece, which I read in the Times this morning and which is available on

    If Laurie Goodstein correctly describes the report, its basic thesis is that those who abused kids were not homosexuals, nor was it the result of celibacy. It was done by guys who were all confused by the 60s.

    No, I am not making this up.

    But wait. It gets better.

    The report also maintains that as significant number of sodomites entered the priesthood, the incidence of abuse of children tended to go down.

    It looks to me as if the basic purpose of this report was to whitewash the hierarchy (how could we help the 60s?), the sodomites, including Catholic priest sodomites (we would never do such awful things, and what's NAMBLA?), and, of course, sodomite hierarchs.

    Most of the money for the study came from the Church and Church foundations, with some from the feds.

    Like anyone with a little knowledge and inhabiting the real world, my educated guess is that either the sodomites run the Church, or have veto power over those who do.

    This report certainly is more evidence that it's a good guess.

  24. Yes, it is, Jack. I pray for the day in which the Council will do a Nixon and tell us, "You don't have the Council to kick around anymore."

  25. Anonymous10:33 PM

    The poster whom the rest of you are attacking has a point. The Second Vatican Council was run by men who were already bishops. The abuse started in the 60s by men who were already priests. The rot started before the Council, which merely accelerated and strengthened the forces at work within the Church. So, yes, it is anti-intellectual to blame everything on the Council. If we are successful in restoring Tradition, we must understand and overcome those elements which made the disaster of the Council possible in the first place.

  26. Anonymous11:09 PM

    You are correct, Anon, that the rot began before the infamous Council. What the council did was to give it official carte blanche. In a sense, we are not wrong to blame the council at all.

    I see very few in the Church making any effort to uncover the rot which is now deeply rooted. In fact, I see very few in the Church who are willing to admit that there is anything wrong at all.

    As long as we have mass denial in the Church that there is anything wrong at all (we're in the "New Springtime", didn't you know?), nothing will change. In order to "understand and overcome those elements which made the disaster of the Council possible in the first place", you first have to admit that there was or is a disaster.


  27. John McFarland, homosexuality is NOT the same thing as pedophilia, though a lot of people want to conflate the twol.

    In my city there was the sad case of a pediatrician who sexually abused over 100 little girls. Would you say this was heterosexuality?

  28. John McFarland2:00 PM


    What you are talking about are what used to be known as child molesters. They are people who prey on pre-pubescent kids of one or both sexes. The infamous Father Geoghegan (that spelling may not be right) from Massachusetts is the best known example.

    It is not pedophilia.

    Pedophilia is a term only honestly used for the male homosexual abuse of pubescent and teenaged boys.

    This is what NAMBLA (National Man-Boy Love Association) touts. A Masschusetts priest, Fr. Paul Shanley, was a founding father or the MA branch, and used to roam the countryside preaching his gospel in church-related venues. NAMBLA was traditionally a fixture in gay pride parades, and probably still is.

    I think it's a good bet that male homosexuals who really disapprove in principle of messing with the young stuff are a very small minority.

    In brief, the report, like most mainstream discussion of clerical sodomy, is an exercise ranging from the sowing of confusion to straightforward lying. Unfortunately, your remarks are evidence that the exercise has been successful.

    The starting point is one of common sense. Can anyone really believe that sexual messing with altar boys is something different from homosexuality?

  29. No Rancor12:34 AM

    Jordanes551 best summed it up. The collapse in vocations was both caused by and was a cause of the presence of modernists or liberals before, during, and after the Council throughout the Church. The Council wasn't perhaps the cause, per se, but it was the occasion nonetheless, and was made much worse by the abandonment of the Church by the bishops, unwilling to protect the faithful by screening out degenerates and perverts from their seminaries and parishes.

    With priests fleeing the priesthood and no one coming in, anyone with 1. a pulse who was 2. a baptized male and was willing to 3. "get with the program and spirit of Vatican II," was let in. Since homosexuals would have largely heretofore not made it through the screening process of vocational directors and rectors of seminaries (there are notable exceptions in the American church with some older bishops, archbishops and even cardinals living reprobate, homosexual lives that were Ordained in the 1950s), generally it was a very small population to get in before the Council, and they remained overwhelmingly closeted in much the same way that Modernists did after Pius X's crackdown. My guess is that the two -- heretics and moral degenerates -- willingly cooperated with one another, though I have no specific proof. Think about it, people with moral problems (doctrinal or personal) are bedfellows, giving in to one another's proclivities.

    With everything thrown out the window in the late 1960s, the guys that would have been unlikely to go into the seminary, or make it, now could. You have an immediate culture shift, with outmigration of solid priests and potential seminarians, and the immigration of deviants and malcontents, along with older, closeted homosexuals and modernists coming much more out of the closet, at least in the seminaries and rectories and chanceries. They then began to screen bad apples IN, and got them promoted on the bishop track later on. Just like altar boy populations collapsed after the forced imposition of girl altar boys in the 1990s, faithful priests in the 60s, 70s and 80s were pushed to the margins, left, or committed career suicide by having little to do with the flood of lace doily priests and seminarians and heretic or schismatic bishops, or they refused to knuckle under and spoke out.

    So, what do we really know? Deviancy begets deviancy, and the darkness curses the light leading to a rapid increase in faithlessness while it purges faithfulness. And we're left with these questions about the sexual abuse scandal:

    On what planet does the chronic, systematic abuse of and cover up of thousands and thousands of teenage boys around the world by grown men not result from said men being boy loving pederasts? If they really aren't queer folk, how warped does your heterosexual orientation have to get that you would be willing to be sexually satisfied by praying on young boys? Its almost sicker that a straight man would deprave himself to use and abuse boys than a pederast, because a pederast at least comprehend they have a disordered and degenerate sexual makeup, even if they do delude themselves with NAMBLA-think.


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