Child abuse Catholic priests not pedophiles—US study | Inquirer News
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Child abuse Catholic priests not pedophiles—US study

/ 07:30 AM May 19, 2011

WASHINGTON—A study released Wednesday that probed the causes of the long-running child sex scandal in the US Catholic church refused to call the abuser priests pedophiles and blamed the abuse on a decline in US society.

“Most of the priests who had allegations of abuse are not pedophiles,” the lead investigator for the study, Karen Terry of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, told reporters.

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“Most of the priests who had allegations of abuse, abused pubescent or post-pubescent minors,” said Terry, while the victims of pedophiles are defined in the study as being 10 years old or younger.

A 140-page report of the findings of the study said the child sex abuse crisis was largely a thing of the past, having increased steadily in the 1960s and 1970s, before declining in the 1980s.

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“The ‘crisis’ of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic priests is a historical problem,” the report said.

Most cases occurred in the 1960s and 1970s, at a time “of upheaval in many areas of society,” said Diane Knight, chair of a body of lay Catholics, the National Review Board, which oversaw the study, commissioned by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops.

“The increased frequency of abuse in the 1960s and 1970s is consistent with the patterns of increased deviance of society during that time,” said Terry.

Reported incidents of priests who sexually abuse children “continue to remain low” today, says the study, which covered the period from 1950 to 2010.

The Catholic church’s exclusively male priesthood and the clergy’s commitment to celibacy were not seen as causes of the sex scandal, which came to a head in the United States with the admission in 2002 by the archbishop of Boston that he had protected a priest he knew to have molested children.

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TAGS: Americas – United States, child abuse, Churches (organization), Conflicts (general)
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