Executive Summary 1
This essay provides Catholic authorities with a useful framework for prudent and just policy formation on the minimization of Catholic Clerical Sexual Abuse (CCSA) of minors. It uses as thoroughly as possible the data and expert testimonies contained in John Jay College 2011 report Causes and Context (JJR 2011) while not ignoring its shortcomings. The author is a Catholic philosopher of science. He uses Aquinas’ treatment of prudence ((ST IIa IIae 49.1-8). as a framework and with the help of prominent Catholic psychiatrists and psychologists and the JJR 2011 he develops a “profile” of the clerical perpetrators which expands their well recognized narcissism into a middle-term (Aristotelian sense) which explains both their motivation to pursue the priesthood and, given an unexplained perverse appetite, carry out their crimes. More significantly it also explains why, as a group, they largely desisted, without embracing celibacy, in the 1980s. He concludes with a recommendation for a deterrent policy initiated largely by civil authorities but proven effective in the 1980s to the present which Catholic authorities, at least in the United States, slowly joined and assisted. This policy proved effective because, unlike earlier therapeutic and penitential policies, it drew its power from the very narcissism (and self-interest) which underlay their perverse behavior. He argues that this policy, public exposure and rapid withdrawal of all the benefits and honors of the priesthood, is the very deterrent policy advocated by Saint Paul in I Tim 5:19-22 by which time he had been doing clergy formation for 20 years. Paul’s is a policy which does not unrealistically aim at an angelic clergy but at deterrence of those who entered the priesthood for its benefits.
In May, 2011, a research team of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in the City University of New York published its final report on clerical child sexual abuse (CCSA) in the Catholic Church in the United States. Prepared for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and funded by it and many Catholic and private foundations, it is titled The Causes and Context of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests in the United States, 1950-2010. John Jay College had done an earlier report in 2004 called the Nature and Scope study which provides much of the data for the 2011 report. In the following paper, Nature and Scope will be called JJR I and the Causes and Context will be called JJR II. JJR II is much closer than JJR I to being a policy recommending paper, although obviously that is the task of the bishops. In this paper a Catholic philosopher of science with theological training and with a life-long interest in community policy formation will apply the elements of Scholastic prudent policy formation (phronesis) to this sad and mysterious phenomenon of sexual abuse of minors. It is clear that essentially no one understood why a tiny fraction of Catholic priests did so much harm to young people, or what sort of illness or moral collapse took hold of them. No one knew how to cure them or treat them or how to treat their victims. The basic knowledge needed to form a prudent policy to end this horrific wound in the Church and in her children was simply non-existent. CCSA had, for those who first encountered it, the dual coloring of moral collapse and mental/emotional illness. Early policies attempted to apply traditional approaches to CCSA with results which can only be called ghastly. One traditional approach aimed at the moral collapse and promoted sincere repentance, confession, absolution, and various penitential exercises. A second employed various psychotherapies which aimed at the poorly understood illness. The repentance approach was hobbled by the absence of any real desire or intention to desist. The therapeutic approach failed because the “disease” is embedded in personalities which are profoundly narcissistic and whose deviant desires motivate them to feign acceptance of the therapies while fully intending to continue their behavior. These reasons for failure were also not known. But as they began to be known, no alternative policies immediately suggested themselves. The final chapter of JJR II does recommend some CCSA prevention policies which are almost “common sense” meaning that they would have a prima facie appeal without any of the data and discussions of JJR I or II. They are based on a field of criminology called “Situational Crime Prevention” (SCP). Closer inspection of how SCP would work in the context of CCSA reveals serious shortcomings. SCP is essentially a deterrent policy which works effectively with certain types of common crimes like robbery or prostitution. The goal is to reduce the incidence of crime by increasing the risks and/or decreasing the benefit of the crime. Examples would be to close down all the avenues by which thieves can dispose of their loot profitably or publishing photographs of cars cruising through red-light districts. In the CCSA context SCP would require casting unjustified suspicion and putting harmful constraints on the vast majority of priests who have no proclivity to sexual abuse. These priests need, for the good of the Church, to be seen by young men as peaceful in their celibacy due to their Eucharistic intimacy with Christ, but also as having given up their natural fitness for marriage and fatherhood and as enjoying community and friendship with fellow priests. Staying aloof from young people is not the way to do this nor is it the way Christ lived.3 One very good reason for the following paper and others like it is that no prudent policy can be based on or seem to support a serious falsehood, namely that the celibate priesthood, our priests, have, in virtue of their very priesthood, some special vulnerability to bizarre sexual appetites or actions. No properly disaggregated statistic of empirical data has ever shown this. It is, in fact, fantastic. But this is not to depreciate the exhaustive and exhausting work of John Jay College researchers. A prudent policy formation, in Aquinas’ analysis of this principal of the practical virtues, must respect and exploit every bit of honest human experience in arriving at its final design.
Purpose of This Study:
Our intention is to exploit all the theoretical, anecdotal or data based/statistically analyzed assertions of the two John Jay studies to provide the history (memoria) components of a good prudent policy formation. 4 We will use JJR II’s data premises without feeling bound to logically non-compelling conclusions, especially when these are needlessly hostile to policy formation. We will also use interviews with priests and psychotherapeutic professionals with experience and/or expertise in the area to find a prudent (meaning well made and having a good chance of success) policy for reducing CCSA incidences. Psychotherapeutic resources which the Church initially drew on were themselves as mystified by the phenomenon of child sexual abuse as anyone especially when it came to a history of failed prognoses of recovery or reform, without even contemplating “cure”. The John Jay researchers have taken this history into account, but the very nature of their task and the hopes of their funders inclined them to search for some predictive capacity in all their data and the analyses thereof. Warned by the experience and outcomes of the clerical treatment centers they were wisely cautious and have left us with no significantly predictive theory that might assist those charged with screening and training candidates for the priesthood. For all intents we are left in the same unsettling condition as before: The existence of a person inclined to abuse will first be known by a victim and/or his (her) family. Nevertheless a sense of hopelessness in the matter of reduction of sex abuse of minors is unjustified because, in the opinion of your author, there is material in JJR I and II and other sources which suggest an abuse reduction policy can be formed. It will be based on a profile of the abuser derived from the John Jay studies and other important sources which profile does not make potential and actual abusers recognizable in advance but does provide the policy with effective deterrent power and explains why the deterrent policy works.
The Ideal Policy
The ideal child protection policy in the context of CCSA is one which reduces to near zero the incidence of CSA by both reducing number of potential perpetrators who are approved for ordination and reducing incidences committed by those already ordained, with minimum harm to the priesthood and faithful.5 Reducing harmful side effects is a part of any good policy formation. Situational Crime Prevention was criticized above because of its side effects such as severely constraining contacts between clergy and young people. Also to the extent possible, having more than one goal for a policy should be avoided. Undoubtedly Church authorities regarded damaging the reputation of the Church as harmful both to the priesthood and the faithful. But it is now abundantly clear that that goal ran the risk of overshadowing the main goal.6 The very definition of an ideal policy seems to suggest some screening component. But JJR II is quite discouraging about the possibility of effective screening. Prior knowledge of priestly candidates divides roughly into intensive knowledge (tests and expert interviews) and extensive (long-term living in a close community, a frequent teacher in a small class, long term classmates, workmates, room mates.) The latter are far more promising but hard for authorities to access. 7
Intensive tools face special difficulties since potential perpetrators undoubtedly will know the purpose of the tests and, as noted below, are motivated to seek entrance into the priesthood in spite of evidence of moral unfitness for it. Candidates, especially those approaching ordination are generally quite intelligent and may be motivated to frustrate the tests.8 JJR II notes, based on both recorded behaviors and interviews, that clerical abusers of pubescent or older youngsters9 tend to be intelligent, chillingly strategic, profoundly deceptive, and dismissive of authority. They are likely to frustrate intensive tools either toward or away from any specific “identity” and , while they suffer from fairly severe internal stresses which make them prone to drinking, they are not afflicted with overt psychological symptoms. In some cases however the extreme narcissism of potential perpetrators may be detected by tests which are well defended against deception by a test-taker. Extensive knowledge is valuable but unless bishops and/or seminary rectors are able to really live with their students and get to know them extensively, sharing meals, going on hikes, playing ball or cards with them, only fellow students are likely to recognize the extreme narcissist in their midst.
Obstacles to application:
.1. Any policy which focuses on a class which is too broad such as persons affected with same-sex attraction (SSA) or with narcissism will be opposed by members of the clergy in those classes. And reasonably so. Being affected by SSA does not make a person a CCSA perpetrator.. JJR II does not support exclusion of SSA candidates from the clergy. It supports exclusion of candidates whom common sense would exclude, if known. These include sexual transgressors of all sorts and particularly what it calls “generalists”, men who have sex with adults and juveniles of both sexes and who have done so more than once. The JJR II record shows that they will continue this behavior after ordination. The obvious problem is that such potential perpetrators will likely be skilled at hiding their proclivities and activities. Success in this hiding after ordination is made easy by having diocesan clergy living in one-priest rectories or in rectories in which there is no community among the priests. This dynamic functioned tragically in the U.S. because it guaranteed that detection of persons capable of CSA was most likely to be by the victims or their families i.e. too late to prevent it. 2. Any policy which targets for exclusion a class too broad because a case can be made that potential perpetrators are predominantly in that class is unjust because perpetrators are a very small percentage of any class, except classes which are, almost by definition as noted above, undetectable. 3. Summary: Prior exclusion policies are likely to be ineffective and unjust. And because they exclude good candidates they may do harm to the faithful by exacerbating the clergy shortage without counterbalancing good effects.
CCSA Reduction Policy Using JJR II Data
JJR II discovered in their extensive data collection something as significant about CCSA perpetrators as it is surprising. It was the evidence and significance of a rise in abuse incidence into the 1970s and a steep fall of incidences through the early 1980s to 2004.(p. 35).10 If we put that rise and fall together with insights of expert and experienced therapists, interviews with abusers reviewed in JJR II, the reasonable assumptions behind “Situational Crime Prevention” scholarship (JJR II, pp. 120-121.) and fortify this with a spiritually perceptive psychology about the mindset of a believer capable of repeatedly sexually abusing a teenager and we can posit a very plausible “profile” of the CCSA person. This profile is even more convincing and useful when we see that the decline in incidences coincides with increased attention by Church officials, increased severity of consequences for the perpetrators, including removal from the priesthood and subjection to criminal prosecution and prison.
The Deterrable Perpetrator
In the first half of the 20th century Church authorities, like nearly everyone else, had practically no knowledge of the stubborn recidivism of child sex abusers. Clerical sex abusers seemed to be undeterred by frequent subjection to various treatments and punishments. But when all the signs revealed by JJR II are assembled we see that, excepting strictly defined pedophiles, CCSA perpetrators appear to be eminently deterrable. This is not a bold or very original assertion. If we can assume he included sexual sins, Saint Paul (I Tim 5:19-22) recommends public exposure (and its inferable consequences) to deter others inclined to sexual offenses. No other defense of the assertion is needed beyond the old Scholastic saying “ab esse ad posse valet illatio”, in this context meaning: If it happened, it must be capable of happening. Juvenile sex abusing clerics, a tiny but persistent group of all priests11 , did not suddenly become genuinely celibate, they just stopped targeting juveniles. JJR II’s figure 2.7 (p.35) shows the steep rise and fall of abuse incidents and the text of Chapter 4 shows that the changed policies and actions of civil authorities at the time of the steep decline did act as a deterrent particularly effective for this type of offender. It would be disingenuous to suggest that Church authorities led this change but there were Church plans in the making which almost certainly reached the attention of the perpetrators. Some of these can be read in a document meant to be confidential in 1985 but which became celebrated instead. Called the Manual, easil y accessed on the web, it was written by a team of a priest/psychiatrist, a canonist and a lawyer. Among other things there is evidence that involuntary laicization, suspension, and referral to civil and criminal action were already being considered in the early 80’s. It is your author’s hunch that gay-friendly clerics did not hesitate to make known the trends evident in this document. Rather speedy actions toward offending clerics were becoming plausible . There is also evidence that some perpetrators were already in prison without Church policies advocating collaboration with civil authorities. Most notably were civil/criminal policies ordering a “discovery” process which would over-ride Church efforts to keep its disciplinary measures out of media range.
The Deterrable Type
Essentially none of the studies used or done by John Jay College provide a profile of the offenders which are useful predictors for any just policy excluding persons who have not, or are not known to have offended sexually.. But I will list some of the generic elements in the perpetrators’ profile to underpin a sub-conclusion in this paper: Catholic clerical sex abusers were and are deterrable. It is just that the right kind of deterrence was not known. The elements I list are generic in the strict logical sense. In Aristotelian language, they are not “specific differences” such that whoever has them is an abuser of juveniles. But, for the most part, all abusers of juveniles have these elements. And these elements contribute to a property of deterrability. I say “for the most part” because this is a human issue, not a mathematical one and it is a pathology which is a true breakdown with no controlling “essence”.
1. Pronounced Narcissism: JJR II notes this element and Dr. Richard Fitzgibbons, a psychiatrist with extensive experience in treating seminarians, found it frequently in young seminarians troubled with same-sex-attraction. As horrified and furious as we may be at the degrading abusive acts and their impacts on the kids , we must note how astonishingly self-centered a person must be to regularly do them with the child withdrawn from the youngster’s religion class each week. If the deprivation of religious education occurred simply because the priest preferred the youngster’s carefulness in loading his fine china into his rectory dishwasher it would be a shocking act of narcissism. The disgust and anger we feel distracts us from the underlying narcissism.12 2. Intelligent Capacity to Plan and Execute CSA: Successful negotiation of seminary training assures the presence of significant native intelligence. The narcissism just noted is not a chaotic disturbance of this intelligence. The narcissist uses it. Perpetrators are often exquisitely strategic in the choice and lengthy grooming of their targets and deceptive of parents of the victim and or the cleric’s own relatives to gain access to the youngster. Apart from the narcissism itself, the perpetrator is smart, controlled, even cold, and reads human nature well enough to exploit its vulnerabilities.
3. Capacity to Turn One’s Back on God: Aquinas points this out as a requirement for those who commit serious and deliberate sins. Most of us know a kind of momentary “setting God aside” when we commit an undoubted venial sin , for example, taking one drink too many when we are close to intoxication or when our doctor has warned against it. And we know the ridiculous rationalizations which flood our minds at the time. Touchingly in Romans (5: 13-25) Paul laments his experience of the inner conflict with sin. But surely very few believers in God will look God in the eye and calmly say: “I know you do not want me to do this, but I am going to do it anyway.” Even in deliberate venial sins we have to look away from Him and our minds flood with flimsy rationalizations, and sometimes with a kind of anger: “I had a really hard day, I darn well deserve this (guilty self-indulgence X)”. Imagine the capacity for and practice of turning one’s back on God in those who plan well in advance, execute and repeat the awful sins we deal with here. And continue them over a number of years. JJR II (pp. 103-117, many graphs and figures) records a banal list of rationalizations of their behavior, almost as if the crimes were analogous to “given my cholesterol, I really should not have eaten that steak.” JJR II notes (p. 103) the clerical perpetrators live in a world where “there is no way to hide from God.” They have to look away from Him over longer periods of time. The authors also note that the perpetrators live in a special subculture which causes them to use a distinct vocabulary and distinct devices to “distance” themselves from their guilt as if some other “self” bears the guilt. Reading through the review of their therapeutic interviews convinces one that not too far under the surface there is a fearful burden of shame and guilt. These men are not atheists nor insanely out of touch with reality. They edit reality severely and every device they use to lessen their guilt is something all deliberate sinners (ourselves) do, but in venial, less destructive ways.13 Their deliberate “unmindfulness” about the victims parallels their unmindfulness of God and it shows up this way: Either something abusive did happen but ”it was not my fault”(excuses) or nothing all that bad happened (justifications). The victim is either ignored or blamed. In either case the goal is the same: the perpetrator comes out looking less bad—at least, they imagine, before humans. Unlike imprisoned criminals, they still do not enjoy having a bad name or a reputation of perversity. Here their narcissism reveals itself in their rationalization. But what they cannot do while looking away from God and their neighbor simultaneously is look at Our Lord in his sacred mysteries, his passion and death, in the Eucharist, or look at his children as needing the message of His love.
4. Non-Godly Attraction to the Priesthood: JJR II notes that a large percentage of the abusers were sexually active before and/or during seminary preparation. They were aware of their moral obligation not to offer themselves for ordination if their sexual proclivities had not been overcome. They pursued ordination anyway. Their mental distance from God, as noted above, was more or less habitual, not to say comfortable. They were believers. Given that they were intelligent and well educated why did they continue to pursue the priesthood and remain in it? If we only note the dominant force of narcissism in their lives and do not engage in esoteric speculations, it must be because the priesthood looked like a “nice job” to them.
5. Unanchored, Undisciplined Sexual Appetite: JJR II has a term for this appetite which the data from the perpetrators’ history bears out. It calls these men “generalists.” Given that 81% of the abuse of pubescent and post-pubescent victims were male, JJR II has taken some flack for not tying increasing CCSA to data suggesting a growing presence of homosexuals in seminaries and the priesthood. JJR II’s reluctance to make this association is in part a scholarly precision: the abuser did not identify himself as homosexual, and in part factual: the abusers were most often persons who had omnivorous sexual appetites and their histories confirmed this. JJR II discusses, inconclusively, whether declining social restrictions on sexual activity contributed to the presence of abusers in the priesthood.14 For the purposes of the profile here we can safely say two things: 1) the seminarians and, later, clerics certainly knew the Church’s ideal which places sex at the foundation of a loving and permanent family, hopefully fertile and accepting of involuntarily sterile unions which are “in the form of fertile marriage.” 2) These clerics did not accept this ideal nor pursue it. It was not a value they sacrificed for a higher calling. The “priesthood as a nice job” was attractive to them without any burden of a surrender of a future happy marriage. The sexual activity that they valued was de facto not sacrificed. In this profile, if a perpetrator were asked: “Why didn’t you seek a dispensation and make yourself able to support a family and then get married?” an honest reply would be: ”I am not interested in getting married and besides this is a nice job.”
6. Careful Calculators of Risks: In the interviews some perpetrators complained about their loss of the right to perform as priests. After the promulgating of a “zero-tolerance” policy, meaning that priestly functions would be summarily revoked, many abusers reacted angrily. Anger is usually a reaction to a perceived injustice. This might appear as a mere continuation of the denial of the harm done to victims. But the point here is that the abuser regarded the loss of his active priesthood as a harm all by itself. Going to prison, of course, was hugely more threatening than going to a retreat lasting one or more years. And, as society became more convinced of the harm of sexual abuse to the young, public exposure meant shame, deprivation of the “nice job” and likely prison. And exposure, even without Church cooperation, was becoming more likely. Perpetrators knew this and in later years (1985 to the present) a number of abusers who knew exposure and arrest was imminent committed suicide. To commit further abuse became insanely risky and so it largely stopped. These men were not insane and were not without resources to satisfy their appetites. The benefits of the priesthood could be preserved by caution and redirection.
Explanatory Range of the Profile
Space limitation and questions of relevance weigh against speculating here on why there was a rise in the number CCSA incidents through the 50’s and 60’s and into the 70’s. The rise bears signs of a kind of contagion. The interviews and case histories show incidents of mutual scandal, a kind of collaboration in sin. But the lack of any severely costly consequences cannot have helped. One thing is clear: the same population that produced the rise in incidents of abuse also was capable of thinking better of the behavior and at least redirecting it into paths less risky for themselves. As a group the profiled offenders were and are deterrable.
Necessity of Judicious Use of Empirical Data
Because sexual abuse of same-sex minors is so mysterious to normal males any use of empirical data on the abusers must be critically examined. The evidence of a steep decline of incidents of CCSA from the early 1980’s to 2004 is direct evidence that the abusers were deterred but not so directly that the reason for desistance was desire to avoid the increasingly severe consequence of offending. Any scientific foundation for prudent policy formation aimed at abuse reduction should have its use of data critically examined. The fundamental data-based claim in this essay is that the dramatic drop in abuse incidents in the early 80’s is solid evidence that ‘the class of potential perpetrators whose personality/behavioral traits are known from other sources ( e.g. the John Jay II research) is deterrable and abusers were in fact deterred by the increasing awareness that severe civil penalties and public exposure were likely. Alternative explanations for the drop in incidents should be evaluated carefully since the drop is highly desirable. It is really the goal of any new Church policy. Therefore a mistaken attribution of the reason for deterrability would be tragic for the Church. One alternative explanation might be that public awareness of the AIDS epidemic was the real deterrent. AIDS was “discovered” as a communicable disease in the U.S. in 1981, receiving its current name in 1982 and becoming widely known in 1984 when a youngster, Ryan White, contracted the virus in a blood transfusion and the safety of his presence in his Middle School classrooms was hotly disputed in the media. One could reasonably conclude from this that generalized fear of AIDS dates from about 1983 at the earliest when the drop in abuse incidents was already underway. Hepatitis B (HBV) is as threatening a disease as AIDS and is contracted by many of the same activities as AIDS. AIDS and HBV are frequently found in the same patient. Any male astute enough, in the early 1980’s, to alter his sexual practices to lessen the danger of either AIDS or HBV would not forego sex with minors in favor of sex with adults, rather the reverse since the younger target would be more likely to be free of both viruses. If the publication of dramatic die-off of AIDS patients in the late 80s and into the 90s became a deterrent to risky sexual conduct in clergy who were in the “generalist” class described by JJR II, it is hard to see why this would have led to the dramatic drop in the least risky avenue of sexual activity, namely that with minors. Another possibility is that the perpetrators themselves died of AIDS. There is some evidence that actively homosexual priests did die of AIDS in somewhat elevated numbers in those early years, but anecdotal evidence from AIDS infected homosexual non-clerical males is what one would expect of relatively intelligent persons: They engaged in risky behavior prior to the general public knowledge of its being risky. Secondly, had AIDS infected clerics been responsible for a significant portion of the sexual assaults on minors, there would have been many minors who contracted AIDS from this source. The lack of evidence of AIDS transmission to minors at least suggests a elevated degree of self-interested carefulness, i.e. they were persons not likely to run very high risks. And for such persons, the policy conclusion which follows will still be appropriate.
This profoundly saddening phenomenon of CCSA, for all the harm it has done the Church, is truly devilish. Christ might agree (“an enemy has done this” –Matt 13: 28) and may have given us advice on what not to do: write a policy which rips everything up. He had to put up with the likes of James and John, Peter, Thomas and Judas. Can Church authorities consider themselves more skilled than He at disciple selection? We need a policy which can distinguish between the weaknesses of James, John, Peter, Thomas on one side and the deliberate calculations of a Judas. We need a policy which aims at calculating, deliberate perpetrators and specifically at the things they value. It will, as Paul advocates in I Tim 5: 19-22, be a policy of deterrence: fear of the loss of the “nice job”, the place of honor, public respect, secure income, physically unchallenging, fear of a stigma that will put civil/police barriers between proven perpetrators and the young. We need it to be “ due-process” as Paul recommends so as not to be unjust. But as is implicit in Paul’s recommendation from his twenty years of clergy training, let the policy reflect an awareness that some will be attracted to the “nice job” and succeed in getting ordained. And some of them will be aware of their perverse appetites but can be constrained against acting on them from a solid fear of public exposure.
It is not within the competence of your author to suggest the details of a just, due process, deterrent policy where suspension of all priestly employment and powers and referral to public prosecution is the ultimate outcome. The profile of CCSA perpetrators developed in this paper makes a fairly rapid pace important, once “credible accusations” have been made, because of the history of multiple offenses in known perpetrators. At some point civil law mandates the pace. The position advocated in this paper is that perpetrators are in fact a type whether they themselves know it or not. “Case by case” caution is naturally just until the accusation reaches a credibility analogous to Paul’s “two or three witnesses.” The deterrent power of the policy will be significantly diluted if a dilatory pace is adopted. Moreover compassion for possible additional victims must rule, since the profile of the perpetrators clearly indicates a disposition to “game the system.” Although not elaborated above, the profile includes, in addition to contempt for authority, an excessively tamped down anger which may be the product of being abused as a child themselves. It is a bit scary to anticipate what such a person might do if given the time.
Prudent Use of Profiles in Policy Formation
Aquinas (IIa IIae,Q 49, A. 4. Ad 1) notes that sollertia (cleverness, shrewdness) as an element of prudence shows up as an able discovery of the “middle term” in a practical syllogistic demonstration, i.e. one leading to a conclusion about something to be done. Here that is clearly policy formation. A profile of a CCSA perpetrator is exactly what a “middle term” would be. The subject is the perpetrator, the predicate is what ought to be done to deter incidents of abuse by him. The middle term is an extended “definition” (really a description) of the subject that explains why the policy in the predicate is likely to work or, even better, has already been seen to work as in our case. The crucial element in the definition of the CCSA perpetrator is his intelligent narcissism which leads him to protect the goods of his “nice job” by desisting from abuse of minors. A profile works in the same way that a theoretical model works in theoretical science. As such, a profile is an intellectual construct and the policy it supports will be no better than the accuracy of the profile.17 Interestingly Aquinas illustrates (from Aristotle) this point by showing that a mutual friendship of two men predicts/explains their holding an enemy in common. All of a sudden a coincidental dislike becomes an obvious consequence of something very basic, their mutual friendship. Given the absence of any justifiable screening test and a strong and essential intent to hide their proclivity we cannot shape a policy without some idea of what might deter them. We have to have a profile, a middle term, to construct an argument that a deterrent policy is what prudence requires. Central to the profile developed here is something empirically justified: the same population that was offending through the 1970’s began a steep decline in offending through the 80’s to the present, in tandem with increasing dangers to the goods for which they entered the priesthood, and risks of public disgrace and even imprisonment. The centrality of deterrability is based on and explained by a highly controlled but massive narcissism. It is not reasonable to expect this profile to have the rigor of the middle term in a mathematical demonstration, but only that it be true “for the most part.” Failure to have a proper “profile” of what a human being is has been the cause of the failures of many public policies/ideologies. After Castro informed the newly land-endowed farmers that they could not routinely expect to pass their land to their children a collapse was predictable. The collapse of the Cuban agricultural system was due to neglect of long term soil and animal husbandry. Anyone who grasped and took seriously the family orientation of the “human nature” (the profile) of those farmers knew they would not spend resources on what they could not pass on to their children. Our case here is more difficult in that the appetite for bizarre sexual practices with the young is some kind of pathology and not a normal, healthy drive like the desire to leave one’s family secure. Pathologies do not have a true unity like a “nature.” But a known presence of severe narcissism and a knowledge of the other goods which appeal to not totally destabilized narcissists do allow us to explain/predict that those agents will change their behavior if those other goods are threatened and a fairly plastic sexual appetite is not completely frustrated.
1 A reduction of this essay to 3 pages entitled Deterrable Predator is available on this same website.
2 The author’s credentials and other applied ethics writings can be accessed at http://www.standundon.com. You may also reach him at 530-756-9679 or 530-400 9 656 3 Culturally appropriate contacts between a young man and a fatherly and manly priest or group of priests in activities like basketball, tag football, hiking (where there are great opportunities for conversations about the priesthood) are obviously too valuable to eliminate or render suspect. One can only imagine what deep bonding occurred between Christ and his twelve as they walked the trails of Galilee. 4 This will involve some sifting of the JJR input since they seem somewhat naïve in referring to Freud, Kinsey, Masters and Johnson as if those authors were part of some gradually improving body of knowledge about human sexuality rather than a disheartening descent into rationalization of modern sexual misconduct. If history (memoria) is critical to prudent policy making, then the personal histories of the founders of “disciplines” and the way the histories were intertwined with their founding theories are doubly important. There is a real danger of the “blind leading the blind”. 5 Since a policy is nothing more than a decision to regularly act in a certain way, the classic definition of prudence in acts, recta ratio agibilium ( the right way of carrying out actions) will apply to it. The policy finally chosen should show strong signs of having utilized the eight constitutive parts of prudence which are: memory (history), intelligence, docility, shrewdness, reason, foresight, circumspection, and caution (ST IIa IIae 49.1-8). 6 St. Paul, in I Tim 5: 19-22, shows he was most probably aware that some few would offer themselves for the presbyterate out of disordered and self-interested motives and he knew that public exposure is an effective deterrent for that type of perpetrator. He evidently did not wish to hide from the community the painful fact that corrupted souls will seek and gain positions of honor in any community. Is it worth allowing even one deterrable perpetrator to act when the prevention involves nothing more than a sad admission that the community of the Church is vulnerable to such damaged souls? 7 At a medical ethics lecture for medical students, the renowned speaker asked the students whether they knew a classmate they would not send their dog to. Nearly every student raised his/her hand. The speaker then asked if it was their perception that faculty and administration were clueless as to the classmate’s unfitness for the profession. Practically all agreed. 8 A priest friend told me of a classmate who was taking a test in which the candidate was asked to write a short story to go with each of six innocuous drawings. Being somewhat dismissive of the whole process he wrote six short stories in each of which was a girl named Stella. 9 These remarks do not apply to strictly defined pedophiles (victims under age 12). 10 This does not apply to true pedophiles who victimize 11 year-olds and younger. These are a tiny fraction, often overtly and severely psychopathic. Little that is said in this paper applies to this subset. 11 Probably less that 1% although most of these committed multiple offenses. Few Church authorities have chosen to expose the faultiness of exaggerated estimates (3 to 4%), probably due to not wanting to appear to minimize the harm done 12 Gidi Rubenstein (Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy, 36, 24-34, 2010 confirms the elevated narcissism of homosexual males without determining cause/effect relationships. 13 In order to get some sense of the cost of their violations to themselves, not to elicit sympathy, but to suggest a reason why so many abusing priests desisted and did not reoffend or turned to drink, it might be good to read at least one full account of abuse. For that purpose one might try Rolling Stones (Issue 1139, 9/15/2011, pp. 62-69. 14 JJR II is rather restrained in stating what is or is not appropriate, healthy or normal sexual behavior. Abuse is not acceptable, but the authors note without endorsing the Church’s teaching that appropriate sexual activity is solely an expression of love between husband and wife. 15 JJR II points out ( p. 36 ) how recently the nomenclature of sexual orientation developed. It may seem reasonable to say that a man who runs significant risk to secure an opportunity to engage in abusive sexual activity with a teenage boy is a homosexual no matter what he might wish to be called. On the other hand there are clear policy-related reasons why a man might wish to be “identified” as homosexual even though his history shows no consistent or exclusive pattern of sexual preference or activity. The relatively non-discriminating sexual appetite/behavior among “homosexuals” in our culture is fairly well known. The clear evidence that the abusive priests are also largely “generalists”, i.e. omnivorous, renders this discussion academic. For the purposes of this paper it is a useless distraction because these men are going to hide whatever they “are” or do to retain access to the priesthood and they will do whatever they have an appetite and safe opportunity for once they are priests. What they clearly do not have a dominant appetite for is a loving and permanent marriage or a loving courtship leading to marriage. 16 Every Christian, and especially Catholics, need to beware of the danger of letting a corrupt version of “common sense” slip into their minds which is that a naturally workable alternative to a loving marriage and family (given the blessing of fertility) exists. Or that God and/or nature (God’s work) intends couples to have a rational capacity to find some alternative outcome of their romantic love for each other. The fact is obvious that young men are powerfully pulled out of their self-centeredness in spite of themselves to become husbands and fathers in a way that brings smiles to everyone even if the man in question is close to fainting at the prospect. Celibate Catholic clergy need to not allow this false “rational alternative” influence their judgment about what rational power loving couples are supposed (by God, or God’s nature) to have with respect to the impetuosity of their love. In the not too distant past a six month engagement was considered the maximum prudent. Now it is not uncommon for parishes to require a year’s advance notice of intent to marry at the parish. This, like so many other forms of “rational alternatives,” is really based on the presumption of the access to secure contraception. 17 As an example consider the theoretical explanation of why thunder is noisy. Originally the booming and long rolling sounds were tied to a model of two walls of air separated by a vacuum (created by the lightening by the superheating –to 54,000 % F — of a long channel) collapsing on each other with the extinction of the strike. But that left unexplained the much higher pitch “crack” heard nearer the strike. This required a remodel in which the explosive separation of the air by the lightening occurs first, then the collapse. Note how the theoretical model (definition of thunder) explains the observed properties. That is the function of the “middle term” in the logical structure of a theoretical , explanatory demonstration as well as a practical one.