This is Manhood

A excerpt of the prayer delivered by coach Ron Brown to the Penn State football team on November 12th, at the start of the first game after sex abuse charges against former assistant coach Larry Sandusky ended Joe Paterno’s coaching career:

There are a lot of little boys around the country, today, who are watching this game. And they’re trying to figure out what the definition of manhood is all about. Father, this is it right here. I pray that this game will be a training ground of what manhood looks like. And we will compete with fierce intensity. With the honor, and the gifts, and the talents that you’ve given us. And may we be reminded, Lord, as it says in John 1:14, that Jesus is full of grace and truth. May the truth be known!

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Discarded Theologians

A quick shout-out to Bilgrimage, a blog by theologian William D. Lindsey, that recently linked an article by Mary Valle from our series on the John Jay report about sex abuse in the Catholic Church — and caused some good discussion.  (Other contributors aren’t shabby either, by the way.  See the entire series here.) Continue Reading →

A Questionable Purpose, A Test of Words

Part of The Revealer’s series on the John Jay report,The Causes and Context of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests in the United States, 1950-2010.”

by Jack Downey

Last month, a team of researchers from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, led by Dr. Karen Terry, published a 150-page report entitled The Causes and Context of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests in the United States, 1950-2010 .  The report is the second installment of  research into the scandal that has crushed the American Church for the past two decades as reports of abuse and its administrative cover-up came to light, the high-water mark being the 2003 prison murder of convicted abuser priest John GeoghanCauses and Context is the culmination of five years of research initiated by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) National Review Board, to the tune of $1.8 million, approximately half of which was funded by the USCCB itself.  Its preceding document, The Nature and Scope of the Problem of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests and Deacons in the United States, was meant to be a descriptive analysis of the phenomenon – cataloguing the 10,667 individual reports of sexual abuse by clergy from 1950 through early 2003 – with Causes and Context providing more analytical reflection.  However, the study’s immediate legacy has been marred by allegations—and threats–from critics of all stripes that the research itself was crippled in some way by ethical bias, aggravating the already tectonic divisions within American Catholicism on the subject. Continue Reading →

Pathologizing the Sexual Revolution

Part of The Revealer’s series on the John Jay report,The Causes and Context of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests in the United States, 1950-2010.”

by Peter Bebergal

The Sixties counterculture beleaguered most traditional religious communities. Not only was there an increase in behavior deemed inappropriate (drug use, promiscuous sex, and the generalized spread of anti-establishment ideas), there was what came to be seen as a distracting interest in non-Western, non-traditional spiritual philosophy and practices. Compounding this was the insistence by many young people that psychedelic drugs were a profound catalyst for helping them to break free of what they saw as dusty and dried out teachings spouted by clergy who had no understanding of the injustices of a country torn apart by war, racism, sexism, and homophobia.

It’s no surprise then that the recent report on the “causes and context” of sex abuse in the Catholic Church claims that one factor was the prevalence of counterculture values that peaked in the mid- to late-Sixties, characterized in the popular consciousness of hirsute young people taking drugs, having sex, and otherwise dropping out of society in pursuit of a naive belief in a cosmic utopia. This stereotype would ultimately reduce the Sixties counterculture, an extremely complex and diverse movement, to a kind of youthful pathology, or simply, deviance. As the report says: “The rise in abuse cases in the 1960s and 1970s was influenced by social factors in American society generally.” Continue Reading →

Keeping the Patriarchy: Sex as Dominance in the Catholic Church

by Amanda Marcotte

To quickly summarize a recently- released,  five-year study funded by the Catholic Church on the priest sex abuse scandals: “We’ve investigated ourselves and concluded that it was the hippies that did it.”  It may be easy to be hoodwinked into believing the report isn’t as dodgy as it is, as the researchers did offer some concessions to the critics, both in denying that homosexuality is the root of the sex abuse scandals and suggesting that the church failed to deal with the problem effectively, but it’s important to look beyond these concessions and at the larger conclusions reached.  Doing so demonstrates that the Catholic Church has no interest in addressing the toxic, patriarchal culture that breeds sexual abuse and the subsequent cover-ups.  Instead, the researchers have gone out of their way to suggest that the sex abuse was a historical anomaly caused by a lascivious 1960’s culture, and that no real changes need to be made in order to prevent future incidents of abuse of children and teenagers by priests. Continue Reading →