Thursday, April 8, 2010

Facts and figures: Prof. Thomas Plante on sexual abuse by priests

A short but surpringly balanced article (apparently not available on-line) in connection with the present round of media reporting on sexual abuse by Catholic priests appeared in The Weekend Australian Magazine last Saturday. Of particular interest was the section which I transcribe here:
But when Vatican officials express indigna-tion [sic] that their Church is being singled out as a corrupt institution when pedophilia and under-age sex are part of a larger social probem, they may have a point. A large-scale survey by Dr Thomas Plante of Stanford University suggests that 2-5 per cent of priests have had sexual expe-rience [sic] with a minor, far lower than the figure for the general adult male population, estimated at 8 per cent.
[my interpolations, with the relevant dashes preserved where the article went to a new line in the hard copy,
The Weekend Australian Magazine, April 3-4 2010, p. 6]
A Google search turned up a useful article, entitled "A Perspective on Clergy Sexual Abuse", by Prof. Plante himself. Here are some excerpts (though the whole article is worth reading, and is not too long):
[...] First, the available research (which is quite good now) suggests that approximately 4% of priests during the past half century (and mostly in the 1960s and 1970s) have had a sexual experience with a minor (i.e., anyone under the age of 18). ... However, although good data is hard to acquire, it appears that this 4% figure is consistent with male clergy from other religious traditions and is significantly lower than the general adult male population that is best estimated to be closer to 8%. Therefore, the odds that any random Catholic priest would sexually abuse a minor are not likely to be significantly higher than other males in or out of the clergy.

[...] Second, 80% of all priests who in fact abuse minors have sexually engaged with adolescent boys not prepubescent children. ...
[my ellipses,]
And in last Saturday's edition of The Weekend Australian, Mr. Christopher Pearson provided some useful references:
For a forensic rebuttal, search out Raymond de Souza's essay last week in National Review Online and George Weigel's First Things piece, "Scoundrel Time(s)".

The most compelling evidence on the Milwaukee trial itself comes from Thomas Brundage, the canonical judge who presided over it, at the Catholic Culture website.

Readers wondering about the plausibility of the suggestion that the Pope is complicit in a vast cover-up may care to reflect on his record.

Catholic Archbishop of Westminster Vincent Nichols has summarised his reforms of the process of handling accusations in a timely fashion in the days when he headed the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith at the British Times Online site.
Reginaldvs Cantvar,
Thursday in Easter Week, A.D. 2010

1 comment:

R. J. Stove said...

Aquinas, Summa, Part III: "In order that the happiness of the saints may be more delightful to them and that they may render more copious thanks to God for it, they are allowed to see perfectly the sufferings of the damned."

Saint John Chrysostom: "The floor of hell is paved with bishops' skulls."

May all those Catholic bishops still alive, who by their activities have aroused even the slightest suspicion of indulgence to clerical or lay sodomites (for the latter can sometimes inflict as much misery - not to mention fatal disease - as the former), now prostrate themselves, begging for mercy, in front of Peter's throne.

May they offer to the Holy Father their resignations before he seeks them.

May His Holiness, having experienced at first hand the pervert league's full hatred, be moved to initiate a crusade for the re-criminalisation (throughout the Western world) of sodomy.

And may all those Catholics who knew of the damage done by perverts, whom human respect inspired to conceal the damage, and who died unrepentant, be tortured in the eternal fire by the most heartbreaking sounds of our time: the sobs of a deaf child in Milwaukee.