Monthly Archives: November 2008

A Little History on the New Vatican Guidelines for the Selection, Training, and Supervision of Candidates for the Roman Catholic Priesthood

“The Catholic Church in North America possesses the greatest databank of evaluation and treatment of non-incarcerated pedophiles on the continent. That data should be analyzed scientifically and shared with others studying the problem.”
Reverend Canice Connors OFM 1993
Quoted in the Milwaukee Journal

The Catholic Church has propounded the myth that it was the single institution that preserved culture and learning when western civilization fell into the dark ages. With the recent release of the Vatican guidelines for the use of psychology in the training of priest candidates, the Vatican has once again attained vagueness and deception in an attempt to prove that they alone have ability to police their predator priests.

What the Holy See is not telling us is that the Roman Catholic Church has the longest history and largest library on the causes, treatment, and prevention of childhood sexual abuse in the world. The problem is that they don’t listen to their own advice and adhere to their own rules.

Here is a partial list of what they know and could share with society:

In 309 AD the first church council was held at the city of Elvira to discuss childhood sexual abuse by clerics. At that meeting, church leaders decided that they would dismiss any cleric who had hurt a child. It was the first one-strike policy. (Power and Sexuality: The Emergence of Canon Law at the Synod of Elvira in Vigiliae Christianae )

Apparently, it didn’t work. In 1051, The Pope was given a detailed report by Saint Peter Damian in The Book of Gomorrah, an account detailing the graphic evidence of the sexual activities of the clergy. Remember, these are the days before the Internet, mass communications, transportation, or basic literacy. For Damian to amass an account such as this meant that the practice of child sexual abuse was rampant and flagrant.

Little changed in the next 900 years.

In 1936, Reverend Thomas Verner Moore OSB, M.D., began using psychological instruments to detect (what he called) “pre-psychotics” applying to the priesthood and religious life. The United States Catholic Bishops turned down Father Moore’s request to build a psychiatric hospital for clergy at Catholic University of America. The bishops did, however, understand a needs for a policy and a procedure to protect the church, so instead they built a highly secretive and effective infrastructure to hide sexually abusive clergy and religious.

Some dioceses built treatment centers on their own, catering care and treatment to the secretive nature of the church and providing a sanctuary for abusive clerics to escape law enforcement and exposure.

In 1946, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia founded the Saint John Vianney Institute in Downingtown PA. This is the oldest continually operating treatment facility in the U.S. The next year, the Archdiocese of Santa Fe founded a religious order of diocesan rite called the Servants of the Paraclete in Jemez Springs, NM.

Some of the most dangerous men in the United States have stayed at both facilities.

Psychological testing in training and supervising seminarians and priests was again bandied around in 1971, when Conrad W. Baars, M.D., presented his paper – “The Role of the Church in the Causation, Treatment, and Prevention of the Crisis in the Priesthood” – to the Synod of Bishops meeting in Rome.

The real smoking gun came in 1993, when Reverend Canice Connors OFM told the Milwaukee Journal on June 19, 1993, that “the Catholic Church in North America possesses the greatest data bank of evaluation and treatment of non-incarcerated pedophiles on the continent. That data should be analyzed scientifically and shared with others studying the problem.” He was in Milwaukee to present his findings to the U.S. Bishops.

The same year, a national study by the five major priest treatment facilities regarding the priests they had treated was never completed. The study was requested by the Institute of Mental Health and 86 percent of the data was completed regarding offending priests, but the U.S. Bishop’s Conference ordered it stopped.

This data has never been shared outside a small control group of the Church.

So, what of these new Vatican Guidelines?  They are simply an attempt to confuse the issue. Period. The bishops simply refuse to take real action

The Church’s knowledge is so vast and complete that if the Vatican and the United States Catholic Bishops shared this knowledge with the rest of society, they could instill real change.

If they applied their knowledge RIGHT NOW in the selection, training, ordination, and supervision of deacons, priests, and bishops, the crime of the serial sexual of abuse of children by Roman Catholic clerics could be eradicated in one decade.

Until then, our children will pay the price.

Leave a comment

Filed under canon law, Clergy Sex Abuse