Castration vs. Isolation

Recently, German and Moldovan lawmakers have openly discussed using chemical castration as a viable treatment option for sex offenders.  Because the offender will no longer be able to act on his desires (and in many cases will lose sexual desire altogether), castration is offered as one option to prevent recidivism, or repeat offenses.

This topic deserves further discussion.

Roman Catholic Church has centuries of experience and could aid the discussion. Unlike any other institution, the church has trained psychiatrists and psychologists who specialize in child predators; has operated predator treatment facilities; and has sponsored internal studies where child predators were carefully evaluated, recidivism was discussed and chemical castration was practiced.

The Roman Catholic Church has grappled for years with the question of what to do with bishops, priests, religious and employees after they have sexually abused minors.  Thousands of pages of internal church documents outline topics like: “Post Treatment Options”, “What to do with the unassignable” and, “Where to place those given a sentence by a church court of a life of prayer and penance”.

Whatever the pithy phrase employed, the church has intensely studied the problem of predator clerics for nearly a century.

In the early 20th century, Reverend Thomas Verner Moore M.D. studied the causes behind the high rates of insanity amongst the clergy, including the driving forces of human nature.  Another early pioneer in treating child molesting clergy was Dr. Leo Bartemeirer M.D. at the Seton Institute.

On the west coast, the Servants of the Paraclete and Reverend Gerald Fitzgerald S.P., treated molesting priests with depo-provera as a form of chemical castration.  Fitzgerald surmised that if you turned off a predator’s sex drive, he would not be sexually attracted to children.  Depo-provera use continued into the 1990s where Father Stephen Rossetti Ph.D. makes mention of depo-provera at the Saint Luke Institute in Silver Spring, MD.

None of these institutions have had great success.

Experience has taught me that chemical castration of clerical sex offenders of minors is only effective for a small few.  For the clerics I have known or interviewed, the causes and composition of their sexual attraction to children are very complex.  According to Father Cannice Connors O.F.M. who ran the Southdown treatment facility in Canada and the Saint Luke Institute for three decades, the causes and composition of clerical sex offenders are more than bio-chemical.  It surely is not a “software” issue, only requiring a “reboot” of the clerics hard drive.  Complex clerical criminals such as Gilbert Gauthe, Oliver Francis O’Grady or Donald J. McGuire S.J. are cunning and calculating. In fact, even Fr. Gerald Fitzgerald, S.P. calls them “Vipers.”

Ockham’s Razor – Isolate Sex Offenders from Target Population

William of Ockham’s (also known as Occam’s) Razor, or principle of economy, states that the simplest answer to a highly complex question is often the best answer.  Using that methodology, the answer for keeping children safe is simple: isolate sex offenders from their target population. Chemical castration is complex, difficult to maintain, and must be carefully monitored.  Its success rate is poor.

The simplest answer? Complete isolation where there is no possibility of predators have any access to their target population. The children of today and tomorrow are worth it.



Filed under canon law, catholic, clergy abuse, Clergy Sex Abuse

4 responses to “Castration vs. Isolation

  1. Yes, if an adult is capable of sexually abusing a child once, they are capable of doing it again.
    Child predators can never have access or be near children. NEVER…

    Judy Jones, SNAP Midwest Associate Director, USA, 636-433-2511
    “Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests”
    (SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims.
    SNAP was founded in 1988 and has more than 12,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers and increasingly, victims who were assaulted in a wide range of institutional settings like summer camps, athletic programs, Boy Scouts, etc. Our website is

  2. Past tests have shown that defective D4 receptor genes in the human genome are related to various forms of abnormal sex behavior in humans. Whether this defect has a diminishing effect on the voluntarium has not had much discussion. It would be interesting to see future dialog on this issue. For example, where there is a serious pathological defect enforcing sociopathic behavior, to what extent is the will compromised, and to what extent is personal guilt to be judged?

  3. The Old Testament had a great answer. Offenders were buried up to their necks in the ground and they were stoned to death! Unfortunately, this practice has gone by the wayside, but maybe we should look at it being revived!

  4. Surely removing dangerous sexual predators from access to their favourite prey should be our first priority.

    Yet this is not happening. Self serving organisations such as the catholic church, helped by our legal systems, go to quite extraordinary lengths, and often expense, to continue to give child rapists unfettered access to those unable to defend themselves against their devastating attacks.

    This completely ignores the rights of innocent children and other vulnerable populations not be raped by those in positions of authority over them. In this, we fail our most basic role as a society.

    Our society’s obsession with the presumption of innocence, with incarceration as a punishment and a deterrent, and with wiping the slate clean after a predator has “repaid their debt to society” all completely ignore the significant harm to victims, the massive number of unreported crimes, the difficulty in proving these cases, the appallingly low rate of conviction, and the reckless and unnecessary endangering of our children.

    We need to rise above discussions of whether we are dealing with evil monsters who deserve the worst punishment we can devise, victims who are so absorbed with their own pain they are unaware of the harm they inflict on others, or unlucky individuals simply suffering from a chemical imbalance, and first protect children from their evil acts/poor decisions/behavioural response.

    I am as anxious for justice as anyone, but our current legal system is completely unable or unwilling to deliver justice for the millions of victims of this horrible crime. Let’s first concentrate on stopping the creation of new victims, which can be achieved if known predators are never again given access to children.

    Their actions, whatever the cause, surely justify the removal of their right to be around children, and to inflict more harm.

    Chemical castration does not recognise the fact that this is a crime about violence, about power over others, about taking perverse delight from forcing your will on someone who does not consent to your actions, not just about sexual desire. Chemical castration may work for some offenders, but should we to risk our children’s future, their lives, on the hope they never encounter a predator for whom it does not work?

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