Monday, April 19, 2010

The Long Season of Lent 2010

I have mentioned before my antipathy towards "studies show" arguments, but I'll make an exception this time since these two statistics have not been given much traction in the public square. A Mercatornet article and a blog post by the NYT's Ross Douthat both cite stats from a comprehensive study completed after the 2002's Long Season of Lent:
"The largest body of information has been collected in the United States, where in 2004 the US Conference of Catholic Bishops commissioned an independent study by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice of the City University of New York. This is not a Catholic university and is unanimously recognized as the most authoritative academic institution of criminology in the United States."
Douthat relies upon this study to make the following claim: "The permissive sexual culture that prevailed everywhere, seminaries included, during the silly season of the ’70s deserves a share of the blame, as does that era’s overemphasis on therapy. " And he reiterates the point again here: " "It’s part of the basis for my column’s claim that something in the moral/cultural/theological climate of the 1960s and 1970s encouraged a spike in sexual abuse."

Despite a balanced column, it was this claim which generated the most responses on his blog-probably because it lays part of the blame at the door of the Sexual Revolution, which is accepted by many people today. To back up his claim, he presented the following chart from the John Jay study:

Massimo Introvigne, author of the Mercatornet article mentioned above, also uses the study to bring up another stat which has not been discussed: "So, does the John Jay College study tells us then, as one often reads, that 4 percent of American priests are paedophiles? Not at all. According to the research, 78.2 percent of the accusations involved minors who had advanced beyond puberty."
And again here: "While it may hardly be politically correct to say so, there is a fact that is much more important: over 80 percent of pedophiles are homosexuals, that is, males who abuse other males." Introvigne links homosexual practice, which is gaining widespread acceptance, with the crisis.

Since both numbers contradict our notions of political correctness, it shouldn't come as a surprise that they haven't been given much attention.

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