A worthless and dangerous report
By MIRANDA CELESTE HALE - MIRANDACELESTE.NET
Added: Wed, 25 May 2011 07:29:16 UTC
Thanks to Ophelia Benson for the link, who comments on it here. Miranda's close reading of the full Catholic Bishops Report gives the lie to the newspaper previews last week, under headlines such as 'Priest sex scandal was temporary problem'.
Last week, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) released a report called “The Causes and Context of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests in the United States, 1950-2010” (.pdf), a companion to their 2004 report, “The Nature and Scope of the Problem of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests and Deacons in the United States, 1950-2002“. Both reports were compiled by the research team at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice of the City University of New York at the request of the USCCB’s Office of Child and Youth Protection and the National Review Board, a group of prominent Catholic laity (both the OCYP and the NRB were created by the USCCB after the 2002 adoption of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People). It is important to note that, although the research was carried out by the John Jay College, the UCCSB had the final say on whether or not to authorize publication of the report.
Before I read the newly-released report, I tried to be as charitable and optimistic about it as possible, with the thought that “well, this is better than nothing”.
After finishing the report, though, I can say with certainty that both my charity and my optimism were unwarranted. I was wrong. Very wrong. This report isn’t better than nothing. It’s a major setback in the movement towards Church accountability.
In the hope of counteracting some of the report’s detrimental effects, I want to offer some summary and analysis of its methodology, data, and conclusions. The report itself is very long (143 pages), but you can get an overview of its findings by reading its brief “Executive Summary” and/or The New York Times‘s recent article on the report.
First, I want to explain why this report’s findings are neither credible nor insightful:
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