Some clergy sexual abuse survivors and their advocates in the Philadelphia area are outraged by a new study from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. The findings tie a rise in cases of clergy sex abuse in the Catholic Church to the Woodstock-Era’s wave of social and sexual freedom.
Katherine, from Northeast Philadelphia, is the mother of a now 40-year-old son who was abused by a priest in Philadelphia when he was a boy. Her reaction to the study is strong.
“Ludicrous. Absolutely ludicrous,” said Katherine, who didn’t want her last name published because that could identify her son. “They try every avenue to try to protect these pedophiles. We have pedophile priests who are still out there.”The Philadelphia Archdiocese declined to comment on the study, which was commissioned by the U.S. Conference of Bishops. The study’s authors say abuse peaked in the 60s and 70s, even if allegations often did not come to light until years later.Sister Maureen Paul Turlish taught in Philadelphia Archdiocesean schools, and has been speaking out on behalf of clergy abuse victims. “People are responsible for their actions,” said Turlish. “You can’t blame sexual abuse of a child–the repeated sexual abuse of children–on any cultural phenomenon. It’s absurd.” For many Catholics in the Philadelphia area, recent Grand Jury findings that priests with credible abuse allegations against them were allowed to keep serving have been devastating. Charles Gallagher worked in the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office on abuse issues. Gallagher said it’s time for the Church to come clean about the real causes of the abuse crisis,”They didn’t properly screen these men that became priests, they were not properly supervised and disciplined and were not properly turned over to law enforcement for breaking the law,” said Gallagher. “Celibacy and homosexuality or whatever cultural influence they may try and say affected this, is a bizarre conclusion in my mind.”Gallagher said the money that was spent on the study, should have gone to helping abuse survivors instead.