WASHINGTON, D.C., NOV. 16, 2005 (Zenit.org).- The U.S. bishops’ National Review Board has selected the John Jay College of Criminal Justice to conduct a major study of the causes of clergy sexual abuse of minors.
The college, part of City University of New York, will work with Fordham University and experts across the country to carry out the research.
The decision was announced today by Patricia Ewers, chair of the board, during a meeting with the U.S. bishops in Washington. The board is advising the Church on the handling of the abuse problem.
Informed of the decision, Jeremy Travis, president of John Jay College, said: “We commit ourselves to conducting the research with scrupulous objectivity and scientific rigor to advance society’s understanding of the causes and context of the problem within the Church.”
The study was called for by the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, which was passed by the U.S. bishops in 2002.
Issues to be explored in the study include:
— epidemic aspects of the sexual abuse incidents shown in the surge of incidents in the 1970s and the subsequent decline of sexual abuse in the 1980s;
— prominence of young adolescent males among the victims;
— content and influence of seminary admission policies and priest formation programs before and after the 1980s;
— differences between lifestyle and formation of diocesan and religious order clergy that might explain the differences in reported cases of abuse;
— ecclesiastical environment and the ways in which the Church responded to reports of sexual abuse;
— behavioral and psychological problems of abusers;
— circumstances which enhanced the vulnerability of the victims;
— cultural, social and psychological factors in American society and the Catholic Church which contributed to sexual abuse of children, particularly during the surge of incidents in the 1970s;
— response of law enforcement to reports of sexual abuse committed by clergy in the 1970s as compared with current response protocols;
— common psychiatric treatment models of the 1970s as compared with current treatment models.
The National Review Board previously commissioned a descriptive study giving such data as statistics on perpetrators and victims over the previous 50 years.
That study, “On the Nature and Scope of the Problem of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests and Deacons, 1950-2002,” was conducted by John Jay College and published last year.
The new study is expected to cost $3 million. The U.S. bishops have committed $1 million toward it. Further funding is being sought from Catholic and other philanthropic groups.