My friend, blog neighbor and fellow Queens resident Dr. Pat McNamara offers us the long view of a Church historian:
From the 1930’s through the early 1960’s, many large dioceses ordained 30-35 men a year on average. The overwhelming majority turned out to be good, loving men, on call 24/7 for the people they served. But the fact is some men should never have been ordained. Some acted out their sexuality in a way harmful to others, especially the young. They relied on the fact that nobody would believe a priest could do something so vile.
Not to make excuses, but you have to keep two things in mind. First, for earlier generations, Catholic and non-Catholic, sex itself was just a taboo subject. You didn’t talk about it under any circumstances. Second, the priest was a revered figure. The idea of a priest sexually abusing youth was disgusting, unthinkable, and unmentionable. It was almost impolite. Some even considered it a lie made up by anti-Catholics to discredit the Church.The John Jay Report mainly looked at the period from 1966 to 1984, but any historian will tell you that this problem wasn’t a product of the sixties. Instances of sexual abuse appear throughout Church history. They go as far back as the Bible; think of the Old Testament story of Susanna and the elders. Sexual scandals also played an undeniable part in bringing about the Reformation. Historian Eamon Duffy writes:
The Renaissance papacy evokes images of a Hollywood spectacular, all decadence and drag. Contemporaries viewed Renaissance Rome as we now view Nixon’s Washington, a city of expense-account whores and political graft, where everything and everyone had a price, where nothing and nobody could be trusted. The popes themselves seemed to set the tone.
What saved the Church? People working to reform it from within.
Read on. Where there is faith, there is hope.