WASHINGTON (October 31, 2007)—Researchers from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice and Fordham University will present the U.S. bishops with preliminary results of their research on the causes and context of the clergy sexual abuse crisis at the bishops' annual fall meeting in November.
Initial findings of the 1960-1990 time period have set the incidence of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic priests within an overall sociological framework of social change.
Detailed surveys and data collection that currently are ongoing in several locales are expected to explain the patterns of abuse incidents and abuse reports.
Sites for this data-gathering include seminaries, dioceses and treatment centers. Researchers are giving particular attention to the years from the late 1980s through 2002 – a period of lower incidence of abuse incidents, increased awareness and increased number of reports.
"The research results will be significant not just for the church but for all of society because understanding child sexual abuse precedes its detection and prevention," said Bishop Gregory Aymond of Austin, Texas, chair of the bishops' Committee for the Protection of Children and Young People. "The experience of the Catholic Church could inform the practices of many social institutions."
To date, the bishops have contributed over $1 million toward the $2 million dollar study. Efforts are now being made to raise additional funds from foundations and donors to ensure that this study is completed.
The study is expected to conclude in 2009. The bishops have expressed a keen interest in being updated as findings emerge. This will allow them to implement changes as soon as possible to ensure the safety of children in the care of the church.
The bishops' meeting will be November 12-15, at the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront Hotel. Coverage of the meeting will be open to credentialed media. Reporters seeking to cover the meeting can download a credential application form from the Web at
(http://www.usccb.org/comm/credentialform.pdf) and submit it by November 5 via fax (202-541-3173) or mail it to:
November Meeting Media Credentials
Dept. of Communications
3211 4th St., NE
Washington, DC 20017-1194.