Stoic News

By Dave Kelly

Monday, June 19, 2006

Did the Church lose faith in the efficacy of its doctrine?

That's what it looks like. The priests' sinful behavior of habitual sex abuse were signs of severe theological, spiritual, and religious problems. The solution could only be complete true reprentance and conversion, or reconversion, to the faith. But the Church chose to pass the problem off to psychiatric experts.

Giving Healing and Hope to Priests who Molested

"Few priests refer themselves to St. Luke or other centers. Most are ordered by religious superiors to undergo evaluation and treatment. Patients usually stay at St. Luke for about six months. Their evaluation includes personality profiles, intelligence tests, interviews by therapists, physical examinations, tests for brain dysfunction and the construction of a detailed sexual history.

"After the diagnosis, which is shared with religious superiors, patients begin an intense period of group and individual therapy sessions. "The breakdown of denial, that is the heart of it," said the Rev. Curtis C. Bryant, St. Luke's Director of Inpatient Clinical Services.

"Other residents play a critical role in forcing patients to stop minimizing their actions and to feel the pain they have inflicted on others, Father Bryant said. Therapy also aims at uncovering the deeper sources of compulsive behavior and at understanding the patterns it has taken so that relapses can be foreseen and forestalled.

"An abusive priest who had undergone similar treatment on the West Coast described the process of genuinely acknowledging his behavior and responsibility as so painful that he contemplated suicide. Father Bryant said the residents often help one another through this. Re-Enacting Scenes of Abuse

"St. Luke's program is designed to pierce the defenses of highly intelligent and well-educated patients, men with the verbal ability to rationalize or mask their feelings. In impromptu psychodrama sessions, patients may re-enact scenes of sexual abuse they were themselves subjected to as youths or situations that have typically preceded their own offenses.

"Some voluntarily receive weekly injections of depo-provera, an anti-androgen that reduces sexual drive.

"Before treatment is completed, Dr. Montana said, the staff communicates the patient's prognosis to his religious superiors and reviews any church positions, like administrative jobs or chaplaincies in nursing homes, that the priest could safely carry out.

"Everyone completing treatment draws up a detailed contract for continuing care, which involves attending support group meetings four times a week, psychotherapy each week and spiritual direction and abstaining from alcohol. Afterward, patients must regularly return to the Institute for weeklong assessments and workshops."

Failure of Catholic Psychology in Priest Sex Abuse?

I don't think that the apparent failure of Catholic psychology in the priest sex abuse scandal, both as a contributing factor of the sexual misconduct and as revealed in the failure to rehabilitate so many priests, has been sufficiently emphasized.

Modern Psychology and Priest Sex Abuse

"It is the contention of this essay that there were significant changes in psychological theory as taught in Catholic Universities and practiced in seminary formation programs in the 1950s-1960s, the practical results of which became manifest only after Vatican II. It was, in essence, the acceptance of a new psychological theory that resulted in, on the part of priests, the loosening of the moral restraints on personal behavior, but especially, relative to the current crisis, on genital sexual activity."