Friday, March 30, 2007

Connecting the Dots on Clergy Sexual Abuse

FREEPORT, Maine, March 29 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Roman Catholic clergy sexual abuse is a complex issue, many believing that it is no different than sexual abuse among the general population.

Scientific research among priests and victims indicate sexual abuse by clergy perpetrators differs from among the general population in areas of age of victims, age of perpetrators, duration of abuse and type of abuse. The conclusion presented is that mandatory celibacy which effects "Intense Loneliness" among priests can manifest itself in sexual abuse.

The following scenario is presented in the book The Bingo Report: Mandatory celibacy and clergy sexual abuse:

1. Mandatory celibacy -- the Catholic hierarchy's ultimate control strategy over priests, leading to ...

2. Intense loneliness -- a severe reaction by the majority of priests, which may lead to ...

3. Clergy sexual abuse -- priest perpetrators feeding their intimacy needs through victims.

Bingo's findings about "intense loneliness" were clearly by accident. "'Loneliness' was not a question in the priests' survey, according to author Louise Haggett, but resulted in write-ins by 59.3% of priest respondents as "additional factors that contribute to priests breaking their vows." A surprising 50% of Victim respondents admitted to "emotional and biological needs" as a reason for the abuse.

It, therefore, makes sense to conclude that much of the abuse might have been prevented if the "intense loneliness" variable was not presentamong priests; and that it might not have been present except for obligatory celibacy. While some believe that "power and control" is a cause, it is seen by Haggett as the strategy used and not the cause.

"Intense Loneliness" is a pathological phenomenon that can lead to low self-esteem, substance abuse, crime, suicide and sexual abuse. Until 1994, the American Psychiatric Association's manual, Diagnostic and StatisticalManual of Mental Disorders-DSM listed Intense Loneliness as a "Differential Diagnosis" for Pedophilia. (Intense loneliness discussed here differs from a grieving survivor of a spousal relationship where mortality or divorce takes place, not considered psychiatric disorder.)

Not all priests are lonely and not all priests are sexual perpetrators. However, only 2% are known to have the charism (gift) of celibacy (Sipe,1990) and over 30,000 have left clerical ministry in the last 30 years --90% to marry. More information and a bibliography are available at or The Bingo Report is also available at

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