Did Vatican II cause the priest sexual abuse crisis?

This is a supplement to our article on the priest abuse cases. If you are looking for general information about the priest abuse crisis, go here.

There is a movement within the Church to lay all of the modern problems of the Catholic Church at the feet of Vatican II. The priest abuse scandal is no exception. Many feel that homosexuality crept into the Church after Vatican II, and the seminaries, which up until that point were orthodox, suddenly filled up with same sex attracted priests. This is not where the data points. We examined the entire database of US convictions listed at www.bishopaccountibility.org.

Priests/Religious convicted Ordained or entered seminary before 1965
407 166 (40%)

Forty percent (40%) of all priests and religious convicted of abuse in the United States were ordained before Vatican II, or were let into the seminaries before its close. Many were ordained in the 1950's and were let into seminaries in the 1940's.

The abuse crisis predates Vatican II. Many of the convicted priests were ordained in the 1950's and were in seminaries in the 1940's. If we look at all public accusations of abuse in the United States in the same database, we find 1445 out of 3580 accused priests and religious were ordained before Vatican II or entered seminary before its completion. That is also 40%. It should be noted that 88% of these were Priests with teenage boys.

The numbers are similar in Canada (www.theinquiry.ca), and other countries. Laying the homosexual clergy problem at the feet of Vatican II is an erroneous assumption.

Long before Vatican II, residential schools for First Nations were set up across the developing world, and the Church has had to make huge reparations in many countries, including Canada and Australia, for systemic abuses that occurred in these schools.

The last 20 years has demonstrated a resurgence of orthodoxy in seminaries, and Pope Benedict's document of Admission to the Seminary and to Holy Orders, addresses a problem that existed long before Vatican II. It is the post Vatican II Church that is cleaning up a pre-Vatican II mess in this case.

Author and artist Michael O'Brien was in a residential school as a non-native in 1961, before the start of Vatican II. Although he escaped abuse by pushing away the attacking priest, he suffered four years of hell in the school afterwards for his refusal. The abuser was sentenced to 10 years in jail for multiple accounts of sexual abuse. Of his healing O'Brien says:

“I am proud to say that I am a Roman Catholic. It is beautiful, beautiful, beautiful that we have a Saviour who dwells with us in this magnificent Church. This is our home. The Church is full of Judases, but it is overwhelmingly full of saints.”
March 28, 2011 source

Francis de Sales was a great Catholic who was helping heal the Church after the Reformation (which was a response to the mess that the Church was in during the 1500's). He was largely successful. He said:

"While those who give scandal are guilty of the spiritual equivalent of murder [i.e., destroying other people's faith in God by their terrible example], those who take scandal - who allow scandals to destroy their faith - are guilty of spiritual suicide."

"Lord forgive us, heal us, and please do not let the media silence us from speaking on important issues such as abortion, gay marriage, and the need for a Christian voice in society. Please, Jesus, make us strong in your will, regardless of the personal consequences."

 

Lord Jesus, let Your prayer of unity for Christians
become a reality, in Your way.
We have absolute confidence
that you can bring your people together,
we give you absolute permission to move.
Amen