Expert Reacts To Release Of Former Catholic Priest Charged In Child Rape Case
Last Friday and 86-year-old Catholic priest took up residence in a halfway house in the town in central Massachusetts. The former Reverend Paul Shanley served 12 years in prison for child rape. His accuser was believed to be one of many molested by him when he was a parish priest in Boston. When he was arrested in 2002 during his retirement right here in San Diego it was the first time many people had heard of sexual abuse charges against a Catholic priest. Since then the sex abuse scandal has gone world wide and continues with one of the biggest persecutions underway now in Australia against Cardinal George Pell. Joining me is a writer and researcher and the author of a secret world -- sexuality on the search for celibacy and his expertise in research is featured in the movie, spotlight.Welcome back.It's going to be here.There is a considerable amount of uproar in the Boston area about the release of Paul Shanley. Do you think this is warranted for the danger he poses for the damage he did as a pedophile?Of those are viable questions. -- Both of those are viable questions. I know people hold both opinions. It is a complex situation because he was such a pernicious predator. He had many victims. He was assigned to 17 different places by the church. He was an advocate of sex with children.With adolescents. He advocated for no timeline for children to be involved with sex with adults. So, he is a bad character, no question about it. We have to take into account his age. However, that's not the only thing to take into account. Older people can violate children. The sexual drive doesn't die at a certain age.So, this is a big consideration.Another consideration is that he did fulfill his legal obligation. So, you have two weigh these things.He needs close supervision.Most of the priests located in Boston alone were not prosecuted because of statutes of limitation or witnesses that were not deemed reliable. What happened to the priests who were not prosecuted? Do you know if they received counseling or punishment?The church have taken no proactive steps in dealing with them. What they do is give them a stipend and see that they are taken care of. The supervision is very, very poor from the church about these priests. Not much has changed in that regard.The laws have changed and directives have changed, but the actual operation of the church remains very much the same as it did in the 1990s.Let me ask you this -- in 1990 you published a study that found half of all priests did not practice celibacy and 6% had elected minors. If you were able to do the research again today, with the findings be different?I don't know what has changed. The training has not changed. The recruiting of priests has not changed. Human nature has not changed. Priests are more clever and cautious. Things have gone underground. The way I analyze things and still do is that the structure is something that produces this. It's a structure of selection and education of the priest. We are finding out that between 6%-9% of priests have gotten involved with children. That's in the U.S. I was on the Royal commission in Australia. They did a good job. There is no better study done. They concluded that 7% of all the priests in Australia got involved sexually with minors.This brings us to -- a high-ranking aid in Australia now.Reporter: Critics pointed out that he led a diocese was one of the highest rates of sexual abuse in Australia. Doesn't trouble you with that that background the Cardinal was raised to such a high position in the church?Yes, it bothers me. But in 1992 there was a conference -- the first conference of sexually abused victims in the U.S. It was in Chicago. At that time I said the problem we are dealing with today -- that is, the abuse of children by a Catholic priest -- is the tip of the iceberg. Is we follow it to the foundations it will lead us to the highest corridors of the Vatican.I said that then and I'm convinced this is true. This comes from the top down. Is you have a bishop -- a superior -- who is or has been involved sexually with someone against his vow of celibacy, you set up a structure in which it's nearly impossible for him to correct people who down below him are sexually active. So, the tendency is to cover it up. Part of the motivation is not to expose people on top of. This is what has happened in the church. Many people on top of the structure are sexually active. Out with children, but in some way that would cause scandal.One thing you pointed out -- Reporter: -- One thing you pointed out is celibacy as a central factor that attracts troubled men to the priesthood. Is there any likelihood that Pope Francis will remove the cell is a be requirement?I don't know if he will remove the rule of celibacy. I think it will go away. It has to be voluntary. Now it is a requirement. They bunch two locations in the one -- just because a man was to be a minister or priest and was to serve in that way, doesn't mean he could be celibate. It is really a travesty. It's not natural. It hasn't worked. Is not going to work. I don't believe the church will reform itself from this crisis until there is a married priesthood and a woman priesthood. Both things are essential for the church to come of age.Reporter: I have been speaking with the author of a secret world -- sexuality and the search for celibacy.Thank you.
An 86-year-old defrocked Catholic priest took up residence in a halfway house in the town of Ware, Massachusetts Friday.
The former Reverend Paul Shanley served 12 years in a Massachusetts prison on a conviction for child rape. His sole accuser was believed to be only one of many children molested by Shanley while he was a parish priest in Boston.
When Shanley was arrested in 2002 during his retirement in San Diego, it was the first time many people had heard of child sexual abuse charges being made against a Catholic priest. Since that time, the church's sex abuse scandal has gone worldwide and continues with one of the biggest prosecutions underway in Australia against Cardinal George Pell.
La Jolla resident Richard Sipe, a writer, researcher and former Catholic priest, joins Midday Edition on Tuesday to talk about the recent developments in the church's sex abuse scandal.