Reform in the Church?
posted at 2/7/2012 10:24 AM EST
Msgr. Stephen J. Rossetti, former president of Saint Luke Institute (Silver Spring, MD) and now a professor at Catholic University, is mentioned in the news again, addressing a conference of Church officials at Gregorian University in Rome, "Towards Healing and Renewal," February 6 through 9. In planning for two years, the conference is limited to about 200 invited representatives of dioceses and orders, so there will be no first-hand news. [ Associated Press, Bishops told pedophiles lie, victims must be heard, WTOP, February 7, 2012, at http://www.wtop.com/?nid=220&sid=2342021 ]
Msgr. Dr. Rossetti, a licensed clinical psychologist, has worked with sex abusers in the Roman Catholic Church for about fifteen years. He is disliked among some rigid, trenchant critics of the Church, for his clinical approaches to issues. He was among the first to identify several different strains of psychological disturbance leading to sex abuse within the Church, claiming that no more than about 20 percent of abusers are pedophiles and that some abusers are treatable while others are not.
Those views found support in the May, 2011, John Jay report, "The Causes and Context of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests in the United States, 1950-2010," commissioned by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and partly funded by the U.S. Department of Justice. [ David Gibson, Religion News Service, Major report challenges myths on Catholic Church, Cleveland Plain Dealer, May 17, 2011, at http://www.cleveland.com/nation/index.ssf/2011/05/major_report_challenges_myths.html ]
Efforts by the Church at reform will no doubt be rejected by some who seem to imagine the Church might be reformed by its parishioners, or perhaps by magic. An aspect of the Church that both Msgr. Rossetti and most of the Church's critics routinely ignore is its theological and practical infantilization of parishioners, identifying them as "children" of the Church to be guided by "fathers." The special villainy of sex abusers in the Church is coupled with the extremes of obeisance that its clergy solicit and often receive.