’n Ondersoekende Blik Op Die Seksskandaal In Die Katolieke Kerk
Afrikaanse vertaling van ’n BBC News artikel deur Aidan Lewis | By Aidan Lewis BBC News

Die afgelope paar maande se onthullings oor die seksuele misbruik van minderjariges deur priesters en ander kerkpersoneel van die Katolieke Kerk het wêreldwyd skokgolwe veroorsaak.

Ter verdediging het die Vatikaan verklaar dat die seksuele misbruik van minderjariges ’n maatskaplike probleem is wat baie groter is en dieper strek as die aantal vergrype binne die Kerk. Intussen het die Kerk ook daadwerklike stappe geneem (te laat volgens sommige kritici) om dié probleem aan te spreek.

Feit is dat navorsing en deskundiges se opinie dit eens is dat selibate manne binne die Kerk nie meer of minder geneig sou wees om minderjariges seksueel te misbruik as ander manne nie.

Dit wil ook voorkom asof die meeste gevalle waar priesters betrokke was tussen 20 en 30 jaar gelede plaasgevind het.

Wat die aandag van die wêreld egter op dié krisis gefokus het, was die nalatige manier waarop die Kerklike hiërargie in sommige gevalle te werk gegaan het om dié probleem aan te spreek.

Volgens die Britse historikus en voormalige lid van die Jesuïete-orde, Michael Walsh, was “Die eintlike probleem die misbruik van gesag, die verpligting wat herders het om na hul kudde om te sien."

"Kerklike gesag is dikwels sistemies misbruik en dit, meer as die seksskandaal self, is die eintlike skandaal”.


Experts say there is no evidence of a link between celibacy and abuse

In recent months allegations and admissions of child abuse by priests have shaken the Roman Catholic Church to its core, as a continuous stream of cases has surfaced across Western Europe and beyond.

The Vatican has defended itself by suggesting this is a problem that affects society as a whole, and that the Church has now taken steps to deal with it - an approach that has often provoked more anger and frustration among critics who believe it systematically covered up many cases.

With allegations still surfacing, there is no conclusive account of the extent of Catholic abuse worldwide or its causes.

But current research and expert opinion suggest that men within the Catholic Church may be no more likely than others to abuse, and that the prevalence of abuse by priests has fallen sharply in the last 20-30 years.

What has made the crisis stand out are the cover-ups and other alleged shortcomings in the way abuse was dealt with.

"The real problem is an abuse of authority, the duty of care that pastors have to their flocks," says the British historian, and former member of the Jesuit Catholic order, Michael Walsh.

"This has been abused and that is the greatest scandal - that's what is systemic, rather than sex abuse."


‘Maatskaplike probleem’

Die bekendste navorsing oor seksmisbruik deur Katolieke priesters is in die VSA deur die John Jay College of Criminal Justice gepubliseer. Dié ondersoek is in opdrag van die Katolieke Biskoppe Konferensie van die VSA uitgevoer en die kommissie se hoofbevindings is in 2004 gepubliseer, twee jaar ná die landswye seksskandaal die Kerk daar geruk het.

Dié studie het bevind dat die oorgrote meerderheid van gevalle dekades gelede plaasgevind het, maar eers onlangs gerapporteer is.

Verder is daar bevind dat ongeveer 4% van alle Amerikaanse priesters en diakens in die aktiewe bediening daarvan beskuldig is dat hulle minderjariges seksueel misbruik het in gevalle wat van 1950 tot 2002 gestrek het. Daar is bevind dat 75% van die gevalle tussen 1960 en 1984 plaasgevind het.

Die navorsers het verklaar dat hulle nie oor voldoende data beskik van misbruik wat in ander vergelykbare groepe in die VSA plaasgevind het nie – tans is daar egter ’n ondersoek aan die gang oor seksuele misbruik binne die padvindersbeweging (boy scouts). Die opstellers van dié studie beklemtoon dat misbruik gevalle waarby Katolieke priesters betrokke is binne die groter konteks van die wydverspreide seksuele misbruik van minderjariges in ons moderne samelewing gesien moet word.

As ’n mens dink aan die groot getalle jongmense wat hierdeur geraak word dan besef jy dat ons hier te doen het met ’n beduidende groot maatskaplike probleem”, aldus Margaret Smith, een van die navorsers.

Wat Europa betref, waar die aantal gerapporteerde gevalle onlangs vinnig toegeneem het, is dit nog te vroeg om enige patroon uit te wys.


"There is a big gap between the reality and the public debate"

Christian Pfieffer
Criminality Research Institute of Lower Saxony

'Social problem''

The best-known study on sex abuse by Catholic priests was published in the US, by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Commissioned by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, its main findings were published in 2004, two years after abuse cases threw the Church there into turmoil.

The study established that the vast majority of known cases in the US happened decades ago, though they were only reported much more recently.

Some 4% of American priests and deacons in active ministry were accused of abusing children in cases dating to the years between 1950 and 2002, the study found, with 75% of the abuses alleged to have taken place from 1960-1984.

The authors of the study say they do not have data on abuse by other, comparative groups in the US - though research on the boy scouts is currently being compiled. But they stress that cases involving Catholic priests should be seen within the broader context of the widespread sexual abuse of children.

"If you think about the vast number of youth that are affected by this you have to look at this as an overall social problem of significant dimensions," says one of the report's researchers, Margaret Smith.

*In Europe, the reporting of cases has accelerated more recently, though the emerging patterns are not uniform and the picture is still patchy.



Misbruik ‘verminder’

In Duitsland, die geboorteland van pous Benedictus XVI en een van die lande waar die Kerk onder groot druk verkeer, wil dit ook voorkom asof die misbruik van minderjariges deur priesters meer wydverspreid was ’n paar dekades gelede – net soos in die VSA.

Volgens Christian Pfieffer, direkteur van die onafhanklike Kriminele Navorsingsinstituut van Benede-Sakse en ’n voormalige streeksminister van justisie, word ongeveer 150 priesters in Duitsland van misbruik beskuldig wat sedert 1990 plaasgevind het.

Dié aantal beloop ongeveer 0.1% van die 138,000 aktiewe priesters in die land – hoewel hy meen dat die aantal misbruik gevalle in vorige dekades hoër was.

Ons gaan van die veronderstelling uit dat driekwart van die gevalle ou sake is wat uit die 50s, 60s en 70s dateer”, sê mnr. Pfieffer, wat deur die Duitse Kerkgesag genader is om ’n omvattende ondersoek oor dié saak te doen.

In Ierland is ongeveer 1000 getuies se aanklagtes opgeneem in die 2009 Ryan-verslag oor misbruik in Katolieke instellings, en ook daar wil dit voorkom asof die meerderheid gevalle in dieselfde tydsvak as dié in die VSA en Duitsland voorgekom het.

Mnr. Pfieffer sê dat die aandag wat dié skandaal in Duitsland geniet tot mistastings oor die omvang van die misbruik gelei het. Volgens hom is daar ’n groot gaping tussen die realiteit en die openbare debat wat daarom gevoer word. “Ek kan begryp dat mense kwaad is vir die Kerk oor die manier hoe daar destyds teenoor die slagoffers en die oortreders opgetree is."

"Maar om te sê dat die Duitse Katolieke Kerk se probleem net soos groot soos dié in Ierland of die VSA is, is net nie waar nie – in Duitsland is die omvang van die misbruikskandaal veel kleiner.

In totaal het die Vatikaan van 2001 tot 2010 aantygings teen 3000 priesters hanteer, waarvan sommige gevalle by die 50 jaar gelede plaasgevind het. Dié syfers is beskikbaar gestel deur monsignor Charles J. Scicluna, hoof van die Vatikaan se ondersoekspan na gevalle van misbruik.

Volgens hom het die fenomeen die afgelope aantal jare skerp afgeneem, hoewel die gevalle deesdae geografies meer verspreid is. Op die oomblik is daar ongeveer 400,000 Katolieke priesters wêreldwyd.


There has been a crisis of confidence among Catholics in some countries

Abuse 'reduced'

In Germany, the birthplace of Pope Benedict XVI and one of the countries where the Church has come under the most pressure, abuse by priests seems to have been most widespread several decades ago - as in the US - but also relatively contained.

Christian Pfieffer, the director of the independent Criminality Research Institute of Lower Saxony and a former regional justice minister, says about 150 priests in Germany have been accused of abuse alleged to have taken place since 1990.

That is about 0.1% of the 138,000 active priests in the country, he says - though he estimates that the rate of abuse was higher in earlier decades.

"We assume that three-quarters of the cases are old cases from the 50s, 60s and 70s," says Mr Pfieffer, who has approached German Church authorities about doing a full study of the issue.

In Ireland, where about 1,000 witnesses told the 2009 Ryan report on abuse in Catholic institutions that they had been victims of sexual abuse, that abuse is thought to have peaked at a similar time.

Mr Pfieffer says that in Germany, the attention the subject has gained has led to misconceptions about the extent of abuse.

"There is a big gap between the reality and the public debate," he says.

"I can understand that people are angry at the Church because it was terrible how they treated the victims, how they treated the offenders.

"But the public assumption that the German Roman Catholic Church has the same kind of problem as those in Ireland or the United States is wrong, as the quantity is much smaller."

Overall, from 2001-2010 the Vatican has considered sex abuse allegations concerning about 3,000 priests dating back up to 50 years, according to figures given last month by Monsignor Charles J Scicluna, who as the Vatican's Promoter of Justice heads the office that investigates such cases.

Though the cases were spreading geographically, "the phenomenon itself is much reduced," he said, noting that there are 400,000 priests worldwide.



’n Uitdaging vir selibaatskap

Te midde van intense media belangstelling het daar baie vrae opgeduik – ook deur Rooms-Katolieke: Is daar dalk enige aspekte van die priesterlike lewe wat sodanige misbruik sou kon aanmoedig?

Daar word veral gevra of die selibate lewe nie dalk blameer kan word nie – deskundiges verwerp egter dié idee.

Dit is waar dat die selibate lewe uitdagend kan wees, maar die oorgrote meerderheid seksuele misbruik word nie deur selibate gepleeg nie,” sê me. Smith. “Ons bevindings dui op 4% van gevalle wat aan priesters toegeskryf kan word, die res, dit is 96%, is deur nie-selibate mense gepleeg”.

Mnr. Pfieffer sê dat jong priesters hom in Duitsland meegedeel het dat dit wel moontlik vir hulle sou wees om seksuele verhoudings met vroue aan te gaan indien hulle dit regtig wou doen – dit sou die kanse op seksuele frustrasie wat tot misbruik kon lei verminder.

Hy opper ook die ‘hipotese’ dat pedofiele – wat eintlik net ’n klein minderheid van die gevalle verteenwoordig – dalk “priester word om hulleself teen hul eie verborge idee’s te probeer beskerm”.

Vroeër vandeesmaand het kardinaal Tarcisio Bertone, die Vatikaan se staatsekretaris, enige verband tussen seksuele misbruik en selibaatskap verwerp en sover gegaan as om die die misbruikskandaal aan homoseksualiteit te koppel.

Sy aanmerking het tot groot ontevredenheid onder gay groepe gelei. Wat gevalle in die VSA betref het die ondersoeke aangedui dat die meeste slagoffers tienerseuns was, miskien omdat dit die groep was waarmee priesters die meeste in kontak gekom het. Me. Smith verklaar egter dat “Die oorgrote meerderheid van gevalle van seksuele misbruik van minderjariges (meisies en seuns) deur heteroseksuele mans gepleeg word, waarvan baie getroud is”.

Toe sy deur ’n biskop gevra is of homoseksuele kandidate tot die priesterskap ’n risiko is het sy ontken dat hulle navorsing enigsins dié teorie bevestig het.


"The vast majority of child abuse ... is carried out by men who are heterosexual, and many of whom are married"

Margaret Smith
Researcher, John Jay report on clerical abuse.

Celibacy 'challenge'

But amid intense media attention, questions have been asked - sometimes by Roman Catholics - about whether there are aspects of Catholic priestly life that encourage abuse.

Particular attention has focused on celibacy, though many experts dismiss the idea that this could be a direct cause of abuse.

"Celibacy can indeed be a challenge but the vast majority of sexual abuse is not committed by celibates," says Ms Smith. "We found 4% [of priests] involved in child abuse - that means for 96% celibacy did not present a challenge in terms of child abuse."

Mr Pfieffer says that in Germany, young priests have told him it would be possible to have sexual relationships with women if they really wanted to - lessening the risk of sexual frustration leading to abuse.

But he also raises the "hypothesis" that paedophiles - who only represent a small minority of abuses - might "become priests because they want to be protected against their hidden ideas".

Earlier this month Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican's secretary of state, rejected any relationship between abuse and celibacy, linking it instead to homosexuality.

The remarks caused outrage among gay groups, and while research shows that most US victims were teenage boys, that is thought to be because this was the group to which priests had most access. "The vast majority of child abuse [against] both male and female is carried out by men who are heterosexual, and many of whom are married," notes Ms Smith.

She said she had been asked by a bishop whether there was a greater risk of abuse from homosexual candidates for the priesthood. "I said 'no, our research does not sustain that."



Oogluikend toegelaat

Terwyl daar nog gewag word op die publikasie van die nuwe John Jay verslag in die konteks van die misbruik gevalle in die VSA, dui navorsing tot op hede dat sommige gesagsdraers in die Kerk oogluikend misbruik toegelaat het deur hul swak keuring en opleiding van priesters, asook deur te veel vertroue te stel in sielkundiges, psigiaters en prokureurs – dit alles is vererger deur ’n atmosfeer wat enige uitpratery ontmoedig het.

In ’n brief aan die Ierse volk wat in Maart verskyn het, plaas die pous die misbruikskandaal binne die konteks van die “snelle transformasie en sekularisasie van die samelewing” en noem hy “die goed bedoelde maar verkeerde geneigdheid in die Kerk wat weier om sekere dinge as misdadig te beskou”.

Die idee dat sekularisasie die misbruik aangemoedig het hou egter nie water vir Katarina Schuh nie – sy is ’n deskundige op die gebied van seminarieë in die VSA en het onlangs ook in Europa gewerk.

Sy het opgemerk dat die gevalle van misbruik in die 1990s verminder het, terwyl maatskaplike veranderinge bly versnel het. Me. Smith gee toe dat maatskaplike transformasie wel ’n rol in die VSA gespeel het by priesters met “min duidelike voorbereiding ... wat op individuele vlak gereageer het op die invloed van die 1960s en vroeë 1970s”. Beide sy en me. Schuh sê dat die nodige stappe nou geneem is om die keuring en opleiding van kandidate te verbeter.

Rapporte laat ’n mens dikwels met die indruk dat die risiko nog steeds dieselfde is as wat dit in die 1980s was. Maar dit is beslis nie wat ons in die VSA sien gebeur nie”, sê sy.

Maar wat ookal die voorkoms en oorsaak van seksuele misbruik, is daar sommige mense wat waarsku dat dié skandaal gaan bly smeul tensy daar nie institusionele veranderings gemaak word nie.

Mnr. Walsh, die voormalige Jesuïet, sê dat die krisis van gesag wat dié aantygings blootgelê is voortspruit “uit ’n kultuur wat onder die geestelikes heers” – ’n kultuur wat volgens hom deur die selibate leefwyse versterk word.

Daarom is ek van mening dat dit ’n groot bedreiging vir die Kerk inhou omdat dit net verander kan word deur ’n verandering van die regime, ’n verandering heel bo, omdat dié outoritêre benadering tot Katolisisme die Vatikaan model is en die priesters dit gewoon navolg”.


Some believe the scandals expose a crisis of authority in the Church

Blind eye

Whilst the John Jay has yet to publish a new report on the context and causes of abuse in the US, research to date points to a background of poor screening and training of priests, an over-reliance on psychologists, psychiatrists and lawyers, and an atmosphere of complicity in which people both inside and outside the Church often turned a blind eye to abuse.

In a letter to the Irish people published in March, the Pope placed abuse in the context of "the rapid transformation and secularisation of society", and mentioned a "well-intentioned but misguided tendency to avoid penal approaches".

But the idea that secularisation fuelled abuse was challenged by Katarina Schuth, a US expert on seminaries who has worked recently in Europe. She noted that cases appear to have dropped off in the 1990s, even as the social changes continued.

Ms Smith suggests social transformations did play a role in the US in that priests with "little explicit preparation... were responding individually to some of the social influences that the 1960s and early 1970s brought to bear." But she and Ms Schuth say steps have now been taken to improve screening and training.

"Reports often present the risk as if it were equivalent now to 1980. We don't see that in the United States," she says.

Whatever the prevalence and causes of abuse, some are warning that the scandal will smoulder on unless institutional changes are made.

Mr Walsh, the former Jesuit, says the crisis of authority that the allegations have brought about "arises out of a culture among the clergy" - one he thinks is reinforced by the insular nature of celibate life.

"That is why I think it's such a threat to the Church and it can only be changed by a regime change, a change at the top, because the Vatican's model is this authoritarian approach to Catholicism and the priests just pick it up."