Catholic Child Abuse: The Media are Understating the Situation
There is a serious structural problem in the Roman Catholic Church, and I am tired of it being referred to as “the paedophilia problem” or “child rape”. Neither are the main problem here.
First, not many of the cases of sexual abuse do actually have anything to do with paedophilia. Children are often mere substitute-objects. The perpetrators aren’t necessarily paedophiles, they simply use children because they happen to be around, are easy to control and intimidate, and most importantly they don’t put up much of a fight.
- Regressive Type: His primary sexual preference are adults, though he can be sexually aroused by children. Due to the easy availability of children, to nonsexual problems, and to problems with adult sex partners, he falls back on children to satisfy his sexual needs. One can speak of a substitute-object culprit [Ger.: Ersatzobjekttäter]
- Fixated Type: His primary sexual preference are children. He can hardly or not at all be sexually aroused by adults. A classic paedophile.
- Sociopathic Type: He is characterized by a lack of empathy for his victims and sometimes has sadistic tendencies. Sexuality is not used to satisfy sexual needs, but as a means of opression. This is also commonly called a sadistic type.
Carefully estimated, roughly 90% of perpretators are of the regressive type. Fixated types make up about 2 to 10 percent of cases, the sociopathic type is only responsible for very few cases.
Source: Werner Stangl. Translation and italics are mine.
Secondly, the cases of sexual abuse are but a fraction of the real problem. When we talk about cases of child abuse in the catholic church, we’re talking of practices like severe physical punishment, medical neglect, solitary confinement, forced child labour, sleep- and food-deprivation, and mental abuse of a creative variety that is as impressive as it is sickening. We’re talking about the shameless expoitation of children, not just as sexual objects, and the systematic violation of basic human rights over decades.