The National Catholic Review
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Experts Say New Immigration Controls Not Much Help

Former F.B.I. and C.I.A. counterterrorism experts said on April 3 that most of the immigration restrictions imposed since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks have done little to improve national security and wouldn’t have kept any of the men implicated in those attacks from entering the United States. The retired directors of the two security agencies’ counterterrorism programs told an audience of immigration lawyers and advocates that many of the government’s recent immigration-related laws and policies have been counterproductive. Harry Brandon, former head of counterterrorism for the F.B.I., and Vincent Cannistraro, former director of counterterrorism for the C.I.A., said new immigration restrictions and efforts, like requiring registration of men from certain countries, are causing whole communities of immigrants to mistrust the federal agencies. “When we alienate the immigrant communities, we undercut our ability to work in those communities,” Cannistraro said at the National Legal Conference on Immigration and Refugee Policy.

Dismissing All Abusive Priests Is Ineffective Strategy, Vatican Told

An international panel of experts told Vatican officials that dismissing every priest guilty of sexually abusing a minor is not the way to handle the problem. Eight internationally recognized psychiatric and medical experts were invited to lead a symposium on April 2-5 at the Vatican. The eight experts, none of whom are Catholic, came from Germany, the United States and Canada. Several of them had presented papers at last year’s international conference of the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers.

According to participants at the Vatican meeting, the experts criticized “zero tolerance” policies for all priests who had ever sexually abused a minor. Such policies, they said, ignore the difficulty of determining the future risk posed by the offender and may actually increase the risk. The experts said that “by letting them go, you may be unleashing them on the general public” without supervision and support systems, according to a Vatican participant.

The participant said the experts told Vatican officials that banning homosexuals from the priesthood would not solve the problem, because although homosexuality is one of many “risk factors,” it is not the cause of pedophilia. He said he hoped the experts’ remarks would quash a proposal being studied by the Congregation for Catholic Education to discourage the admittance of homosexual men into seminaries.

Martin P. Kafka, M.D., a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and president of the Massachusetts chapter of the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers, was the only expert invited from the United States. Kafka, who gave presentations on the sexual molestation of adolescents and on the possibility of treating sexual offenders with pharmaceuticals, said he believes the U.S. bishops’ policy of dismissing every offender from the priesthood “is a real mistake. It is only in the United States that that policy has been taken,” while in Europe and Canada provisions have been made to allow some offenders to continue in the priesthood while excluding all contact with minors. “Many of these men are not your typical sex offenders,” he said; they have only one or two victims, their crime involved “above clothing molestation” and the incidents occurred 15 to 30 years ago.

“With treatment and supervision, you can help those perpetrators,” he said. “You cannot cover up the problem, and changes must be made” in the way the church handles the cases, “but each case must be dealt with individually, and you must see who is motivated for treatment.”

Kafka said the key issue in Catholic seminaries is whether or not students have a mature understanding of their own sexuality. “Data suggests that the overwhelming majority of adult men who molest children—boys or girls—are heterosexual,” he said. “With the molestation of adolescent boys, the incidence of adult male homosexuality is higher, but it is not one to one.” Homosexuality is just one of many risk factors, he said, and the fact that “most adult male homosexuals do not molest children or adolescents” means homosexuals should not be banned from the priesthood out of fear they may molest someone.

R. Karl Hanson, another participant and a senior researcher in the Department of the Solicitor General of Canada, said, “I believe most priests who have been caught will not offend again.” Hanson, co-developer of the Static-99 and the Static 2002 risk assessment programs for sex offenders, said, “The rate [of reoffense] will be greater than zero,” but it likely will be much lower than the 15 percent expected among all sexual molesters after five years.

In assessing future risk, Hanson said, a variety of factors should be taken into account:

• The number of previous offenses, the age of the victims and whether the victims were acquaintances or complete strangers;

• Intimacy deficits in adulthood, meaning the inability or failure to form warm relationships with appropriate adults;

• Sexual interest in children;

• Access to children;

• Attitudes that support or rationalize the behavior, such as saying, “It’s not that bad” or that the prohibition is simply a cultural invention;

• Anti-sociality, including a lack of self-control, a failure to follow through on promises and an exaggerated sense of self-worth. This risk factor is common to all types of repeat offenders, including thieves and drunk drivers;

• Sexual deviancy, including fetishism, cross-dressing for sexual purposes and a preoccupation with sex.

Hanson said that in his work homosexuality is not considered sexual deviancy and there is no evidence that a homosexual orientation, specifically sexual attraction to another adult man, increases the risk of sexual molestation or repeated sexual offenses.

Hanson said celibacy is unlikely to increase the risk of abuse since “celibacy can be seen as the opposite of sexual preoccupation, unless the individual becomes preoccupied with avoiding all things sexual.”

“The relationship between celibacy and ‘intimacy deficits’ is more complex,” he said. “In general, those individuals who have the capacity to form warm, caring relationships with peers are less likely to sexually offend than those with insecure emotional attachments,” Hanson said. While for most people the most important expression of intimacy is with a spouse or lover, he said, sexual love relationships are not the only expressions of intimacy. “Friends and family are also important,” he said. “For those who have chosen a celibate life, it is important that they have opportunities other than love relationships to develop deep connections to others.”

U.S. Official Says Vatican Offers ‘Concrete Proposals’ on Iraqi Aid

As U.S. troops consolidated their control over the Iraqi capital, the Vatican offered “concrete proposals” to the United States on how church groups can help distribute humanitarian aid in the war-scarred country, a U.S. official said. Speaking after meetings with Vatican officials on April 9, John R. Bolton, the U.S. under secretary for arms control and international security, said he planned to convey the Vatican’s “constructive and helpful” proposals to Washington immediately for transmission to field commanders in Iraq. The Vatican spokesman Joaquín Navarro-Valls said in a statement that Bolton “appreciated the willingness of the Catholic Church to collaborate in the humanitarian field to alleviate the sufferings of the Iraqi population.” Neither he nor Bolton offered any specifics on what was discussed.

Zimbabwe Bishops Criticize Government Corruption

Zimbabwe’s bishops have accused the government of exploiting the country’s economic crisis for personal gain. The bishops also called for an immediate end to the demand for citizens to produce a ruling-party membership card before receiving food aid. Noting that “there is immense starvation in the country due to drought and poor planning on the part of our government,” Zimbabwe’s nine bishops said “current shortages of basic commodities have provided an opportunity for corruption by people in strategic positions, including government ministers and other government officials.” In an 11-page Lenten pastoral letter, A Call to Metanoia: Listen to the Inner Voice, which was distributed to parishes in Zimbabwe in March, the bishops said the government of President Robert Mugabe “has failed to provide leadership that enables the creation of an environment that enhances truth, justice, love and freedom.

Comments

Susan A. Rotondi | 5/31/2004 - 1:51pm
This is a response, not to the above article, but to the photo on page 5 of the Iraqi boy, Ali Ismail Abbas.

Is there any news as to how Ali is doing fourteen months later since the tragic loss of his father, brother, pregnant mother and the loss of both arms? I read in another report that if he didn't receive new arms soon, he would kill himself. Is there extended family or friends to care for and love him?

I remember him each day in my prayers. I keep beside his photo a picture of "And Jesus Wept."

Editor's Note: For an update on Ali Ismail Abbas, go to: http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5744,9524518%255E28737,00.html

Susan A. Rotondi | 5/31/2004 - 1:51pm
This is a response, not to the above article, but to the photo on page 5 of the Iraqi boy, Ali Ismail Abbas.

Is there any news as to how Ali is doing fourteen months later since the tragic loss of his father, brother, pregnant mother and the loss of both arms? I read in another report that if he didn't receive new arms soon, he would kill himself. Is there extended family or friends to care for and love him?

I remember him each day in my prayers. I keep beside his photo a picture of "And Jesus Wept."

Editor's Note: For an update on Ali Ismail Abbas, go to: http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5744,9524518%255E28737,00.html