A Lack of Gravity and Diligence
The article (1) leaves crucial questions unanswered: how many documented victims are there, and in how many has a confirmed mental disorder been documented as the result of a sexual crime committed by a member of the Catholic clergy? What is the proportion of clergy proved to have committed such a crime among the entire clergy? The authors mentioned 3677 sexually abused minors. They did not discuss whether and to which extent the unique reaction to the event—namely, that the Catholic Church will adopt a low threshold to pay 5000–10000 Euros to persons who claim to be victims—will trigger false accusations. If one thought that such payments did not lead to false accusation and the number of unreported cases as presumed by the authors did not decrease, then one would have to at least give reasons for this in the discussion section. What also remains unanswered is the question how many of all so-called acts that were perceived as inappropriate consisted of exclusively physical touching of non-primary or secondary sexual organs, because, in such a scenario, a crime cannot immediately be assumed. Some 30% of all those affected described being touched in what they experienced as an inappropriate way.
Especially victims of sexual abuse by members of the Catholic clergy would have deserved particular gravity and diligence in the scientific analysis. Instead, readers are left with the impression that the authors gave in to the temptation to construe on the basis of weak data causal associations relating to the customary topics criticizing the Church.
Prof. Dr. med. Horst Gann
Facharzt für Neurologie und Psychiatrie, Psychotherapie
Conflict of interest statement
The author declares that no conflict of interest exists.
|1.||Dreßing H, Dölling D, Hermann D, et al.: Sexual abuse at the hands of Catholic clergy—a retrospective cohort study of its extent and health consequences for affeced minors (The MHG Study). Dtsch Arztebl Int 2019; 116: 389–96. VOLLTEXT|