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Vatican report urges work with experts on sex abuse

A 220 page Vatican report has recommended that the Catholic Church should work more closely with scientific experts to identify potential perpetrators.

Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church: Scientific and Legal Perspectives represents the Vatican's first comprehensive effort to examine recent research into the psychological causes and types of abuse, including screening procedures, recidivism rates, effects on child victims and the possibility of successful therapy for abusers.

Although cautioning that each case of sexual abuse against minors is unique, it sketched general characteristics of priest-abusers and identified a wide range of possible "risk factors," including sexual immaturity, narcissistic traits, alcohol and drug abuse, hormonal abnormalities and endocrine disorders.

While drawing on the experience of US bishops in confronting sexual abuse, the report made a case against the US policy of "zero tolerance" for clerical abusers. It suggested that the church and society are better off when abusive priests are kept in the priesthood but away from children.

The report, to be published by the Pontifical Academy for Life, was based on a Vatican-sponsored symposium of scientific experts held last April.

Meahwhile South Australia's Court of Criminal Appeal has refused to reduce the sentence imposed on a former Catholic school bus driver, who sexually abused three intellectually disabled boys.

67 year old Brian Perkins was jailed for 10 and a half years for assaulting the boys between 1987 and 1991.

On Wednesday the appeal court rejected all of his lawyer's grounds of appeal.

Chief Justice John Doyle said Perkins' offending had a corrosive effect on society, and made the community question the bona fides of volunteers.

Justice Ted Mullighan said it was hard to image a worse crime than placing intellectually disabled boys in bondage and subjecting them to demeaning treatment.

SA court rejects school bus sex offender's appeal (ABC 18/2/04)

Vatican: Church must work with scientific experts to prevent abuse (Catholic News Service 18/2/04)
Adelaide archbishop welcomes paedophile's "appropriate" jail sentence (CathNews 15/9/03)
Church faces class action by parents for damages (CathNews 5/8/03)
Archdiocese of Adelaide
Pontifical Academy for Life

20 Feb 2004