Holy See's approach reasonable and very positive

Harvard doctor attends Vatican talks

By Douglas Belkin, 4/7/2003

A Harvard psychiatrist who returned yesterday from a conference at the Vatican about sexual abuse by clergy said the Holy See's approach to treatment ''is quite reasonable and very positive.''

Dr. Martin P. Kafka said the three-day conference, which included American bishops as well as several senior Vatican officials, was set up to help the church screen prospective priests more effectively, understand the effects of victimization on children, and improve treatment for sexual abusers.

''The church wanted to know how to improve screening, and they wanted to know what the risk factors were,'' said Kafka, who is a senior attending psychiatrist at McLean Hospital in Belmont and a specialist on sex offenders. ''The sense I got was that these people are not only conscientious, but had already put in place the integrated treatments used by those of us in the nonclerical community.''

Last fall, a Vatican representative invited Kafka to the conference, along with seven other senior academics and therapists from the United States, Canada, and Germany. Each gave a presentation connected to the risk factors for abusers and what constitutes adequate treatment.

Among the discussions: Priests were most likely to abuse children in the first seven years after their ordination. ''So in the first seven years, you think about increased supervision,'' Kafka said.

Officials at the conference indicated that they have redoubled efforts as a means to screen future priests.

This story ran on page B3 of the Boston Globe on 4/7/2003.

for more information: Scientific Meeting on Pedophilia Held at Vatican

Pedophilia or Pederasty?

Letter from Former Catholic about Boston Scandal

Homily on Boston Scandal

Pedophilia and Teaching of Bible

Boston Globe's Misleading Article on Catholic Church

The Bogus Knights of Columbus Oath