Confronted with the problem of sexual abuses committed by priests, the Pope has asked for clarity. That’s what two psychologist-priests hope to find with the book, The Church and Pedophilia: An Open Wound.

“This is a serious problem and there are very few psychological studies on the topic. We are calling attention to that. There has been little psychiatric and psychological research done for fear of labeling or discriminating against people,” said Fr. Giovanni Cucci.

The work not only delves into the problem of priests who have committed abuse, but it also presents possible solutions.

Co-author Fr Hans Zollner: “We want to teach seminary directors and novitiates to recognize signs indicating the possibility that a priest or someone aspiring toward priesthood could develop a pathology.”

“If a person has one of the signs, that doesn’t mean he’s a pedophile; it means we must give him extra attention. It doesn’t mean he’ll fall into pedophilia, but perhaps that he doesn’t know how to listen, doesn’t have the capacity to give himself to others or to serve those who need most. He’s a priest focused on himself,” adds Fr Cucci.

The authors say some of the symptoms leaders should have in mind include the concept the priest has of his power and his interactions with adults. If he lacks the capacity to interact in a normal way with people his own age, they say he could try to fill the void by abusing children.

Cucci and Zollner say this is a serious pathology, but that it can be detected and in some cases redirected if educators know when and what to ask future priests. The pair of psychologists and professors at the Gregorian Pontifical University are publishing their conclusions after several years of study.

Carolyn Moynihan

Carolyn Moynihan is the former deputy editor of MercatorNet