Stephanie Salter of the San Francisco Chronicle recently tangentially raised some meaningful questions about some sexual abuse allegations, which are based upon supposedly “recovered memories.” That is, memories claimed as “repressed,” which are then supposedly recovered through a controversial therapeutic process that may include hypnosis.
This issue arose through the appointment of a renowned psychiatrist, researcher and teacher, Dr. Paul McHugh, to a 12-member Catholic board that will oversee the church’s response to sexual abuse by priests.
McHugh has historically opposed and at times exposed what has become known as “false memories.” Now this history has caused him to be suspect by some Catholic victims groups. However, McHugh’s position has repeatedly been supported through numerous court cases. Likewise, many of the claims of supposed “Satanic ritual abuse” have been proven groundless through official reports and research.
It is important that despite the moral storm, which deservedly has now engulfed the Roman Catholic Church regarding clergy abuse, balance also be brought to the table through research and science, when it is necessary and indicated. Let’s not turn this crisis into a modern-day witch-hunt and demonize anyone who raises questions.
Simply put, some claims of sexual abuse against priests may be false. This was certainly the case regarding the now deceased Cardinal Bernadin of Chicago, who was falsely accused of sexual misconduct. His accuser later recanted those accusations and specifically cited the process of therapy, which formed the basis for his claims.
McHugh is clearly not an apologist for the Catholic Church. He describes its historical cover-up of sexual abuse as both a “betrayal,” and a “terrible sin.” And he has concluded that the church’s own conduct is responsible for the current “deep crisis of trust.”