Center treats clerical sexual abusers
By Tony Staley
One problem the church faces with priest sex offenders is how to treat them. Writing in America magazine (4/1), Jesuit Fr. Curtis Bryant explores what is being done at the St. Luke Institute, a psychiatric hospital in Silver Spring, Md., where he was director of inpatient clinical services.
Treatment at St. Luke lasts six months and has three phases.
The first phase includes convincing the priest to accept help, to stop intellectualizing about what he did and to become aware of his feelings.
The second or work phase involves intense group therapy with other priest sex offenders and therapists. It includes examination of the priest's sexual history, role-playing, taking responsibility and sometimes hormonal treatment.
The third phase includes agreeing to further long-term treatment and undergoing evaluations every six months.
As part of the therapy, Fr. Bryant writes, the priest offender "acknowledges that his sexual disorder cannot be cured, but can be treated, cannot be eliminated but can be controlled; that his disorder is chronic and must be faced and worked on indefinitely."
The success rate is good, Fr. Bryant said. From 1985 to 1995, only three of more than 450 priests treated relapsed.