When the Boston Globe excoriated the Archdiocese of Boston in 2002 for relying on therapists to treat abusive priests from the 1950s to the 1990s, the paper somehow apparently forgot that in 1992 the Globe itself was enthusiastically trumpeting the psychological treatment of sex offenders as "highly effective" and "dramatic."
In a front-page article on June 18, 1992, the Globe opened:
"A new generation of treatment programs for sex offenders is proving highly effective, dramatically reducing the percentage of cases in which offenders repeat sex crimes, research shows.
"Recidivism rates declined from 9 percent for untreated offenders to 5 percent for those who underwent the new treatment in one study, and from 38 percent to 6 percent in another.
"While there is no complete 'cure' for sex offenders, the new findings indicate that many of them can learn to manage their aberrant sexual impulses without committing new crimes. The promising new treatments focus on helping these offenders control the complex cauldron of social inadequacies, distorted thinking, and deviant sex fantasies that prompt them to rape women, molest children or exhibit themselves in public."
By this very article the Globe confirms that the Church's then-practice of sending abusive priests off to treatment was not just some diabolical attempt to deflect responsibility and cover-up wrongdoing, but a genuine attempt to treat aberrant priests that was being widely promoted by secular experts in the field.
The Globe's therapy amnesia
Indeed, the Globe editorial board itself was also an ardent proponent of therapeutic treatment for sex offenders. In an editorial only eight days after the above article, the Globe editorial board published "An offender's right to treatment," which forcefully petitioned the Governor of Massachusetts at the time (William Weld) for "improved treatment programs" in the state, contending that it was "wrong to impose harsh punishments on sexually violent criminals without offering them treatment."
Around the same time, the Globe also published another article seemingly endorsing the manner in which the Catholic Church handled abusive priests:
"[Those who treat sex offenders] and other specialists said many offenders can be returned to active ministry so long as the clergy and their supervisors accept lifelong restrictions and follow-up care."
The Globe went on to say that "society will suffer" if offenders are not afforded therapeutic treatment, as such measures are "cost-effective" and successful.
The hypocrisy here is rich. After first promoting psychological treatment for sex offenders in 1992 – including the Church's own treatment programs for offending priests – by 2002 the Globe was scolding the Church for doing in 1992 exactly what the Globe itself said it should be doing!
Perhaps the Globe should consider unleashing its crack "Spotlight Team" to delve deeper into this story and investigate itself and its own rank hypocrisy.