During the 1960s, a popular song was, “Blame It On The Stones” which placed all responsibility for problems of war, civil rights and crime upon songs of popular groups. A new study commissioned by Catholic Bishops concludes rise in sexual abuse of children by priests was a result of the radical spirit of the sixties and its emphasis on individualism which went along with decline of normal social standards. According to the report, “the problem of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic priests in the United States is largely historical, and the bulk of the cases occurred decades ago.” The report fits with popular misconceptions about the sixties. Yes, it was a decade of protests against the Vietnam war, for civil rights and against authority. BUT, Richard Nixon was elected president in 1968. Conservatives in the South pushed aside moderate political leaders. Jimmy Carter in 1976 barely won the presidential election. Despite such reports, reality is only a portion of the population was directly involved in protests and anger. Most Americans remained fixed in their values and attitudes.
For some strange reason the report does not get into the impact of Pope John XXIII upon priests. He represented a dramatic break with the past and called for a new Catholic church. I worked at a Catholic girls college–Webster College– and nuns and priests were constantly citing Pope John XXIII as their inspiration, NOT the Beatles or the Rolling Stones or long hair as the impetus for changes in their attitudes. Many simply left the Catholic church and ceased being nuns and priests. But, it was Pope John XXIII, not social disorder which most impacted their social views.