WASHINGTON A study commissioned by U.S. Roman Catholic bishops concludes that neither the all-male celibate priesthood nor homosexuality caused the church's sexual abuse crisis, The New York Times reported on Tuesday.
The five-year study says the abuse occurred because priests who were poorly prepared and monitored, and were under stress, landed amid the social and sexual turmoil of the 1960s and '70s, according to the newspaper.
The "blame Woodstock" explanation has been floated by bishops for years but the study was likely to be regarded as the most authoritative analysis of the scandal in the Catholic Church in America, The Times reported.
Widespread abuse scandals involving Roman Catholic priests first erupted in Boston a decade ago, and the U.S. church has paid settlements totaling some $3 billion.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops planned to release on Wednesday the report by researchers at New York's John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
The researchers concluded that it was not possible for the church, or for anyone, to identify abusive priests in advance, according to the newspaper, which obtained an advance copy of the report.
The study concluded that many more boys than girls were victimized, not because the perpetrators were gay, but simply because the priests had more access to boys than to girls, the newspaper reported.
The Vatican has for years been struggling to control the damage that sexual abuse scandals in the United States and several European countries have done to the Church's image.
On Monday, the Vatican told bishops around the world that they must make it a global priority to root out sexual abuse of children by priests.
The Roman Catholic Church said in a letter that bishops should cooperate with civil authorities to end the abuse
(Reporting by JoAnne Allen; editing by Doina Chiacu)