Sex Abuse is about Control and Power

The Catholic League has taken out a full-page ad in the NY Times that tries to be a point-by-point rebuttal to the Times’ reverberating prelude to Holy Week.

As rebuttal it is a tad weak -that’s what happens when your answer rightly requires 10,000 words and 350 is all you can manage in 18 pt Arial Narrow- but it hits its main targets; it manages to make one important point that is too-often ignored, that the church (and secular organizations as well) erred greatly in taking the advice of those psychological organizations who insisted throughout the 70′s and 80′s that the sexual abuse of minors was a “treatable” mental illness that could be remedied with a bit of therapy and a change of scenery.

The church made a huge error, back then, in trusting and aligning with understandings of “the times” and “the world.” Prosecutable cases should have been referred to civil authorities, those that had gone past the statute of limitations should have been prosecuted in-church, and in both cases, the bishops should have been responding with eyes that recognized a spiritual malady which precluded the possibility of public ministry.

All these years later, the church -thanks in large part to the current pope- is doing all of that, and more, but these decades-old cases are still haunting us specifically because, like the ghosts of our musings, they seek validation and address.

The Catholic League ad, however comes apart in the last third, where the organization’s president, Bill Donohue, becomes cringe-inducing:

The Times continues to editorialize about the “pedophilia crisis,” when all along it’s been a homosexual crisis. Eighty percent of the victims of priestly sexual abuse are male and most of them are post-pubescent. While homosexuality does not cause predatory behavior, and most gay priests are not molesters, most of the molesters have been gay.


It’s a small point,
but if most of the abused were post-pubescent, then I suppose we should be talking about a “pederasty” crisis. Donohue rightly points out that most gay priests are “not molesters.” That’s damning with faith praise. I would probably have said, “most gay priests are celibate and faithful,” but more importantly, can Donohue really say that “most of the molesters have been gay?” In reading the case of Father Stephen Kiesle one sees that in 2004 he entered a plea of “no contest” on the charge of molesting a young girl in 1995. This was after he had left the priesthood, wherein he had gone after boys.

Given that most sexual abuse of minors takes place in the home
, among people the children know and trust, it seems self-evident that the sexual abuse of minors is not about homo-or-heterosexuality, or for that matter about celibacy. Say it with me, kids: the sexual abuse of minors is about feeding a sick appetite for power and control. It is also about opportunity. Kiesle’s activities suggest that most of the molestation victims were male, because males were more available, and that is all.

Donohue ends thusly:

Here’s what’s really going on. The Times has teamed up with Jeffrey Anderson, a radical lawyer
who has made millions suing the Church . . .so they can weaken its moral authority. Why? Because of issues like abortion, gay marriage and women’s ordination . . . Those who doubt this to be true need to ask why the debt-ridden Times does not spend the same resources looking for dirt in other institutions that occurred a half-century ago.

It is perfectly fair to ask why the crusading Times seems so disinterested in the epidemic of sex abuse occurring, not thirty years ago but today, right now, in our public schools. But Donohue’s timing and tone are both regrettable, and “so they can weaken its moral authority” only invites the response: “the church, by its actions -whether in-line with the times or not- has itself weakened its moral authority.”

The church was never supposed to embrace times and trends; in holy wisdom and spiritual humility it is supposed to transcend them, in ultimate obedience to its Bridegroom. Had it kept its eternal perspective, rather than adopted a temporal one, it would have understood that a diagnosis of “needs therapy” may have been the worldly (and expedient) answer, but the spiritual answer of “must not minister” was the right one.

Meanwhile, responding to Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone’s recent remarks in Chile, Fr. Martin’s spirited piece makes an argument unwelcome to many*:

…nearly every reputable psychologist and psychiatrist definitively rejects the conflation of homosexuality with pedophilia . . . Pedophilia, say experts, is more a question of a stunted (or arrested) sexuality, more a question of power, and more a question of proximity (among many other complicated psychological factors). Simply put, being gay does not make one a pedophile.

Martin goes on to cite the USCCB’s own studies and adds,

Many of the victims of priest abuse were adolescents. So there were clearly some gay priests attracted to adolescent boys who preyed on them.

But not the vast majority of gay priests, who never abused anyone. This is a critical point. And this is also where the situation grows more complex. [...] Most Catholics. . . know that homosexuality and pedophilia are not the same thing. Perhaps this is why Pope Benedict XVI himself, en route to the United States for his visit in 2008, responded this way to a question about the abuse crisis: “I do not wish to talk about homosexuality, but about pedophilia, which is a different thing.” And they know that there are thousands of celibate gay men in the priesthood and chaste men in religious orders who have never abused anyone and, moreover, lead generous, dedicated, and even holy lives.

Cardinal Bertone’s remarks -which were clearly his own opinion- had many smacking their foreheads. They do not represent the views of the pope and both the Vatican and the US Bishops have criticized them.

Fr. Martin’s piece is very good, and I urge you to read it all, but Martin should reconsider citing the opinions of the psychological and psychiatric communities; they were the very people advising churches and industries that a bit of therapy could manage the problem of child sexual abuse. That theory has been quietly put to rest. Theories abound but there is one truth: the sexual abuse of minors is a sin and a crime not defined by gender, class, sexual orientation, the celibate or married state, families or income: it is about power, control and opportunity.

At prayer over this, my heart became so heavy with grief for everyone: for all of the victims, who -in the screaming headlines- are not hearing about how effective and heroic they have been in fomenting real change, so that others will not have to suffer as they have; for the people in the pews, who wish it would all just go away; for the all of the good priests -gay and straight- who are being tainted with this scandal. We forget that someone like Bertone is merely a man and a priest who sounds like he is simply feeling the heat and saying, “don’t look over here – look over there” and throwing his gay brother priests under the bus.

I feel the same grief for Benedict who is being relentlessly demonized for understanding things differently in the past than he does today. He was clearly on the same learning curve as everyone else -secular and religious- on this issue and he has displayed, since 2001, when the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith attained provenance over these investigations, a rigorous determination to see things righted, to the apparent interest of no one.

UPDATE:

Discussing this with a friend I realize how really tired I am of the whole notion of “gay” and “straight.” I really wish we could get to the point where people’s sexuality was a yawner. I am frankly as tired of the scolds and homophobes as I am with the “in your face about it” activists, who can’t get through a day without waving the rainbow flag. One of my favorite friends a transsexual woman who used to be an Air Force guy, and is quite the Lutheran scholar. She does not spend all her time talking about being a transsexual, because she is too busy being a woman on her own journey to God, and yelling at me about St. Thomas More.

Our jobs are not to judge, not to finger-point, not to consign each other to flames of woe over what we understand of God’s mind, but to simply love each other, as created creatures, all doing the best we can in a broken world, and to remember that God’s mind is not ours; we can never even begin to comprehend or approximate the largeness of his love for every single one of us, or his tender mercy.

But we must try. When St. Paul wrote, “If I speak in human and angelic tongues but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal” he nailed it.

And maybe that is the answer to this endless fixation on sexuality, which too often gets in our way, and becomes a stumbling block to our own spiritual lives, and our understanding. We are too wrapped up in “doing” rather than with “being.” We are wrapped up in our own “doings” and everyone else’s “doings.”

“Doing” is our obsession in the world. “What are you doing?” we ask a friend on the phone. “What do you DO?” is the first question anyone asks at a gathering. Perhaps the question should be “how are you ‘being?’”

Then we can all answer “I am ‘being’ as well as I can, with God’s help,” and keep our eyes on Jesus, only.

*Edited for clarity.

Related:
After an accusation, here is what happens at the Vatican
John Allen: Candor Creep about the Pope
George Weigel: The Limits of the Papacy
Alan Dershowitz and Ed Koch: Defending the Pope
Benedict: Dedicates General Audience to Priests
An Episcopal Priest: Discusses the issue
Shea: Media Distractions
Eric Sammons: Better, not Bitter
AP: and the question of Bad Journalism
Gender Issues in Main
Anglicans: Why are they Coming?
A Life-Changing Pilgrimage

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • Mark

    KT, Andrew Sullivan is a gay Catholic who often overstates matters and must be very unpopular in these parts, but I thought he said something interesting on this matter:

    The real question is: what kind of gay man molests children and young teens? Just as: what kind of straight man molests children and young teens? What leads to this kind of behavior which is far from the norm among homosexuals and heterosexuals? And why does the Catholic Church priesthood seem such a magnet for child rapists and molesters? Why has it seemed to attract so many gay men who are psychologically disturbed or sick when it comes to their sexual orientation?

    I find the answer pretty straightforward.
    The church teaches first of all that all gay men are “objectively disordered:” deeply sick in their deepest soul and longing for love and intimacy. A young Catholic who finds out he’s gay therefore simultaneously finds out that his church regards him as sick and inherently evil, for something he doesn’t experience as a choice. That’s a distorting and deeply, deeply damaging psychic wound. Young Catholic gay boys, tormented by this seemingly ineradicable sinfulness, often seek religious authority as a way to cope with the despair and loneliness their sexual orientation can create. (Trust me on this; it was my life). So this self-loathing kid both abstracts himself from sexual relationships with peers, idolizes those “normal” peers he sees as he reaches post-pubescence, and is simultaneously terrified by these desires and so seeks both solace and cover for not getting married by entering the priesthood.

    None of this is conceivable without the shame and distortion of the closet, or the church’s hideously misinformed and distorted view of homosexual orientation. And look at the age at which you are most likely to enter total sexual panic and arrest: exactly the age of the young teens these priests remain attracted to and abuse.

    That’s the age when the shame deepens into despair; that’s when sexuality is arrested; that’s where the psyche gets stunted. In some ways, I suspect, these molesters feel as if they are playing with equals – because emotionally they remain in the early teens. I’m not excusing this in any way; just trying to understand how such evil can be committed.
    Ask yourself: how many openly gay and adjusted priests have been found to have abused minors? Or ask yourself another question: if straight men were forbidden to marry women, had their sexual and emotional development truncated at the age of 13, and were forced into institutions where they were treated by teenage girls as gods, and given untrammeled private access to them, how much sexual abuse do you think would occur there? Please. This is not that hard to understand.

    I think it’s compounded by the shame gay bishops feel about their own sexual orientation. They, like Bill Donohue, secretly associate homosexuality with dysfunction, disorder, chaos, evil. So when they come across a fellow priest found to have molested teenage boys or children, they associate it with homosexuality – not pederasty – associate themselves with it, and try to cover it up – partly because they want to protect the church (which is their sole refuge) and partly because they want to protect those they wrongly associate with themselves.

    [All well and good except the priesthood is not "such a magnet" for molesters. Perhaps Sullivan did not see the recent article (was it Time or Newsweek) that found molesters within and without the priesthood to be running at about the same percentages? That excuses nothing, it's merely a statistic, but one that some prefer to ignore -admin]

  • Mark

    Last Sphere: You misunderstood me. I wasn’t suggesting that heterosexuality itself is a disorder, only that preying upon young women is a disorder. I was suggesting that we should similarly distinguish between homosexuals who are celibate or in committed relationships and homosexual who prey upon young men.

    You will not agree, of course, because you believe all homosexuality is a disorder.

  • kt

    “But I look at the person before me and understand that my judgment is unnecessary”

    Of course your judgment is not necessary. What IS necessary is your concordance with catholic teaching, if you are going to put yourself forward as a public catholic. It would also help to acknowledge facts of the scandal as they exist… like Donohue has.

  • kt

    Mark, what the heck is your point? aw the poor gay clergy, they cant HELP but molest.

    Spare me. Everyone is tortured by their sexuality at 13. Everyone has crosses to bear that you have no clue about. This canard that homosexuals are special in their suffering is frankly offensive.

  • Last Sphere

    (A young Catholic who finds out he’s gay therefore simultaneously finds out that his church regards him as sick and inherently evil, for something he doesn’t experience as a choice. That’s a distorting and deeply, deeply damaging psychic wound.)

    Disordered, not inherently evil.

    You obviously find fault with the Church’s analysis of the disorder, and not the disorder itself. It is apparent that your agenda is not spiritual in nature, but rather political. You simply want The Roman Catholic Church to alter it’s 2000 years of inspired wisdom rather than you alter your own spiritual shortcomings or the disorders of our modern society.

    Sorry, when it comes to spiritual matters of our very nature, I’ll rely on the timeless truth and wisdom of Christ’s Church and not on the politically correct whims of “progress”.

    “It seems a pity that psychology has destroyed all our knowledge of human nature.” -G.K.Chesterton

  • Darryl

    Mark,

    The whole issue *is* homosexual priests being unchaste. You are ignoring the numbers. 80% of the abuse were homosexual in nature. Why were gay priests way more likely to abuse post pubescent males than hetersexual priests? Could it be that their disordered inclination is a key factor?

  • Mark

    kt, my point is that the vast majority of gay priests do God’s work and do not molest children or young men. There are two essential crimes here — 1) the abuse itself and 2) the coverup. Both are being dealt with. There is no need, in my view, to scapegoat and demonize homosexuality per se.

    And what do you mean by stating “Everyone has crosses to bear that you have no clue about.” Perhaps you are suggesting I am gay and don’t know about heterosexual crosses.

    I wouldn’t mind, but let me add, just to complicate matters, that I am far from being gay. I have been married for 35 years and raised two daughters in the Church.

  • Mark

    Darryl, you will get no quarrel from me that 80% of the abuse was by homosexuals. I think Sullivan, in the piece I quoted above, explains why homosexuals, including those w taste for ho prey upon the young, are attracted in such great numbers to the Church.

    We differ in our view of “disorder.” I think both gay and straight abusers of the young are sexually disordered. You think, with the Church, that all homosexuals are disordered.

  • Last Sphere

    (You will not agree, of course, because you believe all homosexuality is a disorder.)

    Of course homosexuality is a disorder Mark.

    It is a spiritual disorder, a disorder of the natural order of life, and clearly an evolutionary dead end. However, with such brokenness comes the opportunity for tremendous grace. Homosexual individuals are clearly called to a celibate life. But all things, all suffering, all sorrows, when offered up to Christ become powerful avenues for spiritual growth. Only in Christ can such brokenness become such a powerful blessing. The bigger the cross, the bigger the crown.

    Now that spiritual concept flies in the face of modern society’s delusional crusade to deflect all personal responsibility onto the convenient excuse of victimization. But hey, life’s not fair. Spiritual cancer happens. But only in Christ does the pain become an invaluable asset of the soul. This is the lesson of The Cross. This is why the world hates the One Who embraced The Cross.

  • Mark

    Last Sphere, I am merely making an argument that I believe should be made, and you really do not need to question my spiritual character because I happen to disagree with you. I put more than enough such questions to myself!

    I know very well that Catholics are frequently told not to question Church dogma, and that many take comfort in a faith that does not ask the laity to question. I’m not made like that, and I will go away if you want.

    The wisdom of the Church, by the way, does have a wonderfully timeless air — but that does not mean that the Church does not adjust its views over time in the search for a clearer understanding of Jesus’s teaching. The Church no longer speaks of Jews as it once did, for example, and it does not condone slavery. For half its life, as you know, the clergy were not celibate. Perhaps the wheel will turn again in that area. Perhaps the Church will also slowly change its views on the “disorder” of homosexuality.

    I like very much the quotation from St Gregroy of Nyssa at the top of this page: “Ideas create idols; only wonder leads to knowing.” It seems to me that, especially on matters of sexuality, the Church idolizes overly abstract ideas. Some wonder and curiosity are called for.

  • Last Sphere

    (I wouldn’t mind, but let me add, just to complicate matters, that I am far from being gay. I have been married for 35 years and raised two daughters in the Church.)

    Mark, if you raised your daughters with the belief that homosexuality is NOT a grave disorder- then you did not raise them in The Catholic Church.

    And why are you so quick and emphatic to point out that you are far from being gay? Based on your views I would think that you would be flattered by that perception, whether accurate or not. Instead you seem to be running away from any such implications.

  • Greta

    My point in all of this discussion on abuse is that we should unite to stop all abuse and should not care if the person is a priest, a politician, a teacher, an adult in our own homes, a homosexual, or straight. I do not care about anything other than the kids being abused. However, it is impossible because it is being used to bash the Catholic Church and to make money for lawyers. If there were no billions being awarded of which the lawyers get most, then the entire matter would be a non starter and that is sad. Just like it was impossible to deal with AIDS when it first came out without being called a homophobe which caused many gay people to suffer and die for political correctness. There is no doubt that there is a huge culture in the homosexual male community attraction to “twinks” or under age boys and also no doubt that any move to jail abusers to save the boys would be met with yells of the left. So my cheif complaint is that few of the loudest actually give a damn about the kids.
    Lets all start a massive campaign to find the abusers whoever and wherever they are and get them behind bars. If someone wants to let them out, lets remind them of the mistake by the church to let the abuser back out into their world and the harm that it caused. Lets make those who let them out liable in the same way that bishops are being taken to task with the same anger and pain and costs. But until we unite to save the kids, as far as I am concerned, this left wing bashing of the pope and the church is simply that and they could care less about the kids.

  • Last Sphere

    (and you really do not need to question my spiritual character because I happen to disagree with you.)

    I question you Mark because you disagree with The Catholic Church, not me.

    (but that does not mean that the Church does not adjust its views over time in the search for a clearer understanding of Jesus’s teaching.)

    The Church never has and never will change it’s view that homosexuality is a grave disorder Mark. And unlike homosexuality, celibacy is a discipline NOT a doctrine. By what authority and wisdom do you claim to correct The Church that Christ left us? And no, I do not want you to go away Mark. You are here for a reason greater than you or I can fully understand at this time.

    What is true in one age, is true in all ages. That is the very nature of truth.

  • Jeff

    Homosexuals are notoriously promiscuous, averaging, according to one study, at least 200 partners a year before AIDS struck. Mike is incorrect that the Church views homosexuals as “seriously disordered”; the Church does not reduce a man or woman to their sexual inclination. The Church does teach definitively that the homosexual inclination is objectively gravely disordered. The heterosexual inclination is normal.

  • Gail F

    I am not so enthusiastic about accepting what “reputable psychologists” say about gay men and their inclinations, because in the ’70s and ’80s nearly all “reputable psychologists” said that sexual abuse was easily treatable and sexually abused children were not much harmed by the experience.

    That said, I am pretty sure that being a homosexual man has little to do with pedophilia — most pedophiles are heterosexual, and indeed a large number of them are married men. Sadly, a large number of them molest their children, stepchildren, young relatives, or live-in girlfriends’ children. Many of them do not have a preference about the sex of the children they molest — it’s their “child-ness” that arouses them sexually. Pedophilia is not about control and power, it is a sexual abnormality.

    You can’t get away from the fact, though, that the majority of these abuse cases concerned post-adolescent boys. And it’s a huge majority, about 80%. A certain percentage of men have always found barely pubescent girls to be sexually arousing. A certain percentage of homosexual men seem to find adolescent boys sexually arousing. What percentage? I don’t know. What percentage of those men act on their attractions? I don’t know. But I think it’s important for us to look this squarely in the eye and figure out what was going on if we are to prevent it from happening again — or perhaps see that it is going on undiminished somewhere else in our society.

    It is silly to think that either of these attractions comes from being a priest, however. Or to think, like Mark above (whose Freudian-influenced explanations of “stunted” sexuality are, by the way, very outdated) that the priesthood was ever a place for pedophiles or pederasts to hang out on purpose. The numbers simply do not bear this out. The question remains: Why did the number of abusers of adolescents abuse boys? People who abuse adolescents are not (as pedophiles can be) indifferent to the sex of those they abuse and so do not abuse whoever is available.

    I agree with Greta that we should stop all abuse. But knowing who, and at what age, is most likely to be abused is important to accomplish that. And, as much as we might like to believe otherwise, heterosexual men do not abuse adolescent boys.

  • Gail F

    What I wrote sounds crazy: “as much as we might like to believe otherwise, heterosexual men do not abuse adolescent boys.” Obviously, no one wants to believe otherwise.

    I mean that, as much as most of us want everyone to know that we don’t think all homosexual men abuse children or adolescents, we can’t pretend that NONE of them do.

  • kt

    I see, so we’re not allowed to see a chain of causation between homosexuality in the priesthood and homosexual molestation of children because..why? Because we’re not allowed to be intelligent and discerning? We’re not allowed to discuss facts? It’s rude to be truthful, eh?

    and what is a “homosexual priest” anyway? isn’t that a little like being an infertile pregnant woman?

  • Last Sphere

    What rationale would lead anyone to conclude that homosexuality is a natural order of humanity or a natural norm?

    Is it because this disorder is not of the individuals choosing?

    But then, what disordered state is ever the choice of the individual?

    Does the alcoholic or drug abuser choose their addictive nature?

    Does the seemingly random and involuntary origins of these states somehow automatically validate the occurrences as the “norm” rather than the exception?

  • Mark

    A great deal has been learned about homosexuality in the last fifty years, both good and bad. It is true that homosexual men are often promiscuous when young; but so too are heterosexual men. Not to the same degree, but that may be because women are not nearly as promiscuous or available to heterosexual men as homosexuals are to homosexual men. (Lesbians have many fewer partners than gay males do.) Many of my male college classmates would have been delighted, I think, to have sex with 200 women, if only they could.

    What’s also been learned is that homosexuals are fully capable of loving, committed relationships. Heterosexuals should be careful not to throw the first stone here. I look around me and I see many simply awful heterosexual relationships, in which women are often victimized, and these relationships and this heterosexuality are surely as “disordered” as dysfunctional homosexual relationships are.

    We’ve also learned that homosexuality is almost always an innate orientation. It seems cruel and ignorant to me to isolate, shame and conceal homosexuals — as has been done for years. It does no good. It is counterproductive. Far better to encourage committed relationships of love and respect. Far better to stand in the light than lurk in the closet.

    I would agree that truth is timeless, but our understanding of the truth — and by “our” I also mean the Church’s understanding — is incomplete, partial and confused by the moment. We aspire to the timeless truth, but we do not possess it. We are fallen. This is hardly an original observation. It should remind us, though, that the Church’s understanding and handling of the truth is not set in stone.

    And it’s all to the good — if often painful and inaccurate — that the public talks about these matters and questions the hierarchy. Without this public airing, after all, the Church would not have addressed the problem as quickly.

  • kt

    Isn’t it great that people were such idiots for the last several millenia, and then all of a sudden, in the “last fifty years” according to Mark, our understanding of homosexuality has improved by leaps and bounds? I guess it’s just coincidence that this new “understanding” is the equivalent of the complete jettisoning of catholic teaching….

  • Mark

    Kt, you caricature my thoughts, as you must know.

    However, I do see that I don’t have much to contribute to this blog (other than irritation!). You and most here are interested in defending certainties; my interests lie elsewhere.

    So, without rancor, I’ll go now. Besides, I want to read that John Allen piece and go look at some cherry blossoms with my daughter. Cheers and God bless!

  • Last Sphere

    (I would agree that truth is timeless, but our understanding of the truth — and by “our” I also mean the Church’s understanding — is incomplete, partial and confused by the moment.)

    Then you are not a Roman Catholic are you.

    How can the Church’s “understanding” of the truth be incomplete, partial and confused by the moment when that understanding predated this moment by centuries?

    If anything, it is psychology that is forever adjusting it’s “understanding” of human nature based on the mood of the moment. You have clearly chosen to recognize the authority of modern psychology as a spiritual replacement for The Catholic Church.

    I question the perception that homosexuals are fully capable of loving, committed relationships. How do you gauge that? Who is providing the research? What effect does this have on their spiritual relationship with God?

    After all, I’ve know fully functional alcoholics and drug addicts who kept their families together and performed their jobs normally, and if you would ask them if they were “happy” they would have insisted that- yes. Yes they were.

    (Heterosexuals should be careful not to throw the first stone here. I look around me and I see many simply awful heterosexual relationships, in which women are often victimized, and these relationships and this heterosexuality are surely as “disordered” as dysfunctional homosexual relationships are.)

    No stones are being thrown Mark. Christ commands us to judge actions while He alone is capable of judging hearts.

    Excusing dysfunction by point out more dysfunction has no basis in Christ’s teachings.
    If anything, the current divorce rates and lack of ethics in our society is borne of the same culture of modern progressive psychology that emphasizes individual “happiness” and feel-good self-centeredness and that also claims that homosexual relationships are somehow normal and healthy and that all morality is relative. The modern world is forever echoing the doctrine of Pontius Pilate: “What is truth?” These words are always uttered when confronted with The Truth The Way and The Life.

    To paraphrase Fr Groeschel: The best psychoanalysis can do is take you from miserable to unhappiness. True happiness and peace is found in Christ.

  • Brian English

    “We’ve also learned that homosexuality is almost always an innate orientation.”

    That is completely untrue. Go over to catholiceducation.org and look at the materials by the Catholic Medical Association and other groups.

    I will grant you that someone being homosexual is probably the result of a complex interaction of various psychological factors, but there is no “gay gene.”

  • kt

    Mark, I regret to say that it’s not necessary to caricature your thoughts. Hope you enjoyed the cherry blossoms.

  • Brian English

    “I see, so we’re not allowed to see a chain of causation between homosexuality in the priesthood and homosexual molestation of children because..why?”

    But I think we have to keep in mind that we are talking about a small percentage of priests who were involved with the vile behavior that this post is talking about.

    Some of the comments here make it sound as if the MSM narrative that there were large mobs of priests molesting children is accurate.

  • kt

    so what? a small percentage of drunk drivers kill someone, or even get in accidents. that doesn’t mean it’s ok to drive drunk.

  • jeff F

    Brian English asks “In light of this, how can you advocate an absolute ban from the priesthood?” after giving the entire cite on homosexuality from the Catechism.
    The answer, Brian is within your cite,”…unjust discrimination…” must be avoided. Clearly I see this as just discrimination. The damage that homosexuals in the priesthood can do outweighs the need to be fair to them as individuals.
    This is why, in a comment that was eaten on this site, I referenced the admittance of homosexuals to the priesthood as an error on the side of compassion and against prudence.

    [Nothing in my spam filter, sorry -admin]

  • jeff F

    No worries, admin. I assumed it was but a quirk o the internets.
    I would like to say, again, that I find your writing interesting and your opinions to be thoughtful so that disagreeing strongly with you makes me consider my own thoughts carefully.

  • Brian English

    “What’s also been learned is that homosexuals are fully capable of loving, committed relationships. Heterosexuals should be careful not to throw the first stone here. I look around me and I see many simply awful heterosexual relationships, in which women are often victimized, and these relationships and this heterosexuality are surely as “disordered” as dysfunctional homosexual relationships are.”

    It appears that a large number of homosexuals define “loving, committed relationships” in a different way.

    A study that was publicized recently shows that 50% of homosexual couples have open relationships where sex is not limited to their partner.

    Andrew Sullivan in his book supporting gay marriage asserted that one of the “benefits” of the acceptance of gay marriage may be that it will enable heterosexuals to get over their “hang-ups” about things like monogamy.

    With regard to dysfunctional heterosexual relationships, a gay rights group in Canada, where gay marriage has been legal for 10 years, filed a lawsuit against the government last year asserting that healthcare did not adequately address issues in the gay community.

    In the lawsuit, the group alleged that homosexuals have higher rates of just about every symptom of dysfunction, including domestic abuse.

  • Brian English

    “so what? a small percentage of drunk drivers kill someone, or even get in accidents. that doesn’t mean it’s ok to drive drunk.”

    I don’t think you actually meant to compare being a priest to being a drunk driver.

    My point is, there is a certain percentage of priests who have homosexual orientations (estimates vary) and within that group, the vast majority have not violated their vows and are good priests.

  • Brian English

    “The answer, Brian is within your cite,”…unjust discrimination…” must be avoided. Clearly I see this as just discrimination. The damage that homosexuals in the priesthood can do outweighs the need to be fair to them as individuals.”

    But what about:

    “2359 Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.”

    That sounds like the life a priest should lead. Can we really tell someone they should live the life of a priest and then tell them they cannot actually be priests?

    I am not saying we should accept men into the priesthood who support the gay rights agenda and want to try to change the Church’s stance on homosexuality from within.

    What I am saying is that if a man with a homosexual orientation, who accepts the Church’s teaching, loves God, and wants to “gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection”, desires to become a priest, it would be wrong to bar him from pursuing that vocation just because of his sexual orientation (which should become irrelevant).

  • kt

    “I don’t think you actually meant to compare being a priest to being a drunk driver.”

    That’s the one thing you are right about.

  • Last Sphere

    “That sounds like the life a priest should lead. Can we really tell someone they should live the life of a priest and then tell them they cannot actually be priests?”

    Brian, living a virtuous life similar to a priest, and actually ministering to the flock are two very different things. If the very natural condition of marriage can divide and hamper a priest’s service to his flock, how much more can the intrinsically unnatural disorder of homosexuality burden his soul and put him and others at grave risks?

    Not everyone who approaches Christian perfection is meant to be a priest. Especially someone who suffers from a gave disorder such as homosexuality, because this disorder, for all intents and purposes is probably a permanent condition by it’s very nature unlike any other.

    Have there been good and faithful homosexual priests in the past and the present? Obviously yes. What are the percentages? Who knows. However, what we DO know is that 80% of the current scandal was perpetrated by homosexual priests. That fact is significant and it looms large. And prudence would seem to dictate that it would be foolish and dangerous to ignore it.

    I trust the guidance and the wisdom of the Holy Spirit in the Pope’s judgement on this.

    Why don’t you?

  • Jeff

    From CNA, more evidence that there is a link between the homosexual inclination and sexual abuse:

    “The consensus among researchers is that the sexual abuse of children is not a question of sexual ‘orientation,’ whether heterosexual or homosexual, but of a disordered attraction or ‘fixation,’” Fr. Stock added.

    However, a U.S. psychiatrist with experience in treating priests with pedophilia disagrees that there is no link between homosexuality and sexual abuse of children. “Cardinal Bertone’s comments are supported completely by the John Jay study report and by clinical experience,” Dr. Richard Fitzgibbons told CNA. “In fact, every priest whom I treated who was involved with children sexually had previously been involved in adult homosexual relationships.”

    Fitzgibbons, who has been the director of Comprehensive Counseling Center in West Conshohocken, Penn. since 1988, has worked extensively with individuals suffering from same sex attraction (SSA) and priests accused of pedophilia. He also presently serves as a consultant to the Congregation for the Clergy at the Holy See.

    In his 2002 “Letter to Catholic Bishops,” Fitzgibbons identified priests prone to sexual abuse as having suffered “profound emotional pain” during childhood due to loneliness, problems in their relationships with their fathers, rejection by their peers, lack of male confidence, and poor self image or body image. Fitzgibbons said that these experiences lead priests especially to direct their sadness and anger towards the Church, her teachings on sexual morality, and the Magisterium.

  • Last Sphere

    “What I am saying is that if a man with a homosexual orientation, who accepts the Church’s teaching, loves God, and wants to “gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection”, desires to become a priest, it would be wrong to bar him from pursuing that vocation just because of his sexual orientation (which should become irrelevant).”

    It would be “wrong” to bar him? Really? “Wrong” by whose judgement?

    The Church is the ultimate authority here- not you nor I. And the priesthood is not a “right” that should be granted to everyone who feels they are “called”, or who feel they are worthy of such a “calling”.

    And an intrinsically grave disorder such as homosexuality should NEVER become irrelevant in the spiritual development of anyone.

    On the contrary, such an enormous and pervasive cross (and source of tremendous grace) should never be irrelevant to the individual or the spiritual life of the person.

  • Brian English

    ““I don’t think you actually meant to compare being a priest to being a drunk driver.”

    That’s the one thing you are right about.”

    Well what did you mean?

  • Brian English

    “However, what we DO know is that 80% of the current scandal was perpetrated by homosexual priests. That fact is significant and it looms large. And prudence would seem to dictate that it would be foolish and dangerous to ignore it.”

    This comment brings us to the heart of the problem with both the MSM coverage and some of the comments on this board regarding the “current scandal.”

    The vast majority of the incidents that are the basis for this “current scandal” took place between 1975 and 1985. Last year, there were SIX credible claims of abuse in the entire country. Those with same-sex attraction were not banned from the priesthood starting 25 years ago, so obviously such a ban was not the cause of the dramatic drop in incidents over the past 25 years.

    “I trust the guidance and the wisdom of the Holy Spirit in the Pope’s judgement on this.”

    I trust the Pope’s judgment as well, and he has not banned all of those with same-sex attraction from the priesthood. The statement that was issued a couple of years ago is much more nuanced.

  • Brian English

    “However, a U.S. psychiatrist with experience in treating priests with pedophilia disagrees that there is no link between homosexuality and sexual abuse of children. “Cardinal Bertone’s comments are supported completely by the John Jay study report and by clinical experience,” Dr. Richard Fitzgibbons told CNA. “In fact, every priest whom I treated who was involved with children sexually had previously been involved in adult homosexual relationships.”

    The catholiceducation.org site has many articles by Dr. Fitzgibbons regarding various aspects of homosexuality and I think his views are sound.

    However, the fact that all priests who sexually assaulted children had previously been involved in adult homosexual relationships does not mean that all priests who suffer with same-sex attraction will attack children.

    Furthermore, a man who had been involved in homosexual relationships as an adult is probably someone who is a supporter of the gay subculture, and obviously should not be in the priesthood.

  • Last Sphere

    “Those with same-sex attraction were not banned from the priesthood starting 25 years ago, so obviously such a ban was not the cause of the dramatic drop in incidents over the past 25 years.”

    And yet Brian, 80% of the abusers were homosexual.

    Why do you insist on ignoring that dominant fact?

    There is no definitive numbers on the percentage of priest who are actually gay so what difference does it make if the ban was not enacted 25 years ago? Perhaps the number of gay priests has declined in the last 25 years. We simply don’t know.

    However (once again) we DO KNOW that 80% of the abusers were homosexual. Have I mentioned that before Brian?

    We DO KNOW that the Church has deemed homosexuality a GRAVE DISORDER. Have I mentioned THAT before Brian?

    You trust the Pope’s judgement. Great. So do I.

    And I never said the Pope banned ALL gay priests. Those are your words- not mine.

    So what is your point here Brian?

  • Last Sphere

    “However, the fact that all priests who sexually assaulted children had previously been involved in adult homosexual relationships does not mean that all priests who suffer with same-sex attraction will attack children.”

    Couple Dr. Fitzgibbons’ experience with that of several research studies that proves homosexuals are far more likely to be promiscuous, and that they tend to engage in risky sexual practices including those involving teenage boys; then obviously common sense would dictate that the chances of negative incidents involving gay priests would be significantly higher than those of heterosexual priests.

    How can any other sensible conclusion be reached?

  • Last Sphere

    “Those with same-sex attraction were not banned from the priesthood starting 25 years ago, so obviously such a ban was not the cause of the dramatic drop in incidents over the past 25 years.”

    No Brian. Without knowing the percentage of priests in the last 25 years who are actually homosexual you cannot accurately determine any cause for the decline in abuse.

    However (once again) we DO KNOW that 80% of the abusers were homosexual.

    We DO KNOW that the Church has deemed homosexuality as a serious intrinsic disorder.

    And I never stated that the Pope had banned ALL homosexual priests (only seminarians).

    And we BOTH agree with the wisdom of the Church on this matter.

    So then- what is your point here Brian?

  • Brian English

    This is the relevant part of the 2005 Vatican Statement:

    “The spiritual director has the obligation to evaluate all the qualities of the candidate’s personality and to make sure that he does not present disturbances of a sexual nature, which are incompatible with the priesthood. If a candidate practises homosexuality or presents deep-seated homosexual tendencies, his spiritual director as well as his confessor have the duty to dissuade him in conscience from proceeding towards ordination.”

    So the Pope did not ban seminarians who suffer from same-sex attractions either. He banned those who engage in homosexual conduct or have deep-seated homosexual tendencies (and why men who are in either of those categories would want to become Catholic priests is beyond me).

    “No Brian. Without knowing the percentage of priests in the last 25 years who are actually homosexual you cannot accurately determine any cause for the decline in abuse.”

    Well, we know a ban from the priesthood of men with same-sex attractions was not the cause of the decline because no such ban occurred.

    “However (once again) we DO KNOW that 80% of the abusers were homosexual.”

    And my question to you is: What do you want to do about that?

    “And we BOTH agree with the wisdom of the Church on this matter.

    So then- what is your point here Brian?”

    I basically have two points:

    (1) The vast majority of incidents of abuse occurred 25-35 years ago. Trying to address those incidents now by engaging in a witch hunt
    for priests who have struggled with same-sex attractions (the overwhelming majority successfully) would be: (a) stupid; and (b) morally wrong.

    (2) Blaming innocent people for the wrongs of others, whether it is blaming Benedict for bishops who lacked the courage to exert their authority or blaming priests for the acts of perverted criminals in their ranks, is wrong.

  • Last Sphere

    (“So the Pope did not ban seminarians who suffer from same-sex attractions either. He banned those who engage in homosexual conduct or have deep-seated homosexual tendencies”)

    So Brian, we are quibbling between the definitions of “same-sex attractions” (a state or inclination) and “homosexuality” (the acting out of same-sex attractions in relationships).

    Okay.

    Then we should only allow homosexual virgins into the seminaries, but according to most research, homosexuals are highly promiscuous by their very nature. So obviously the percentage of safe “same-sex attracted” candidates (i.e. “homosexual virgins”) will be statistically low to begin with. However, of that small pool of candidates, steps must THEN be taken to determine how many of them have “deep-seated homosexual tendencies”. So THEN the already small pool of candidates will be weeded down to an even smaller group.

    Hmmmm. Sounds like a “Witch Hunt”.

    Okay. Fair enough.

    I can live with that “Witch Hunt”. Is that a “Witch Hunt” you can live with Brian?

    (“Trying to address those incidents now by engaging in a witch hunt for priests who have struggled with same-sex attractions (the overwhelming majority successfully)….”)

    Whoa. What Brian?

    How will you know if the overwhelming majority “successfully” struggled with their same-sex attractions unless they survive the screening process (i.e. “Witch Hunt”)?

    (“Blaming innocent people for the wrongs of others, whether it is blaming Benedict for bishops who lacked the courage to exert their authority or blaming priests for the acts of perverted criminals in their ranks, is wrong.”)

    I’m not blaming innocent people Brian.

    I think Pope Benedict is innocent. I think the vast majority of priests are innocent.

    I do however think that the screening process needs to pay particular attention to candidates who suffer from “same-sex attractions” especially since 80% of the abuse cases were acts of homosexuality. Don’t you agree Brian?

  • The_Anchoress

    Gents, comments will be closing on this soon – if you’d like to continue the discussion, why not get each other’s emails?

  • Brian English

    “I do however think that the screening process needs to pay particular attention to candidates who suffer from “same-sex attractions” especially since 80% of the abuse cases were acts of homosexuality. Don’t you agree Brian?”

    Absolutely. I think we are talking past each other because the witchhunt I was referring to would be one of existing priests who have done nothing wrong.

  • Last Sphere

    (“I think we are talking past each other because the witchhunt I was referring to would be one of existing priests who have done nothing wrong.”)

    We have indeed been talking past each other Brian.

    It was never my intention to suggest a ban on existing innocent priests. My apologies for the misunderstanding.

    God bless.


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