AP exclusive: Future pope stalled pedophile case

Like many other Catholic publications, America has urged the church to step forward with all it knows as quickly as possible, if for no other reason than to put an end to this brutal media dissection. Surely someone was aware during the past weeks of protests to the contrary that the Pope was involved with this appalling case and apparently at least two more in Arizona. This man was allowed to continue his career as both a priest and a remorseless molester of children. This can only be described as disheartening, unbelievable. I would say it will do grave harm to the church, but it's hard to imagine that much more damage could be inflicted at this point:

Read the AP report in full.


LOS ANGELES – The future Pope Benedict XVI resisted pleas to defrock a California priest with a record of sexually molesting children, citing concerns including "the good of the universal church," according to a 1985 letter bearing his signature.

The correspondence, obtained by The Associated Press, is the strongest challenge yet to the Vatican's insistence that Benedict played no role in blocking the removal of pedophile priests during his years as head of the Catholic Church's doctrinal watchdog office.

The letter, signed by then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, was typed in Latin and is part of years of correspondence between the Diocese of Oakland and the Vatican about the proposed defrocking of the Rev. Stephen Kiesle.

The Vatican refused to comment on the contents of the letter Friday, but a spokesman confirmed it bore Ratzinger's signature.

"The press office doesn't believe it is necessary to respond to every single document taken out of context regarding particular legal situations," the Rev. Federico Lombardi said. "It is not strange that there are single documents which have Cardinal Ratzinger's signature."

The diocese recommended removing Kiesle (KEEZ'-lee) from the priesthood in 1981, the year Ratzinger was appointed to head the Vatican office which shared responsibility for disciplining abusive priests.

The case then languished for four years at the Vatican before Ratzinger finally wrote to Oakland Bishop John Cummins. It was two more years before Kiesle was removed.

In the November 1985 letter, Ratzinger says the arguments for removing Kiesle are of "grave significance" but added that such actions required very careful review and more time. He also urged the bishop to provide Kiesle with "as much paternal care as possible" while awaiting the decision, according to a translation for AP by Professor Thomas Habinek, chairman of the University of Southern California Classics Department.

But the future pope also noted that any decision to defrock Kiesle must take into account the "good of the universal church" and the "detriment that granting the dispensation can provoke within the community of Christ's faithful, particularly considering the young age." Kiesle was 38 at the time.

Kiesle had been sentenced in 1978 to three years' probation after pleading no contest to misdemeanor charges of lewd conduct for tying up and molesting two young boys in a San Francisco Bay area church rectory.

As his probation ended in 1981, Kiesle asked to leave the priesthood and the diocese submitted papers to Rome to defrock him.

In his earliest letter to Ratzinger, Cummins warned that returning Kiesle to ministry would cause more of a scandal than stripping him of his priestly powers.

"It is my conviction that there would be no scandal if this petition were granted and that as a matter of fact, given the nature of the case, there might be greater scandal to the community if Father Kiesle were allowed to return to the active ministry," Cummins wrote in 1982. . . . 

Kevin Clarke

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8 years 6 months ago
I noted from the media report that Stephen Kiesle is a registered sex offender.   In 2004 he pled no contest to a felony for the molestation of a young girl in his home which occurred in 1995,  He was sentenced to six years in prison and is currently living in a community in California as a registered sex offender.  He is thus one of about 68,000 registered  sex offenders living in communities statewide in California, with an additional 22,000 sex offenders in prisons.  Recently in San Diego County, a registered sex offender was charged with the murder/rape of a teen aged girl.  He is the suspect of the murder/rape of another teen aged girl.  The alleged offender had spent 5 years in prison after molesting a 13 year old girl in 2000.  He was on parole from 2005 to 2008.  Investigating how this horror could have happened revealed the breakdown of the criminal justice system in California.  In the state of Florida, a 12 year old boy is sentenced to life in prison without a chance of parole.  What kind of justice and safety are we offering our children?    I am sure CA and FL are not the only states with broken down, dysfunctional criminal justice systems.  I worked in the juvenile justice system in the 50's and 60:s when the only protective issues were neglect, abandonment and delinquency.  It took until 1974 for a federal child protection law to be enacted and until 1978 for sexual abuse to be added as a protective issue.    In the ensuing years, states have devised laws that seem to be a hodge podge of ineffectual legislation.  At any rate, children are not being protected.  They are not safe in their communities and more times in their own homes.
One can only hope that the outrage that is being expressed over the church's sexual abuse tragedy can be broadened to society-at-large.  The problems are here and now,   Reform is needed now.
Jim McCrea
8 years 6 months ago
I have lived in the Diocese of Oakland since 1970.  John Cummins was one of those V2 bishops who was pastoral, intelligent and well-respected by both the laity and his priests.
He has been replaced by 2 JPII guys - Vigneron and Cordileone. 
The Vatican has a lot to answer before God and the rest of us for the crap that they have visited on this diocese and the children who suffered because of a lack of cojones in allowing the ordinary to deal with guys such as Kiesle. 
Theresa Maccarone
8 years 6 months ago
I don't want to brush aside the seriousness of then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger decision in this case, but I must ask this question.  If the local Bishop has the power to ordain a priest, then why doesn't he have the power to defrock a priest too?  It seems to me that part of the problem here is that the Vatican is too centralized. Am I missing something??
8 years 6 months ago
It must be noted that under Bishop Cummins,Oakland had the best team and record in the entire country with an in-place team to root out abuse and heal survivors. So much for that..If BXVI can stick it to one of the only bishop and diocese that stood up early  ... then...  BXVI must go as more and more and more and more will be uncovered.   Basta Basta Basta.
ed & peg gleason San Francisco
Vince Killoran
8 years 6 months ago
It will take some fancy footwork to explain this one away but I'm sure some "Dancing with the Stars" contestants are up to it. Still, their feet must be getting tired. . . 
Please, stop the madness BXVI & Company: disclose everything.  Come clean. Penance. Mercy.
Dale Rodrigue
8 years 6 months ago
Our Church leaders have gone to great lengths to cover up and keep secrecy and used the ''need to avoid scandal'' as their excuse. Now our Church is paying the price for their actions.

Catholic scripture is clear about secrecy:

''Woe to those who go to great depths to hide their plans from the LORD, who do their work in darkness and think, ''Who sees us? Who will know?''
Isaiah 29:14-16

But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.''
John 3:20-22

Time to ''pony up''. We need resignations and new disciplines to involve the laity in the vetting of clergy with reviews and interviews before allowing them to oversee us. We can no longer trust our leadership. End the clericalism and secrecy. Open up the files, let the laity review them, question them and keep their feet to the fire.
William Lindsey
8 years 6 months ago
Vince, thank you for your posting.
Perhaps because I've been reading bits of poetry all afternoon (National Poetry Month-giving myself the chance to re-appreciate poems of all kinds that I loved in the past), your final statement hit my eyes like a poem:
Come clean.
And I have to say, reading it that way brought tears to my eyes.  I feel that for many of us, the stones we're being asked to crunch these days hurt dreadfully.
We need bread for a change.
We need from our pastors what they ask of us routinely: come clean.  Penance.  Mercy.
Brendan McGrath
8 years 6 months ago
Dear God...
Joe Mcmahon
8 years 6 months ago
I'm trying to piece together some chronology.  John Paul II became Pope in October, 1978.  As I recall, sometime in his first four or five years in office, he severely restricted granting laicization to priests who wanted to leave the priesthood.  A while later, he relaxed that rule a bit, saying that they could leave but he would not grant them permission to marry.  My recollection is that these moves by John Paul happened after a large exodus from the priesthood in the 1970's.  His way to halt the exodus was to say "No." In November, 1981, Cardinal Ratzinger replaced Cardinal Seper at the Congregatio pro Doctrina Fidei.
Father Kiesle was sentenced in 1978.  The man requested a dispensation or laicization and the Holy See stalled on it, culminating in the letter that can be viewed (Latin text) on the website of USA Today ("Acceptis litteris tuis ....") One reason given in the letter of refusal is the miscreant's youth!  Talk about locking the house doors with a criminal inside!  I guess Cardinal Ratzinger wrote the letter he knew the Pope wanted.
Is my chronology correct?  Thank you.
Martin Gallagher
8 years 6 months ago
It's unfortunate that so many people on this forum are quick to believe the worst in Ratzinger based on this AP story, especially since he has been found blameless in the recent allegations against him (the Munich and Wisocnsin cases). Perhaps he was negligent in the Oakland case or perhaps he was not. I'll withold my judgement until I hear his side of the story in its proper context.

As is typical of modern media, you are guilty until proven innocent - even then, you're lucky to get a retraction (excuse me, "clarification") on page 12.
Eric Stoltz
8 years 6 months ago
"I'll withold my judgement until I hear his side of the story in its proper context."
Martin, that is exactly the point. I too would like to hear his side of what happened in specific cases. But increasingly, "his side" of the story is a grab-bag of excuses: it's the media's fault, it's an anti-Catholic smear campaign, it's the fault of those who "misinterpret Vatican II," and on. It's clear he has no intention of presenting any evidence or explanation other than blaming others.
And worse, no solutions are provided beyond the laity going to confession and practicing Eucharistic adoration. This is pure insanity.
I'm with Vince: Come Clean. Penance. Mercy.
Paul Gilchrist
8 years 6 months ago
This must be the weakest and most irrational attack on Pope Benedict I have seen..
Fact: The police had already been informed. The priest had been convicted and was on probation.
Fact: The priest himself was requesting to leave the priesthood, so it was nothing to do with disciplining him. In any case, Cardinal Ratzinger and the CDF were not involved in investigating child abuse cases in 1985.
This case is only about the process of granting a request to leave the priesthood. Disagree with that if you like, but don't pretend it has anything to do with ''protecting'' child abusers.
William Lindsey
8 years 6 months ago
FACT: From1981, when the diocese asked the Vatican to laicize this priest, until 1987, when Kiesle was finally defrocked, he continued in ministry, WITH CONTINUED CONTACT WITH MINORS.
FACT: SNAP's press release about this suggest minors were molested in that period.  I do not yet know whether this has been proven.  I do know SNAP is implying this.
FACT: The Vatican itself was responsible for keeping him in ministry.
FACT: Keeping anyone in a position in which they have a proven track record of molesting minors, and have continued access to minors, is criminal.
And immoral.
William Lindsey
8 years 6 months ago
Sorry, I have just seen the following typo in what I just posted:" FACT: SNAP's press release about this suggest" should read FACT: SNAP's press release about this suggests."
Carolyn Disco
8 years 6 months ago
Re: ''especially since he has been found blameless in the recent allegations against him (the Munich and Wisocnsin cases)''
Hold on, not so fast! On arrival in Chile a few days ago, the CDF's Bertone was asked about halting the trial in the Murphy case.
Here is his response: 
 “Let’s not talk about this topic now, because otherwise we’ll be here all day verifying precisely the action taken by me and by his eminence.”
So: “action” was in fact “taken” by “his eminence.” But “his eminence” would have to be Ratzinger, right? So while they’ve been telling us, again and again, that Ratzinger was out of the loop, this makes it clear that he was very much in that loop, in it and “taking action.”
Catholic News Service today runs a version of the quote that leaves out the last section about his eminence and just refers to the action “of the congregation in those days.”
Does the buck stop with no. 1 or no. 2, or does the deputy act in accord with his superior’s policy directives or not? Plausible deniability versus believing the novel management theory that a prefect's policies have no bearing on the practices of his congregation.
Also, the judicial vicar apologizes and admits his error in saying a trial was ongoing at the time of Murphy's death, once he was shown documents in his own hand disproving his contention. Brundage's memory loss is unexplainable. But the dancing continues:
Molly Roach
8 years 6 months ago
Ratzinger is not blameless.
Martin Gallagher
8 years 6 months ago
William writes:
"FACT: From1981, when the diocese asked the Vatican to laicize this priest, until 1987, when Kiesle was finally defrocked, he continued in ministry, WITH CONTINUED CONTACT WITH MINORS."
Here is a point that I don't understand.  Whether or not he was laicized, couldn't the Oakland bishop prohibit him from having any contact with minors - or any pastoral duties?  Yes, laicization is important - it sends the message that we have zero tolerance for these types of crimes and these men have forfeited their rights to be priests.  However, shouldn't this extreme step be done carefully and with much thought?
It seems like the appropriate immediate steps to be taken once these accusations are being made are 1.) report the alleged crime to the police for a civil investigation 2.) have the pastor or bishop prohibit any contact with any vulnerable party until the charges are proven/disproven.
Why does it need to go to Rome?
8 years 6 months ago
John Paul II in 2002: "We must be confident that this time of trial will bring a purification of the entire Catholic community, a purification that is urgently needed if the Church is to preach more effectively the Gospel of Jesus Christ in all its liberating force. Now you must ensure that where sin increased, grace will all the more abound (cf. Rom 5:20). So much pain, so much sorrow must lead to a holier priesthood, a holier episcopate, and a holier Church"

We need a purification: less entrenched clericalism from the hierarchy and less reactionary liberalism from the laity.

Those who call for the unrestricted defense of the church leadership are the same mindset as those who call for the head of the pope or who try to use the crisis achieve their favored social upheval within the church (female priests or ending of celibacy) - both are screaming from the sidelines - each group at the extreme - one on the left and the other on the right. 

There is middle ground to be had!

A return to tradition and true orthodoxy (modern ideas such as the sexual revolution and the atomized individual have failed us both in the Church and in secular society) - There needs to be a return to reverence to of the Church as the Body of Christ lead by the Holy Spirit and not some political machine to be fought over in pitched ideological battles...

This is a complicated event/crisis - mistakes were made on all sides and changes of purification are underway - as evidenced by the reforms in the US church and the almost complete cessation of abuse. 

A greater openness on the part of the clergy and a greater faithfulness on the part of the laity would be a start towards reconciliation and healing.
Martin Gallagher
8 years 6 months ago
Fr. Fessio wrote a piece (linked below) that made some of my points listed above (but he explained it much better than I could).  Child protection should be (and was) done by the local civil authorities and the local bishop.  Defrocking dispenses the priest from celibacy and is seen as the removal of a restraint, not the imposition of an additional restraint. 
Again, it seems, the MSM jumped to conclusions.
Vince Killoran
8 years 6 months ago
"?Defrocking dispenses the priest from celibacy and is seen as the removal of a restraint, not the imposition of an additional restraint."
Actually, it removes the cover of legitimacy from the individual.  They can no longer claim to be fulfilling priestly duties when they come into contact with children and adolescents.
Christopher RUDDY
8 years 6 months ago
“Come clean. Repent. Mercy.” This is the basic pattern of Christian reconciliation and one that the Pope should exemplify. In Ut unum sint, John Paul II wrote that the Petrine ministry is a “ministry of mercy,” born out of Peter’s bitter awareness of his weakness and subsequent reconciliation with the Risen Lord. The Lord doesn’t condemn or belittle Peter, but simply shows his wounds and offers Peter and the other apostles his peace. That offer of peace brings reconciliation and empowerment for mission. 

Some—though not all—of these calls for repentance and mercy, however, seem more like a poison pill than a genuinely evangelical concern, designed to neuter Benedict and the Church doctrines and practices he upholds. The desired result would be not peace but a scarlet letter (“A” for abuse) used to gain an upper hand and to tar and even dismiss his subsequent papal ministry. 

It has been clear from the day of Benedict’s election that many just cannot stand him—some Catholics despise him with a hatred that is visceral—and are using recent events to air long-standing disagreements over Vatican II, liturgical reform, sexuality, the relationship of theologians to the magisterium, Christology, and ordained ministry. Snide asides about confession and adoration, for instance, don’t reassure one about the mercy on offer or the agenda at work. 

Benedict and other leaders in the Church are in no way beyond justified criticism, however painful it may be. If the Pope has sinned in what he has done or failed to do, such confession would surely heal—however much some would use such an admission for their own purposes. But, such criticism and promises of mercy hold less water when they come from those who’ve had barely a good or even unbegrudging thing to say about Ratzinger-Benedict (and the teaching he has upheld).
Martin Gallagher
8 years 6 months ago
Vince wrote,
"Actually, it removes the cover of legitimacy from the individual.  They can no longer claim to be fulfilling priestly duties when they come into contact with children and adolescents."
I would agree with that in the long run.  However, it is certainly not needed immediately.  What is needed is immediate disclosure to the authorities and removal from priestly duties by the pator and or bishop. 
If a physician hurt a patient, (s)he would be suspended from hospital privliges and have his/her license revoked by the state.  That would protect the public.  In extreme cases, the university that granted the MD could revoke the degree - further punishment and disgrace, true, but not needed in the short run to protect the patients. 
Just for the record, I think it would be better for the Church to have many more abusing priests defrocked than the current # of MDs revoked.  However, to imply that a delay in defrocking somehow "enabled" or "covered-up" the abuse is just a canard.
William Lindsey
8 years 6 months ago
Christopher, you write, "Some—though not all—of these calls for repentance and mercy, however, seem more like a poison pill than a genuinely evangelical concern, designed to neuter Benedict and the Church doctrines and practices he upholds."
I think many of your fellow Catholics would strongly disagree with you about where the poison pill in the abuse narrative is to be found.
For many of us, the revelations are like a daily drip of poison, and so it strikes many of us, I think, as exceptionally strange, of not downright sinister, to characterize our reaction to that daily drip of poision as poison we ourselves are injecting into the church and into the life of faith.
The fact is, it's exceptionally hard for many people to "appropriate"-to listen respectfully to, to understand, and to internalize-doctrinal teachings offered to us by pastors whose actions seem radically to contradict some of the most fundamental affirmations of the teachings they proclaim.
In that sense, the damage the crisis is inflicting on the church is extreme and will be longstanding.  I don't see how we serve the church well by denying that the behavior of our pastoral leaders can create-and is doing so, right now-a strong barrier to faith for many of us.
8 years 6 months ago
Great post, Christopher Ruddy.
John Raymer
8 years 6 months ago
There is no middle ground. We can either choose to live in the darkness of sin or we can choose to live in the light of Jesus Christ. It is our choice as individuals; it is our pope's choice as head of the Church. My hope is that we choose life so that we and our children may live.

This is not an question of liberalism or conservatism; celibacy or female priests; Latin or Vatican II or any of those things. In our pain, we have all tried to latch onto these broader questions as explanations but our discussions have shown them to false diversions.

I do not call for the head of the pope and never have. I call for Benedict, as Vicar of Christ, to lead us from the darkness of our sin into the light of Jesus Christ. In my theology, the only way to do this is to follow Jesus to the cross, where we die to our old selves and our old ways. The "death" is likely to involve a lot of suffering as we are scourged and humiliated under the "law of sin and death." Some of our bishops might have to resign and some might have to go to jail. But we cannot get to the resurection without going through the cross. And the longer the pope fights the cross, the longer we as the Church remain in the scourging and humiliation.

What will the Church look like in the resurection to come? Will it have popes, bishops and priests? Will it be like John Lennon the Catholic sang in "Imagine"? It is only when we no longer care about the trappings of this world that we can stop holding onto them. It is only when our Church stops fearing scandal that we can pass through the scandal and into life.

(Unless people still don't understand, I do like Benedict and I honor him as our pope. I in no way want to get rid of him or want to destroy our church. I am an adult convert to the Catholic Church because I very much believe that we are called to be the unified people of God. We stand together in life, we suffer together in death, and we rise together in the resurection. But we cannot get there as a Church if our pope fears to lead us through hell.)
Vince Killoran
8 years 6 months ago
I've written too much already so this is my last contribution to this post-I promise!
Martin, I don't think we disagree about the responsibility of local bishops and fellow priests to act on abuses charges immediately. The problem with BXVI and the Vatican is that they didn't act in a timely manner either (we're talking years of delay in some cases).  In addition, the negligent bishops you mention have not been made to resign. Some have even been promoted.
Jack's comments are very good: this is not a matter searching for a "middle ground," a case of witch hunt, or an excuse to destroy the Chair of Peter.
Livia Fiordelisi
8 years 6 months ago
Thank you, Jack. The image of the pope fighting the cross is very powerful and true.
8 years 6 months ago
Jack, what do you know of Benedict's cross?  What of his life?  It is more than a bit presumptuous to claim that another is not bearing the cross - or is "fighting" the one that has been given to them...
While "middle ground" was perhaps the wrong choice of words - there is a center that faithful Catholics occupy within the Body of Christ - the center of mythos and logos.  We are not the "faith alone" protestants - nor are we the "reason alone" liberal secularists.
Accepting the smear campaign against Benedict - a man who has done more to address this issue than any member of the church - is to use this crisis, not to bring the Church closer to Christ - but to drag it down into the mud of the world.  Many on this board who call for Benedict to be sacrificed also adovcate for the acceptance of post-modern morality: homosexuality, married and female priests, liberalization etc. etc. 
Many here seem to be cheering for the wolves and their call for a false sacrifice to the prince of this world rather than praying for Benedict...
8 years 6 months ago
Again, many here are looking for someone to blame - while the actions of the some leaders were reprehensible and they should be addressed - the bishops were not the abusers and they are not the root cause of this crisis.
Look at the John Jay report for the true culprit and the timeline - the sexual and liberal social revolutions of the 60s and 70s.  Most of the abused were post-pubescent males and, therefore, most of the abuse was homosexual in nature rather than pedophelia.
It is strange how those who advocate the most liberal sexual practices and homosexuality - yell the loudest when the terrible fruit of their lifestyle comes to light.  They call for sacrifice of someone - anyone - to hid their own part and own sins...
8 years 6 months ago
PS - Jack writes:  "Will it be like John Lennon the Catholic sang in "Imagine"? It is only when we no longer care about the trappings of this world that we can stop holding onto them. It is only when our Church stops fearing scandal that we can pass through the scandal and into life."
You forget that we currently live in a fallen world - so your arugment against limits and society or church are simply abstractions that forget the true human condidtion here on earth.
Rousseau made similar arguments about man behaving perfectly if only we did away with the trappings of society that corrupt him...and he was wrong then as you are now.
The Church recognizes the human predicment - sometimes too well - and offers us all sacraments to to heal us and fortify us on our often bumpy and dangerous piligrimage through this fallen world.
8 years 6 months ago
Brett; Stop with the post-pubescent baloney. Are you aware of the  percentage of present ministering  priests who have a gay orinetation?  you bring up the 'it's a homosexual problem' in complete denial. The Oakland priest Gistele went on to molest girls ..The abuser priests don't have a clue about their own sexuality.read up and banish your 1950s ideas..     The dioceses all went for self insurance in the middle eighties  because the insurance companies were fed up paying for secret cover-up agreements amounting to only a few thousand bucks for lawyers and counselling... {most survivor's lawyers were Catholic parish bullwalks who could be trusted to keep secrets [for a fee] ] So all dioceses/hierarchy knew about the cover-ups in the eighties.. Dioceses ended up paying 2 + billion dollars and still going up..
8 years 6 months ago
Ed, the external report produced by the John Jay School of Criminal Justice is by no means "baloney" - neither is the 80 percent abuse rate against post-pubescent males. 
Clinically, this abuse is not pedophelia, it is homosexuality.  But I know the facts do not fit your story...
8 years 6 months ago
Brett Joyce says "Most of the abused were post-pubescent males."
On page 70 of the John Jay report there is a table (4.3.2) entitled "Victims' Age at First Instance of Abuse".  In that table it states that 47.3% of the victims were initially abused at age 12 or younger and that the median age for first abuse was 12.8 years.  "Post-pubescence" in boys is generally considered to begin at an age significantly greater than either of those two numbers, so, for a significant majority, first abuse occured when they were not yet post-pubescent.
Eric Stoltz
8 years 6 months ago
Brett, post hoc ergo propter hoc much?
8 years 6 months ago
Eric, to say that the sexual and social revolutions of the 60s-70s did not negatively affect the society in general - and the church in particular - is to ignore the basics...STD rate, abuse rate, rapes, divorce etc.
This does not take away any responsibilty that the bishops had to protect their flock; however, to ignore the root causes of abuse and socitial breakdown is really a bit much.
William Lindsey
8 years 6 months ago
Brett, you say, "Look at the John Jay report for the true culprit and the timeline - the sexual and liberal social revolutions of the 60s and 70s.  Most of the abused were post-pubescent males and, therefore, most of the abuse was homosexual in nature rather than pedophelia."
I agree.  Look at the John Jay report.  Last November, Margaret Smith of the John Jay team told the U.S. bishops:
"What we are suggesting is that the idea of sexual identity be separated from the problem of sexual abuse." 
And:" "At this point, we do not find a connection between homosexual identity and an increased likelihood of sexual abuse."
On the same occasion, Karen Terry of the John Jay team told the bishops:
"It's important to separate the sexual identity and the behavior.  Someone can commit sexual acts that might be of a homosexual nature but not have a homosexual identity."
When asked by a bishop whether gay men should be excluded from the priesthood, Terry stated,
"If that exclusion were based on the fact that that person would be more probable than any other candidate to abuse, we do not find that at this time."
Thank you for drawing our attention to the John Jay report-and therefore to those who have the most information about telling us what the data in that report mean: the John Jay folks themselves.  Who have clearly told us that the issue of sexual orientation is a red herring in this discussion.
Come to think of it, didn't Pope Benedict say something to the same effect on his visit to the U.S.?
David Nickol
8 years 6 months ago
Brett Joyce:
Note that the John Jay researchers are careful to point out that while males who sexually abuse other males are engaging in homosexual behavior, that does not mean they are "gay":
"It's important to separate the sexual identity and the behavior," [Karen] Terry [one of the John Jay researchers] said. "Someone can commit sexual acts that might be of a homosexual nature but not have a homosexual identity." Terry said factors such as greater access to boys is one reason for the skewed ratio. Smith also raised the analogy of prison populations where homosexual behavior is common even though the prisoners are not necessarily homosexuals, or cultures where men are rigidly segregated from women until adulthood, and homosexual activity is accepted and then ceases after marriage. 
The John Jay researchers' conclusions - at least so far - are that priests with a homosexual orientation were no more likely to be abusers than priests with a heterosexual orientation. 
John Raymer
8 years 6 months ago
Benedict XVI is not "another." Mr. Karl Ratzinger's personal crosses are not the issue and I can certainly never know what they are. Benedict sits in the chair of St. Peter. The crosses of the whole Church, including the abuse scandal, are his to carry in his public ministry as pope. We are not out to abuse him or sacrifice him; we are here to follow him and support him in the holy ministry to which he has been called.

We want our pope to lead us into the light by telling the whole truth to the world - without reservation - without concern for lawsuits and scandal or all the treasure in Rome. Even without fear of prison time for bishops and priests, if appropriate. We need to root out the darkness of rot and corruption that caused the coverups and tolerated the abuse in the first place. And then, once that has happened, we can see more clearly how to prevent future abuse. I see the South African Truth and Reconcliation Commission as a model.
8 years 6 months ago
Facts and the interpretation of facts are two different things - my point was simply to say that the majority of these acts of abuse are homosexual in nature - that of a male abusing another male. 
What exactly does she mean by sexual identity?  This is a very modern, individualistic notion, to say the least.  Does fate still control us?  Do we not have free will - are we still controlled by nature?  I thought Christ destroyed the fates and our dependence on them ...so that we can now see and rely on the love of God.
The problem is not the effeminate male or a same-sex attraction (this does not lead to abuse) - the problem is the deconstruction of human sexuality that occured in the revolution and the rise of radical individualism that sexual "identity" (homo or hetero) and the pride it now represents. 
Sex as pure recreation, bonding, or power (disconnected from its procreative nature) is the problem because it is disconnected from God.
Here is a great articles on the bigger issues involved if anyone has time:
8 years 6 months ago
Jack: "We need to root out the darkness of rot and corruption that caused the coverups and tolerated the abuse in the first place."
I completely agree - but why not go one step further and seek out the rot and corruption of souls that CAUSED the abuse in the first place?!
William Lindsey
8 years 6 months ago
Brett, you say (rightly), "Facts and the interpretation of facts are two different things."
But surely you recognize that the interpretation of a set of facts given to those facts by researchers who are privy to far more information than you and I have about an issue carry strong weight in a discussion like this?
It seems . . . strange . . . to direct our attention to the John Jay study and then cavalierly set aside the conclusions that the John Jay team drew from the data they gathered.
Just as it's strange to claim that the word of Pope Benedict is being set aside by "liberals" (a term that I find has little explanatory value in this or most discussions), and then throw his words over our shoulder, when they're inconvenient.
Most courses in logic at credible universities or colleges would teach students to question this way of reasoning, early in one's academic career.
8 years 6 months ago
My point is a simple one - 1. the majority of the abuse was homosexual in nature (I believe around 80% of the total).  2.  these acts of abuse radically deviated from the good of human sexuality (composed of procreative and unitive natures).  3. that the ideas of a radically deconstructed and individualized human sexuality first were introducted during the 1960's.
Am I wrong to see a connection?  Was not the motto of moral and sexual relativism "it is forbbiden to forbid!"? 
This individual pride separates us from God and - as seen in the unintended consequences of this rebellion - it also separates us from the common human good.
8 years 6 months ago
The main-stream press cannot look at the roots of this problem - a problem that occurs all across society - because it adovcates for the very ideas that are at the root of it: radical individualism, libertine sexuality, and a political and commercial adversion to natural limits on human appetite...
David Nickol
8 years 6 months ago
I am not sure I see what you are driving at. As to your point 1, yes, apparently 80 percent of the abuse was priests abusing boys or young men. As to your point 2, are you trying to divide abuse up into "good" abuse (male on female) and "bad" abuse (male on male)? Are you saying that priests abusing females are engaging in procreative an unitive sexual relationships? Are you saying that somehow the sexual revolution caused males to start abusing males when they should have been abusing females? 
One of the strange positions one often finds in those who harshly condemn homosexuality is that if the stigma against homosexual behavior is removed, homosexual behavior will become rampant. It is as if everybody wants to do it but they are afraid of disapproval. This is a strange view of human sexual inclinations. 
David Nickol
8 years 6 months ago
ESPN: Sex abuse pervasive in USA Swimming
Interesting parallels.
8 years 6 months ago
Come on, David..
ALL abuse is deviated from the good of human sexuality because all abuse tries to seperate the unitive and procreative aspects - not to mention the horrifiying impact on the child or person abused.  Mine was a comment on the majority of abuse and it goes without saying that abuse against females is just as abhorrent...
Many would not like to admit it as individual pride is a powerful thing; however, all homosexual behavior is also a desconstruction of the good of human sexuality.
Abuse and homosexuality are not the same thing, obviously - but they are related theologically and in terms of their social ramifications.  Destory natural constructs and social limits and there is nowhere to go but down...even if that was not the intention.
William Lindsey
8 years 6 months ago
Thanks, Brett.
My point is simple, too.
It's that the people who compile data in a study are who have access to more information than we have as researchers are likely to be the most trustworthy intepreters of those data.
At the very least, it's not very wise cavalierly to dismiss the interpretation of data that comes from the very researchers who have amassed those data.
You can do so, of course.  But the burden will then be on you to demonstrate why your explanation is more compelling than that of the experts who have compiled the data and studied the sources more than you have.
In other words, for your own argument, it might have been much better not to drag the John Jay study into things, when those who undertook the study reached conclusions that directly contradict those you want to reach. 
Don't you agree?
William Lindsey
8 years 6 months ago
A bit more data to take into consideration, Brett-again, by an expert, though not from the John Jay study. 
This is Michael Scahill, a pediatric nurse practitioner who works in a child abuse clinic in Milwaukee, and who is a practicing Catholic:
"Let me say one thing very clearly. In almost 20 years of dealing with this issue on a daily clinical basis, I have never heard the issue framed in terms of 'post-pubescent boys,' nor one of homosexuality. In my professional experience, I have seen no connection between sexual orientation and the sexual abuse of a child, including post-pubescent boys who, contrary to Mr. Donohue's ill-informed interpretation of biology and law, are in fact children. For the Catholic Church or its prominent defenders to frame the issue in terms of homosexuality is to almost re-open the Inquisition. The Pope must put an end to that sort of rhetoric."
Scahill is writing at Alternet: http://www.alternet.org/story/146351/why_the_pope_should_take_responsibility_and_meet_with_victims_of_pedophile_priests
8 years 6 months ago
Same-sex attraction and moral or sexual deviance are two separate issue.  I think we are talking past one another but I have to run.
Have a good day!
John Raymer
8 years 6 months ago

I have said this several times before over the past few weeks but I will say it again. (Appologies to those who have seen it before.)

1. The problem of abuse is NOT new as you suggest. It is not a product of the 60's and 70's, of the "sexual revolution," of homosexuality, or gays in seminaries.

2. The Augsburg Confession, dated 1530, states "the vow of celibacy has been the cause of so much frightful and unchristian offense, so much adultery, so much terrible, shocking immorality and abominable vice." I offer this not as a condemnation of celibacy but as documentation that the same problems we are having today were occuring in 1530.

3. Sexual abuse of minors is a latent crime. Its fruits typically appear 10 to 30 years after the act. Part of the crime is instilling a deep sense of shame into the young souls of the abused. This shame prevents them from speaking to anyone about the crime for years if ever. The reason we do not hear of much abuse before the 1950's and 1960's is because most of the victims are dead. The reason we do not hear about abuse cases in the past 15 years is because they have not yet surfaced.

4. I think the internet is the reason why these scandals surfaced in the US around 2002 and are now surfacing around the world. The internet provides the free and anonymous communication that allows victims to know that they are not alone and that it is not there fault.

5. The Church cannot stop abuse any more than it can stop sin. However, the Church can expose sexual abuse and can change the institutional structures that seem to shelter and feed it. You yourself named clericalism as the biggest culprit. I strongly agree with you on that point.


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