The witch hunt for gay priests

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It is not surprising that Catholics are furious about the latest sex abuse crisis, which began, most recently, with accusations of abuse and harassment against the former cardinal-archbishop of Washington, D.C., Theodore McCarrick; deepened with the Pennsylvania grand jury report detailing 70 years of abuse in the Commonwealth; and intensified with the former Vatican nuncio to the United States Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò’s 11-page “testimony” accusing many high-ranking clerics, including Pope Francis, with covering up the crimes.

Catholics have a right to be angry at abusive clergy, at bishops who covered up their crimes and at the sclerotic clerical system that allowed the crimes and cover-ups to go unpunished for decades.

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But the intensity of hate and level of anger directed at gay priests are unprecedented in my memory.

The intensity of hate and level of anger directed at gay priests are unprecedented in my memory.

What I mean by “gay priests” is ordained priests with a homosexual orientation who are living their promises of celibacy (and in religious orders, their vows of chastity). That it is necessary even to define the term “gay priest” points out the widespread misinformation about what has become perhaps the most incendiary topic in the current discussion. A few commentators have even declared that the term “gay” implies that a priest must be sexually active. As I use the term, a “gay priest” simply means an ordained priest who has a homosexual orientation.

The long-simmering rage against gay priests and the supposed “homosexual subculture” or “Lavender Mafia” has been fanned into a fire that threatens to engulf not only faithful gay priests but also, more broadly, L.G.B.T. people.

While the contempt directed at gay clergy is coming from just a handful of cardinals, bishops and priests, as well as a subset of Catholic commentators, it is as intense as it is dangerous. “It is time to admit that there is a homosexual subculture within the hierarchy of the Catholic Church that is wreaking great devastation in the vineyard of the Lord,” wrote Bishop Robert Morlino of Madison, Wis. A Swiss bishop, Marian Eleganti, declared that the “networks” of gay priests in the church must be investigated before the “great purification” can begin. A bishop in Kazakhstan, Athanasius Schneider, listing remedies for clergy abuse, began with this: “cleanse uncompromisingly the Roman Curia and the episcopate from homosexual cliques and networks.” Cardinal Raymond Burke, the influential former archbishop of St. Louis, said, “There is a homosexual culture, not only among the clergy but even within the hierarchy, which needs to be purified at the root.”

[Explore America’s in-depth coverage of the sex abuse crisis]

Michael Hichborn, president of the Lepanto Institute, takes this to its inevitable conclusion, telling the Associated Press that what is needed is “a complete and thoroughgoing removal of all homosexual clergymen in the church.”

In the last few days I have seen more homophobic comments on my social media accounts than ever before. The rise in vitriol is not surprising, especially after such comments from church leaders and Catholic commentators or after headlines like these: “Pope Blames Sex Abuse on Clericalism, Leaves Out Homosexuality”; “Sex Abuse Crisis in Church is about Homosexuality Not Pedophilia”; “Homosexual Predators, not Pedophile Priests, Are Church’s Deadly Cancer.

Archbishop Viganò’s “testimony” was also rife with this same kind of language: “These homosexual networks, which are now widespread in many dioceses, seminaries, religious orders, etc., act under the concealment of secrecy and lies with the power of octopus tentacles, and strangle innocent victims and priestly vocations, and are strangling the entire Church.” (Full disclosure: both Archbishop Viganò in his “testimony” and Cardinal Burke in a recent interview have mentioned me by name.)

We should state clearly: Many priest abusers had a homosexual orientation. That is undeniable.

It is important to say that the majority (but not all) of the clerical abuse crimes were cases of priests preying on male adolescents and boys. Also, the majority (but not all) of the sexual harassment cases were men harassing other men or young men. Prescinding from the complex psychological questions of how much a person’s sexuality has to do with abuse, how much differentials in power do and how much proximity does, we should state clearly: Many priests abusers had a homosexual orientation. That is undeniable.

But the next step is where the conversation can take a dangerous turn. That many abusers were gay priests does not mean that all or even most gay priests are abusers. It is a dangerous and unjust stereotype. Simply because a certain percentage of a group acts in a certain way does not mean the entire group or even most of the group acts in the same way.

Then why does it seem like so many gay priests are abusive? One reason is that there are no public examples of the healthy, celibate gay priests to counteract these stereotypes. Why not? Because gay priests are not willing to be as public about their identity as straight priests are. For example, in a community suffering from a spate of L.G.B.T. violence, there can be no references in a Sunday homily to knowing what it is like to be bullied for being gay. The presider cannot say, “As a boy, I was bullied, too, for being gay.”

That many abusers were gay priests does not mean that all or even most gay priests are abusers.

Why do gay priests feel that they cannot be public? For several reasons. First, the fear of coming out in this increasingly poisonous environment. (Ask yourself if you would come out when even bishops are calling for a “cleansing” of men like you.) Second, bishops and religious order superiors fear that their men (again, celibate and chaste priests) could be targeted by the media or homophobic websites. Third, an underlying shame about their sexuality. Fourth, an innate desire for privacy about a personal aspect of one’s life. Fifth, the fear that in the absence of other “out” priests one might become the “poster boy” for the group.

Such reasons mean that the example of the many hardworking, healthy and celibate gay priests (and chaste members of religious orders) is almost entirely absent from both the church’s consciousness and the public eye. There are exceptions, like the Rev. Gregory Greiten of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee and the Rev. Fred Daley of the Diocese of Syracuse, priests who have come out publicly as gay. But Fathers Greiten and Daley are two of only a handful of clergy like this. And until bishops and religious superiors support gay priests in their desires to be more public about who they are, and gay priests are willing to pay the price of honesty, the situation is unlikely to change.

Consequently, the stereotype of the “gay priest abuser” now predominates. To use another example, imagine if the only stories aired about members of an ethnic, social or religious group were of those who had committed crimes. Further, imagine that no positive stories about their law-abiding members were made public. Eventually, the negative stereotype would dominate: “All members of this group are criminals.” (Sadly, this is not a hard scenario to imagine: Many ethnic groups face the same kinds of stereotypes.)

Fewer celibate gay priests in the public eye means more stereotyping. More stereotyping leads to more fear.

This fear leads to a cycle of secrecy: Fewer celibate gay priests in the public eye means more stereotyping. More stereotyping leads to more fear. More fear leads to more secrecy.

Other malign stereotypes are also being peddled, for example, the idea that homosexuality inevitably leads to abuse. This is contradicted by almost every study, including the John Jay Report, an exhaustive study of sex abuse in the Catholic Church between 1950 and 2010. Most abuse happens in families. And no one, as far as I know, suggests that heterosexuality promotes abuse.

Beyond these reasons is a perhaps more important explanation: the intense homophobia that still exists in some quarters of the church. And this must be named for what it is: hate. A few days ago, a gay priest texted me this astute observation: “We are so used to gay people being mistreated in the church that we can internalize the homophobic bigotry that we are now seeing, and that Viganò expressed in his testimony, and fail to call it out. It’s deeply hateful. And if he were making similar attacks against another ethnic or religious group, there would be a far different reaction—probably even from within the church. But because gay priests have been so conditioned to play the scapegoat we are too ashamed to speak out.”

Where does this extreme hatred of gay priests come from? It comes from fear.

Is there a “gay subculture” in the church? I have never worked in the Vatican, so I cannot comment on that workplace. But in my 30 years as a Jesuit, I have seen that gay priests in U.S. dioceses, as well as in religious orders, work well with their straight counterparts—as well as with straight lay people: pastoral associates, parish council members, parishioners, as well as principals, administrators and teachers. In religious life, they live peaceably with their straight brothers.

More to the point, I know hundreds of gay priests, and I can say with honesty that all of them strive to keep their promises of celibacy and vows of chastity, none of them conspire with other gay priests, and yet many of them are demoralized by this increasingly hate-fueled witch hunt.

Where does this extreme hatred of gay priests come from? It comes from fear. Fear of the "other." Fear of the person who is different. Sometimes fear of one’s own complicated sexuality. In frightening times, it can also feel empowering to blame and scapegoat the “other.” As the philosopher René Girard consistently points out, scapegoating unites us around a common enemy and encourages us to believe, falsely, that we have solved the problem.

This hatred currently being whipped up by a few influential church leaders and commentators will, if unchecked, lead us to a place of great darkness, characterized by an increased hatred for innocent individuals, the condemnation of an entire group of people and a distraction from the real issues underlying this crisis of sexual abuse.

There are many things that need to be addressed when it comes to clergy sex abuse: the improper screening of candidates; the prevalence of clerical culture that privileges the word of priests over lay people (and parents); the poor seminary and religious formation, especially in areas of sexuality; the need for regulations that punish bishops who have covered up abuse and many other factors.

What is not needed is the demonization of gay priests. What is not needed is more hate.

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Arnoldo Miranda
2 weeks 5 days ago

He doesn't acknowledge that there is no persecution of these folks because there isn't. Show me one example of a gay priest being persecuted. You can't find one. Holy priests living their life according to the Church have nothing to fear, for it is only the ones that have betrayed their vows with actions that nobody can defend.

Jorge Luis Luaces Rabaza
2 weeks 4 days ago

“Show me one example of a gay priest being persecuted”

The author of this article, Fr Martin, if commenters are to be believed. I have never met Fr Martin nor have I corresponded with him. I have no idea of his sexual orientation but reading the ugly comments by people on these forums paints him as a gay priest. The words that you and others of your angst have written about him....ugly

It is instructive that all of you vent your spleen against this poor Jesuit priest since he has taken several vows, including celibacy, and manages this publication. Yet here all of you are writing the most heinous things about him and no doubt none of you contribute financially to this publication. I do. Because of this American scandal, and my needing to know the facts, I decided to become a financially responsible paying subscriber because I use this publication to inform me

You all should do likewise

Delete all of your calumnous comments against Fr Martin if you are truly Catholic. But you will not because you are not Catholic.

Danny Collins
2 weeks 5 days ago

What Fr. Martin refuses to say is just as important as what he does say. Fr. Martin says that a majority of sex abuse was by homosexual priests, but he doesn't say exact percentages. At the height of the sex abuse crisis in the Church, 86% of the sex abuse victims were boys, the vast majority post-pubescent boys. Why are homosexual priests so much more likely than heterosexual priests to abuse children? Is it possible that this behavior was more acceptable to this community? I think you only have to look at how the child molester Harvey Milk is idolized by the left (and in textbooks today) to answer that question. A few people question it and want to root out that behavior from gay culture, but as we know from the Church scandals, if you can't even admit that your community has or had a problem, you will never be able to address it.

My last point is that when you think of the most horrendous examples of sexual abuse of minors, not only are the gay ones very prominent (e.g., a boy being raped so violently that he developed back problems that stayed with him his entire life and later committed suicide), but also only the gay abuse had an open and communal aspect about it. Only gay priests in PA got together to share boys and create child porn. Heterosexual abusers didn't do that. McCarrick abused generations of seminarians without repercussions, but no Cardinal has been accused of abusing generations of nuns without repercussions.

To complain about the persecution of gays without first addressing those issues sounds like someone who is trying to push a political agenda, not someone who is trying to get at the truth.

For those who want to see the gender ratio of sex abuse victims, Figure 3.5.1 and Tables 3.5.5 and 3.5.6 of the John Jay Report have this information (link below).
http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/child-and-youth-protection/uploa…

For those who want to see what an honest evaluation of gay sex abuse of minors looks like, here's an article by an abuse victim who is both gay and married. When Fr. Martin can write an honest article like this, then I'll start taking him seriously on this topic.
https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/what-happens-when-men-have-sex-wit…

Mary Gail Frawley-O'Dea
2 weeks 5 days ago

At least get the findings of the John Jay Report right: https://www.ncronline.org/news/accountability/john-jay-study-what-it-an…. Terry and her colleagues could not be clearer in their findings, which converge with well-accepted conclusions from other social science fields: There is no correlation between a homosexual identity and the sexual violation of a minor. Sexual abuse is a crime of opportunity, not of sexual identity. In fact, the period of decline in priestly sexual abuse corresponds with both the gaying and graying of the priesthood, although Terry does not make that connection explicitly. In any event, no Catholic pope, bishop, priest or layperson can in good conscience identify gay priests as the primary source of sexual abuse, even of boys. And --- An important finding of the John Jay study is that sexual abuse of a minor is primarily a crime of opportunity. Most abusing priests were neither confirmed pedophiles (consistently attracted to prepubescent children), nor confirmed ephebophiles (consistently attracted to pubescent and older minors). Rather, 42 percent of abusing priests were what Terry calls “generalists,” men who would abuse either gender of any age depending on availability of the victim.

Danny Collins
2 weeks 5 days ago

@Mary, I've published peer reviewed journal articles. If someone is going to make a claim that contradicts the numerical evidence, they had better back that up. The authors of the John Jay report have good numbers on the sex ratio of abuse victims (86% at the height of the crisis, 80% overall). They do not have good numbers to back up their claim that it has nothing to do with homosexuality. That claim is conjecture without numerical support in the report, and people like me who publish in scientific journals can spot the BS a mile away.

Explain why priests today have better access to boys than girls such that 80% of victims are male? Explain why most men in the general population have better access to girls than boys such that 80% of victims are girls? Access isn't the only factor, as access to both genders increases it isn't even the primary factor.

It isn't just about access. That may play a role, but it decreases as access to both genders increases and attraction plays a large role, too. To deny that sexual attraction plays a role in whom people sexually abuse is nonsensical: it is to deny that the numbers and data have significance in answering the question of whether gay priests were more likely to abuse than heterosexual priests.

Mary Gail Frawley-O'Dea
2 weeks 5 days ago

Yeah, yeah -- me too. Lots of peer reviewed journal articles. How about all the ones I cited????? You are just so wrong and scarily biased. Find the peer reviewed articles supporting your claim like I did.

Mike Theman
2 weeks 5 days ago

Mr. Martin, the time for crying about unfair persecution is over. Blame your superiors for not taking action and instead covering up what is turning out to be an evermore shocking male-on-male scourge on the Church.

Beyond the attack on impressionable young men, your push for normalizing same-sex behavior and claiming it as equal to sex between a man and a woman is an attack on one of the most important elements of the Catholic Church: the family and God's call for man to unite with a woman, procreate, and raise their children in Catholic morality.

Maybe you should have sought out some of the many homosexual priests who have been busy looking for young seminarians to engage in sodomy with instead of sticking with those homosexual priests who recognize and comply with their vows.

Sorry, Mr. Martin, this is a rehash of what St Peter Damian wrote about circa 1050 in "The Book of Gomorrah." Those who do not know their history are destined to repeat it.

Will Niermeyer
2 weeks 5 days ago

Sounds like something Trump would do. Problem with pedophilia is that either sexual orientation person can be a sex addict that prefers young boys or girls. So I guess that widens the search.

Jim Petosa
2 weeks 5 days ago

The fear and violence directed at gay priests is merely an extension of the Church's long standing demonization of gay people. Any theology that suggests that it is ok to be something as long as you don't act on it is asking for trouble. This systemic control over people's lives and beings is not Christian. To call people "intrinsically disordered" or to make the weird case that the person is fine but the action is sinful is a great sin in and of itself. What we need to unpack is how the abuse that exists inside the Church (sexual abuse, misogyny, all kinds of power abuses that create a hierarchical class that is being unmasked for its errors) is reflected in some of the "teachings" of the Church, itself. The criminalization of child sexual abuse is just the tip of the iceberg of what the Church needs to examine. It is in the underpinnings of power, control, and hierarchical class that causes much of what ails our ailing Church.

Danny Collins
2 weeks 5 days ago

"Any theology that suggests that it is ok to be something as long as you don't act on it is asking for trouble."

If that's true, then why were heterosexuals much more likely to keep remain chaste and not abuse kids? 86% of abuse victims were male, and male abusers were much more likely to make their abuse a social event and share victims (e.g., Revs. George Zirwas, Revs. Francis Pucci, Robert Wolk, and Richard Zula in Pennsylvania). The heterosexual abusers didn't do this. Why is that?

Jim Petosa
2 weeks 5 days ago

You have a thought, I think. Share it. I'm not sure what you are getting at. My point is that the abuse problem is about power. That sex abuse of children is (perhaps the most horrifying) but one example of a clergy that uses its hierarchical status as a kind of supremacy that gives them permission to do all kinds of bad things. It's the image of the shepherd and the sheep run amok. The laity had better get a grip and let these clerics know that they are not sheep to be shepherded by them. It's a gross invitation to all kind of degradation.

Jorge Luis Luaces Rabaza
2 weeks 4 days ago

I dont get the impression many of you have read the data.
Fr Martin is right. The haters on these forums of homosexual priests is meritless, not grounded on data (John Jay Report) and is sinful. Stop the hate. Be and act Catholic

“There has been widespread speculation that homosexual identity is linked to the sexual abuse of minors by priests, largely because of the high number of male victims identified in the Nature and Scope study. However, the clinical data do not support this finding. Treatment data show that priests who identified as homosexual, as well as those who participated in same-sex sexual behavior prior to ordination (regardless of sexual identity), were not significantly more likely to abuse minors than priests who identified as heterosexual.”
...
“Taken together, the data from the clinical files, the Identity and Behavior surveys and interviews, the Nature and Scope data, and the Loyola psychological study confirmabout priest-abusers what is known about non-priest abus-ers: there is no single identifiable “cause” of sexually abu-sive behavior towards minors, and there are few individual characteristics that would make abusers identifiable prior to the commission of their abusive acts. ”

The Causes and Context of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests in the United States, 1950-2010
A Report Presented to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops by the John Jay College Research Team
http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/child-and-youth-protection/uploa…

Riley Ewen
2 weeks 4 days ago

You say: "Any theology that suggests that it is ok to be something as long as you don't act on it is asking for trouble."

This premise makes absolutely no sense if you are any form of Christian. Christianity has always taught that all are sinners who fall short of the Glory of God. It's ok to be a sinner (or perhaps I should say to possess concupiscence); because if it wasn't then no one could possibly be saved. But it is NOT ok act on said sinful desires - especially in light of the Sacrifice of Christ. Jesus himself demanded that we be perfect as Our Heavenly Father is perfect. Vatican II reaffirmed the Universal Call to Holiness (perfection/sanctification made possible through Christ) for all people.
Sin is always a perversion of something good - you might say "intrinsically disordered". Therefore a person can have a desire, yet not act upon said desire, and therefore not be "intrinsically disordered". Adam and Eve could have desired not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and not done it (spoiler alert: they did). The Church is saying that the act of sexual union between persons of the same sex is intrinsically disordered - because it is not procreative, and does not allow for the natural end-state of sex. That's pretty biologically straightforward. Just like if I were to look at pornography and masturbate - that is also intrinsically disordered (and equally damaging to my soul and my relationship with God). The Church (big C) no more demonizes gay people (who act on their desires) than it does adulterers, murderers, liars, sinners in general - anything that you can think of that the Church has always and will always deem gravely immoral.
There may be individual Clergy who overlook the sins of some while chastising others for different sins, which is to say that a priest offering the Eucharist to an unrepentant adulterer or an unrepentant person in an ilicit second marriage is just as bad as the priest who offers the Eucharist to a unrepentant practicing homosexual. Rightly taught, if I chose to utilize contraception in any form aside from abstinence in my marriage so as to eliminate one of the two factors of the sexual embrace (the potential for new life and the unitive aspect), then I would commit mortal sin, of the same weight and type as a gay man or woman who chooses to have a sexual encounter with a person of the same sex (which can never be procreative). Same as if I look at pornography and masturbate. And a good pastor should know if the reason one is not having children is either because a) they are infertile, b) they are abstinent, or C) they are using contraception, and he asked about all three (in the right context). So I agree with Fr. Martin's point that he often makes that we need to hold all people to the same standards. But I don't think he's going about his agenda in the right way at all. Calling people homophobes and avoiding even a light mention of painfully clear Church (and unchangeable) teaching is not a good route to go, it's deceptive at best, and for the many LGBT people he helps feel welcome - laudable as this may be to bring them to Jesus Christ - will only end up in more hurt for them as they discover that the Church is not changing its teaching and that they were deceived. And for all of us who receive the Eucharist in an objective state of mortal sin (which is more than just gay people), we are just heaping condemnation upon our heads. I don't think it's good to deceive people and allow their heads to be condemned unwittingly. That's the work of Satan.

Jim Petosa
2 weeks 4 days ago

Hi, Riley, The distinction may be difficult. Yes, we may all have a desire to sin....a wish to murder, steal, or name the possible sin...but we have a choice to do it or not. Sexual orientation is not a "desire" or a wish. It is a person's identity. As imprinted on them as whether they have red hair, or blue eyes, or dark complexion, or are right or left handed. To be told that you cannot act on something so intrinsic to one's identity is not moral. It is, in fact, a terrible and immoral edict that creates, in some cases, extreme psychological damage. The Church needs to fix that. Along with the same kinds of doctrines that diminish women, create unreasonable power dynamics in hierarchy and treat the laity with casual disregard and diminishment. Time for justice, yes...but also time for real change in the systemic oppression of some of its most misguided "teachings".

Riley Ewen
1 week 5 days ago

Jim,

Grace and peace to you. Sorry it took so long to reply I had forgotten I made a comment. Respectfully disagree. We ALL have sins that could potentially be described as our identity. There are sociopaths and psychopaths who have murderous intent at the very core of their being... serial killers who cannot feel normal unless they kill someone, rapists who cannot feel normal without raping someone, etc.
I do not regard consensual homosexual acts as equal in gravity to murder or rape per say, but my point is simply this: you say it is absolutely immoral to deny something at the core of someone’s being - so is it then immoral to deny a sociopathic serial rapist the thing that is at the core of their being? What I am saying is that this understanding of “natural” “part of who they are” etc. commits the sin of relativism. While all sins may not be equal, they are still sins. To say one sin is wrong because it’s more wrong whereas another sin is right simply because it is less wrong doesn’t make that sin right, it makes the one who claims such a thing a relativist. If we cannot deny all people the thing that is part of who they are - sin itself, then there is no morality any longer. Does that make sense?
Look, I know and love many gay/lesbian people and I wish the best for them, I really do. But the best thing for all of us is to deny self and pick up our crosses and follow after Jesus Christ, even if it means great personal suffering. To affirm sin is to hate the sinner. To denounce sin is to love the sinner. My LG (don’t know any BTQ people) friends/family know where I stand on this issue and it can be a strain on our relationship, but that doesn’t stop me from treating them as people like me who are created in the image of God but are also tainted by sin (just like me). And we disagree on this thing. Not agree to disagree, flat out disagree. This doesn’t make me a homophobe it makes me a person of principle that is unwilling to compromise on something that can logically be said is objectively true - namely that sexual acts outside the context of marriage without its necessary goods is disordered. Hope you see this. God bless you!

lynne miller
2 weeks 4 days ago

Thank you, Mr. Petosa. The best way to make people do what they want or need to do is to make an unreasonable rule stating that they can't. My personal feeling is that the vow or promise of chastity should be optional, and priests, male and female, should be allowed to marry or not.

Linda DeMeyer
2 weeks 5 days ago

I respectfully disagree with your opinion. We do not send young adult males to chaperone teenage girl scout camping trips. We do not allow the men's varsity football team to shower in the same locker room as the girls. We do not meet alcoholics at a bar. The temptations are too great for homosexual males to shower and live in dorms at the seminaries with other young males. Facts are facts. I do not mean to be cruel. It simply is human nature. Homosexual men should not be priests. They may be celibate members of the parish, but not the priest. It's not that complicated. God gave each of us a cross to carry. Please do it bravely. God Bless Vigano.

Linda DeMeyer
2 weeks 5 days ago

I have read that the Catholic Church has spent $4 Billion worldwide paying abuse settlements. Does anyone know if this is true? 4 Billion?

Mary Gail Frawley-O'Dea
2 weeks 5 days ago

Yes, it is true. And climbing. Insurance pays most of the settlements, but undoubtedly the church will have to pay more for policies. The Church tends to hire big, white shoe law firms that charge upwards of $600 an hour. Catholics in the pews pay for that.

Richard Barbieri
2 weeks 5 days ago

To those who suggest that the Jay report proves that the majority of abusive clergy are gay, I would point out some very obvious facts: The Catholic priesthood, at least until very recently, segregated boys and girls, men and women, more rigorously than any institution outside of the prison system. Catholic high schools - predominantly single sex. (As a boy in New York I never even heard of a co-ed school of my faith.) Colleges: segregated in their own ways: Boston College only allowed women in the schools of Nursing and Education, and a male student needed Father's permission for his mother to help him settle into his dorm room. Seminaries -- single sex of course. Altar "boys" were the absolute rule until 1994 and there are still parishes that forbid girls to serve. As a high school student I was one of a few boys who answered the rectory door on week=day evenings -- all my peers were intended priests. By segregating men and women in the most thorough-going ways, the church created an all-male world. Is it any wonder that men who could not control their sexual impulses turned to the only privately available outlet -- other men? To demonstrate the comparison, studies show that 65% of male prisoners engage in homosexual acts. (There is less information about lesbian sex because women apparently are more frequently the victims of rape or coercion by male staff.) Should we assume that 65% of male prisoners are homosexual? The irony is that the Church's "othering" of women created the very conditions for which some of its leaders are now blaming a different "Other."

lynne miller
2 weeks 4 days ago

Mr. Barbieri - this is certainly the seat of the problem. Several priests have told me that they are sure that keeping young men in the seminary so ignorant of sex and management of their own urges is one thing that leads to violation of vows of celibacy, leaving the priesthood, and greater numbers of homosexual priests. It's safe - it's what they know.

Mary Gail Frawley-O'Dea
2 weeks 5 days ago

THERE IS NO CORRELATION BETWEEN HOMOSEXUALITY AND CHILD ABUSE. READ THE SCIENCE. Come to grips with your irrational bias and hared. Despite real scholarly and research methodology problems with the John Jay Study report -- https://www.ncronline.org/news/accountability/john-jay-study-what-it-an… -- an important finding of the study is that sexual abuse of a minor is primarily a crime of opportunity. Most abusing priests were neither confirmed pedophiles (consistently attracted to prepubescent children), nor confirmed ephebophiles (consistently attracted to pubescent and older minors). Rather, 42 percent of abusing priests were what Terry calls “generalists,” men who would abuse either gender of any age depending on availability of the victim. And -- Terry and her colleagues could not be clearer in their findings, which converge with well-accepted conclusions from other social science fields: There is no correlation between a homosexual identity and the sexual violation of a minor. Sexual abuse is a crime of opportunity, not of sexual identity. In fact, the period of decline in priestly sexual abuse corresponds with both the gaying and graying of the priesthood, although Terry does not make that connection explicitly. In any event, no Catholic pope, bishop, priest or layperson can in good conscience identify gay priests as the primary source of sexual abuse, even of boys. As for defenders of ostensibly celibate and non abusive men: The John Jay study indicates that celibacy in and of itself is not correlated with sexual abuse. At the same time, it is of note that 80 percent of priests in residential treatment for any psychological problem, not just abuse, have been sexually active, mostly with adults. Further, most men who abused minors also were sexually active with adults. Combining these data with Richard Sipe’s ethnographic conclusions that, on any given day, only 50 percent of priests are observing celibacy, and with Andrea Celenza’s clinical observations that celibacy is a moving target for most priests, we have increasing reason to believe that celibacy is observed as much in the breach as in the practice. http://www.gundersenhealth.org/ncptc/jacob-wetterling-resource-center/k… -- "Science and case management experience has shown us that most child molesters are heterosexual. Abuse is about power and control and is not anchored by sexual orientation." "Medical data backs up this psychological observation. In a 1994 study, researchers reviewed 352 medical charts, representing all of the children seen in the emergency room or child abuse clinic of a Denver children’s hospital as a result of being sexually abused. In looking at charts for a one year period (from July 1, 1991 to June 30, 1992), the researchers found that the molester was a gay or lesbian adult in fewer than 1 percent of cases (2 of 269) in which the adult molester could be identified. (Jenny, Roesler, and Poyer, 1994)." https://www.huffingtonpost.com/joe-kort-phd/homosexuality-and-pedophi_b… -- "In reality, abuse of boys by gay pedophiles is rare, and the abuse of girls by lesbians is rarer still. Nicholas Groth is a noted authority on this topic. In a 1982 study Groth writes: the adult male who sexually molests young boys is not likely to be homosexual." https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/BF01542377 - All regressed offenders, whether their victims were male or female children, were heterosexual in their adult orientation. There were no examples of regression to child victims among peer-oriented, homosexual males. The possibility emerges that homosexuality and homosexual pedophilia may be mutually exclusive and that the adult heterosexual male constitutes a greater risk to the underage child than does the adult homosexual male." http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/94/1/41.short -- Using the data from our study, the 95% confidence limits, of the risk children would identify recognizably homosexual adults as the potential abuser, are from 0% to 3.1%".

Henry Brown
2 weeks 5 days ago

If a priest is able to live the celibate and chaste life then his "sexuality" is of no importance.

However, if the priest is not keeping his vows, or a Bishop, Rector or Provincial or Formation Director
seeks to seduce the seminarians, novices, scholastics under him and places in positions of power
those who have done him favours...then something must be done.

My nephew wanted to be a priest but was propositioned by a Bishop, his Rector, his Formation Director
and the Priest he was assigned to work with for a Summer, plus some of his fellow scholastics, all whom he turned
down but he did not make public those propositions nor did he berate those who propositioned him.
Finally, after his Rector snuck into his room one night and sought to sleep with him, he made known his concerns to the new Formation Director.

A month later, when he was the only scholastic left at the formation house. [ The rest of the scholastics had left for their Summer Assignments and he was about to leave for his.] He was told that his Summer Assignment was cancelled, that
he must leave the Formation House and that he would be dismissed from the Society as soon as the Provincial could expedite the Paperwork to Rome and get Rome's approval - meanwhile he was on his own.

He still lives the vows he took at the end of his novitiate and he would still like to be a priest.
He does his best to help those no one else considers worth helping or having time for.

Meanwhile McCarrick is still a Priest

I don't think Celibacy is healthy for those who are not imbued with Missionary Zeal.
The lives of many Priests is a desperately lonely one and so they are torn and riven by desires that they cannot control.
Perhaps it is time to make celibacy optional and to allow Women Deacons - in order to bring maturity into the Church.

lynne miller
2 weeks 4 days ago

I believe you're correct. If celibacy were optional, many would still choose it.

Denise Mccarthy
2 weeks 5 days ago

Thank you, Father Martin. It does not matter if a priest is gay or straight or bi-sexual or not sexual. Pedophila is a different condition. Pedophiles want sexual relationships with children, not with adults. I don’t care what a priest’s sexual orientation is. I care that he does his job with compassion and empathy. Celibacy is the goal here as well. I have heard a priest call gay folks abominations from the pulpit. Can you imagine how that comment could make teens struggling with sexuality feel? All in all, what a mess. I attend an Episcopal Church now with a female rector. How refreshing.

Tim O'Leary
2 weeks 3 days ago

Denise - I think McCarrick would say he was compassionate most of the time. That doesn't quite cut it. Pedophilia is defined as sex between adults and pre-pubertal children. Most sex with minors involves adults having sex with teenagers. The kids Harvey Milk went after were teenagers. They are naming a San Francisco terminal after him. That is how serious the gay community is about sex with minors.

James Bannon
2 weeks 5 days ago

Sorry but there are too many red herrings in this article for me. I doubt many people “hate” priests with same sex attraction. Nor are many people fearful (phobic) of them. And my experience is that Catholics do not want to hear about what sexual attractions that deacons, priests or bishops have.
How about we preach the Gospel and live faithfully our vocation?
Those that do not need to be held accountable by the Church and civil authotities (if unlawful).
Simple.

Phil Little
2 weeks 5 days ago

I am not sure the case is all about fear. It is more about scapegoating, because the alternative is to accept that ordinary heterosexual clergy have been involved in many forms of abuse - the abuse of power and privilege. It is far easier to single out an identifiable group what is a little bit different and hang on them the guilt and shame of those who hide behind their roman collars.

Mary Gail Frawley-O'Dea
2 weeks 5 days ago

Thank you. You are so right -- I some ways, the actual abuse is NOT the scandal. Wherever there are children, there are sexual abusers. The real scandal is the covering up by popes, bishops, cardinals, priests, laity. The crimes of power, dominance, secrecy, volitional blindness are what fueled the abuse. Had the right people done the right thing at the right time, there would be tens of thousands fewer victims than there were. Thanks again.

Kristeen Bruun
2 weeks 5 days ago

I would agree that the male gender of the abused does not necessarily equate with a primarily homosexual orientation of the abusers. Remember that we are discussing incidents that happened well into the past, and abuse is often a sin and crime of opportunity. And not to excuse them by any means, but we certainly know that part of the abusers' lives was incredible sexual confusion. If they were healthy, they would either be honoring their celibate promises or they would leave in order to participate in a healthy adult sexual relationship.

I studied at a seminary, worked for 30 years for the Catholic church, figure I experienced and witnessed my fair share of abuse - and I still don' t know what they mean by a "homosexual culture." If those who call it are as knowledgeable as they maintain, and not simply homophobic, then they must be a lot closer to it than I ever was, and that is really creepy.

Carlos Orozco
2 weeks 5 days ago

"
The U.S. Bishops’ own studies on the clergy sex abuse scandal have repeatedly affirmed a link between the crisis and the actions of homosexual clerics.

Statistics from the Pennsylvania grand jury report back this as well: Nearly three-quarters of the offending priests were homosexual; over three-quarters of the abusive priests were pederasts and of those, one fifth (21%) chose adolescent girls as their victims while four-fifths (79%) chose adolescent boys.

Last week Brad Miner, Senior Editor of The Catholic Thing, and attorney and international child rights advocate Liz Yore made it clear on EWTN's The World Over that the Catholic Church’s sex abuse crisis is directly linked to homosexuality.

'Largely it’s not a pedophile crisis,' Yore said. 'We know from the John Jay report, 81-percent of the victims were males, mostly teens. And we know because our subclass of predators are all male, this is a male-on-male crime, and primarily with teens between the ages of 14 to 17. Those are the victims.'
Miner agreed: 'It’s a homosexual problem. The numbers show that.'
"

Source: https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/pope-francis-blames-u.s.-sex-abuse-cr…

Stephen de Weger
2 weeks 5 days ago

James, you might come across as more believable & reliable in your arguments if you stop presenting only the most glowing accounts of gay clergy & indeed gay people. And yes, the same can absolutely be said of straight clergy & people. But not doing so obfuscates reality. I base this statement on two men who were by no means anti-gay clergy, anti-gay anyone or homophobic in anyway that I can tell - Donald Cozzens and Richard Sipe. See my comments and question using their own material, about your article to you here: https://twitter.com/americamag/status/1035308721503657986 . I'd really love some responses.

Randall Poshek-Gladbach
2 weeks 4 days ago

A) My doctoral research back in the 1980s focused on male sex abusers with a sample of 14,223. There were findings in my research that have be replicated in the subsequent researches by others over the past 30+ years. My findings relevant to your article, Jim, are: (1) heterosexual men abuse both males and females, while homosexual men statistically abuse only males; (2) male-male abusers are 6.8 times more likely to be heterosexual than homosexual; (3) the younger the victim, the more likely the abuser is heterosexual; (4) statistically, all male-male abuse of pre-pubescent victims is perpetrated by heterosexuals; (5) the perpetrators of male-male abuse of pubescent victims are 87% heterosexual, 11% homosexual, 2% bisexual; (6) 93% of homosexual male-male sexual abuse perpetrators chose victims at Tanner Stage 2 (14 - 18.5 yrs) to adult, and over 50% of these homosexual abusers pursue victims of their own age; (7) heterosexual male-male abusers of pre-pubescent and pubescent victims tend to abuse throughout their adult lives and hence, have a poor clinical prognosis; (8) just under 85% of homosexual male-male abusers spontaneously cease abusive sexual behavior by their mid- to late 20s and hence, have a very good clinical prognosis; (9) nearly 100% of homosexual male-male abusers who spontaneously cease abusing in their 20s engaged in sexual abuse as a reaction to confusion, frustration, social condemnation, and self-hatred vis-à-vis their sexual orientation.

B) My experience within my own religious institute and my observations of others are consistent with my findings above. Gay men have long entered religious life as it is perceived as the only "good" option for their lives and most have unfortunately come to embrace their celibacy/chastity as an escape from their "sin" of being homosexual. And, straight men also enter religious life with similar psychosexual issues. Formation needs to be sex positive for both gay and straight.

C) The John Jay report is a good assessment of the issues. However, in the 8 years since the report, we have now a fuller understanding of the abuse issue. What is clear to me now is the FIRST step must be restructuring the governance model within the Church as Institution (c.f., Dulles), whereby clergy generally and the episcopate specifically are held accountable to the people, the Body of Christ (Church as Community), from the local parish to the Curia.

D) There is not a need to re-invent the wheel. Our United Methodist brothers and sisters use governing legislative bodies with membership evenly split be clergy and lay people. For example, the USCCB would become the US Catholic Conference made up of all the bishops and lay members elected, one per bishop, in each diocese by the people. This design would apply at the parish level, diocese level, all the up to the Vatican including ecumenical councils. The conclave for the election of the Bishop of Rome would remain unchanged except the Electors would choose Peter's successor from among a list of candidates recommended by a committee of bishops, religious, and lay people.

arthur mccaffrey
2 weeks 4 days ago

Randall--would love to read your thesis or any subsequent publications--we badly need empirical data in this ill-informed debate! would you be able to post a link here for your thesis/publications? many thanks!

Mary Gail Frawley-O'Dea
2 weeks 4 days ago

Randall -- thank you so much. Too many commentators here are not only homophobes, they are dataphobes.

A Fielder
2 weeks 4 days ago

Not everyone is afraid of data, but some people just want to interpret it according to their existing ideology.

Harvey Milk, MD
2 weeks 4 days ago

here is the data:

“There has been widespread speculation that homosexual identity is linked to the sexual abuse of minors by priests, largely because of the high number of male victims identified in the Nature and Scope study. However, the clinical data do not support this finding. Treatment data show that priests who identified as homosexual, as well as those who participated in same-sex sexual behavior prior to ordination (regardless of sexual identity), were not significantly more likely to abuse minors than priests who identified as heterosexual.”

“Taken together, the data from the clinical files, the Identity and Behavior surveys and interviews, the Nature and Scope data, and the Loyola psychological study confirm about priest-abusers what is known about non-priest abusers: there is no single identifiable “cause” of sexually abusive behavior towards minors, and there are few individual characteristics that would make abusers identifiable prior to the commission of their abusive acts.”

The Causes and Context of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests in the United States, 1950-2010: A Report Presented to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
by the John Jay College Research Team

Tim O'Leary
2 weeks 3 days ago

Randall - you say: "93% of homosexual male-male sexual abuse perpetrators chose victims at Tanner Stage 2 (14 - 18.5 yrs) to adult," Exactly what the John Jay study found was the dominant problem in the 4% of priests accused of abuse of a minor, aka pederastery. You say "85% of homosexual male-male abusers spontaneously cease abusive sexual behavior by their mid- to late 20s" That also fits with the problem in the Church, since the vast majority of cases occurred between a priest in his 20s and a teenager. So, if the Church follows its own rules and excludes men from seminary who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies, the vast majority of sex abuse in the Church will end.
As regards your definition of heterosexual who like sex with people of their own gender, they would be homosexual if they are exclusively same-sex and bisexual if they also have sex with women. So, that would change a lot of your statistics above.

Tim O'Leary
2 weeks 2 days ago

Randall - When did the United Methodist Church do an investigation of sex abuse in the USA. I can only find the one done in the UK that the BBC reported on (https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-32909444) "The UK's Methodist Church has made a public apology after an investigation uncovered reports of nearly 2,000 alleged abusers - including 914 allegations involving sexual abuse.

An independent inquiry looked at the Church's response to complaints and allegations dating back to 1950."

Randall Poshek-Gladbach
2 weeks 4 days ago

I'm not comfortable calling Archbishop Viganò’s 11-page rant evidence. So much of it is incredible and conspiratorial that it renders the entire letter not credible.

lynne miller
2 weeks 4 days ago

Indeed!

Vincent Couling
2 weeks 4 days ago

Precisely!

Mimi Kennedy
2 weeks 4 days ago

There is so much that needs to be corrected about religion and sexuality, particularly Catholicism and sexuality. Thank you, Jim, for bravely enjoining the issue. God made creation sexual. Our bodies are our way of knowing. Human development is a sacred journey. Sex is developmental and children are to be protected from predation while they develop. Pleasure and love, desire and reproduction, are all separate but connected moving parts. We have tainted them all with hate, self-hate, disgust, fear, and angry concupiscence that says “nothing matters, boundaries are for the weak.” Intimacy, honor, respect, self-control and joy are all possible. But the formation of body hate and patriarchal, priapic dominance, along with the domination of women as vessels, not subjective agents of their own souls, have maimed us. Women in positions of church authority—women forgiving and granting absolution in confession, for example-can we imagine?— would help. Not for the elevation of some patriarchal heterosexual ideal- but for the intended complimentarity of experience in church decisions making us sane and whole as a church, as a body of Christ.

Vincent Couling
2 weeks 4 days ago

Thank you so very much, Fr James, for your inordinate courage in bringing matters LGBT into the public square of our Catholic Church. Your approach is one of profound honesty, yet one of Christian charity. I hold you in the highest regard, and am deeply indebted to you for your ministry.

Some of the comments generated by your articles and presentations are utterly grotesque ... the very antithesis of what could be considered the product of charity or love ... i.e. the very antithesis of the living Word of God, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, who is Love.

Your authentic Catholicity shines through ... please don't lose heart! We need you ... you give voice to the trammeled and the marginalized. You are Christ to the least of your neighbours. Great will be your reward in Heaven! May our Lord Jesus Christ hold you safe and protect you, blessed soul.

Susan Schudt
2 weeks 4 days ago

I ask all priests to “come out” with the truth of how to live the virtue of chastity, no matter their orientation. I have never heard you, Fr. Martin, help the faithful with this very necessary guidance. This is a crisis of abuse of power, and sex and money have EVERYTHING to do with it. It is a crisis of fidelity to God and fidelity to His flock. I ask You, Fr. Martin, to stop pointing to the sins of others and help us live the virtues of Christ, our Lord and Savior. Please.

arthur mccaffrey
2 weeks 4 days ago

I can't believe Martin would list all the reasons for animosity towards gay priests and not list the most important theological one--church teaching!
RCC offers a rational, philosophical, religious reason for not supporting
homosexuality. So I am not "afraid" of gay priests, but I am very aware of the disjunct and dissonance between the theory and the practice when gay priests have to give sermons about healthy heterosexual marriage "as god intended", which is completely at odds with their lifestyle!
So my worry is not fear, it is about the hypocrisy being peddled from the pulpit and the glib denunciation of puzzled people like myself as "homophobic" because of the blatant contradictions between theory and practice. I was expecting something with a little more intellectual heft from James Martin, SJ, than just the usual platitudes about ignorant stereotyping. I would have no problem letting my children interact with a celibate gay priest, but I would also not want that priest to be a role model for a lifestyle I do not approve of. Does that make me homophobic?--so be it. I prefer honesty over conformity.

Allison Quinn
2 weeks 4 days ago

Fr. James Martin has often had leveled charges of phobias. The Soviet Union was guilty of the systematic abuse of psychiatry for political reasons, and used psychiatry against their political opposition, and dissidents. It would seem that the torch of the systematic abuse of psychiatry has been passed from the Soviet Union to the progressives. Fr. James Martin acts like a Soviet era zampolit.

Laurence Pew
2 weeks 4 days ago

Compassion, the cost of the cross might be recalled in Amos when shown the first the royalty then the people loosing their crops through locusts and fire: Then I cried out, “Sovereign
Lord, I beg you, stop! How can Jacob survive? He is so small!” 6 So the Lord relented.
The Lord did bring his plumline next to the people, but as a true Prophet, Amos cried out for people that were not even his. Cry out in compassion as Jesus did, 33 When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. 34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Father, forgive us for casting out the other, the different. Father, remind us we are all saved by your love, may we turn from contempt to compassion, as Jesus did.

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