Despite external pressure, little talk of homosexuality at Vatican abuse summit

Pope Francis, background third from left, attends a penitential liturgy at the Vatican, Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019. (Vincenzo Pinto/Pool Photo Via AP)

In the months leading up to the Vatican’s four-day summit on the sexual abuse of minors by Catholic priests, some U.S. prelates, activists and even some journalists tried to link homosexuality with the abuse crisis, in attempts to urge church officials to take a hard line against gay priests.

But the topic was barely broached during the summit, and when it was, leading prelates dismissed any connection.

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“To generalize, to look at a whole category of people is never legitimate. We have individual cases. We don’t have categories of people,” said Maltese Archbishop Charles Scicluna, who has become one of the Vatican’s point man in the fight against sex abuse.

Responding to a reporter’s question during a press briefing on Feb. 21 about why the Vatican was not discussing homosexuality, he said that homosexuality and heterosexuality are “human conditions,” adding, “they are not something that predisposes to sin.”

“To generalize, to look at a whole category of people is never legitimate. We have individual cases. We don’t have categories of people.”

“I would never dare to indicate a category as a category that has a tendency to sin,” Archbishop Scicluna said.

Archbishop Scicluna said that when it comes to sexual abuse, it is most helpful to eschew “categories” and instead to look at “single cases.”

Pope Francis also seemed to dismiss the link between homosexuality and the abuse crisis. During a speech given Feb. 24, the final day of the summit, he said that the abuse of minors is “always the result of an abuse of power.” He also asked bishops to “rise above the ideological disputes and journalistic practices that often exploit, for various interests, the very tragedy experienced by the little ones.”

Juan Carlos Cruz, a survivor of sexual abuse from Chile who now lives in the United States, told America that he rejects attempts by some Catholics to pin the abuse crisis on gay priests.

“That is just a fallacy; that's cruel, and that's so far from reality,” Mr. Cruz said in a Feb. 22 interview at the Vatican. “As a gay man and as a gay Catholic, I can tell you, there are gay people that are pretty bad and there are gay people that are incredibly wonderful. There are heterosexual people that are very bad and there are heterosexual people that are wonderful.”

“Heterosexuality or homosexuality is not the cause of pedophilia.”

“But,” he continued, “heterosexuality or homosexuality is not the cause of pedophilia.”

The timing of a controversial new book that claims to detail a network of gay clerics residing and working in the Vatican raised eyebrows, as it was released on the first day of the summit.

Frederic Martel said Inside the Closet of the Vatican does not imply that gay priests are more likely to be abusers. Speaking to America from Paris, Mr. Martel said, however, that he believes there is a link between the allegedly high number of gay men who work for the church and the culture of secrecy that has enabled the scandal to continue.

"There is no link at all between abuse and homosexuality," Mr. Martel said.

[Follow America’s comprehensive coverage of the Vatican sex abuse summit]

But he said “a culture of secrecy that is extremely strong” when it comes to gay priests, who the church has a rule officially prohibiting but which rarely enforces, “was used to protect abusers, even though this culture was not created to protect them.”

“A lot of bishops that protected abusers did so because they are in trouble themselves or they are hiding something, often related to their own homosexuality,” he said. “Often they are afraid their own sexuality will be revealed."

While analysis of reported cases of sexual abuse by clergy in the United States shows most offenses to be against boys and young men, participants in the summit seemed intent on highlighting that many girls and young women have also been victimized by clerics.

Participants in the summit seemed intent on highlighting that many girls and young women have also been victimized by clerics.

“For me, sexual abuse of minors is not just for boys but also for girls,” said Sister Veronica Openibo, in a Feb. 23 address to the nearly 200 bishops and church leaders gathered for the summit.

An adult woman who is a survivor of sexual abuse by a priest spoke to the bishops earlier in the day, telling bishops, “when I was 11 years old, a priest from my parish destroyed my life.”

The survivor, whose identity was not revealed, said in her testimony that recurring trauma from the abuse, which she said went on for five years, resulted in complications with her pregnancy years later.

“Flashbacks and images brought everything back to me. My labor was interrupted, my child was in danger; breastfeeding was impossible because of the terrible memories that emerged,” she said. “I thought I had gone mad.”

The head of the pro-L.G.B.T. group New Ways Ministry, Francis DeBernardo, told America on Feb. 22 that he anticipated the issue of gay priests would be “more prominent” during the summit because of activity leading up to the meeting. But after reading the summit’s preparatory materials, listening to the talks and attending the press briefings, Mr. DeBernardo said, “In the Vatican, they don’t buy the theory that gay priests are the cause” of the abuse crisis.

“In the Vatican, they don’t buy the theory that gay priests are the cause” of the abuse crisis.”

There does not seem to be much agreement about the root causes of the abuse crisis, which flared up again last summer in the United States following the release of a grand jury report in Pennsylvania detailing abuse allegations there. Pope Francis and his allies have repeatedly blamed a clerical culture that places priests and their well-being above lay people.

Speaking to reporters in Rome on Feb. 18, Chicago’s Cardinal Blase Cupich, one of the summit’s organizers, citing academic studies of the abuse crisis in the United States and Australia, said the research has “indicated that homosexuality in itself is not a cause.”

The cardinal, who has previously defended gay priests, added, “It is not as a result of being homosexual that you abuse, as though homosexual people are more prone to abuse children than straight people.”

But emboldened by new waves of revelations of historical abuse, including the recent laicization of the former cardinal Theodore McCarrick, some Catholics have set their sights on gay priests, whom, going against what the findings of experts and a church-commissioned academic study, they blame for the abuse crisis.

Some Catholic organizations and activists are leveling a campaign against gay priests, using the ongoing abuse crisis as a platform.

Recent articles about gay priests have appeared in The New York Times and New York magazine, reigniting a debate about the church’s stand. While Pope Francis has seemed more open to welcoming L.G.B.T. Catholics into the church than his predecessors, he also upheld the church’s official ban on gay priests as recently as last year. In a recent interview, the pope said having gay men serve as priests “is something that worries me” and said that homosexuality is becoming “fashionable” in both society and the church. Deeper analysis of the pope’s words suggested that he was talking about sexually active gay priests and not clerics who abide by their promises of celibacy.

That has not stopped some Catholic organizations and activists from leveling a campaign against gay priests, using the ongoing abuse crisis as a platform.

In a statement released Feb. 20, the U.S.-based Catholic League rejected the idea that a culture of clericalism created conditions ripe for the abuse crisis and, as the organization has done many times in the past, instead pinned it on gay priests.

“The preoccupation with clericalism on the part of so-called progressive Catholics has more to do with their myopia, and their desire to divert attention away from homosexuality, than with a pursuit of the truth,” said the group’s leader, Bill Donohue.

Rhode Island Bishop Thomas Tobin tweeted Feb. 21 that the abuse crisis was caused by a number of factors, including “gay currents in the Church.”

A number of bishops who were not part of the meeting, which was limited mostly to the heads of bishops conferences, also sought to link homosexuality and the abuse crisis ahead of the summit.

Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput wrote in a brief blog post published on Feb. 19 by the National Catholic Register, that while bishops and lay people must work together to ensure abuse is handled correctly, that “predatory homosexuality played a major role in most of the abuse cases we know about.”

Archbishop Chaput’s comments echo those of Cardinal Raymond Burke and Cardinal Walter Brandmuller, who in a letter published Feb. 19 said the “plague of the homosexual agenda has spread within the church” and that it is “protected by a climate of complicity and a conspiracy of silence.”

And Rhode Island Bishop Thomas Tobin tweeted Feb. 21 that the abuse crisis was caused by a number of factors, including “gay currents in the Church.”

But abuse survivors have largely dismissed the connection between homosexuality and the abuse crisis.

As for Mr. Cruz, he said the heart of the crisis is allowing priests who have abused children to remain in ministry. Those priests, he said, should be dismissed from the clerical state and if bishops failed to act or covered up abuse, they should also be punished. He said he would be watching closely following the meeting for concrete next steps.

“Everybody has the right to be very angry, I am, too,” he said. “But I feel when there's an opportunity, where a door opens, you have to take it.”

Want to learn more about what’s happening at the Vatican? In our new podcast, Gerard O’Connell and Colleen Dulle will take you behind the headlines for an intergenerational conversation about the biggest stories out of the Vatican. Listen now.

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J Cosgrove
2 months 3 weeks ago

Hasn't the abuse of minors been essentially eliminated? The real question is the motivation of those who protected the abusers? There are a lot of unasked consequently unanswered questions. For example, How many minors have been abused since 2002? What is the total number of abusers before 2002 and after 2002? What is the percentage of girls vs boys? What percentage of nuns have been abused?

Other institutions should be investigated to see what trends they have experienced. Clericalism exist in similar forms in education, sports, performing arts, foster care, orphanages etc.!!!

Frank Elliott
2 months 3 weeks ago

How about investigating the institution of marriage? The frequency of incest is high and climbing all the time. Some 10-15% of the population were molested within the home by an adult.
( Nemeroff, Charles B.; Craighead, W. Edward (2001). The Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology and Behavioral Science. New York: Wiley. ISBN 978-0-471-24096-9.)

J Cosgrove
2 months 3 weeks ago

Some 10-15% of the population were molested within the home by an adult.

That does not say the adult was a parent. So to use the term "marriage" and "incest" is misleading. Yes, incest does happen but it is a relatively small part of the problem which is serious. What is the purpose of bringing it up here? Here is an analysis of sexually abuse of children of all types http://bit.ly/2EdSuvu

Sarah Dolski
2 months 3 weeks ago

Frank are you serious, or trying to be silly? we have an organization which already does that. It’s called CPS (Child Protective Services). I happen to work for them and I can tell you marriage isn’t the reason people sexually abuse children. The majority of victims are children from broken homes being abused by the mothers boyfriend. What a silly nonexistent connection you are attempting to make.

Frank Elliott
2 months 3 weeks ago

I don't think heterosexuals, married or single, are any more or less likely to abuse children than homosexuals. Sexual abuse of women by boys is an under reported crime. Moreover, it's seldom punished when discovered. When a grown woman rapes a twelve-year-old boy and she gets pregnant, he pays child support. So don''t cite your expertise based on the shitty system you work for.

John K
2 months 3 weeks ago

This is yet another attempt by America Magazine to deflect and deny the link between homosexuality in the face of the facts. This is not a "crisis of pedophilia" since the vast majority of victims are post-pubescent males. It has been proven that there is virtually no link between homosexuality and pedophilia. But this is not the question. The link is between homosexuality and young teenage men, who make up 70% - 80% of the victims, in countries we have comprehensive data (e.g., U.S., Germany, Belgium, Chile) not between homosexuality and little children.

Vincent Couling
2 months 3 weeks ago

To argue that "this is not a crisis of paedophilia since the vast majority of victims are post-pubescent males" is extraordinarily misleading. From what I can make out, the John Jay report redefined paedophilia as the sexual abuse of victims 10 years old or younger ... whereas the DSM defines paedophilia as the sexual abuse of victims 13 years old or younger (i.e. the cut-off for pre-pubescence is set to age 13).

A useful source is https://mirandaceleste.net/2011/05/24/a-worthless-and-dangerous-report/ :
"Next, let’s look at two of the major problems of and flaws in the report’s methodology and conclusions:

1. One of the most egregious aspects of this report is that the researchers arbitrarily redefine “pedophilia” as sexual abuse of victims that were ten years old or younger at the time, despite the fact that the DSM sets the cutoff age at thirteen. Defining it as “ten years old or younger” allows the researchers to make claims like:

'Less than 5 percent of the priests with allegations of abuse exhibited behavior consistent with a diagnosis of pedophilia (a psychiatric disorder that is characterized by recurrent fantasies, urges, and behaviors about prepubescent children). Thus, it is inaccurate to refer to abusers as “pedophile priests” (3).'

and:

'It is worth noting that while the media has consistently referred to priest-abusers as “pedophile priests,” pedophilia is defined as the sexual attraction to prepubescent children. Yet, the data on priests show that 22 percent of victims were age ten and under, while the majority of victims were pubescent or postpubescent (10).'

… whereas if they had stuck to the DSM‘s guidelines (age thirteen or younger), most of the priest-abusers could legitimately be called “pedophiles”, as “[m]ost sexual abuse victims of priests (51 percent) were between the ages of eleven and fourteen, while 27 percent were fifteen to seventeen, 16 percent were eight to ten, and nearly 6 percent were under age seven” (10). In other words, if the researchers had used the DSM‘s guidelines, the percentage would jump from 22% to almost 73%.

Arbitrarily changing the age from thirteen to ten was a very sleazy and duplicitous move, and, unfortunately, many media outlets will most likely report the “5%” and “22%” figures without explaining the study’s authors’ arbitrary redefinition of “pedophilia” (see this CNN story for an example). “Pedophilia” is a word that evokes strong feelings in many people, and, without this explanation, most media consumers will be left with the impression that the Church’s sex abuse crisis isn’t nearly as horrible or widespread as they had previously thought.

Frustratingly, the researchers do not explain why they chose to redefine “pedophilia”, saying only that: “[f]or the purpose of this comparison, a pedophile is defined as a priest who had more than one victim, with all victims being age eleven or younger at the time of the offense” (34)."

Even more egregious, though, is the researchers’ attack on any media outlet or individual who accepts the standard definition of “pedophile”:

'Media reports about Catholic priests who sexually abused minors often mistakenly have referred to priests as pedophiles. According to the DSM IV-TR, pedophilia is characterized by fantasies, urges, or behaviors about sexual activity with a prepubescent child that occurs for a significant period of time. Yet, the Nature and Scope data indicated that nearly four out of five minors abused were at least eleven years old at the time of the abuse. Though development happens at varying ages for children, the literature generally refers to eleven and older as an age of pubescence or postpubescence (53).'

I’m both horrified and perplexed by the researchers’ arbitrary and unexplained redefinition of their study’s primary topic. Remember: their redefinition of “pedophile” allows them to claim that only 22% of priest-abusers were “pedophiles”, whereas, if they had used the DSM‘s definition, that percentage would jump to almost 73%. Media consumers who hear the figure of 22% reported without context will, most likely, assume that it is based upon the standard (DSM) definition, and, as a result, will develop a highly inaccurate understanding of the realities of the Catholic sex abuse crisis. Because of this, I don’t think it’s uncharitable or unreasonable to call into question both the credibility of and the integrity of the researchers."

Frank Elliott
2 months 2 weeks ago

Most of the boys abused were 13 or under according to the John Jay report. This reminds me of Greek pederasty in which men abused boys before those boys developed secondary sexual characteristics. The looked like boys rather than men. They had no facial hair, for instance. Those men went on to marry women and have children of their own. Boys thirteen and under are not being chosen as substitutes for adult males.

As for the bullshit that this is a crisis of homosexuality rather than pedophilia, the statistics show otherwise.

Sushil YD
2 months 3 weeks ago

check here: https://www.hsslive.co.in/

mary ann Steppke
2 months 3 weeks ago

Since sexual abuse of minors has been part of the culture of the catholic church for centuries, why are we not understanding the root cause of this sin? Why are we not openly asking for the laity to seek this knowledge? Repressed sexual needs I believe is the cause of this abuse. I also believe that the homosexual acceptance in the clergy has produced a large percentage today. But the question is are they a non-active sexual clergy ? Let the truth be known NOW !!!!!Lets please stay with the clergy only now so we can end the abuse.Let us organize lay groups trained at the diocese for the local parishes to oversee the priests and the bishops. I would suggest professional social workers,psychologists ,etc to work also with the lay participation.

Phillip Stone
2 months 3 weeks ago

Human beings need water, so too do they need food and air to breathe as well
They do not NEED sex, full stop. Centuries of witness by celibate consecrated religious gives ample witness.
God wills sexual intercourse to continue the human race until He calls a halt.

It is a lie to say that sexual abuse of minors is part of Catholic culture, just plain idiocy.
The parents of children and the carers of the vulnerable are responsible for keeping them out of the reach of anyone who could do them harm. Never leave them alone with any person you have not gone to lengths to ascertain is actually trustworthy rather than act in blind trust - this new buzz word clericalism has been practised by the people of God in elevating the clergy, otherwise it would have no legs.

Frank Elliott
2 months 3 weeks ago

"They do not NEED sex." This doesn't even qualify as a half truth. Human beings learn by experience. Some sexual or romantic experience is required for self-knowledge regarding sexuality. This experience is an inalienable right. It is part of maturing as a human being, You and the rest of the Church deny this, and that denial has caused this scandal.

Sarah Dolski
2 months 3 weeks ago

Fair enough, but if you don’t think you can live a celibate life style, that’s fine. Don’t become a priest and make a public promise to others before God and then live a double life. It’s really that simple.

Frank Elliott, Jr.
2 months 3 weeks ago

I’ve never considered the priesthood because I’ve never met a priest who was a decent human being.

Warren Patton
2 months 3 weeks ago

So if someone's advances are constantly rejected are they being denied an inalienable right? If someone leaves their partner or spouse because they want someone whose better in bed, is that the right thing to do? After all if sexual experience is an inalienable right then they shouldn't have to put up with someone denying them that right, correct? Should prostitutes be provided gratis, given that their services are something everyone has a right to? When normal people-not just priests- choose to go without sex, are they making themselves maladjusted in some way?

I I'm trying to work out how this attitude would play out in the experience of average people. Pushing sex as vital and going without it as unhealthy provides an argument against priestly celibacy and church teachings on homosexuality. But it also has wider implications. I really don't think teenagers need to be hearing that they have an "inalienable right" to sex.

Frank Elliott, Jr.
2 months 3 weeks ago

I’m not a rapist you motherfucker.

The right to some kind of companionship is not alienable. The right to have some experience with consensual dating with an adult ought not be surrendered.

if your so concerned about sexual continence, castrate yourself. You’ll improve the gene pool.

Frank Elliott
2 months 3 weeks ago

"They do not NEED sex." This doesn't even qualify as a half truth. Human beings learn by experience. Some sexual or romantic experience is required for self-knowledge regarding sexuality. This experience is an inalienable right. It is part of maturing as a human being, You and the rest of the Church deny this, and that denial has caused this scandal.

Phillip Stone
2 months 3 weeks ago

You are quite right, Frank. It is a FULL truth, a whole truth, nothing but the truth.

Meditate with the help of a dictionary and a thesaurus on the difference between WANT and NEED; I guarantee it will be instructive.

Frank Elliott
2 months 3 weeks ago

Philip, you moronic fascist, why do you protect that convicted child rapist Pell?

Ellen B
2 months 3 weeks ago

You are ignoring that the individuals who helped cover up the sexual abuse for DECADES are still in the same roles in the church. You are ignoring that priests (bishops & cardinals) who abused their parishioners are still out there & their identities were never revealed. In many cases, the statute of limitations on their crimes has passed & non-disclosure agreements signed by the abused have helped to hide the extent of the abuse. First, reveal the extent of the abuse & then weed out the guilty.

Homosexuality and pedophilia are two different things.

WILLIAM DEMPSEY
2 months 3 weeks ago

Not a word in this article about the what should be the inescapable fact that some 80% of offenses in the national study and the same percentage in the Pennsylvania study were man/boy. To the extent that clericalism is involved, there is no evident reason why it should impact homosexual priests so much more than heterosexual priests. And assuming it to be true that in general homosexuals are no more likely than heterosexuals to abuse sexually, it is also seems evident that homosexual priests are. The question that should be examined is why that is so. It seems likely that it is linked to seminaries. If that is true, the next question is what can be done about it. The obvious answer -- not necessarily the only one -- is to enforce the existing ban against ordaining men with "deep-seated homosexual tendencies" -- a ban affirmed as recently as 2016. For bishops and the Pope to ignore this "elephant in the room" is a disgraceful failure to deal with the sexual abuse problem and instead engage in duplicitous evasion. No wonder confidence in both Pope and bishops is fast eroding.

Lisa M
2 months 3 weeks ago

William- I think the elephant in the room was addressed. Indifference. That is what has lead to the number of sexually abused children. This conference was about protecting and caring for the victims, not about the perpetrators. It is the bishops that needed to acknowledge their role in covering up and ignoring the cries of our children. The cause of the abuse is a different topic. Homosexuality in the context of not being celibate, sexual activity in the seminaries, and most likely pornography need to be examined, BUT they are separate, and I'm glad Pope Francis recognized that.

Frank Elliott, Jr.
2 months 2 weeks ago

Catholic high schools were sexually segregated for most of the history of Catholic education. Boys were educated by priests and girls by nuns. Heterosexual perverts to want bald beaver raise their own victims.

Sue Harvey
2 months 3 weeks ago

Let’s think about staying “ in our own lane” Church can deal with spiritual issue, let police handle the crime investigation aspect. Yes, it’s a crime. Business has grappled with employee issues that impact their productivity, reputation. Employee assistance programs paid time in treatment programs but zero tolerance if there is not changed attitude, behaviors. I see that the Church may wish to minister to their “employee” but past practice of secrecy, pretending that changing location will remove “ the occasion of sin”. Victim blaming for sure. Not believing that disordered sexuality, predatory behavior could exist or knowing but enabling that’s been the scandal.

Gail Sockwell-Thompson
2 months 3 weeks ago

Men protecting men. Crimes against minors should be handled in criminal court. Minister the flock from behind bars if it comes to that.

J Jones
2 months 3 weeks ago

Well done!

Tim O'Leary
2 months 3 weeks ago

The argument being pushed by the politically correct clerics is that homosexual acts have nothing to do with homosexuality.

Colin Jory
2 months 3 weeks ago

So Jeremy Cruz "rejects attempts by some Catholics to pin the abuse crisis on gay priests" and declares, “That is just a fallacy". Talk about a Freudian slip!

Colin Jory
2 months 3 weeks ago

So Jeremy Cruz "rejects attempts by some Catholics to pin the abuse crisis on gay priests" and declares, “That is just a fallacy". Talk about a Freudian slip!

Tim O'Leary
2 months 3 weeks ago

I see Andrew Sullivan has sort of endorsed the Martel book. By giving any credence of these ridiculous groundless, catty claims by Frederic Martel, he is doing a great disservice to gays and further justifying the canon law that tries to keep them out. Martel claims that a majority of clerics in the Vatican are homosexual (he quotes 80%), and they are the worst type of Catholic. One half consists of deeply repressed celibate clerics whose repression causes them to lash out at homosexuals and distorts doctrine. The other half care nothing about their vows and Church teaching and instead lead highly promiscuous sex lives, hiring male prostitutes, engaging in orgies and enabling. They are addicted to pornography. They can’t even be interviewed by an aging journalist without propositioning him. The high number implies they weren’t “born that way,” but learned it in adult life, when it became fashionable and helped careers in the Church. So, the obvious conclusion of Martel's claims is that no homosexual can lead a healthy celibate life. They will be either repressed hypocrites or flagrant fornicators. And these are just the adult abusers. No wonder Martel titles the book Sodom in some languages. Archbishop Vigano's charges are very mild by comparison.

Maybe, there is a lavender mafia controlling the levers of power in the Vatican, covering for abusers of young men and minors, enabling the rise of gay abusers like McCarrick, and keeping the homosexual abuse of teens and adults out of the meeting (focusing only on pre-pubertal abuse), but Martel exaggerates its size and influence, distorts their collective motives and describes all of them as enslaved to sex.

Frank Elliott
2 months 3 weeks ago

Given that 10-15% of children raised with their families report being sexually assaulted by an adult in the home, if you're looking for a potential sex criminal, you should look in the mirror, Tim.

Nemeroff, Charles B.; Craighead, W. Edward (2001). The Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology and Behavioral Science. New York: Wiley. ISBN 978-0-471-24096-9.

Frank Elliott
2 months 3 weeks ago

Given that 12-15% of children raised with their families report being sexually assaulted by an adult in the home, if you're looking for a potential sex criminal, you should look in the mirror, Tim.

Tim O'Leary
2 months 3 weeks ago

Frank - not sure how this relates to the Martel book, which is all about homosexuality of adults who have committed their lives to God and celibacy. But, you are right that most sex abuse occurs in families. 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be sexually abused before they turn 18 years old & 34% of people who sexually abuse a child are family members. Most sex abuse of kids is done by heterosexual men. Homosexuals make up 2-5% of the population so one would expect 95% sex victims to be girls, but it’s not. In the Church, the abuse rate is very low compared to in families. 4.2% of priests have ever been accused (meaning 96% have not). But the odd thing about the Church is that many more boys are abused than girls, which is the opposite of the general population.

J Jones
2 months 3 weeks ago

The factor Tim refuses to acknowledge, because it challenges the relevance of the numbers on which he bases his ideological conclusions, is that Catholic priests right up until Safe Environment policies began to be implemented historically had routine access --- often daily, almost always unsupervised, spiritually and physically intimate access ----- to boys and male teenagers as opposed to routine almost daily spiritually/physically intimate unsupervised access girls and female teenagers.

That fact requires no head-counting, no research: that fact is built into the structure, history, design, theology of the Roman Catholic Church. Anyone, Catholic or non-Carholic, visiting a Catholic Church knew/knows that instantly about the RCC. Little boys and teenage boys had a role and place in the Church --- altar servers, minor seminarians, etc --- which placed them routinely in the sole and unsupervised care of priests in sacristies, rectories, camps, vehicles, classrooms, on and on and on.

Where priests have had regular and unsupervised access to females (little girls, teenagers and women), females have been abused. Witness: the record numbers of native and Alaskan women abused by priests (looking at you, Jesuits); the numbers of priests who have fathered children after ordination; nuns abused and impregnated; nuns forced to have abortions; the numbers of female victims of priests who groomed entire families into granting the priest alone time with their girls on the occasion of home-cooked meals, etc.; the numbers of women abused in the confessional and pastoral counseling and spiritual direction.

The only saving grace, for women and girls, of the Church's sexism is that males and NOT females have been the most accessible prey for predator priests.

That incontrovertible fact is is inconvenient for Tim and others ... It is so much a fact of Catholic life and culture that THOSE numbers have never been collected and analyzed statistically. AND those stats aren't necessary. Again, the design, theology, structure, culture, tradition of the RCC has literally and virtually guaranteed that the most accessible prey for sexually predatory priests have ALWAYS been other males of all ages.

(Mark Twain famously said "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics". Tim, I first learned that in a statistics class taught by a biostatistician at a top-ranked US medical school for purposes of making it clear that not all statistics are equal. Legit statistics are built through hundreds of very rigid, narrowly defined rules grounded in mathematics and logic).

Lisa M
2 months 3 weeks ago

We do need to get a better idea on how many of our priests are homosexual going into the seminaries, how many are sexually active, before joining the priesthood and during, and when did those who sexually abused children develop such inclinations. Why boys in the western world? Is access the reason? I doubt that, but only when we really know what we are dealing with will we understand fully. Until then, it is pure speculation. We must remember, that the Catholic Church is worldwide, and boys are not the main victims in other parts of the world. That too, needs to be part of the analysis, since greater access to boys does not equate to them being the victims in all environments.

J Jones
2 months 3 weeks ago

Lisa, I agree with the spirit of parts of your comment.

But you are engaged in a subtle but unmistakable form of homophobia/discrimination when you explicitly state a need for stats on gay men while failing to explicitly stating the need for stats on straight men.

Lisa M
2 months 3 weeks ago

J- the need for statistics on gay men is simply to understand why, if true, it is a disproportionate percentage compared to the general population. We need to know why that is the case. It all helps to better understand all the motivating factors in one's decision to become a priest.

J Jones
2 months 3 weeks ago

Lisa, if there is a need for sexual statistics on gay priests, there is a need for sexual statistics on straight priests, and vice versa.

A note: there is something repulsive to me about your use of "we". "We need to know" about the sexual lives of gay priests without mention that "we need to know" about the sexual lives of straight priests. I cannot put my finger on it yet but this reeks of subtle but inescapably bigoted obsession with gay priests --- as
opposed to ALL priests --- who are sexually active in the priesthood, were sexually active before the priesthood, have sexually victimized another person or child and when they first sexually abusing others. I am repulsed by the suggestion that gay priests ----- but not straight priests ----- should be asked those questions and that "we" should have that information. Shall we stop by the seminaries to pinch the upper lips of the gay priests so we can examine their teeth, too, before we buy them?

Oh my God. Some days, I hope every gay priest and brother and nun and sister gives us the finger and walks out the door, leaving us to understand in their absence and in the closed churches and ministries that "we" are dependent on their labor, their faith, their generosity, their love of God's people in spite of these assaults upon their dignity and their vocations and their vows and their decency and on the reality that they are no more likely than straight priests and brothers and sisters and nuns to commit an act of violence, sexual or otherwise.

Lisa, again, this is homophobic. This is what they mean by "implicit bias". Thus is explicit bias. This is discriminatory.

Lisa M
2 months 3 weeks ago

J- I don't know what to say other than this is absolute nonsense. If 80% of the priesthood were straight males, it would be close enough in line with the general population, but we are being told that is not the case, and a large percentage are in fact gay. Logic, not homophobia would suggest that needs to be studied to determine why, much like if we heard 80% of engineering students were now women, we would, and have studied this to find out how/why. Lets not degrade this into something it is not, unless of course you don't understand why someone is neither left nor right.

J Jones
2 months 3 weeks ago

Lisa, for the record and as I noted to Tim below, I do not believe you are a homophobic person. I believe you appear to accept Church teaching on this topic, and I believe this specific post was an example of homophobic thinking. The two are different.

Onward.

What objective/self-evident "logic" necessitates a study of the sexuality of gay would-be seminarians/actual seminarians/priests without simultaneously collecting the exact same data on their straight counterparts?

Your analogy is faulty. Virtually all engineering programs receive public funding through their institutions and are thus subject to non-discrimination law which prohibits the systemaTic and specific selection or rejection of students on the basis of protected class membership, gender being first on the list. THAT is the "logic" of any such study of that nature.

What is the self-evident/objective "logic" that requires the study you propose? If that "logic" exists, it can be explained without analogy because it is objective and thus can be described explicitly.

Lisa M
2 months 3 weeks ago

J- The study on why 80% of engineering students are women would not be because it had assumed discrimination had taken place. It would be, what has changed in society that has opened the door to more women choosing engineering as their choice of study, etc. Nothing to do with discrimination. The same for the priesthood. It need not be complex. Why are gay men choosing the priesthood far more, proportionately to straight men? It is that simple. I think this is an example of looking for something that isn't there, because much like this summit, some need to find fault everywhere when it comes to the Church, or those who choose to believe in her.

Robert Lewis
2 months 3 weeks ago

First of all, they're not anymore. These incidences of abuse of adolescents by gay priests have largely stopped. Secondly, the answer to your question is as obvious as the homophobic egg on your face, my dear; they sometimes chose the priesthood to escape the Yahoo population's fear and hatred of their natural, God-given condition, and they sometimes chose the priesthood hoping that they could "pray the gay away." It was all about the Catholic Church's dissemination of her backward, anti-scientific dogma of "natural law," which contributed to cementing widespread homophobia in the minds of the laity. There doesn't need to be any "study" of this; anybody who knows lower-middle class Catholic culture in America up close knows it's true, and anybody who knows more sophisticated Catholic religious culture of the American aristocracy knows that it rarely affected their mentality because they were raised, as I was, to listen to their "informed consciences" first, and to some ignorant priest in the pulpit secondly. That, at least, is what my Jesuit spiritual directors taught me. It's also what they were teaching in the UK, to folks such as Evelyn Waugh, and, in so doing, they were acting in the spirit of John Henry Newman's great "Letter to the Duke of Norfolk." Sorry if I sound snobbish, but there has always been a difference between elite Catholic intellectual culture, and what has been preached from pulpits to the hoi polloi.

Tim O'Leary
2 months 3 weeks ago

Lewis is correct, at least for the US. The US data show the incidence of abuse of adolescents has gone way down from its peak in the 80s. But, the revelations of seminarian and young priest abuse around the world (like Zanchetta) and Vatican (Inzoli, Ricca, etc.) are more recent. The Dallas Charter is working for minors, not for young adults. All the known guilty parties like McCarrick abused decades ago. But, two problems remain. Their guilty past keeps the enabling trucking along and it prevents them from teaching the Gospel truth. If anything like Martel's charges are true (I think it trash, but all the usual gay advocates who have reviewed the book argue it is true), the best outcome would be for early retirement, not for personal abuse, but for a failure to police their own. Pope Francis needs to respond to Vigano on his own, since no journalists have come forward to do the work he asked of them. He needs to respond to Martel. And, he needs to respond to the new Zanchetta case. Maybe, he was fooled by this Argentinian into giving him a promotion when the locals charged him with abuse of seminarians. I will give him the benefit of the doubt. But, the world deserves an answer, either from Pope Francis, or the next pontificate.

Lisa M
2 months 3 weeks ago

Robert- We all know about informed consciences, but that requires humility in order to develop, something clearly lacking in your post. For someone so progressive and 'educated', you might want to reconsider referring to a woman as 'my dear', Your condescending approach to your supposed argument only reflects poorly on you, even if everything I have said is wrong and you are correct. No worries about sounding snobby, anyone fortunate enough to be well educated recognizes those who feel the need to try to puff themselves up to win an argument. Your lack of humility is truly astonishing.

Robert Lewis
2 months 3 weeks ago

I think that one of the most despicable human traits is false humility; Nietzsche called it the worst trait of the religious--a sort of "slave mentality". I have absolutely NONE of it. Also, in my book, "my dear" is a term of endearment. I use it on my female students all the time, and they love me for it.

Tim O'Leary
2 months 3 weeks ago

No one will ever accuse you of humility of any variety, Lewis. But, the "my dear" is very condescending, as is "honey" or other such phrases in the workplace, especially when followed by a disagreement in an argument. The fact that you think your female students love you for it really doesn't justify it. Anyway, no need to respond. You come from a different time (or timezone).

Robert Lewis
2 months 3 weeks ago

Indeed! And in the era from which I come, it is not deemed necessary to take lessons in etiquette from some oaf who refers to his/her interlocutor by his/her last name, as in "Lewis."

J Jones
2 months 3 weeks ago

Robert, it is a such bizarrely pugilistic little tell, isn't it? It makes me giggle.

Lisa M
2 months 3 weeks ago

J- I must say I'm a little surprised. You seem enamored with someone who speaks with absolute contempt towards those whom he feels superior, dare I say including women. You might want to re read the posts.

J Jones
2 months 3 weeks ago

Lisa, I understand why you are offended by portions of Robert's comments. It seems to me you can and did respond. Good for you. You had it handled. I admire that.

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