Amidst fresh allegations by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, the child sex abuse scandal involving the Catholic Church remains in limbo. Abp. Viganò writes: “The silence of the pastors who could have provided a remedy and prevented new victims became increasingly indefensible, a devastating crime for the Church.”
Silence is the last thing needed in these times. And one area in which silence is most deafening happens to be, as Mary Eberstadt famously puts it, the “elephant in the sacristy”: homosexuality in the priesthood.
Attempted deflections on the scandals make reference to clericalism or lack of religious formation. While indeed important factors, such would be incomplete if no account is taken of the homosexual culture that lurks within the clergy.
Not an issue, however, is priestly celibacy and this was already discussed in my previous article “The Catholic Church’s gay problem” (June 27, 2018).
Instead, Crisis Magazine’s (and Thomas More College’s) Tony Esolen explains it this way: “the whole of the meta-crime was homosexual. That is, we do not have examples of womanizing priests or priests with fetishes for girls going out of their way to recruit other such priests, forming a tight little cabal, covering for one another, suborning young men into this wicked way of life, issuing veiled threats against anyone who would go public, and snubbing those who did not approve. There was no network of abusers of girls. This network was about men who wanted to do things with boys and men.”
The numbers support it: John Jay College of Criminal Justice’s study “The Causes and Context of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests in the United States, 1950-2010” show that 80% of the sexual abuse cases were committed by priests with homosexual leanings.
Of such, Penn State professor Philip Jenkins (“The Myth of the Pedophile Priest”) says that only 1.8% of said priests are pedophiles.
The difference between the two, as Jenkins explains it, is this: “many people are confused about the distinction between a pedophile and a person guilty of sex with a minor. The difference is very significant. The phrase ‘pedophile priests’ conjures up images of the worst violation of innocence, callous molesters like Father Porter who assault children 7 years old. ‘Pedophilia’ is a psychiatric term meaning sexual interest in children below the age of puberty.
But the vast majority of clergy misconduct cases are nothing like this. The vast majority of instances involve priests who have been sexually active with a person below the age of sexual consent, often 16 or 17 years old, or even older. xxx In almost all cases too, with the older teen-agers, there is an element of consent.”
Stephen De Weger, in his article “Vatican II, the sexual revolution and clergy sexual misconduct” (June 2017), cites psychologist Sheila Murphy in that the “sexual revolution of the 60s, along with the ‘window opening’ of Vatican II, played a part in an increase of clergy sexual activity with adults, resulting in spikes of such activity in the 70s and 80s.”
And indeed, perhaps it’s no coincidence that the drop in reported sexual abuse cases happens at a time when many of today’s priests and seminarians (at least in the US) are under the age of 45 and heterosexual.
Msgr. Charles Pope thus encourages us to the logical and commonsensical conclusion: “the statistical evidence of the recent scandals shows a highly disproportionate level of homosexual involvement.”
“All this demonstrates that seminaries and the priesthood are not good places for those with deep-seated same-sex attraction. It does not take an anthropology or psychology degree to figure this out. Putting a man with same-sex attraction in a seminary is no more advisable than putting a heterosexual man in a woman’s dormitory where he shares shower facilities and close quarters with women.”
The Catholic Church itself is already replete with guidance on this matter, it just needs to apply such rigorously: there is the 1961 Instruction on the Careful Selection and Training of Candidates for the States of Perfection and Sacred Orders (prohibiting gays from entering seminaries) and the 2005 Instruction Concerning the Criteria for the Discernment of Vocations with regard to Persons with Homosexual Tendencies in view of their Admission to the Seminary and to Holy Orders.
Pope Francis, as Msgr. Pope tells us, reiterated that policy of not admitting “to the seminary or to holy orders those who practice homosexuality, present deep-seated homosexual tendencies or support the so-called ‘gay culture.’” Predictably, this “was underreported, likely because it does not fit the narrative the press wants to create regarding Pope Francis.”
The point here is not to gay bash but to look at the Church’s sex abuse scandal with clear eyes towards correction. As for homosexuality itself, we refer to then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger’s words: “human person, made in the image and likeness of God, can hardly be adequately described by a reductionist reference to his or her sexual orientation.”
Jemy Gatdula is a Senior Fellow of the Philippine Council for Foreign Relations and a Philippine Judicial Academy law lecturer for constitutional philosophy and jurisprudence.