At the moment the public spotlight is on the Catholic Church, with revelations of what has transpired in Pennsylvania. In this latest case some 300 priests are said to have abused some 1,000 children over many decades. Before looking at the details, let me say a few necessary things first. All child sex abuse is evil, end of story.
And when it happens in churches, it is even more evil. Child sexual abuse of course can and does happen in non-religious places, such as schools, etc., so we are amiss to single out the church. And Protestants have had their fair share of cases of this as well, so we are amiss to single out the Catholic Church.
I will not engage in any excuse-making here. I hate to see the name of Christ tarnished, regardless of where it is happening, be it Orthodox, Protestant or Catholic. Here I want to let a number of others speak, most of them Catholics, but a few Protestants as well.
Obviously Catholics who are involved in defending their church full time will want to offer their own take on the Pennsylvania situation. And some already have. Whether they were right to be so quick to speak to the situation is already a moot point, with Catholics on both sides of the issue.
For example, one key defender of Catholicism in the public arena is Bill Donahue. He came out rather quickly with a column seeking to debunk some myths here. Yes, given his role, he would be expected to do this I suppose, and he was right to point out a few truths, such as the fact that no one has been found guilty as yet.
But of course the media was quick to selectively pick up on things he said which seemed helpful, such as “Most of the alleged victims were not raped: they were groped or otherwise abused, but not penetrated, which is what the word ‘rape’ means.”
Sure, the MSM did not quote his very next line: “This is not a defense—it is meant to set the record straight and debunk the worst case scenarios attributed to the offenders.” But in such a hostile climate, no matter what one says in seeking to offer a different point of view, it may in fact cause real damage nonetheless.
And I am not here speaking as a Protestant attacking Catholics. I actually have some of Donahue’s books and have quoted him at various times over the years. And his piece is worth reading to see how the media is often twisting and distorting things. But consider what another Catholic has just said about him. On her social media page Jennifer Roback Morse of the Ruth Institute said this:
I will eventually read Bill Donahue’s statements about the PA Grand Jury Report, but I must say this before I do. Even if I turn out to agree completely with his analysis, he is completely wrong to be talking about this at this moment. Here is why: This is the Catholic moment to face facts, take our lumps, and make amends. We can talk about other people’s mistakes and problems after that.
Nearly 40 years of marriage has convinced me of this. If my husband tells me I did something that hurt him, that is exactly NOT the moment to start talking about all the times he has hurt me, all his flaws, etc. To do so, is to change the subject. At that moment, the subject is me and what I did and how I can make amends. If I don’t listen to him, precisely at that terribly uncomfortable moment, I am setting us up for tit-for-tat, back and forth recriminations and vendetta.
There will be another time to talk about what he does that I don’t like. At that moment, my responsibility is to listen to him, take him and his concerns seriously. Not to put too fine a point on it, that is the moment for me to suck it up. That is, assuming I want to remain in relationship with him. And I most emphatically do want to remain in relationship with the culture around me, including the Attorney General of PA and the members of the Grand Jury and the media and all the rest. I will listen to what Bill Donohue has to say, some other time, once I feel sure that I have exhausted my capacity for making things right within the Body of Christ.
I think she is taking a wise and helpful approach here. Even if only a fraction of the allegations are true, it is still horrific, still indefensible, and still must be completely rooted out and repented of. And of course many Catholics have themselves pointed out that there is a real problem with homosexuality in the Catholic Church.
But of course it is not PC to say so. Most of these assaults by male clergy have been on males. That may or may not be paedophilia, depending on the age, but it is certainly homosexual in nature. Many have pointed this out over many years, and Catholics are saying the same about the Pennsylvania situation. Just recently attorney and child rights advocate Liz Yore, along with Brad Miner, editor of The Catholic Thing, made these points.
They refer to a 2004 report on sexual abuse by Catholic leaders in the US known as the John Jay Report. As Yore said: “Largely it’s not a pedophile crisis. 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.”
Last month Catholic blogger Matt Walsh also repeated this fact:
As Rod Dreher has been reporting, and liberal publications agree, homosexuality runs rampant in the modern priesthood. Sexual activity between priests, and between priests and seminarians, is not uncommon. I think it is rather difficult to separate these facts from the fact that teen boys were so often sexually victimized. Is it just a coincidence that gay priests exist in such large numbers, protected by gay cabals within the Church, and at the same time there happen to be a bunch of priests molesting pubescent boys? Are these two realities entirely separate from one another?
80% of the victims in the Church have been males. Is it difficult to see how thousands of boys may have been spared this experience if there had not been so many homosexuals in the priesthood? Or are we going to pretend that even a heterosexual may attempt to get his thrills by molesting a 15 year old boy? If so, I have no idea what the words heterosexual and homosexual mean anymore.
Speaking of Dreher, the Orthodox commentator has been resisted by some Catholic leaders, including Austin Ruse, for highlighting such abuse. But just recently he has come out saying that Dreher was right and he was wrong. See here:
Fr. Paul Sullins, also of the Ruth Institute, has spoken of the homosexual subculture within the Catholic church as well:
Is the current Catholic sex abuse scandal related to homosexuality?
Yes. The current scandal includes mostly revelations about male on male sexual abuse of seminarians, where the victims are adults. These kinds of cases were not even considered in the responses to the 2002 scandal, which was about the criminal abuse of minors.
Was the 2002 scandal also related to homosexuality?
The US Conference of Catholic Bishops commissioned two reports, one in 2004 and in 2011, by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice to study the reported cases of clerical sex abuse from 1950 through 2002 and 2010 respectively. Both reports found that over 80% of the victims were neither girls, nor pre-pubescent children (true pedophilia), but pre-teen and teenage boys. These results clearly indicate that the problem was male on male predation by priests against under-aged boys.
Is there a “homosexual subculture” which exists within certain Catholic institutions?
Yes. In a 2002 survey of a national sample of 1,852 Catholic priests by the Los Angeles Times, 44% responded “yes” when asked if there was a “homosexual subculture in your diocese or religious institute”. To the question, “In the seminary you attended, was there a homosexual subculture at the time?” 53% of recently-ordained priests responded “Yes” (reported in Hoge and Wenger, Evolving Visions of the Priesthood, p. 102. Their own concurrent survey yielded 55% “Yes” to the identical question.)
Donahue of course has also made this point, as have others. Protestant commentator Michael Brown has taken this view in his brand-new article. In it he asks, “Does the Catholic Church Have a Homosexual Problem?”
And some candid Catholics are saying much the same. In the Catholic journal First Things a same-sex attracted man says people like him should NOT be made priests:
I am the sort of man the Catholic Church says shouldn’t be a priest. I experience what the Vatican calls “deep-seated homosexual tendencies,” which, according to the Church, make me an unsuitable candidate for the priesthood. The 2005 Vatican instruction on the question of homosexuality and the priesthood states this clearly: “The Church, while profoundly respecting the persons in question, cannot admit to the seminary or to holy orders those who practise homosexuality, present deep-seated homosexual tendencies or support the so-called ‘gay culture.’” This teaching wasn’t new. In 1961, the Vatican declared that men with homosexual inclinations couldn’t be ordained. Seminarians who “sinned gravely against the sixth commandment with a person of the same or opposite sex” were to be “dismissed immediately.”
I take no offense at this teaching. In fact, I agree with it. I’m convinced that if the Church had heeded its own counsel from 1961 and 2005, we wouldn’t be reeling from the shocking headlines of today
Protestant commentator Rob Gagnon suggested that “the way forward for the RCC to address the scandal of clerical sexual misconduct, particularly the persistent homosexual subculture network, [would be] for the Pope to appoint a commission,” consisting of people like Robert George, Andrew Comiskey, Paul McHugh, Paul Sullins, Ryan Anderson, Jennifer Roback Morse, Francis Beckwith, Joseph Sciambra, and others “who have taken the strongest public stance supporting Catholic sexual ethics”.
A newer piece by Matt Walsh calls for the need of some radical reform:
The good priests and bishops must come out and rebuke with righteous fury. Statements of “sadness” and “grief” will not do. Cardinal Wuerl’s limp-wristed lament about the “tragedy” of sexual abuse is insufficient. It is not just a tragedy. It is wickedness straight from the pit of Hell. That is what needs to be said. We don’t want to hear about tragedies anymore. We want to hear the wrath of God called down upon the heads of the perpetrators. We want you to show us that you are disgusted and enraged, or else we will suspect that you don’t care — or worse.
And names must be named. For every priest who raped a boy, there could well be at least one more priest who knew about it and remained silent. And those priests are almost as guilty as the rapist. Cowardice is a moral evil. And there has been quite a lot of that kind of evil — and many other kinds of evil — infecting the hierarchy of the Church. So all of the evildoers must be purged. Exposed. Shamed. Thrown out. Imprisoned. All of them. That is the only way forward now. There is no other way. And every Catholic who loves God and truth and justice must demand it.
One Protestant critic replied to this saying that a massive reform already did take place – it is called the Reformation. While there may be something to this, this is not the place for such a mega-debate. Nor is the long-standing issue of whether clergy should be able to marry to be resolved here.
And as a reminder: my longstanding policy still stands: no sectarian bashing thanks. Catholics who want to attack Catholics, or Protestants who want to attack Catholics, are advised to do it to their heart’s content, but elsewhere please.
Suffice it to say that anyone who names the name of Christ must be held to the highest of standards – and especially its leadership. Whenever such horrific acts take place, it does tremendous damage of course to the victims, but also to the cause of Christ.
Regardless of who is doing it, and in what denomination, radical and heart-felt repentance is the main way forward, along with some other much-needed reforms.