Religion & Public Life With Mark Silk

Religion & Public Life With Mark Silk

Gay priests are not the problem

That’s the big news out of the John Jay College Final Report on the sexual abuse of minors by Catholic priests, due out at 2 p.m. today, according to David Gibson’s scoop for RNS last night (followed swiftly by NYT’s Laurie Goodstein, who also scored a copy). To wit:

[T]he researchers found no statistical evidence that gay priests were more likely than straight priests to abuse minors—a finding that undermines a favorite talking point of many conservative Catholics. The disproportionate number of adolescent male victims was about opportunity, not preference or pathology, the report states.


What’s more, researchers note that the rise in the number of gay priests from the late 1970s onward actually corresponded with “a decreased incidence of abuse—not an increased incidence of abuse.”

Over at In All Things, Jim Martin rings the changes on why this will come as a surprise to many, pointing specifically to the shortage of “‘public’ models of healthy, mature, loving celibate homosexual priests.” (Mychal Judge, the Franciscan father who died at Ground Zero on 9/11 while serving as chaplain to the FDNY, is a rare exception.) Martin declines, however, to point to the role of those conservative Catholic talkers in fingering gay priests as the problem–above all the Catholic League’s Bill Donohue.


Here, for example, is Donohue back in 2006, arguing on behalf of the Vatican’s decision to keep men with “deeply rooted homosexual tendencies” (whatever that means) out of seminaries:

As I have said many times before, most homosexual priests are not molesters, but most of the molesters are gay. The John Jay [interim] Report made this clear: 81 percent of the victims are male and almost as many are postpubescent. This is not called pedophilia—it is called homosexuality.

But the final report demonstrates (through reliance on diocesan records and live interviews) that just because the victims were boys doesn’t mean that the molesters were gay–any more than the fact that most prison rapes involve male victims doesn’t mean that most prison rapists are gay. For priests, boys were the most readily available targets of sexual opportunity.


Donohue will no doubt embrace the final report’s finding that most offenders were not pedophiles in the strict sense (one of his favorite talking points); the large majority of cases involve boys over the age of 10. But the punchline to the point is that the way to prevent child abuse by priests is to keep gays out of the priesthood. And that, the final report makes clear, is just not true.

Update: Donohue sticks to his guns: “A homosexual is defined by his actions, not his identity.”

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posted May 18, 2011 at 11:33 am

The attitude of Rome and the bishops show that they have learned nothing at all from the suffering. They are coming up with any and all “root causes” of the problem that cast responsibility anywhere but with them and their corrupt culture of secrecy. It’s the gays, it’s the sexual revolution, it’s the liberal media and lawyers out to get us, it’s the psychologists who let us down. Then we have Bill Donoghue as the Dictator of Relativism himself, telling us that because priests were buggering older boys that it’s “not that bad.”

The abuse will continue, at much the same rates that it always has. With the pogroms against same sex attraction and more girl altar servers, we may well see a more diverse population of victims, but the sickness continues to fester…

report abuse


posted May 18, 2011 at 6:05 pm

Sooner or later, we will have to make a decision on which way we go; obviously enough, we cannot go in two directions at the same time. The Church says that being a priest is a vocation and God calls men to the priesthood. If that is not true, then we have to assume that priests are not God’s servants and they enter the priesthood for other resons and upon discovery of their criminal activities they should promptly be prosecuted by legal authorities of their respective countries. However, if it is true that their calling comes from God, then we would have to wonder what kind of a God He is, because we would certainly want someone better to worship.
Which way are we going to go?

report abuse

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posted May 18, 2011 at 6:51 pm

Gay priests are not the problem,I think this writing very helpful,thank you.

report abuse

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