Despite voiced parishioner concerns, San Diego Bishop Robert McElroy denies that a gay subculture exists among diocesean priests or seminarians — men studying to be Roman Catholic priests.
Writing in the January issue of the diocesan newspaper The Southern Cross, McElroy says he agrees that such a subculture would be a “threat to a healthy Catholic community.”
But the former San Francisco cleric added that “I have not witnessed the presence of such a subculture in my three years as bishop of San Diego.”
Bishop McElroy: “Our recognition that the grace of God pervades the life of the Church in so many dimensions does not free us from recognizing the sinfulness that has characterized the Church’s culture, structures and actions regarding the sexual abuse of minors by clergy.”
McElroy’s statement, titled “Pastoral Reflections on the Listening Sessions,” is part of a report released in response to concerns raised at eight listening sessions in October and November throughout the diocese on the heels of continuing revelations about clergy sexual abuse.
In his 1,600-word response, McElroy delineated steps taken or will be taken as a result of the sessions.
Initiatives include hiring a full-time diocesan victim assistance coordinator and providing and paying for victim counseling.
Other efforts that have begun or he promised will be done involve more lay people in diocesan discussions and decision-making, hire a professional investigator to examine abuse accusations, publicize lists of clergy sex offenders and re-examine church files about clergy behavior.
“The Catholic community,” writes the 64-year-old bishop, “must continue to bear a historic responsibility of shame and profound regret at this moment and moving forward because, for so many decades, it allowed a culture of reassignment of priests who had abused minors to destroy the lives and wound the souls of tens of thousands of boys and girls, young women and young men.”
Major concerns at the listening sessions involved care and healing for clergy abuse victims, actions taken against predators, bishop accountability and perceived connections between homosexuality and clergy abuse (since most of the victims are male).
Some of the 2,000 parishioners attending — including conservative Catholics associated with far-right publications that oppose Pope Francis’ policies — insisted that homosexuality was the root of the clergy abuse.
That segment said that gay people shouldn’t be allowed in the priesthood and that gay influences exist in seminaries.
But in the statement, McElroy cites a John Jay College of Law study commissioned by U.S. bishops that studied sex abuse data and concluded in 2003 that “homosexuality was not the substantive source of the sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy.”
Read more at Times of San Diego