The ugly and shameful topic of clerical sexual abuse has once again hit the headlines over the last year, prompting renewed questions about its causes. The authoritative John Jay College of Criminal Justice study (1) found that about 81 percent of clerically abused minors between 1950 and 2002 were males. Indeed, if we focus only on the older (pubescent and post-pubescent) victims, the male majority is even more overwhelming: in both the 11-14 years and 15-17 years age groups the proportion of boy to girl victims was 85 percent to 15 percent.
Yet many of our most prominent clerics, such as Cardinals Blase Cupich and Joseph Tobin, and Fr. James Martin, SJ, insist that it’s “unscientific” to blame homosexuality for the abuse problem. Curiously, in view of the above statistics, they can plausibly appeal to the John Jay report itself; for in spite of their finding that the vast majority of adolescent abuse victims were male, the report’s researchers managed to draw the counterintuitive conclusion that homosexual clergy were no more likely than others to be abusers.
However, we need to remember that the John Jay team were secular establishment scholars, and, therefore, were under strong peer-group and media pressure not to draw any conclusions that might offend the hallowed “LGBTQ community” or reflect badly on “gays” and their lifestyle. And it shows.
For instance, even though the civil war between a homosexual’s mind and body is obviously disordered — after all, that individual’s same-sex longings clash starkly with the plainly heterosexual function of his/her genital organs — the John Jay researchers have dutifully followed the politically correct orthodoxy which, aided by heavy-duty social and political pressure, succeeded in getting same-sex attraction deleted in 1973 from the official American list of psychiatric disorders. (3)
The researchers’ main exculpatory argument is that men who committed homosexual acts before or during their seminary days were not statistically more likely than others to abuse minors after Ordination. (4) But this is really quite “soft” evidence — evasive, incomplete, and inconclusive.
First of all, the question that most interests us is not whether those who were actively homosexual before Ordination were more likely than others to become abusers, but whether those with same-sex attraction were more likely to become abusers. Secondly, it can’t be assumed that all priests who told an interviewer they didn’t engage in sodomy before Ordination were being truthful. Thirdly, even among those were truthful in telling the interviewer that, some were very likely just biding their time prior to Ordination, that is, remaining continent in seminary because of limited access to minors and/or fear of discovery and expulsion, but eventually becoming abusers after Ordination.
Finally, only a small sampling of all the thousands of priests under survey could have been interviewed. (Many were already deceased.)
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