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Apples, meet oranges. Theories, meet cases.

By Diogenes (bio - articles ) | Aug 20, 2010

In an interesting interview with Bishop Patrick Zurek of Amarillo, Texas, about the US bishops’ response to the sex-abuse scandal, Joan Frawley Desmond of the National Catholic Register asks a very good question and gets a non-responsive answer:

Question: Did you address the ongoing argument that there is a direct correlation between the homosexual orientation of many perpetrators and the fact that the vast majority of victims have been boys 12 to 17 years old? The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights recently noted this “correlation,” not causation, but that argument has been disputed by some experts.

Answer: Dr. Tom Plante of the NRB writes in Psychology Today: “No evidence exists that suggest that sexual orientation, in and of itself, makes someone at risk to commit sex crimes against children or others. Sexual orientation is not a risk factor for crime.”

Did you just see a bishop of the Catholic Church, a successor to the apostles, invoking the authority of Psychology Today? I’m afraid you did. But that’s not the only problem.

The Register asked about a possible correlation between homosexuality and the sexual abuse of teenage boys. Bishop Zurek replied by citing a claim that homosexuals are no more likely than others to commit sex crimes. But we aren’t talking in theoretical terms, about just any sex crimes. We are talking specifically, about the abuse of teenage boys, which accounted for well over 80% of the complaints against American Catholic priests.  

Dr. Plante, the bishop’s authority for his statement, speaks of crimes “against children and others”— an odd way to formulate a category. The Register question had been much more specific, asking about “boys 12 to 17 years old.” Would those boys be described as “children?” Possibly. And if they’re not “children” they are certainly “others,” so Dr. Plante has his bases covered, as long as we’re speaking in theoretical terms. 

But we’re not speaking in theoretical terms. We’re speaking about specific human beings—male, aged 12 to 17— who were the main targets of clerical molesters. Was homosexuality a factor? That was the Register’s question, which Bishop Zulek didn’t answer.  

As the years pass, the evidence mounts, and Church officials show a steadily improving ability to perform the gymnastic contortions that are necessary in order to avoid facing the obvious, one comes back to the words of the late Father Richard Neuhaus, who in his charity put the matter in very simple terms to help along those who are having trouble with the concept:

Between men who want to have sex with adolescent boys and men who do not want to have sex with adolescent boys, the former are more likely to have sex with adolescent boys.


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Show 2 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: Steve214 - Aug. 20, 2010 9:58 PM ET USA

    All through is God's truth. Once you become afraid of admitting any truth, you are turning from God. Truth is never to be feared.

  • Posted by: Lisa Nicholas, PhD - Aug. 20, 2010 7:29 PM ET USA

    I'll take Fr. Neuhaus, living or dead, over some of our mealy-mouthed Princes of the Church. What ever happened to the idea of bishops speaking "prophetically," in season and out of season?

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