Catholic Culture Resources
Catholic Culture Resources

The Abuse is Homosexuality

By Dr. Jeff Mirus ( bio - articles - email ) | Sep 30, 2009

These newer UN Observers are right on top of things (see previous entry, Speaking Truth to Power). Now we learn that Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the Office of the United Nations and Specialized Institutions in Geneva, has taken the sex-abuse bull by the horns. After a recent meeting of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Archbishop Tomasi responded to the demand by Porteous Wood of the International Humanist and Ethical Union that “the international community” must “hold the Vatican to account” for the “many thousands of victims of abuse.”

Tomasi responded by making essentially two points:

  1. Independent studies show that abuse rates are higher elsewhere than they are in the Catholic Church. “As the Catholic Church has been busy cleaning its own house,” the Archbishop noted, “it would be good if other institutions and authorities, where the major part of abuses are reported, could do the same and inform the media about it.”
  2. Most of the abuse in question is really homosexual attraction to adolescent mates; it is properly termed ephebophilia rather than pedophilia. “Of all priests involved in the abuses, 80 to 90% belong to this sexual orientation minority which is sexually engaged with adolescent boys between the ages of 11 and 17.”

With respect to point 1: I grant that it’s unpleasant for the Church to play the role of saying “others are just as bad or worse”. Nobody denies that the Church should have the highest imaginable standards. But it is still important to make this point both to encourage reform elsewhere and to blunt the ill-motivated and obviously unjust practice of treating the Catholic Church far more harshly than any other institution in the matter of sexual abuse. This disparity is so bad that very often it is like the difference between materially destroying one person while giving another a free pass for the same crime.

With respect to point 2: There is a double-whammy in this one. First, while Archbishop Tomasi still uses specialized language (“ephebophilia”), the description makes it very clear that what we are dealing with is homosexuality (a fact that the term “pedophilia” tends to obscure). This not only serves the cause of accuracy, but it puts modern secular culture in a bind. How far can anyone go in denouncing this without angering the gay community? How much stress can be placed on the underlying reality of the sex abuse scandal—that is, the very real dangers posed by homosexual priests—without risking one of the modern West’s sacred cows?

If progress is to be made, everyone needs to stop cowering and be more forthright on precisely these two points.

[For details see the Catholic World News story and its accompanying link: Vatican official: Most clerical abuse not pedophilia, but homosexual abuse of adolescents.]

Jeffrey Mirus holds a Ph.D. in intellectual history from Princeton University. A co-founder of Christendom College, he also pioneered Catholic Internet services. He is the founder of Trinity Communications and See full bio.

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  • Posted by: New Sister - Oct. 06, 2009 5:37 PM ET USA

    We need more of Archbishop recent child protection training for catechists in the diocese of Arlington, the trainer refused to bring point 2 into the open for discussion - when I cited the 80-90% stat, the instructor retorted with a false stat ("only 65%!"), misled the group with "most abuse is committed by heterosexuals", and would only discuss homosexuality one-on-one outside of class. Worse was the shunning I received after mentioning it from fellow catechists in the class!

  • Posted by: - Oct. 06, 2009 4:30 PM ET USA

    I have no great problem with point 1. All people whether they are gay or straight are morally responsible for the young, and Catholic priests should not be treated differently than people from other institutions. On point 2. If priests have illicit relationships with young people in their care, they should not be priests! This is a breakdown of obedience in their Vows of Celibacy. Priests may be homosexual but never active homosexuals! What's so hard to understand about that?