Catholic Culture Trusted Commentary
Catholic Culture Trusted Commentary

two scandals, one theme

By Diogenes ( articles ) | Jul 28, 2010

Newsweek has jumped all over a report by Italian journalist Carmelo Abbate, whose undercover reporting produced a sensational story about the homosexual dalliances of Catholic priests in Rome. Cardinal Agostino Vallini, the Pope’s vicar for the Rome diocese, responded to the story by challenging the homosexual priests to get out of the closet and out of the clergy. But Newsweek and its source are not convinced.

The exposé has touched a nerve within the Catholic community in Rome, but Abbate doesn’t believe that it will have any effect, especially given the Vatican’s other sex scandal.

Wait; what’s this? The “other” sex scandal? What scandal is that? Most of the Newsweek story is devoted to an explanation of a distinction that many readers could otherwise miss. 

Vallini may have the right idea when it comes to punishing those who break priestly laws, but the church as a whole seems to find it difficult to differentiate its sex scandals—and to determine what role celibacy plays in either situation.

Newsweek will help us to differentiate, you see. And Newsweek has already dropped a broad hint, announcing that celibacy plays a role and implicitly criticizing Church leaders for their failure to address that role. No evidence is introduced to support the notion that celibacy is a major cause of the problem, yet no other factor is introduced at this point in the story. Later Newsweek trots out a few other, presumably lesser, factors:

In fact, the two sex scandals are vastly different. The gay priest problem is about celibacy, church law, and hypocrisy. The pedophile problem is about child abuse, criminal behavior, and abuses of power.

While doggedly sympathetic toward homosexual priests, Newsweek does let slip the fact that “90 percent of sex-abuse cases do involve priests and adolescent boys.” Criminal behavior, yes. Abuse, certainly. Child abuse, maybe. Pedophilia, no. 

Newsweek perceives two scandals. One involves priests who have sex with young males. The other involves priests who have sex with even younger males. One involves priests who have illicit relations with strangers they meet at gay bars. The other involves priests who have illicit relations with teenagers they meet in their parish work. These are “vastly different,” you must understand.

Yet Newsweek reporters, trained to recognize the key issues in a story, have identified one thread of similarity between these two scandals. It's all a question of... celibacy  

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