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This blog is maintained by the Ruth Institute. It provides a place for our Circle of Experts to express themselves. This is where the scholars, experts, students and followers of the Ruth Institute engage in constructive dialogue about the issues surrounding the Sexual Revolution. We discuss public policy, social practices, legal doctrines and much more.
Posted on: Tuesday, February 26, 2019
Bishops need to regain the trust of their flock.
by Fr. Paul Sullins
This article was first published August 24, 2018, at Mercatornet.com.
Paul Sullins is a sociologist and Catholic priest with four books and over 100 journal articles, book chapters and research reports on issues of faith and culture to his credit. He has studied the issue of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and gives his views on the current crisis in this MercatorNet interview. A former Episcopalian priest, Fr Sullins was ordained as a Catholic priest by then-Cardinal Ted McCarrick.
MercatorNet: It didn’t seem possible for any more surprises to pop up. And then there was Cardinal McCarrick, or rather, ex-Cardinal McCarrick. And then there was Pennsylvania. Is anything else coming down the pike?
It's very likely. The Pennsylvania grand jury report was clear that the misbehaviour they could find and document suggested that there was more out there that they couldn't find or document. Recently an American bishop spoke of a homosexual subculture among the bishops, something that's often been suspected but never acknowledged.
We had an abuse scandal in early 1990s people often forget about, then in 2002, and now 2018. I hope it all comes out; it would be painful but also very good for the Church.
I hope American Catholics will have a #MeToo moment which will encourage many victims to share their stories. It may be a quixotic hope, but the best thing the bishops could do is to disclose anything further themselves, voluntarily in confession, before the knowledge is forced out of them by action of law.
A few priest perpetrators have done this (all abusers of women, by my count, but I could be mistaken), but to my knowledge no bishop has said, "I did the following (previously undisclosed) actions or made the following errors in judgement that I now realize were sinful and betrayed the trust of God's people. I thought it was right at the time, and no law is forcing me to say this, but my conscience now convicts me that I was more concerned for the career and good image of the priest than the healing of the victim. I ask the forgiveness of the victims involved, and I am submitting my resignation to the Holy Father."
Nothing could restore trust in our episcopacy more than some statements like this. I wouldn't completely put this kind of revival past our bishops, especially if we pray for it to happen. But I'm not holding my breath.
MercatorNet: The media’s focus has been on male homosexual predation in Catholic institutions. But if reports like the Pennsylvania Grand Jury’s were made for other churches or large organisations, would the results be significantly different?
The results would not be significantly different in the scale of abuse; it's actually somewhat lower among Catholic clergy than for comparable groups like Protestant clergy, schoolteachers, camp counselors.
But those groups experience predominantly male-on-female abuse, while for Catholic priests it is predominantly male-on-male abuse. The numbers are very clear on this: in the John Jay Report (2004), female victims were a majority only for the 5 percent of abuse that was with prepubescent children; 95 percent of the abuse reported was with children over the age of 8, and of these incidents 83 percent were male-on-male abuse. The 2011 John Jay Report states: "More than three-quarters of the acts of sexual abuse of youths by Catholic priests, as shown in the nature and scope study, were same-sex acts (priests abusing male victims)." In the recent Pennsylvania grand jury report, 77 percent of abusers were homosexual predators.
The Church has a particular, unique problem with male-on-male predation by priests. The highest estimate I know (Richard Sipe's) of the proportion of Catholic priests with homosexual orientation is about 25 percent. By this estimate, 83 percent of the abuse in the John Jay Report was perpetrated by 25 percent of priests. Statistically this implies that (most conservatively) same-sex attracted priests were 15 times more likely to engage in child sex abuse than opposite-sex attracted priests.
MercatorNet: The late Richard Sipe, a sociologist and a former priest, claimed that a large proportion of the Catholic clerical community was not practicing celibacy. In your experience is that true?
There's no way to know for sure, but I doubt it. In multiple anonymous surveys, for example by the Los Angeles Times, only a small proportion of priests report that they are not celibate, or even struggle with celibacy. The John Jay Report, written by secular social scientists with no axe to grind on this issue, concluded that celibacy was not a factor in child sexual abuse by priests.
Sipe (who did valuable work on this issue, and who sadly passed away only a few weeks ago) left Catholic religious life to marry; and based his conclusions on clinical samples he saw in his psychiatric practice, not the general population of priests, so his conclusions may well be biased. The John Jay Report notes that 80 percent of priests who seek or are remanded to treatment for sexual misbehaviour are not practicing celibacy.
MercatorNet: In the distant past, failures in celibacy took the form of concubinage or love affairs as in The Thorn Birds. Are homosexual attachments more damaging for spiritual health of the Catholic clergy?
Is it more spiritually damaging to sodomize than to rape, or for a male victim to be sodomized than for a female victim to be raped? Aquinas would say yes, and at some level of moral reasoning I would have to agree. But both are heinous crimes, and the distinction is not very dispositive in this crisis, in my opinion.
Any sexual attachment by a priest in violation of his vow/obligation of celibacy is damaging to his spiritual health (though the causation may run more the other way; a lack of spiritual health leads to seeking a sexual attachment). I would not want to make abstract comparisons in the present situation.
MercatorNet: You’ve mentioned the existence of homosexual cultures within some Catholic seminaries. When did this begin? What made it possible?
Short answer: probably in the 1970s, due to the general rise in sexual laxity during the Sexual Revolution that invaded Catholic thinking and life.
Donald Cozzens, a prominent seminary rector, in a controversial 2000 book, raised the concern that friendship networks of gay priests and seminarians in most dioceses or seminaries in the United States had become an exclusive subculture or clique “who interact continually with each other and seldom with outsiders, and who develop shared experiences, understandings and meanings.”
Such cliques had become so pervasive, including among seminary faculty, Cozzens argued, that they tended to marginalize heterosexual seminarians or priests. Cozzens argued that “straight men in environments populated by a significant number of gays experience a sense of destabilization. They wrestle with a certain self-doubt, a feeling that they don’t fit in. On both psychic and spiritual levels, they are not ‘at home’.”
Cozzens’ concerns echoed those made by psychoanalyst Richard Sipe in a series of influential books on the sexuality of Catholic priests. Using institutional and expert reports, Sipe found that during the 1980s, compared to the 1960s, “the reporting of homosexual behaviours increased significantly and the reliable estimates almost doubled”. The difficulties were concentrated in a minority of dioceses with high concentrations (the estimates were between 42 and 75 percent) of active homosexual clergy.
The main cause of this situation, Sipe alleged, was a shift away from the structure of highly regulated seminary life beginning in the early 1970s which led, in the closely confined all-male environment of the Catholic seminary, to the development of homosocial organizations in some seminaries that encouraged “relationships with sexual objects”. The secrecy of the confessional and a culture of official denial hindered church authorities from addressing the problem.
Subsequent research has confirmed Cozzens’ and Sipe’s concerns. In priests surveys a majority ordained the past twenty years responded “yes” when asked if there was a homosexual subculture in their seminary.
In formal Catholic teaching the presence of homosexual men in the priesthood is problematic on its face, and so their prevalence constitutes a disadvantage of celibacy. Catholic teaching holds homosexuality to be a disordered inclination which is not conducive to godliness and human well-being. Though persons, through self-denial and self-control, can achieve Christian maturity in spite of the condition, it is not a recommendation for Church leadership. Catholic norms formally prohibit any known homosexual man from being ordained.
MercatorNet: As long ago as 2008 Richard Sipe published documented allegations about Cardinal McCarrick on his website. They were openly available. Yet no one in authority acknowledged them. What was going on?
No idea. Clearly a lack of interest on the part of the hierarchy to investigate.
MercatorNet: The US Catholic bishops say that they are determined to purge their own ranks of abusers and colleagues who are soft on abuse. Do you think that they will eventually succeed? If they do, will the crisis be over?
The US Catholic bishops cannot be trusted to solve this problem, which is largely of their own making. This is true even though a good bit of the accusations against them is unfair. It will take papal intervention. I support the idea of a mass resignation, with the Pope ruling on which resignations to accept, as happened in Chile. This would put the problem squarely in Pope Francis' lap. Where it should be.
MercatorNet: You are a former Episcopalian priest who converted to Catholicism. You were ordained by Cardinal McCarrick. You must feel betrayed by him, but has it shaken your faith in the essentials of the Catholic Church?
None of this affects my faith in the Church, whose indefectibility comes from Christ himself. Jesus weeps with the victims, and that is where the Church should be. The grace of the sacraments does not depend on the perfection of any ordained person to be effective (else persons at my Masses would be in big trouble). No bishop who has ever ordained anyone has been sinless, and the sins of the man who ordained me don't dismay me from the faith in the slightest.
(I could go on at length. We all come to the Church because we are sinners, not because we are righteous. Almost all the patriarchs and saints committed serious sins. David, the most celebrated king of Israel, in whose lineage Christ was born and who was called a man after God's own heart, committed adultery and murder. Good and evil are not commensurable; we are not saved by the good we do; one's good doesn't make up for one's evil, and one's evil doesn't prevent one's good.)
Frankly, I encountered worse difficulties on this issue (homosexual abuse by clergy) in the Episcopal Church, but they were not at all shy to report to the police, and more successful in keeping it out of the press.
I have a profound sense of betrayal and dismay, not just by McCarrick but by all our bishops, who overlooked and enabled him, to the extent of secret settlements. Now when I hear a bishop say something or make a decision, I have to wonder, what is he not telling us? What gross sin is he hiding?
Rev. D. Paul Sullins is Research Professor of Sociology and Director of the Leo Institute for Catholic Social Research at the Catholic University of America, and Senior Research Associate at the Ruth Institute. He has written four books and over 100 journal articles, book chapters and research reports on issues of faith and culture. His latest book is Keeping the Vow: the Untold Story of Married Catholic Priests (Oxford, 2015). Formerly Episcopalian, Fr Sullins is a married Catholic priest with an inter-racial family of three children, two adopted.
Posted on: Tuesday, February 26, 2019
Posted on: Monday, February 25, 2019
Put an end to the exploitation of an 11-year-old boy.
Imagine this scenario: A married mother and father encourage their 11-year-old daughter to dress in sexually provocative clothing. They take her to a strip club and allow her to dance onstage. The patrons throw money at her. No one touches the girl in any way, given the environment. What are we to think of these parents?
Now imagine this scenario: A priest invites an altar boy to spend evenings with him. The priest encourages the boy to dress in women’s clothing. The priest tells the boy how nice he looks and how wonderful it is that he is expressing his true self. The boy and the priest spend time together watching videos of men in drag. He arranges for the 11-year-old boy to perform at a nightclub that caters primarily to a homosexual clientele. The patrons throw money at the boy. No one, including the priest, touches the boy, at the club or elsewhere. What are we to think of the priest?
These completely hypothetical scenarios are based on the real-life events of an 11-year-old boy named Desmond. He wears women’s clothing. His parents say he chooses the clothing and he enjoys wearing it. His choices are not just ordinary women’s clothing, but provocative women’s clothing.
In fact, his choice of clothing is stereotypical drag-queen clothing. His parents have arranged for him to have his own website, “Desmond Is Amazing,” to showcase his talents as a drag performer.
I don’t know if anyone has inappropriately touched him. But his parents did arrange for him to perform at a gay nightclub, where the patrons threw money at him.
If a mother and father did this to a little girl, we would think there was something seriously wrong with them. If a priest did this to a little boy, the whole country would be in an uproar.
We would instantly recognize either of these situations as exploitation and endangerment of an innocent child. We would recognize the nightclub performance as sexual grooming. Any adult who supported this would be regarded as a scoundrel. Some people might call on Child Protective Services to take the child into custody or demand the local authorities confiscate the nightclub’s liquor license.
I bring this up not to remove Desmond from his parents or to shut down the New York nightclub that hosted Desmond’s performance.
Instead, I want to issue a challenge to people who identify themselves as part of the “LGBTQ community”: Please stand up and publicly object to this.
I’ve seen a few individuals who describe themselves as “gay” or “liberal” objecting to this on social media. I am urging more of you to speak up.
The “Gay Establishment” could put a stop to this egregious exploitation of a child. They could speak publicly about boundaries and the innocence of childhood. In addition, it could probably solve this immediate problem without public incident. Someone from the Human Rights Campaign or other advocacy organization could quietly call up Desmond’s parents: “Look, we’ve spent millions of dollars convincing Middle America that transgenderism is harmless, heteronormativity is unnecessary, and that we aren’t interested in sexualizing children. You are creeping people out. Knock off the gay-bar scene with your 11-year-old.” I bet Desmond’s parents could be persuaded.
If those who consider themselves “sexual minorities” or “gender-nonconforming” were to speak up, the Gay Establishment just might listen.
Do these organizations really speak for everyone who identifies as “LGBT” on every issue? How about on this particular issue — of whether an 11-year-old should be performing in a nightclub of this type?
I raise this question from my own experience as a nonconforming, nonfeminist woman. Establishment feminism does not speak for me. Oh, sure, they try to create the impression that they speak for all women all the time. But they don’t speak for me or most of my friends. They have never spoken for me, and I have been a woman my entire life. That is what makes me wonder whether the Gay Establishment really speaks for all the people who identify themselves under its umbrella.
If they really want to contribute to the well-being of this preteen, they should speak out against his sexualization. Urge them to speak up on social media against this sexualization of a child. Urge them to write to the Human Rights Campaign, or any other advocacy group they may support. You can write to these organizations, as well. They will be more likely to listen to you than to me.
Then maybe we can put a stop to the exploitation of this child.
Posted on: Wednesday, February 20, 2019
On February 15, Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, Ph.D., Founder and President of the Ruth Institute, sent a letter to Cardinal Roger Mahony, asking him to withdraw as a speaker at the upcoming Los Angeles Religious Education Congress (March 21-24).
In her letter, Morse notes her work as an advocate for survivors of the sexual revolution, many of whom have suffered from childhood sexual abuse. “Rightly or wrongly, they see you as a symbol of the mishandling of the sexual abuse of children by the clergy,” Morse told Mahony.
Cardinal Mahony was archbishop of Los Angeles from 1985 to 2011. In 2013, he was barred from any public ministry in Los Angeles by his successor, Archbishop Jose Gomez.
At the time, an article in the National Catholic Reporter said the move reflected, “Mahony’s alleged failures to protect young people from sexually abusive priests – documented in court filings in recent years.”
In light of this, Morse said it was difficult to comprehend why Mahony was invited to address the Congress in the first place and that his appearance at an event geared in part to youth is “deeply hurtful” to victims of clerical abuse.
Morse told the Cardinal that withdrawing from speaking at the Congress “would show respect for the feelings of people who have already suffered too much.”
The Ruth Institute is the sponsor of an online petition calling for Cardinal Mahony’s withdrawal.
The Ruth Institute is a global non-profit organization that defends the family at home and in the public square, while equipping others to do the same.
To schedule an interview with Dr. Morse, write to email@example.com.
Posted on: Wednesday, February 13, 2019
Listen to the podcast with Patrick Coffin and Fr. Paul Sullins here.
This is the first in a series on the roots of the priestly abuse scandal. I know, a sad and depressing topic. But we have to “go there” if we want to “get there.”
Father Paul Sullins, PhD, author and professor emeritus of sociology at the Catholic University of America, has done us all a huge favor. He has collated and made sense of the data drawn from the John Jay Report, the data from the USCCB, the 2002 Los Angeles Times poll about homosexual priests, the data of the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Reports, and intel from CARA (Center for Applied Research In the Apostolate).
It’s all in one place, a study done in collaboration with The Ruth Institute. Get the link below. His findings are stunning and sobering.
Posted on: Monday, February 11, 2019
by Jennifer Roback Morse
This article was first published January 7, 2019, at NCRegister.com.
Hermann Stilke, St. Joan of Arc in Battle1843
I have a New Year’s resolution for you to consider. My suggested resolution is doable. It will make a difference in the quality of your life. It will allow you to make a difference in the world around you, including the clergy sex-abuse crisis in the Catholic Church, and in the politics of your community.
Give up defeatism.
You know the sort of thing I mean. “Western Civilization is collapsing. The Church is collapsing. Everyone is corrupt. I can’t trust anyone.” Even worse, the defeatist thought pattern leads to the defeatist behavior pattern: “Nothing can be done. So I will do nothing.”
Sorry. No-go. None of us has the right to excuse ourselves from constructive action.
Don’t misunderstand me: I’m not saying everything is hunky-dory. Far from it. We are in the midst of a civilizational shift. The old structures and rules are not working as they once did. We are living in a time of deliberately created confusion, pathological selfishness and the calculated creation of divisions. The world is shaking itself apart. When the shaking stops, we will be in a different world.
For reasons that are not entirely clear to us, God has assigned us to live in this time and this place.
This very moment of crisis is actually an opportunity. In fact, the word “crisis” dates from the late Middle English and is based on a Greek word meaning “decision.” In medical usage, the term “crisis” means the turning point of a disease when an important change takes place, indicating either recovery or death.
In other words, we are in the process of deciding what kind of world we are going to become. “We” includes you and me, dear reader. What we do matters.
To be fair, not many people actually embrace full-on defeatism. “The end of the world is at hand. Nothing can be done about it. Head for the hills. Hunker down. Protect your own family. Poke your head up periodically to post comments on my internet site.”
But if the material you are reading makes you want to head for the hills and hunker down, you’ve got a problem.
The question isn’t whether or not things are bad. They are. The question is, “What is my responsibility in this situation? What is God asking of me, right here, right now?”
Here are some suggestions for implementing the “No-Defeatism Resolution.”
Besides, you will feel better if you are doing something constructive. The world sometimes tries to tell us that we need to feel better before we change our behavior. This counsel is especially destructive for parents of small children. “Make your children comfortable and happy. Then they will behave.” The opposite is closer to the truth. Kids feel better when they behave better. Focus on the behavior. The feelings will follow.
That same principle applies to us as adults. We can’t change the whole world, but we can change our little corner of it. And we’ll feel better when we know we’ve done something constructive.
We are living through some terrible times. Decades of theological dissent have taken their toll. Besides the inept catechesis and poorly formed consciences, we now know that dissent has provided cover for a lot of truly immoral behavior.
The revelations of corruption and abuse are a good thing. The corruption and abuse have been there for a long time. Now that we know, we can do something about it.
The sexual revolution, inside and outside the Church, is imploding. It is collapsing on its own insubstantial core. The sexual revolutionary ideology promised “fun” and “freedom.” Those things do not look so appealing anymore.
We have the opportunity to reclaim lost territory for Jesus Christ and his Church, but only if we don’t lose our heads. We have to keep our wits about us. We must stay on the playing field.
That is why I am resolved: No defeatism in 2019.
Posted on: Tuesday, February 05, 2019
The Ruth Institute, an inter-faith pro-family organization combating the Sexual Revolution and clerical sex abuse, launched a petition asking retired Cardinal Roger Mahony to withdraw as a speaker at the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress (March 22-24).
Ruth Institute President Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, Ph.D., notes that during Mahony’s tenure leading the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, “He had a terrible record of covering up clergy sex abuse. The Archdiocese was forced to pay $660 million in damages – the largest such settlement in the Church’s history.”
The Petition observes that due to Cardinal Mahony’s mishandling of the abuse scandal in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, Archbishop Jose Gomez relieved
him of administrative and public duties in 2013. Cardinal Mahony’s dismal record was thoroughly documented by the Los Angeles Times.
Morse concludes, “The Cardinal’s participation in the Religious Education Congress is a travesty and an insult to the victims of clergy sex abuse, and all Catholic faithful.”
Fr. Paul Sullins Ph.D., Senior Research Associate of the Ruth Institute, is the author of the groundbreaking November 2018 study, “The Role of ‘Sexual Orientation’ in the Clerical S*x Abuse Scandal in the Catholic Church.” http://www.ruthinstitute.org/csa-background
Dr. Morse concluded: “Your Eminence, with all due respect to your office, show some class. Stay home from the Religious Education Congress. Your presence will be hurtful to people who have already suffered enough.”
The Ruth Institute is a global non-profit organization dedicated to fighting the Sexual Revolution and helping survivors to heal. It defends the family at home and in the public square and equips others to do the same.
To sign the petition asking that Cardinal Mahony withdraw from the L.A. Congress go here.
To schedule an interview with Dr. Morse: firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted on: Monday, February 04, 2019
by Dorothy Cummings McLean
LAKE CHARLES, Louisiana, February 4, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – A pro-family organization has launched a petition asking Cardinal Roger Mahony, infamous for covering up child sexual abuse by his clergy, to withdraw as a speaker at the upcoming Los Angeles Religious Education Congress.
The retired archbishop is invited to speak at the Catholic conference that is taking place March 22-24. The topic of his March 23rd address will be "Connecting Junior High and High School Students with the Volatile Immigration Issues."
The Ruth Institute, an inter-faith pro-family organization combating the Sexual Revolution and clerical sex abuse, launched the petition at CitizenGo. The petition currently has over 800 signatures.
Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, the president of the Ruth Institute, told LifeSiteNews that Mahony represents what's wrong with the church's handling of the abuse crisis and should not be addressing Catholic conferences, no matter how pious his topic might be.
"I don't care if he's teaching children the Hail Mary. The subject of his talk is not the issue. He's a symbol of all the wrong things and he shouldn't be there," she said.
Morse said the petition was inspired by a combination of issues.
“The clergy sex abuse issue has been gnawing at me all summer, and then there’s Mahony’s history, and the L.A. Religious Education Congress – all coming together,” she said.
Cardinal Mahony and the L.A. Archdiocese have been embroiled in a scandal for years surrounding the cover-up of clerical sexual abuse and transfer of abusers to other locations. The archdiocese has been forced to pay out $600 million in settlements.
Morse is concerned for the effect Cardinal Mahony’s appearance at the Conference will have on survivors of clerical sexual abuse.
“People who have suffered childhood sexual abuse are triggered,” she said. “They are triggered by a person like Mahony.”
“It is so utterly clueless to give such a guy a platform,” she continued. “It’s not like this Congress has to have him. What are they even thinking?”
Morse said that the immediate inspiration, however, was Catholic writer Joseph Sciambra’s article, which was republished by LifeSiteNews, about Mahony’s appearance at the 2019 conference.
“You know, this has got to stop,” said Morse.
The scandal arising from revelations of Mahony’s bad management when he oversaw the archdiocese led Archbishop Jose Gomez to relieve the Cardinal of all administrative and public duties in 2013. Nevertheless, the Cardinal has accepted invitations to speak – and then rescinded after vociferous protest from outraged Catholics.
“We all thought Archbishop Gomez asked him not to appear publicly,” Morse said. “This has happened on two other occasions, and he didn’t appear.”
Whether Cardinal Mahony withdraws of his own volition or is disinvited is not the point.
“If he wants to save face by saying he doesn’t want to come, that’s fine with me,” Morse stated. “He should have the common sense and decency to see that his presence there is an affront to survivors of sexual abuse.”
Withdrawing, she said, “is a classy thing that he should do.”
In a press release, Dr. Morse concluded: “Your Eminence, with all due respect to your office, show some class. Stay home from the Religious Education Congress. Your presence will be hurtful to people who have already suffered enough.”
The Ruth Institute is a global non-profit organization dedicated to fighting the Sexual Revolution and helping survivors to heal. It defends the family at home and in the public square and equips others to do the same.
The petition asking Cardinal Mahony to withdraw from the L.A. Congress can be found here.