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.
Study shows high correlation between homosexual priests, clerical abuse
A new study from the Ruth Institute has demonstrated a high correlation between the proportion of homosexuals in the Catholic priesthood and the incidence
of sexual abuse by the clergy.
The study conducted by Father Paul Sullins, a Catholic University sociologist, found that the percentage of homosexual men in the priesthood has risen
sharply. The study also found a disturbing increase in the number of sexual-misconduct reports lodged against priests since 2010, “amidst signs
of complacency by Church leaders.” The incidence of new charges (as opposed to charges involving alleged misconduct in past years) is now nearly
as high as in the 1970s.
An earlier study by the John Jay College, commissioned by the US bishops’ conference, had denied a connection between homosexuality and clerical abuse.
But the John Jay study had not examined the change in the number of homosexuals entering the priesthood. Father Sullins, using data from the same
report, shows a very strong statistical correlation between a rise in the proportion of homosexuals in the priesthood and the number of abuse charges.
The rise in the proportion of homosexual priests has been striking, the Ruth Institute study found. In the 1950s, the homosexual presence within the
American Catholic priesthood was estimated to be roughly twice that of the overall population; by the 1980s, it was eight times the level of the
overall population. To buttress this estimate, the study notes that the number of young priests who reported encountering a homosexual subculture
in the seminary doubled between the 1960s and 1980s.
Father Sullins estimates that if the proportion of homosexual priests had remained that the level of the 1950s, the surge in abuse might not have occurred
and “at least 12,000 fewer children, mostly boys, would have suffered abuse.” In an interview with the National Catholic Register, the
priest-sociologist acknowledged that his report will be criticized as hostile to homosexuals. But he said: “I would say that if it’s a choice between
being called homophobic and allowing more young boys to be abused, I would choose to be at risk for being called homophobic.”