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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: Thursday, November 15, 2018
by Jennifer Roback Morse
This article was first posted October 11, 2018, at Washington Examiner.
The “summer from hell” for the Catholic Church has prompted many people to ask Catholics, “Why are you staying in that awful church?” Both the New York Timesand the Washington Posthave run stories with this theme. Many Catholics are privately asking themselves that very question.
Posted on: Wednesday, November 14, 2018
by Jennifer Roback Morse at Legatus.org on Nov. 1, 2018.
Our beloved Catholic Church is facing the worst crisis in 500 years. Clergy sexual abuse, rampant sexual immorality, and cover-up by Church authorities: it adds up to a Church deeply in need of reform. We are waiting anxiously to see what the hierarchy decides to do. But we have no control over their actions, and indeed, they are divided among themselves. So what can we as laity do to help our mother in her hour of need?
I have been on the forefront of defending the Church’s teaching on marriage, family, and human sexuality for the past decade. In my opinion, the laity can and must do two things.
First, we must make it our business to work for justice for the victims of clergy sexual abuse. No excuse-making. “But the Protestants and public schools have as much abuse as we do.” Perhaps true, but not relevant. The only relevant fact is our commitment to getting our own house in order. That includes: justice for the victims, and punishment for the perpetrators, including those who covered up. Justice also includes protection and support for innocent clergy.
Second, we must make it our business to proclaim the Church’s teaching on marriage, family, and human sexuality in our own sphere of influence. This is directly relevant to the current crisis. If the clergy had lived up to Church teaching, including the 6th Commandment and their vows of celibacy, none of the abuse would ever have happened.
I will go further and say: the world desperately needs to hear the Church’s timeless message. We need not apologize for our beliefs. Sexual self-command, lifelong married love, and the need of children for their parents: These teachings are good, decent, and life-giving.
We now know why we have heard so little from the clergy: too many of them are morally compromised. Others are under the thumb of corrupt superiors.
The only way we can be sure the world hears the Church’s teaching is for us, the laity, to deliver that message ourselves.
Please note: these are guiding principles, not a detailed program. Each person will implement these principles in his own unique way, depending on vocation, location, and the season of life. The mother of school children will have a very different role than an attorney at the peak of his career. Both are different from a college student or a young professional beginning her first job. But every one of these people may be needed to address a situation in a local school or church. Every one of them can spread the message of lifelong, life-giving love.
If we make excuses for ourselves or the Church, we are going to look bad, and make the Church look bad. If we act like “business as usual,” we are going to die in an empty church. More importantly, the Lord will ask each one of us for an accounting of how we handle ourselves in this great crisis.
If on the other hand, we faithful Catholics conduct ourselves with dignity and integrity and charity, we will pull our Church through this crisis. We will expose and correct evils that should have been addressed long ago. We will create room for a genuine flourishing of the Gospel. Our neighbors will be drawn to us.
In other words, this is our chance to become saints. We can be crusaders for the truth like
St. Athanasius and authentic reformers like St. Teresa of Avila. Let’s not drop the ball.
Posted on: Monday, November 12, 2018
by Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse
This article was published November 12, 2018 at National Catholic Register.
COMMENTARY: Church leadership won’t solve this current crisis unless it confronts homosexual practice among the clergy and especially the networks of homosexually oriented clergy operating to protect each other.
I hesitate to wade into areas in which I have no direct information. But I feel compelled to point out the illogic of continuing to claim that the current clergy sex abuse and cover-up scandal is unrelated to homosexual activity among Catholic priests.
At this late date, too much circumstantial evidence has emerged to ignore: This crisis would not exist, but for homosexual practice among the clergy and especially the networks of homosexually oriented clergy operating to protect each other.
The most recent denial of the obvious comes to us from longtime Vaticanista and editor of La Stampa, Andrea Tornielli. In an under-reported article from Sept. 14, he asks: “Is the root, the origin of the problem of abuse really to be found in the homosexuality of priests?” He replies:
Even for McCarrick’s case, in fact, the problem is clericalism, the abuse of power and conscience, which comes before sexual abuse and is committed by people — priests or bishops — who can never be considered equal to their victims, on whom they exert an influence and often a subtle or obvious form of blackmail. … No, McCarrick did not have homosexual relations. He harassed and abused seminarians in the name of his episcopal power, making them understand that going to the beach house with him and submitting to his attention was an obligatory step to be better known to him and to land a priestly ordination.
This statement is remarkable on multiple levels. First, he claims that Archbishop Theodore McCarrick did not have homosexual relations. I do not know how Tornielli knows this. Second, Tornielli argues against a position that no serious person holds. No one denies that Archbishop McCarrick and others abused their power and authority. I oppose this corruption, as does everyone I know or associate with.
The important unanswered question, hiding in plain sight like Edgar Allen Poe’s purloined letter, is this: To what purpose did McCarrick abuse his power?
His goal was evidently, at least in part, the pursuit of illicit sexual stimulation. Perhaps he enjoyed having people under his thumb and within his power: That is often part of the profile of an abuser. But we have no basis at all for claiming that sexual activity itself was of no interest to him or had no casual role in his decadeslong pattern of behavior.
Tornielli asks, “Are those who today are whizzing around minimizing child abuse — as if it were a secondary problem — right to focus it all on homosexuality?”
Data from the John Jay Reports in 2004 and 2011, from the Pennsylvania grand jury report, and from the recent report on German clergy sex abuse all conclude that at least 80% of the cases involved teenaged boys, not girls, not prepubescent children. Let me turn Tornielli’s question around: How long are we going to avoid confronting that 80% figure?
We now have two additional pieces of evidence to show the significance of homosexual behavior in the priesthood. The first is the new study conducted by Father Paul Sullins, Ph.D., and published by my organization, the Ruth Institute. In that study, summarized in this two-page backgrounder, Father Sullins finds that the incidence of clergy sexual abuse is strongly correlated with both the number of priests claiming a homosexual orientation and the percentage of priests claiming that a “homosexual subculture” existed in their seminaries.
Even more troubling, the study indicates that the incidence of clergy sexual abuse has increased since 2002 and is now comparable to levels in the 1970s.
The second piece of important evidence comes from testimony of Father Boniface Ramsey in Commonweal. Father Ramsey reports that during his tenure as a faculty member at Immaculate Conception Seminary in New Jersey, he persuaded the faculty to expel a seminarian. He reports:
When I returned to the seminary to begin the next academic year, the rector told me that McCarrick knew that I was largely responsible for the expulsion of the seminarian in question, and that in consequence he had removed me from the voting faculty. I have come to realize, in retrospect, that McCarrick must have learned this from another member of the voting faculty who was present, and that this was a breach of confidence. …
When he described this situation to another cleric, he received a surprising response:
I recall what he said — that “we all know” that McCarrick had “picked up” someone at an airport. From what I understand, McCarrick had met a good-looking flight attendant and invited him to become a seminarian then and there. (I’ve been told this was not the only such spontaneous invitation.) Whether this person shared McCarrick’s bed at the beach house or anywhere else, I don’t know, but he was clearly significant enough in McCarrick’s eyes for McCarrick to fire me when I led the charge to have him expelled.
Let us concede that Archbishop McCarrick abused his power and authority, on multiple levels, in this situation. But to what end? Let’s review:
You can believe what you want to believe. I’ll believe what I want to believe. I believe then-Archbishop McCarrick’s patterns of sexual preference and behavior were relevant. I also believe he had a “network” of people who were morally compromised in one way or another, who helped him accomplish his abuses of power.
No one is minimizing the harm to little girls and boys or to teenaged girls. We want to get to the bottom of this crisis. We want to root out the abusers and the structures that allowed their abuse to continue. We can’t accomplish this unless we confront the 80% figure squarely in the face.
Posted on: Tuesday, November 06, 2018
Catholic World News
November 02, 2018, at Catholic Culture.
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.”
Posted on: Monday, November 05, 2018
Our Ruth Institute report, published at an Italian website,
November 4, 2018.
Un nuovo studio del Ruth Institute tende a dimostrare un'elevato tasso di correlazione tra la percentuale di omosessuali nel sacerdozio cattolico e l'incidenza degli abusi sessuali da parte del clero. La percentuale di uomini omosessuali nel sacerdozio è aumentata drasticamente accanto a segnalazioni di cattiva condotta presentate contro i preti dal 2010.
Un nuovo studio del Ruth Institute tende a dimostrare un'elevato tasso di correlazione tra la percentuale di omosessuali nel sacerdozio cattolico e l'incidenza degli abusi sessuali da parte del clero. Lo studio condotto da padre Paul Sullins, un sociologo dell'Università Cattolica, ha rilevato che la percentuale di uomini omosessuali nel sacerdozio è aumentata drasticamente. Lo studio ha anche riscontrato un preoccupante aumento del numero di segnalazioni di cattiva condotta presentate contro i preti dal 2010, "Tra i segni di compiacimento dei dirigenti della Chiesa". L'incidenza di nuove accuse (al contrario di accuse di presunta cattiva condotta negli anni passati) è ora quasi all'altezza degli anni '70.
Un precedente studio del John Jay College, commissionato dalla conferenza episcopale degli Stati Uniti, aveva negato una connessione tra omosessualità e abuso del clero; anche se le cifre in realtà dimostravano che nell’80 per cento dei casi i colpevoli erano omosessuali. La discrepanza fra l’affermazione della ricercatrice e le cifre avevano fatto pensare a un timore di andare contro il “politically correct” del momento. Inoltre lo studio del John Jay College non aveva preso in esame il cambiamento nel numero di omosessuali che entravano nel sacerdozio. Padre Sullins, utilizzando i dati dello stesso rapporto, mostra una correlazione statistica molto forte tra un aumento della percentuale di omosessuali nel sacerdozio e il numero di accuse di abuso.
Dice padre Sullins: “Negli anni '50, circa il 3% dei preti aveva un orientamento omosessuale, secondo le relazioni. Negli anni '80 era salito a oltre il 16%. Quindi abbiamo una sorta di aumento di cinque volte della percentuale di preti omosessuali, in una linea piuttosto lineare dagli anni '50 agli anni '80. E abbiamo un aumento molto simile di episodi di abuso nello stesso periodo, e non conosciamo l'orientamento sessuale di alcun particolare aggressore. Quindi stiamo deducendo dall'associazione di queste due correlazioni che c'è una certa influenza di una sull'altra. Quindi la mia conclusione deve essere l'opposto di quella del rapporto John Jay”.
L'aumento della proporzione di preti omosessuali è stata sorprendente secondo lo studio del Ruth Institute. Negli anni '50, la presenza omosessuale all'interno del sacerdozio cattolico americano era stimata all'incirca il doppio di quella della popolazione complessiva; negli anni '80, la percentuale era otto volte il livello di omosessuali riscontrato nella popolazione complessiva. Fra gli elementi usati per confermare la validità di questa stima, lo studio si basa su un elemento, e cioè che il numero di giovani sacerdoti che hanno riferito di incontrare una sottocultura omosessuale nel seminario è raddoppiato tra gli anni '60 e '80.
Padre Sullins stima che se la proporzione di preti omosessuali fosse rimasta eguale a quella riscontrata negli anni '50, la drammatica crescita negli abusi sessuali da parte di esponenti del clero avrebbe potuto essere evitata e “almeno dodicimila minori in meno, per lo più maschi, avrebbero subito abusi". In un'intervista al National Catholic Register, il sacerdote-sociologo ha riconosciuto che il suo rapporto sarà criticato e attaccato come ostile agli omosessuali. Ma ha detto: "Direi che se è una scelta tra l'essere chiamato omofobico e permettere ad altri ragazzi di essere abusati, sceglierei di essere a rischio di essere chiamato omofobico".
Padre Sullins ha affermato che “vi è una diffusa negazione di ogni possibile effetto negativo dell'attività omosessuale o di qualsiasi scoperta che potrebbe non essere benigna per le persone omosessuali nel regno degli studiosi. E penso che, in una certa misura, questo sia vero per il lavoro accademico che è stato fatto sugli abusi sessuali del clero cattolico. Non c'è stata la volontà di confrontare le prove su questo argomento”. Secondo il sacerdote-sociologo
“Abbiamo dei chierici che semplicemente non vogliono vedere o non vogliono sapere che potremmo aver incorporato attività omosessuali tra preti che stanno creando enormi danni alla Chiesa in qualche modo? Potrebbe essere il caso. Negli ultimi sei mesi abbiamo scoperto che esiste la possibilità che i vescovi non abbiano approfondito la conoscenza di questo argomento”.
Se sia stata una copertura, o meno, il sacerdote ha detto: “Alcuni l'hanno definito cover-up. Ci sono prove che ci sia una mancanza di energia o interesse a scoprire la relazione dell'omosessualità con questo tipo di attività. Non so se lo definirei un insabbiamento. Potrei aver usato la parola "cover-up" solo per uniformarmi al termine comune”; ma potrebbe essere una forma di copertura, o di non collaborazione anche per quanto riguarda i dati sugli abusi. Per esempio gli elementi forniti al John Jay College non indicavano in quali diocesi fossero stati commessi gli abusi. “Potrebbe essere che i vescovi, alcuni vescovi, non volevano sapere, non volevano far sapere alla gente quali diocesi erano migliori e quali diocesi erano peggiori? Non lo so”.
Naturalmente padre Sullins verrà accusato di omofobia. Risponde così al National Catholic Register: “Non penso che questi risultati in alcun modo implichino che le persone omosessuali siano di natura o interiormente portate a commettere abusi a un tasso maggiore delle persone eterosessuali….Ma guardo all'influenza di queste sottoculture omosessuali nei seminari, che incoraggiano e promuoveno gli abusi. E trovo che ciò spieghi circa la metà dell'alta correlazione dell'abuso con la percentuale di preti omosessuali. Quindi qualcosa andava al di là del semplice orientamento sessuale per incoraggiare questa orribile attività immorale che ha causato un tale danno a così tante vittime. La mia esperienza nello studio degli omosessuali è stata questa: per le persone che odiano la verità, la verità sembra l'odio”.
Come molti cattolici anche per padre Sullins “la questione in gioco è la credibilità dei vescovi”. Afferma che il suo vscovo, il card. Donald Wuerl, ha fatto più di quanto sia noto in questo campo. “Ma credo che in generale, i vescovi, come gruppo, non possano essere ritenuti degni di fiucia per risolvere questo problema a questo punto, e che altri potrebbero essere più affidabili e più chiari su ciò che c’è da fare”.
Posted on: Monday, October 15, 2018
Just remember: Pray. Learn. Speak Out. Repeat.
This article was first published October 15, 2018, at NCRegister.com.
Faithful Catholics are understandably distressed over the scandalous revelations about our church. Sexual abuse of minors, sexual harassment of seminarians, cover-ups by bishops are all part of the mix, not to mention financial malfeasance for good measure. People may wonder, “What can I do about all this?”
I offer my Three and a Half-Step plan for reforming the Church.
This plan is NOT for people who have specific vocational expertise to offer. If you are a canon lawyer, investigative journalist or retired FBI investigator, I won’t presume to tell you how to do your job. My plan is for ordinary people, without such specialized knowledge.
And yes, you read it right: It is a Three and a Half-Step Plan. Here are the three full steps:
Let me explain each one in turn.
Step 1: Pray.
You better believe we need to pray. The recently revealed sexual and financial corruption is far too deep to address through natural means alone. Yes, of course, we need to use all of our skills and knowledge. But these problems have a supernatural dimension to them. Don’t be stupid: We can’t get this done on our own.
During the worldwide Rosary Coast to Coast Oct. 7, the Ruth Institute’s contribution drew more than 800 people to Lake Charles, Louisiana. In all, the Rosary Coast to Coast comprised more than 1,000 participating locations in the U.S. and an additional 57 around the world. I have no doubt that some of those people were praying for healing for our Church.
Prayer allows us to tell God we are sorry for any ways in which we have enabled or participated in the current mess. There have been many sins of commission related to the scandals within the Church. But for most of us, sins of indifference and omission are more likely the issue. Prayer also reminds us that we are the creatures and God is the Creator. We owe him everything.
When we pray, we can listen to what God wants to tell us. I have found that sometimes when I am trying to figure out what to do or not do, an answer “just comes to me,” during prayer. We can get guidance about what specific actions we should take or not take. Given the huge range of issues that deserve the attention of faithful thoughtful Catholics, receiving direction toward one or another is no small blessing.
Step 2: Learn.
I’m sure most people reading this column in the Register know roughly what is going on in the Church right now. But you may feel overwhelmed by the scope of the problems. We really need to know what we are talking about, or we will discredit ourselves and our cause.
Faithful Catholics need to be informed about the current situation. For instance, the Ruth Institute prepared this backgrounder that addresses the disproportionate number of male victims. This is a manageable amount of information to absorb.
We also need to proclaim the Church’s teachings about marriage, family and human sexuality. Be prepared to explain what the Church teaches about divorce and premarital sex and contraception. Learn about the evidence that shows the Church has been right all along: if we lived these teachings, we would have better lives.
And we would not have sex scandals involving priests preying on young men. So yes, we need to be prepared to explain what the Church teaches about homosexual activity and homosexual identity.
Step 3: Speak Out.
People inside and outside the Church need to know that faithful Catholics want transparency. We want the truth to come out. We are not interested in protecting the Church’s reputation at the expense of innocent victims.
Another advantage of speaking out is that we will embolden the clergy or Church employees who have information about abuse and cover-up but who have been afraid to speak up. We will comfort the victims, some of whom have been seeking justice for years.
Speaking out could include: signing a petition, sharing information on social media, writing to people in authority, including bishops, priest, or governors or congresspeople. Speaking out could also include talking with your friends and neighbors. Whatever you do, keep in mind these two points that we absolutely must convey:
Step 3½: Repeat!
I count it as a “half-step” because you don’t really have anything extra to remember.
I’m dead serious about this. The “Repeat” step is very important. Let’s say you’ve done one round of Pray, Learn, Speak Out. I absolutely promise you: You will not get it all correct and complete on the first pass! You might stumble on your words. Someone might ask you a question you can’t answer. Maybe you make a mistake. Maybe someone gets mad at you. Maybe you get mad.
Your next move is the crucial move: You MUST NOT QUIT!!!!
Go back to Step 1 and Pray. “Lord, what did that person really want to know? What were they thinking? What was I thinking?” Or, if everything went well, you could say, “Thank you, Jesus! That was fun! What do you want me to do next!?”
I’ve been preaching Church teaching since roughly 2001. Trust me on this. You are going to make mistakes. The only way to improve is to keep reflecting on your encounters with people. You might as well do your reflecting in front of the Blessed Sacrament or with a Rosary in your hand.
Repeat the “Learn” step. Go ask someone for advice. Look up the answers on the internet. We’ve got a bunch of stuff (and I do mean a BIG bunch of stuff) at the Ruth Institute website.
And then, by all means, Speak Out again. You will improve. And you will make a difference.
Just remember: Pray. Learn. Speak Out. Repeat.
Together we can reform our beloved Church.
Posted on: Monday, September 24, 2018
by Jennifer Roback Morse
This article was first published August 28, 2018, at Crisis Magazine.
The clergy sex abuse and cover-up stories have created a linguistic challenge for faithful Catholics. Over 80 percent of these clergy abuse cases involve predatory sexual activity between adult men and younger men in less powerful positions. Some Catholic commentators refer to these cases as “gay” to distinguish them from “pedophilia.” Their intention is sound: the “pedophilia” label has frequently been a way to deflect attention away from abusive homosexual conduct. I, however, maintain that we should avoid the word “gay,” and even the word “homosexual.” Former Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò’s bombshell revelations about sexual abuse and the network of cover-ups raises the stakes. We really must get the terminology right.
[Photo: Pope Francis with Cardinal McCarrick, Vatican Media]
Daniel Mattson wrote an important book, “Why I Don’t Call Myself Gay.” He outlines the philosophical, theological, and pastoral problems with the “gay” label. I add to Mattson’ arguments an additional consideration. “Gay” is a losing term for us.
At this moment in history, the word “gay” is loaded with positive associations. The word “gay” means young, fashionable, intelligent, and witty. “Gay” might also mean a weak, victimized, innocent waif, so psychologically vulnerable he might commit suicide. This perception is so prevalent that health care professionals are not supposed to even mention the health risks of “gay sex.”
Speaking of “gay sex,” what exactly do gay men do together? The images we have been presented suggest that all they do is hold hands, cuddle, and kiss. We never imagine “gay sex” to include rectal bleeding or intense pain or rectal incontinence or adult diapers.
In this respect, the “gay” image resembles the other sanitized images created around the Sexual Revolution. No-fault divorce involves two sensible mature people mutually deciding to “move on.” Children of divorce always “get over it.” No woman ever regrets her abortion. And so on.
All these claims are false.
When today’s mainstream journalists hear the word “gay,” they might picture a confused but basically innocent teenager. They might picture this teenager being bullied by classmates or scolded by adults. These benign associations with the word “gay” have been carefully crafted over decades. In fact, this is one place where the word “gay” properly applies. We can accurately describe the people who created these images, as the Gay Marketing Men.
I believe this explains the reluctance of many in the media to address the clergy sex abuse story as forcefully as a story about men preying on women victims. The terms “predator” or “domination” or “exploitation” do not register in connection with “gay.” In the average journalist’s minds, these words are associated with “toxic masculinity” or “conservative Christian.”
Catholic friends, we are not going to be able to dislodge these slanted images, no matter how loudly we yell about it. The protective moat around “gay” is too wide and deep. The Gay Marketing Men have spent millions of dollars and countless hours fashioning this picture and securing it firmly in the public mind.
Some Catholic commentators use the word “homosexual” in an effort to sidestep the term “gay.” I don’t think this strategy avoids the problem. Historically, the term “homosexual” was invented in the nineteenth century to “medicalize” what had previously been considered a moral or behavioral issue. Medicalizing behavior doesn’t help our cause. Besides, the word “homosexual” without qualifiers doesn’t buy us much help from the general public. It just makes us look out of date, like people who still use the word “Negro.”
Does that mean we throw up our hands and give up? Certainly not. I propose a different approach that gives us a better chance of success.
Instead of the word “gay,” use the most descriptively accurate phrase possible in the context of what you are trying to say. Instead of “gay sex scandal,” try this: “male on male sexual predation.” Sometimes, the most appropriate strategy is to use a long, clunky, but highly descriptive phrase like, “a powerful man with deep-seated attractions to males used his position of power to exploit younger men under his authority.” No one could conceivably confuse this word-picture with the teenaged boy who may have feelings he doesn’t understand.
In some cases, “pederasty” could be a good term to use. The Gay Marketing Men have not sanitized this term, and “pederasty” is distinct from pedophilia. (A “pederast” is a man who wants and has sex with adolescent boys. I had to look it up.)
The term “same-sex attraction” proposed by members of Courage, is a particular instance of the general policy I am suggesting. Dan Mattson and David Prosen and others argue that the gay identity is an inaccurate, self-limiting description. These men reject the term “gay” to eliminate a ton of philosophical and theological baggage.
The current torrent of embarrassing sex scandals is actually providential for the long-run health of the Body of Christ. We have the chance to offer authentic Catholic witness of authentic Catholic teaching to a desperate world. To succeed, though, we must be careful with our language. We can’t say or imply, “All gay men are predators,” because it isn’t true. At the same time, we cannot let anyone else say or imply, “All gay men are innocent lambs,” because that is not true either. And we will need at least some help from journalists who don’t necessarily share all of our views.
We can restate Archbishop Viganò’s explosive revelations without ever using the words “gay” or even “homosexual.”
“Men who do not agree with the teachings of the Catholic Church, nevertheless swore allegiance to the Church, and accepted positions of power, authority, wealth, and influence. They used those positions to indulge themselves sexually, to favor their friends, and to advance their careers. Among their preferred forms of sexual indulgence were the abuse of little boys, the seduction of teenaged-boys and the harassment of young adult male subordinates.”
No one will ever mistake this description for an appealing kid on a TV sitcom. No one would dream of saying these perpetrators were “born that way.”
When we use the word “gay,” we are doing battle on the field chosen by our opponents. By contrast, when we use other terms, we give our listeners a chance to think about what we are saying, without all the noise associated with the terms “gay” or “homosexual.”
“Gay” is a political word, a marketing word, a propaganda word. We don’t need to use it. So let’s quit using it.
Posted on: Saturday, August 11, 2018
Fr. Paul Sullins, Ph.D., Research Associate of the Ruth Institute, Answers Questions on The Clerical Sex Abuse Scandal
Is the current Catholic sex abuse scandal related to homosexuality?
Yes. The current scandal includes mostly revelations about male on male sexual abuse of seminarians, where the victims are adults. These kinds of cases were not even considered in the responses to the 2002 scandal, which was about the criminal abuse of minors.
Was the 2002 scandal also related to homosexuality?
The US Conference of Catholic Bishops commissioned two reports, one in 2004 and in 2011, by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice to study the reported cases of clerical sex abuse from 1950 through 2002 and 2010 respectively. Both reports found that over 80% of the victims were neither girls, nor pre-pubescent children (true pedophilia), but pre-teen and teenage boys. These results clearly indicate that the problem was male on male predation by priests against under-aged boys.
Is there a “homosexual subculture” which exists within certain Catholic institutions?
Yes. In a 2002 survey of a national sample of 1,852 Catholic priests by the Los Angeles Times, 44% responded "yes" when asked if there was a "homosexual subculture in your diocese or religious institute". To the question, “In the seminary you attended, was there a homosexual subculture at the time?” 53% of recently-ordained priests responded “Yes” (reported in Hoge and Wenger, Evolving Visions of the Priesthood, p. 102. Their own concurrent survey yielded 55% “Yes” to the identical question.)
Books by former seminary rector Donald Cozzens and psychologist Richard Sipe have described how such subcultures encourage and cover up sexual misconduct. Predatory priests and superiors can abuse the confessional by grooming victims who confess sexual temptations. Grossly immature priests are clueless about the extent of the harm they are causing. Cozzens, who writes from firsthand experience, relates that sexually active homosocial groups were at times so dominant that heterosexual men felt that they did not fit in, and left the seminary.
How has this “subculture” contributed to patterns of abuse within the Church?
Sipe chronicles, from mental health records and public court documents, a culture of denial and cover-up by confessors, spiritual directors, faculty, and senior clerics. Sipes wrote presciently in 2011 about what he called the “Cardinal McCarrick Syndrome.” Powerful clerics, including bishops, escaped exposure and penalty even though everyone knew about their predatory behavior and abuse of power. The sense of entitlement shown by senior clerics to seminarians eerily parallels the situation of Hollywood executives to young actresses and actors.
Pictured: Father McCarrick and James in the 1970s. From the New York Times article.
Do these findings suggest that the time has come for the Church to relax its teaching on homosexual activity?
Actually, the exact opposite is true. These findings do not contradict Catholic teaching. The Church holds that homosexual acts are “intrinsically disordered”, which means they are inherently incapable of fulfilling the purpose of human sex relations, like blindness is inherently incapable of fulfilling the purpose of sight. Further, homosexual acts actively interfere with godliness and human well-being. Though individuals can achieve Christian maturity through chastity, self-denial, and self-control, a homosexual inclination is not a recommendation for Church leadership. In fact, since 2005 Catholic norms have formally prohibited any known homosexual man from being ordained. Honestly, applying these norms consistently would have avoided a tremendous number of problems.
Isn’t it rank hypocrisy on the part of the Catholic Church, which seems to be dominated by homosexually active men, to continue to condemn homosexual practice?
Someone once said, “Hypocrisy is the tribute vice pays to virtue.” The failure to live up to the teachings does not prove anything one way or the other about the value of those teachings.
Is allowing priests to marry a potential solution to this problem?
Celibacy is not a scapegoat, and married priests are not a panacea. In my research on married priests, I found that married priests are statistically no less likely to engage in minor sex abuse as are celibate priests. At this point, we need to focus on removing abusers and enablers from positions of power. We can talk about other issues such as the discipline of celibacy once we’ve solved this problem.
The Ruth Institute believes the facts show that:
About Fr. Sullins-- The Rev. D. Paul Sullins, Ph.D., is a Senior Research Associate of the Ruth Institute. He recently retired as Professor of Sociology at the Catholic University of America, Washington DC. Dr. Sullins is a leader in the field of research on same-sex parenting and its implications for child development. He has written four books, including Keeping the Vow: The Untold Story of Married Catholic Priests, and over 100 journal articles, research reports, and essays on issues of family, faith, and culture.
He was ordained by Cardinal McCarrick in 2002, during the height of the sex abuse crisis of that year. Fr. Sullins feels a profound sense of personal disappointment and betrayal, along with a desire to see holiness and trust restored in our hierarchy.
For interviews with Fr. Sullins, or Jennifer Roback Morse, Ph.D. Founder and President of the Ruth Institute, please email Elizabeth Johnson at media (at) ruthinstitute dot org.
Posted on: Thursday, August 02, 2018
People are outraged about the revelations of Cardinal McCarrick’s lifetime of sexual abuse of minors and seminarians and are proposing ideas for reform. For now, we're focusing on the most important thing: the suffering of a little boy.
James was 11 when Fr. McCarrick began abusing him. James asked for help, but no one believed him. He began acting out, got into drinking, drugs, and trouble with the law. People were even less inclined to believe him against the word of a priest. All this compounded the trauma.
After Cardinal McCarrick’s other crimes were exposed, James told his story to the New York Times and to journalist Rod Dreher.
This message is for James, wherever he may be. We want to tell him that people care about what happened to him. The people who covered for Fr. McCarrick or looked the other way, were wrong. When someone tells us about abusive situations, we pledge to listen, take them seriously, and do what’s needed to help.
Your signature will show James, and other victims of sexual abuse, that you care.
Pictured is Fr. McCarrick with James in the 1970s. This photo was published in the New York Times.
James' interview with Rod Dreher is here: