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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: Saturday, March 09, 2019
Ruth Institute President Calls Response to Request That Cardinal Mahony Withdraw from Education Conference “Pathetic”
“Pathetic.” That’s how Ruth Institute President Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, Ph.D. characterized the response from the Archdiocese of Los Angeles to the Institute’s petition calling on Cardinal Roger Mahony to withdraw as a speaker at the L.A. Religious Education Congress (March 22-24).
“The Cardinal has become a symbol of the mishandling of sex abuse complaints,” said Morse. “For him to address a Catholic education conference at this time is wildly in appropriate.”
Morse notes that, as head of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles from 1985 to 2011, “Cardinal Mahony had a terrible record of covering up sex abuse, to such an extent that the Archdiocese was forced to pay $660 million in damages – the largest such settlement in the Church’s history.”
In response to a request from America magazine, Carolina G. Guevara, archdiocesan communications director, stated that Mahony “apologized for mistakes of the past” and “met personally with victims and established a Victims Assistance Office to ensure that they would receive the support to help them through the healing process.”
Said Morse, “To call the horror of clerical sex abuse, and the Cardinal’s role in covering it up, ‘mistakes of the past’ is an understatement of epic proportions.”
“It’s good that Cardinal Mahony met with some victims of crimes he may have helped to cover up,” Morse observed. “But, if he’d acted responsibly when he was in a position of authority, there wouldn’t be as many victims in need of healing. Guevara’s statement is a weak rationalization for inexcusable conduct that diminishes the suffering of victims. Imagine how they will feel when he speaks at a conference where he will, in part, interact with youth.”
Morse added: “For the sake of victims, and the pain that never goes away, the Cardinal should do the decent thing and withdraw from the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress.”
The Ruth Institute is a global non-profit, non-denominational 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 to https://citizengo.org/en-us/
To schedule an interview with Dr. Morse firstname.lastname@example.org
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: 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: 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: 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.
Posted on: Monday, January 07, 2019
By Kevin Jones
After years in decline, Catholic clergy sex abuse could be on the rise again, warns a professor-priest’s analysis of relevant data.
The professor’s report sees a rising trend in abuse, and argues that the evidence strongly suggests links between sexual abuse of minors and two factors:
a disproportionate number of homosexual clergy, and the manifestation of a “homosexual subculture” in seminaries.
“The thing we’ve been told about the sex abuse is that it is somehow very rare and declined to almost nothing today is really not true,” Father D. Paul Sullins, a Catholic priest and retired Catholic University of America sociology professor, told a Nov. 2 press conference.
“I found that clergy sex abuse did drop to almost nothing after 2002, but then it started to creep up,” he continued. “It’s been increasing. And there are signs that the bishops or the dioceses have gotten complacent about that.”
“It’s not at the great heights that it was in the mid-1970s, but it’s rising. And it’s headed in that direction,” he added.
Clergy sex abuse incidence is today about one third as common as in the late 1980s. While sex abuse by clergy is “much lower” than 30 years ago, it has not declined “as much as is commonly thought.” Most of the decline since the 1990s is consistent with “a similar general decline in child sex abuse in America since that time,” Sullins’ report said.
The decline is not necessarily related to measures taken by the U.S. bishops. Sullins told the press conference he saw no link between a decline in abuse and the implementation of the U.S. bishops’ 2002 Charter for the Protection of Children and Young Adults.
“Recent experience calls into question whether the current understanding of the nature of the abuse and how to reduce it is accurate or sufficient,” said Sullins in his report.
Efforts to address clergy abuse must acknowledge both “the recent increase of abuse amid growing complacency” and the “very strong probability” that the
surge in abuse in past and present is “a product, at least in part, of the past surge and present concentration of homosexual men in the Catholic priesthood.”
The report was released Nov. 2 by the Louisiana-based Ruth Institute, where Sullins is a senior research associate. It has been reviewed by several scholars, including four social scientists, and is planned to be included in an upcoming book.
His study aimed to address a common question: is the sex abuse related in any way to homosexual men in the priesthood?
“I hear on the one hand denial of that, almost without even thinking about it, and I also hear advocacy of that, almost without even thinking about it,” Sullins said Nov. 2. “The question comes up logically because the vast majority of victims were boys. Usually in sex abuse of minors, two-thirds of victims are girls.”
Sullins’ report is titled “Is Catholic clergy sex abuse related to homosexual priests?” and he does not avoid the sometimes controversial question. The report compares “previously unexamined measures of the share of homosexual Catholic priests” and the incidence and victim gender of minor sex abuse victims by Catholic priests from 1950 to 2001.
Sullins’ sources included a 2002 survey of 1,854 priests by the Los Angeles Times that included questions about respondents’ sexual orientation, age, year of ordination, and whether they thought there was a homosexual subculture in their seminary. He measured abuse using data provided by the authors of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice reports, which themselves used reports of abuse provided by Catholic dioceses.
“Although over 8 in 10 of victims have been boys, the idea that the abuse is related to homosexual men in the priesthood has not been widely accepted by Church leaders,” said Sullins.
“(T)he data show that more homosexual men in the priesthood was correlated with more overall abuse and more boys abused compared to girls,” he added.
The increase or decrease in the percent of male victims correlated “almost perfectly” with the increase or decrease of homosexual men in the priesthood, he said, citing a 0.98 correlation. While the correlation was lower among victims under age 8, it was “lower but still strong,” 0.77. The statistical association between homosexual priests and abuse incidence was “extremely strong,” given that this scale ranges from -1.0, an inverse correlation, to 1.0, an absolute positive correlation.
Such results were “as close as you can get to a perfect correlation as I have ever seen,” Sullins said Nov. 2, adding that researchers usually consider correlation association above 0.3 or 0.4 to be a strong effect.
He took care to say it is the disproportionate presence of homosexual men in the priesthood, not the simple presence of any homosexual men, that appears to be the major factor.
“What I say in the paper is that when homosexual men were represented in the priesthood at about the same rate as they were in the population, there was no measurable problem of child sex abuse,” Sullins said. “It was only when you had a preponderance of homosexual men.”
The percentage of homosexual men in the general population is estimated at two percent. In the 1950s, homosexual men in the priesthood were about twice their percentage in the general population, making up four percent. in the 1980s they were eight times the percentage in the general population, 16 percent, according to Sullins.
“When you get up to 16 percent of priests that are homosexual, and you’ve got eight times the proportion of homosexuals as you do in the general population, it’s as if the priesthood becomes a particularly welcoming and enabling and encouraging population for homosexual activity and behavior,” he said Nov. 2.
Sullins was clear he wanted to avoid recommending any particular action based on his research.
“I would certainly not recommend that we remove all homosexuals from the priesthood,” he said. “The reason for that is: the abuse is not necessarily related to someone’s sexual orientation.” He cited his knowledge of men with same-sex attraction who are “strong, faithful persons,” adding “I would hate to have some sort of litmus test for that.”
If the Catholic Church in the U.S. were like most institutions, where two-thirds of abuse victims were female, people would reject the suggestion to eliminate all heterosexual men from the priesthood. That suggestion would be an “ideological reaction,” he said.
He suggested the priesthood should reflect the general population, as a sign priests are selected for “holiness and commitment to Christ and the things that we would hope would make for a good priest.”
“When you start to get a larger proportion of homosexuals It looks like you are actually selecting for same-sex orientation,” he said.
Seminary candidates have reported about the problems this disproportion creates, he continued. According to Sullins, Donald Cozzens' 2000 book “The Changing Face of the Priesthood” discusses accounts of homosexual students being so prevalent at some seminaries that heterosexual men felt destabilized and disoriented and left.
“That’s not a positive outcome. I do not think we would want to have that proportion of a homosexual culture in the priesthood,” said Sullins.
There appear to be verifiable trends in increases and decreases in the ordinations of homosexual priests.
“From 1965 to 1995 an average of at least one in five priests ordained annually were homosexual, a concentration which drove the overall proportion of homosexual men in the priesthood up to 16 percent, or one in six priests, by the late 1990s,” said Sullins’ report.
“This trend was strongly correlated with increasing child sex abuse,” he said.
Drawing on his findings, Sullins predicted that if the proportion of homosexual priests remained at the 1950s level “at least 12,000 fewer children, mostly boys, would have suffered abuse,” he said. As a percentage, this means abuse would have been about 85 percent lower.
The presence of homosexual subcultures in seminaries, as reported by priests considering their own seminary life, accounts for about half the incidence of abuse, but apparently not among heterosexual men.
“Homosexual subcultures encouraged greater abuse, but not by heterosexual men, just by homosexual men,” Sullins said Nov. 2. He suggested these subcultures encourage those who may have been attracted to male victims to act out more than would have been the case otherwise.
Sullins, a former Episcopal priest, has been married for 30 years and has three children. He was ordained to the Catholic priesthood in 2002 by then-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of Washington.
“I was surprised and shocked, like most of us earlier this year, to hear about Cardinal McCarrick,” Sullins said. “I was particularly impressed by that because I was ordained by Cardinal McCarrick in 2002, and probably knew him better than most people would have.”
His report follows the June revelations that former Archbishop McCarrick was credibly accused of sex assault on a minor, revelations which prompted men to come forward saying he had sexually abused them as seminarians—and prompted Pope Francis to accept the archbishop’s almost unprecedented resignation from the cardinalate. McCarrick was deeply influential and had been a leading personality in the U.S. bishops’ response to the 2002 scandals.
In August, a Pennsylvania grand jury released its report on Catholic clergy sex abuse in six dioceses. It tallied over 1,000 credible accusations against hundreds of priests over decades, though many of these accusations had been reported in 2004.
“What was new in 2018 was not primarily the revelation of abuse by priests, but of a possible pattern of resistance, minimization, enablement and secrecy—a ‘cover-up’—on the part of bishops,” said Sullins, who used some of the grand jury report data for his study.
As part of the U.S. bishops’ response to the first sex abuse scandal in 2002, the John Jay College of Criminal Justice issued two bishop-commissioned reports: a 2004 report on the nature and scope of clergy sex abuse and a 2011 report on the causes and context of sex abuse.
Sullins criticized the 2011 report’s claim that sex abuse perpetrators are mainly “situational or opportunistic” and the sex of the victim is less relevant to them. In his view, multiple offenders “abused a higher proportion of male victims than did single offenders, and the proportion increased with higher numbers of victims.” If multiple offenders were better at acquiring victims, “they appear to have used their skills to obtain access to more boys, not fewer.”
Abuse of girls dropped off at the same rate in the 1980s and 1990s, and the data suggest that as girls became more prevalent in priestly life, such as in the introduction of altar girls, abusers of boys “responded to the presence of fewer younger boys primarily by turning to older boys, not to female victims.”
For clergy offenders who were “classic or fixated pedophiles,” targeting only victims under age eight, they still strongly preferred male victims, “conditional on higher proportions of homosexual men in the priesthood.”
Sex abuse by Catholic clergy is “substantially less” than in similar institutions or communities, but it is notable that underage victims of sex assault by Catholic priests in U.S. Catholic parishes and schools have been “overwhelmingly male,” said Sullins. Comparable reports in Germany indicate that up to 90 percent of abuse victims of Catholic clergy have been male, compared to about half of victims in Protestant or non-religious settings in that country.
Some Catholic commentators have blamed clericalism for the abuse. Pope Francis’ August 20 letter on sex abuse, which did not mention homosexuality, said communities where sexual abuse and “the abuse of power and conscience” have taken place are characterized by efforts to reduce the Catholic faithful to “small elites” or otherwise replace, silence or ignore them.
“To say ‘no’ to abuse is to say an emphatic ‘no’ to all forms of clericalism,” the Pope said.
In a May 21, 2018 audience with Italian bishops, the Pope said it is better not to let seminary candidates enter if they have “even the slightest doubt” about the fitness of individuals with homosexual “deep-seated tendencies” or who practice “homosexual acts,” but want to enter the seminary.
These acts or deep-seated tendencies can lead to scandals and can compromise the life of the seminary, as well as the man himself and his future priesthood, he said, according to Vatican Insider.
A 2016 document from the Vatican’s Congregation for Clergy, “The Gift of the Priestly Vocation,” cites a 2005 Vatican document which says: “the Church, while profoundly respecting the persons in question, cannot admit to the seminary or to holy orders those who practice homosexuality, present deep-seated homosexual tendencies or support the so-called ‘gay culture’.”
The bishops’ 2002 child protection charter drew criticism from Sullins. Its failure to acknowledge that bishops can commit abuse or cover up abuse “seemed to confirm the suggestion of a cover-up: indeed, to the extent bishops may have covered up priestly misbehavior, the charter itself may have covered up episcopal misbehavior.”
He faulted the 2011 John Jay report on the causes and context of clergy sex abuse, which said that a reported increase in homosexual men in seminaries in the 1980s did not correspond to the number of boys abused. Sullins noted that the authors acknowledged they did not collect or examine direct data on priests’ sexual identity and any changes in it over the years. They relied on “subjective clinical estimates and second-hand narrative reports of apparent homosexual activity in seminaries,” Sullins said.
The Ruth Institute, which published Sullins’ report, was founded in 2008 by Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, an economics-trained author and writer on marriage, family and human sexuality. She served as spokesperson for Proposition 8, the California ballot measure which defined marriage as a union of one man and one woman. The institute was backed by the National Organization for Marriage Education Fund until 2013.
Groups including the Human Rights Campaign, GLAAD, and the Southern Poverty Law Center have criticized the Ruth Institute’s stance against same-sex marriage and other LGBT causes.
The Southern Poverty Law Center, which originally monitored foes of the civil rights movement, in the 1980s began tracking neo-Nazi groups and Ku Klux Klan affiliates. In recent years it has listed mainstream groups like the Ruth Institute, the Family Research Council and Alliance Defending Freedom as “hate groups” for their “anti-LGBT” stance.
In an Aug. 23, 2017 response to the listing, the Ruth Institute said it “categorically condemns white supremacy, racism, Nazism, and all violent totalitarian political movements.”
“People who cannot defend their positions using reason and evidence resort to name-calling to change the subject away from their anemic arguments,” the institute said. “The ‘hate group’ label is a club such people invented to bludgeon their political opponents.”
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.