The ‘third rail’ of the priestly abuse scandal: the role of homosexuality
By Phil Lawler
Last week in this space, I argued that by setting up a tribunal to judge bishops accused of neglect in sex-abuse cases, the Vatican has finally addressed the second of three related scandals. Now let’s address the third scandal.
The first scandal, as you may recall, was the sexual abuse of young people by clerics. That scandal was addressed by the Dallas Charter, which established a “zero tolerance” policy for abusive priests. But the implementation of that policy has been marred by the second scandal: the negligence of many bishops. A “zero tolerance” policy has little value if the Church leaders ultimately responsible for enforcing that policy are not reliable. Thus the need to hold bishops accountable, as the Vatican tribunal will do. But the third scandal has not yet been addressed.
The third scandal, as I explain in The Faithful Departed, is the widespread homosexual activity within the clergy.
For more than a decade now, we have been incessantly reminded that homosexuality and pedophilia are not related. That’s true if you’re talking about true pedophilia: the disorder characterized by an attraction to young children. But the scandal that has ripped through the Catholic Church has not been, primarily, a matter of pedophilia. True, there have been some priest-pedophiles, and their cases understandably drew the greatest publicity. But the vast majority of the cases that emerged from diocesan archives involved priests who preyed on adolescent boys.
Most of the victims of clerical abuse were male teenagers. Now who is more likely to go on the prowl for male teenagers: a heterosexual man or a homosexual man? To ask the question is to recognize the answer. Despite theintellectual gymnastics of the John Jay report, the problem is evident to anyone who looks at it objectively.
”A scientific examination of the crisis makes it abundantly clear that priests with homosexual conflicts present a risk to Catholic youth,” writes Rick Fitzgibbons, a psychiatrist who has worked with many troubled priests. He continues:
Dr. Paul McHugh, the former chairperson of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins and a member of the first National Review Board, identified the homosexual predation of American adolescent males as the primary issue that needed to be discussed and analyzed. To be clear: pedophilia was not the central issue; homosexuality was.
The US bishops once recognized the role of homosexuality in the sex-abuse crisis. In 2002, when St. John Paul II summoned the leadership of the US bishops’ conference to Rome to discuss the emerging scandal with Vatican officials, the final statement that emerged from that meeting made a subtle allusion to the issue. The statement called for examination of the American seminaries, “with particular emphasis on the need for fidelity to the Church’s teaching, especially in the area of morality, and the need for a deeper study of the criteria for suitability of candidates for the priesthood.” At the time, that statement was generally understood as a reference to complaints about homosexual influence in seminaries.
Over the years, however, concern about homosexuality in the priesthood has dropped off the American bishops’ agenda. A Vatican directive issued in 2005,that homosexual men should not be admitted to seminaries, is now routinely ignored. A priest who is guilty of homosexual activity may continue in active ministry, as long as his misconduct involves only adult partners.
Thus in the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis, we have the case of Curtis Wehmeyer, who is now serving a 5-year prison sentence for sexual assault and child pornography. The evidence of Wehmeyer’s homosexual inclinations was abundant, dating back even to the time before he was accepted into the seminary. But archdiocesan officials did not suspend him from ministry, because he did not violate the letter of the Dallas Charter; he was accused of soliciting young men, but none were below the age of 18.
In the criminal complaint filed against the St. Paul archdiocese earlier this month, the prosecutor’s charge cites the early complaints against Wehmeyer as evidence that the troubled priest was clearly a danger to young people. One troubled parent made the observation that the men approached by Wehmeyer in a bookstore looked as if they were under the age of 18, and his next targets might well be minors. But the archdiocese did not take action—at least not the stern action required by the Dallas Charter—because Wehmeyer had not yet crossed the line.
The current interpretation of the Dallas policy, combined with the bishops’ unwillingness to address the problem of homosexuality, requires acceptance of the polite fiction that a priest with a history of homosexual misconduct is no more likely than others to turn his attention to teenage boys—that a man who is attracted to young men is not apt to be attracted to younger men. As long as that fiction holds sway in the handling of clerical disciplinary problems, the problem of sexual abuse will not be fully resolved.
The issue will not go away until the issue is settled. That is going to take some time. But I would rather have the discussion now as opposed to letting our grandchildren and their children have to deal with it. At least while we still have a Moral and Ethical Compass to go by.
At least the CCFM has made a stand for what Scripture tells us is right on this subject. So much so that it forced us to leave an organization that we thought stood by God’s word and every letter of it. (Key words here are, “EVERY letter of it”). Not the ones someone feels should be accepted or not. But every letter !
Mankind does have a choice, the question is where will the line be drawn on Morality and Ethics in Society and in the Faith. Liberalism in my opinion, is the downfall of mankind. Not the Conservative values or stance… (+)
Something to think about. Christ says to Love one another, and I do. Every Man, Woman and Child, even those that disagree and even show intolerance with my comments and stance. But that is their problem, not mine or this ministry. Yes we have in place tough standards and I will go as far as stating a “ZERO TOLERANCE” towards deceiving the flock by manipulation of the Holy Word of God our Lord and Savior. All of His words (Old and New Testament) are Sacred and hold value and truth.
Sincerely IHS and yours, providing a platform for all that is Sacred and Righteous in our world and the next.
Abp. Andrew Manley
Source of Article: http://www.catholicculture.org/commentary/otn.cfm?id=1094