By: Bill Donohue
Anthony Stevens-Arroyo says I am wrong to challenge elite opinion on the subject of priestly sexual abuse. The conventional wisdom maintains there is a pedophilia crisis in the Catholic Church; I maintain it has been a homosexual crisis all along. The evidence is all on my side, though there is a reluctance to let the data drive the conclusion. But that is a function of politics, not scholarship.
Alfred Kinsey was the first to identify a correlation between homosexuality and the sexual abuse of minors. In 1948, he found that 37 percent of all male homosexuals admitted to having sex with children under 17 years old. More recently, in organs such as the Archives of Sexual Behavior, the Journal of Sex Research, the Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy and Pediatrics, it has been established that homosexuals are disproportionately represented among child molesters.
Correlation is not causation; it is an association. So to say that there is a correlation between homosexual orientation and the sexual abuse of minors is not to say that being a homosexual makes one a molester. Indeed, as I have said many times, most gay priests are not molesters, but most of the molesters have been gay. In other words, although sexual orientation does not cause sexual abuse, the fact that there is a relationship between homosexuality and the sexual abuse of minors cannot be ignored in dealing with this problem.
Think of it this way. We know there is a correlation between being Irish and being an alcoholic, but that doesn’t mean all Irishmen are, or will become, alcoholics. But it does mean they have a special problem in this area. Does this now make me anti-Irish?
When the National Review Board released its findings in 2004 regarding priestly sexual abuse, Robert S. Bennett, the noted attorney who headed the study said, “There are no doubt many outstanding priests of a homosexual orientation who live chaste, celibate lives, but any evaluation of the causes and context of the current crisis must be cognizant of the fact that more than 80 percent of the abuse at issue was of a homosexual nature.” Were they wrong to draw this conclusion?
Furthermore, the National Review Board explicitly said that “we must call attention to the homosexual behavior that characterized the vast majority of the cases of abuse observed in recent decades.” So what’s stopping others from drawing this conclusion?
One of those who served on the National Review Board, Dr. Paul McHugh, is former psychiatrist-in-chief at Johns Hopkins. He is on record saying, “This behavior was homosexual predation on American Catholic youth, yet it’s not being discussed.” And we know why: there are penalties for telling the truth.
Roderick MacLeish Jr. was the Boston lawyer who pressed the case against the Archdiocese of Boston; he examined all the files on this subject. As reported by Michael Paulson in the Boston Globe, MacLeish concluded that “90 percent of the nearly 400 sexual abuse victims he has represented are boys, and three quarters of them are post-pubescent.” Once again, the issue is homosexuality, not pedophilia.
Dr. Richard Fitzgibbons is a psychiatrist who has spent years treating sexually abusive priests. “Many psychologists and psychiatrists have shown that there is no link between celibacy and pedophilia,” he said earlier this year. Instead, they have found a “relationship between homosexuality and pedophilia.” So are all of these psychologists and psychiatrists wrong?
In fact, “Fitzgibbons says, “every priest whom I treated who was involved with children sexually had previously been involved in adult homosexual relationships.” Notice he didn’t say “some” priests.
Three months ago, the New York Times ran a story on Leslie Lothstein, another psychologist who has treated abusive priests. He concluded that “only a small minority were true pedophiles.” Is he wrong, too?
The Boston Globe, which won a Pulitzer Prize for disclosing the scandal, said of the John Jay study, which was released at the same time, that “more than three-quarters of the victims were post pubescent, meaning the abuse did not meet the clinical definition of pedophilia.” So if the definitive study, which covered the years 1950-2002, concludes that pedophilia was never the issue, then why does everyone from Tony Stevens-Arroyo to the New York Times insist that there is a “pedophilia crisis” in the Catholic Church?
I have said before, and I will say it again, that I am opposed to any policy that unequivocally bars homosexual men from the priesthood. But, knowing the data, it would be foolish not to screen more closely for homosexually active men entering the priesthood. That is exactly what the Vatican is doing.
In the end, I am not going to stop telling the truth about the link between homosexuality and the sexual abuse of minors. The evidence is overwhelming, and only political considerations get in the way of being honest about it.
Bill Donohue, Ph.D., President, Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights