There's been predictable outrage at a German Cardinal's assertion that homosexuality, rather than the Catholic Church, is responsible for the plague of priest child sexual abuse cases.
“What has happened in the church is no different from what is happening in society as a whole,” Cardinal Walter Brandmüller said. “The real scandal is that the Catholic church hasn’t distinguished itself from the rest of society.”
A study commissioned by the German Bishops Conference and published last year found that more than 3,600 children were sexually abused by Catholic clergy in Germany between 1946 and 2014.
But Cardinal Brandmüller claimed that only a “vanishingly small number” of clergy had committed abuses. He said the real problem was homosexuality and claimed it is “statistically proven” that there is a link between homosexuality and abuse.
Society “forgets or covers up the fact that 80 per cent of cases of sexual assault in the church involved male youths not children,” he told Germany’s DPA news agency in an interview a few days ahead of his 90th birthday.
. . .
“What a shameful way for the Catholic Church to relativise guilt and defame homosexuals. Disgraceful,” Ulf Poschardt, the editor of Welt newspaper, wrote on Twitter.
There's more at the link.
If the Cardinal was trying to excuse the Catholic Church from its share of the responsibility for this crisis, he was, of course, quite wrong. However, his assertion that homosexuality lies at the root of the problem, and that most of the offenders were and/or are homosexual in orientation, is entirely correct. That's been demonstrated by study after study. I won't bother to go into it in this article, but here are a few sources that outline the scale of the problem. Please read also the links to investigations, reports and assessments dating from the earliest days of this crisis, all of which agree that homosexual attraction to youths (known as ephebophilia), and homosexual acts with male youths (known as pederasty), were and are far more of a problem than simple sexual attraction to young people of the opposite sex (i.e. pedophilia).
- Priest Sex Abuse Is All About Homosexuality
- Homosexuality and Sexual Abuse
- Pedophilia Isn’t The Main Problem With Catholic Priests, Homosexuality Is
- Clergy Sexual Abuse: The Unaddressed Question of Same-Sex Attraction
- The Catholic Church's Homosexual Sex Abuse Crisis: Is Clericalism Its Final Cause?
- Is Catholic Clergy Sex Abuse Related to Homosexual Priests?
- Clergy sex abuse on the rise again, and church leaders are ignoring why, sociologist says
The evidence is incontrovertible. What's more, the problem of homosexuality within the Catholic clergy has been demonstrated to be far greater than I'd previously imagined. Some years ago, I stated:
Some have alleged that the celibate nature of the Catholic clergy has provided a haven or refuge for frustrated homosexuals. I think it depends what one means by that. Contrary to some alarmist and hysterical outbursts in the news media, I don't believe for a moment that the Catholic priesthood is a hotbed of homosexual activity. Certainly, in my years as a priest, I saw no indications of it. (Let me admit, however, that because I'm heterosexual in orientation, I might have missed signs that would have been obvious to someone of a different bent – you should pardon the expression.) On the other hand, I've met a fairly large number of priests who were homosexual by orientation. As far as I'm aware, those I met were not sexually active, remaining celibate and chaste. I certainly have no evidence to the contrary. (I learned to value the ministry of such men very highly. They demonstrated a sensitivity and discernment in difficult counseling situations that I lacked, and I referred several cases to them with outstanding results.) On the basis of my own experience, I'd accept that up to a quarter of Catholic priests in the US might be classified as being of homosexual orientation. Of course, I have no hard, empirical evidence for this figure; it's my personal opinion, not a statement of demonstrable fact. However, others have advanced similar 'guesstimates'.
Having only limited personal experience of them, I can't offer an opinion about homosexuality in religious orders (groups of men or women who follow the teachings of their founder(s), living in communities – although some undertake pastoral and apostolic work in isolation – and observing a common Rule of life). According to the news media, it appears that certain establishments run by some religious orders have been rife with the sexual abuse of children, involving homosexual acts in the vast majority of reported cases. This is sickening beyond belief, and I can only hope and pray that the problem was restricted to the institutions and orders so far identified. To think that it might be ongoing and as yet undiscovered in other Church institutions is a prospect too ghastly to contemplate.
Again, more at the link.
Sadly, in the light of all the evidence that's emerged since I wrote those words back in 2010, I must now concede that the proportion of homosexual to heterosexual clergy in the Catholic Church is far higher than I'd previously suspected. I'm not, of course, suggesting that all clergy with a homosexual orientation are also practicing homosexuals; I'm sure many of them are faithful to their promise or vow of celibacy and/or chastity, and as such are in good standing with God and the Church. Nevertheless, it seems clear that many have failed to live up to their vows and promises, and should therefore be removed from the ranks of the clergy - just as should all clergy, including heterosexuals, who repeatedly demonstrate their inability to control their sexual urges.
The Cardinal's remarks are thus explained, and I think he has a point. However, he fails to point out that it's the Catholic Church's fault for admitting so many candidates to the priesthood who were manifestly incapable of living the celibate lifestyle to which they claimed to be called. Catholic seminaries must bear a very large share of the blame for this, particularly because some appear to have been hotbeds (you should pardon the expression) of homosexual activism and activity. As I said earlier, I blame the Bishops who were in charge of supervising them for failing to act to curb such irregularities - more than irregularities: such sins. That's what it amounts to, after all, according to the teaching of the Church. Unchecked, those sins led on to actual crimes, which is the situation in which the Catholic Church finds itself today.
And that's why so much odium has been heaped upon Cardinal Brandmüller's head for his comments. Homosexuals are outraged because they feel that their sexual orientation is being exclusively blamed for the crisis. They prefer to ignore the fact that it's been demonstrated, pretty conclusively, that such attractions are at the root of the crisis. Overwhelmingly (in well over four out of every five incidents of clergy child sex abuse), cases have involved male clergy and male youths and homosexual behavior. Like them or not, those are the facts. They can't gainsay them: therefore, they're attacking the messenger, in the hope that discrediting him will also discredit his message. This time, that won't work. The evidence is incontrovertible.
The Catholic Church remains overwhelmingly to blame for this crisis, due to her abdication of responsibility for ensuring that priestly formation, training and education excluded such individuals and did not allow them to achieve positions in which they could commit their sins and crimes, and for failing to act against those who were exposed. Nevertheless, let's not lose sight that the homosexual lifestyle and culture must also bear a significant part of the blame. That's medically and scientifically incontrovertible, as demonstrated in the studies and articles cited above.