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Catholic League Blames Sexual Abuse by Priests on Homosexuality and Says Kids Willingly Participated

By carolyncastiglia |

catholic church, sex abuse scandal, priests

Protesters angry over sex abuse denial in the Catholic Church.

This story is both disturbing and disappointing – to say the least – but unfortunately not at all surprising.  On Monday, the Catholic League (which has the nerve to end their organization’s name with the descriptor “for Religious and Civil Rights”) ran a full page ad in The New York Times blaming sexual abuse in the Church on “homosexuality, not pedophilia.”

And, as The Raw Story points out, “it also claimed that some children were active participants in the abuse.”

If Bette Midler is correct and God is watching us, I hope He’s throwing up right now.

In the ad, the full text of which I am led to believe is here on the Catholic League site, the organization’s president, Bill Donohue, writes, “The refrain that child rape is a reality in the Church is twice wrong: let’s get it straight — they weren’t children and they weren’t raped…. most of the victims have been adolescents, and the most common abuse has been inappropriate touching (inexcusable though this is, it is not rape).”  He goes on to cite a 2004 John Jay College study about sexual abuse in the Catholic Church – a study which was funded by US Bishops – as having found that “more than three-quarters of the victims were post pubescent, meaning the abuse did not meet the clinical definition of pedophilia.”  Donahue adds, “In other words, the issue is homosexuality, not pedophilia.”

Okay.  Okay, okay, okay.  As someone who was raised Catholic in a town where more than one priest was, uh, disrobed for having touched kids, let me say this: do I think in the past gay men hid behind the collar in order to avoid a life of ridicule?  Sure I do.  That said, do I think being gay automatically makes one a kid-toucher?  Nope.  Of course not.  Now, could it be that the vow of celibacy required of priests may have an effect on their urge to touch children?  I don’t know, but either way, that dynamic would affect both straight and gay priests, as it clearly has.  According to The Raw Story, figures compiled by the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP) show “that half of those abused are female.”  It’s obvious that sexual abuse in the Church isn’t “caused” by homosexuality, and I don’t think every priest who has ever touched a kid was a pedophile, per se, either.  Ultimately, it doesn’t really matter why these priests have abused their power, although the Church really may want to look into that whole letting priests marry and accepting gay people for who they are thing.  What truly matters is that these men have abused their power, and yet they haven’t been brought to justice.

I suppose the silver lining to this horrible black cloud hanging over the Catholic Church is that not all Catholic voices sound like Bill Donahue’s.  Phil Attey, executive director of Catholics for Equality, is quoted as saying, ”We’re disappointed that Bill Donahue refuses to look at the long-term well-being of the Catholic Church by joining the overwhelming majority of American Catholics who see the only path toward fixing the problem to be the establishment of permanent structures for the laity to be involved in the running of the church.”

Okay, sure.  Let the lay people be more involved.  But what about bringing the offending priests to justice?  Unfortunately, Donohue claims that those identifying themselves as victims of abuse are only doing so for financial gain.  He writes, “When $225,000 is dished out to a Michigan man who claims he was abused in the 1950s by a priest who died in 1983—and the diocese admits the accusation is unsubstantiated—it encourages fraud.”  I highly doubt the majority of those who were as children abused by priests are looking to cash in.  I think what anyone who was raised Catholic in the last 50 years wants is to see justice.  Thankfully I never experienced that sort of abuse as a child, but I’m still disgusted by the Church’s continual dismissal of these horrifying – and I believe wholly factual – claims.

Donohue says, “of the 4,392 priests accused of sexual abuse from 1950-2002, almost 56 percent faced only one misconduct allegation, and at least some of these would certainly vanish under detailed scrutiny.”  I wonder what “detailed scrutiny” means and where that scrutiny would come from.  (The Church, no doubt.)  Let’s just say that only half of these accusations are true: that’s about 39 priests a year on average being accused of sexual abuse against children.  Except two priests in my very hometown were “removed from service” by the Church for touching kids over a period of those years.  That’s two priests in one town of fewer than 50,000 people.  Someone’s numbers are off.  (I’d venture to say the Catholic League’s numbers represent only those cases taken seriously by the Church and do not encompass all of the dismissed allegations.)  And, by the way, how many lives can just two priests ruin?  In the 80′s, when I was growing up in the Church, there were on average at least 20 kids from 2nd to 10th grade taking religious instruction at each of the two Catholic churches where these men led their congregations.  It’s likely that 360 kids below the age of consent were exposed to these men each year.

The Raw Story notes, “Allegations of sexual abuse involving the Roman Catholic clergy in the United States rose sharply last year to nearly 700 from around 400 in 2009,” according to a church report Monday.  ”The vast majority of the allegations, 653, involved alleged abuse that occurred decades ago but whose victims/survivors are just now finding the courage to report them,” the study said.  So clearly there are more than 4,392 priests who have engaged in the sexual abuse of children.  I don’t care how you slice it, that number is high, even over a span of 52 years, especially considering that these men have taken a vow of chastity and purity and are representing themselves as the most moral members of our society.

Here’s a hint, Mr. Donohue: stop trying to scapegoat homosexuality for child sex abuse in the Catholic Church and start encouraging your beloved priests to come clean and pay the price.  Otherwise, after a few more decades of this abhorrent scapegoating, denial and protecting the guilty, you’ll be the only person left in the Catholic Church.  Not that many in my generation would notice or care.  Most of us gave up on the Church years ago.

Source: The Raw Story

Photo via Flickr

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Carolyn Castiglia is a New York-based comedian/writer wowing audiences with her stand-up and freestyle rap. She’s appeared in TONY, The NY Post, The Idiot’s Guide to Jokes and Life & Style. You can find Carolyn’s writing elsewhere online at MarieClaire.com and The Huffington Post. Read bio and latest posts → Read Carolyn's latest posts →

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21 thoughts on “Catholic League Blames Sexual Abuse by Priests on Homosexuality and Says Kids Willingly Participated

  1. Negin says:

    So disgusted with this reasoning I don’t know what to say. I’m shocked. Maybe this is a huge Catholic prank? Like a joke press release? Was it opposite day at the Catholic League? What could possibly explain this?

  2. carolyncastiglia says:

    Note to world! Negin is Muslim! Muslims are not kid-touchers!

  3. Selena says:

    How in the hell ANYONE can be Catholic in this day and age blows my mind. Sexual abuse by priests was perpetrated in my hometown (Weston, MA) and has hurt so many people I know.

    And Donahue’s belief that many of the accusers are frauds is unconscionable. How does he look at himself in the mirror?

  4. goddess says:

    Wow- no Muslims are pedophiles? That’s wicked cool- TFS!

  5. goddess says:

    OH except for the ones who stone women and perform honor killings. Not quite so cool. But still wicked ;-)

    Guess there are pedophiles, misogynists, sadists and sociopaths in all ethnicities, religions, genders and sexual orientations eh?

  6. carolyncastiglia says:

    It was a joke, Goddess. Don’t get your burka in a bunch. Negin is a friend. But she’s not a pedophile!

  7. Katy E says:

    @ Selena, I AM Roman Catholic. I am, like the majority of practicing Catholics, very saddened by the rampant reports of abuse at the hands of some Catholic priests. It’s tragic. Just about every priest I’ve ever met has been heartbroken at how the child-molesting priests(and these vicious molesters are, in fact, small in number but the devastation they caused is quite far reaching…just like the rest of the pedophiles in the world) have tarnished the name of the Church. Donohue is a fool and saying what he said was NOT correct nor is it a universal sentiment among Catholics. Here’s the truth of the matter… Is there a disproportionately high number of pedophiles in the priesthood when compared to the number of pedophiles in the profession of education or coaching t-ball teams or are ministers in any other religious denominations? No. Not likely. The Roman Catholic church, as the largest Christian denomination in the world, is just a much larger, more visible religious/political institution so it draws more attention. It is unfortunate that the shameful behavior of a few horrible priests have spoiled the Church for so many and it’s even worse that the Church didn’t come clean about it and nip it in the bud earlier.

    I still stand by my faith. The ritual and beauty of the Mass speaks to my soul. It’s where I hear God the loudest. I may not agree with how the POLITICAL Church handled the molestation problem but I do find the RELIGIOUS Church to be something truly beautiful. Maybe that’s not where you hear God’s voice the loudest, Selena, but that is “how in the hell” this girl can still be Catholic.

  8. goddess says:

    Who the heck IS Negin? Jokes on me, LOL!

  9. Joshua Ray says:

    Wow. It’s hard not to fume over a topic such as child molestation. I can’t imagine anything that gets under my skin more. They blame the homosexuals and the victims. They cover up children getting hurt to protect the perpetrators. And their solution has been to not let any homosexuals into the priesthood going forward. Does anyone really believe that men said they were gay when they entered the priesthood and took a vow of celibacy? With pederasty even being mentioned, the fact is that they weren’t truly celibate from the start and didn’t see themselves as homosexuals because they tortured same-sex adult partners. Yet they continue to blame homosexuals as if judgment hasn’t been tried before and hostility towards homosexuals gets worse across the planet. And gay children will get scared into the priesthood. What’s worse is that they leaked the act of men playing God on children into other church’s (which broke away) and society. I wonder what this planet would be like if people took a strict stance in saying that sex should be between adults period, kept their noses out of other peoples’ business, and actually measured sins starting with God’s top 10. Unfortunately, God has been turned into sex and it’s their own fault with discussions on praying before intimacy, when to use protection etc. If not for the fear of the priests alone, who wants their kids around such discussions when they go to worship?

  10. MsFortune says:

    Well, Catholics – you lie with dogs, you get fleas.

    How horrible for the victims – to be assaulted to begin with, and then to have your assaults minimized or dismissed, is another assault.

  11. Katy E says:

    Thank you for that hasty generalization, Msfortune. Hope it makes you feel better about yourself to put an entire group down because of the poor behavior of a few.

  12. Mistress_Scorpio says:

    A few? Please, the current head of the catholic church participated in covering the crimes up. And yet we want to sit on judgment of other religions. Gah.

  13. Norma Villarreal says:

    I hope Catholics are outraged and disgusted with Donohue’s comments. It is not about homosexuality or willing participants; the issue continues to be about bishops and the heirarchy passing along (alleged) predators.

  14. Joshua Ray says:

    Just because there are only a few priests (even though the number is much greater than a few) that have been caught doesn’t mean there aren’t a lot more occurrences than what we know about. And when the priesthood tries to tell every religion and society how to live their lives they deserve every bit of it. This is entirely their own fault and it doesn’t make them look any better by trying to throw the blame off on everyone else.

    1) The fact that pederasty has been mentioned confirms that the priests weren’t celibate from the start. It doesn’t make sense that they’d pick up an ancient European practice from no where. And in the Catholic Church’s beginning they didn’t see themselves as homosexuals. They had men that were attracted to men publicly lit on fire (hence the derogatory term everybody knows). It’s important to note that while the current problem isn’t merely a homosexual problem, it is a result of society making people confused about their sexuality.
    2) Gay children that saw this were forced deep into hiding. Some into the Church.
    3) The Priests believe they are intermediaries to God. Hence they think they are like God and can take whatever they want. At least one priest told a kid he was getting him closer to God.
    4) Most of the cases of molestation have come out since 2002 and the occurrences were most prevalent in the 1970’s. This leads most people to conclude that most cases of molestation occurred in the 1970’s, which is not necessarily the case. One has to take into account a number of different factors. One factor being the mentality of the generations leading up to that time. A generation where many kids were told that they were imagining whatever was happening to them. Not to mention the fact that older generations were raised with the mentality that they weren’t supposed to talk about their problems. This is illustrated in cases of post traumatic stress disorder. Prior to the Vietnam War there weren’t as many cases not because soldiers didn’t experience it, but because they were told and raised to bury it.
    5) The fact that the cases drop off since the 1970s probably has more to do with the fact that people have become more comfortable with their sexuality. More homosexuals have felt comfortable with pursuing adult relationships without fear of being harassed or killed by mobs. However, it’s still a problem, more so in the developing countries.
    6) One has to take into account the impact technology has had on the situation. In the past, people in Oregon would have been less likely to know about what happens in places like Philadelphia and thus would have been less likely to talk about their own bad experiences. Hearing others stand up against it gives some strength and lets them know that they shouldn’t be ashamed.
    7) The Church’s blaming the problem on homosexuals only creates more hostility against homosexuals globally and will only add to the problem.
    8) The only reason the problem is prevalent in other churches is because they broke away from the Catholic Church, which was set up to force them into the Priesthood (pederasty). A problem that started with the Catholic Church has bled into other churches/religions and society from the Greek/Roman practice of pederasty. When the Church was started, people who didn’t submit to the Church were seen as heretics and executed. As people broke away, the Church’s dirty secrets poured into the organizations and society and exposed their truths.
    9) There are primarily two types of homosexuals in the priesthood today. Those that prefer men and those that prefer children. Whether one wants to differentiate between pre and post pubescent makes no difference. They are children and there are laws against it. Sadly, the ones that prefer adults usually know the ones that prefer children and don’t speak up for the children. I recently spoke to an ex-friar that said they would all be sitting around and then would point out a priest that preferred children and laugh. He said that not long after the pedophile priests would be called out, they would be transferred.
    10) The Catholic Church’s blaming the problem on homosexuals and the victims does little to stop the problem going forward. The Church refuses to take responsibility for anything and, worse, they feel the need to lecture society and other religions on sex. Recently, a priest condemned Israel for allowing a gay parade in Jerusalem. As if a gay parade in Jerusalem is making priests across the globe molest children. My guess is the problem will take a long time before it goes away, if ever, but it won’t start with men in a church that pretend they aren’t sexual beings.
    11) It’s one thing for homosexuals to not believe in God because people tell them that He doesn’t apply to them. It’s another thing for the men in religion to strip all spirituality from children and any concept of God. And yet another to tell the children it’s their fault.
    12) Societies, religions etc have never taken a stance in saying that sexual relations should be between adults…period. Their primary goal has always been to condemn homosexuals. To most, the primary evil has always been homosexuals. This is evident in the number of comments on how gays burn in hell with less of a regard for child molesters. It’s further illustrated in the fact that same-sex adult partners have always been condemned while the Catholic Church didn’t condemn child molestation as a grave sin until 2010.
    13) The “ungayers” are going into the gay community and telling homosexuals that are battling depression that they will help them only if they promise not to be gay, leaving those that refuse to die…other peoples’ children die. Leading me to conclude that they could help any of those battling depression if they wanted to. Then they return to their churches on Sunday and talk about the love of God, compassion of Christ, and the footsteps of the Lord. These men seem to think that there’s a time limit on when one can find Christ and that they control the pace in the human race.

  15. Magnoliamama says:

    Shame on them! Shame!

    Articles like these remind me that the Catholic church will not get a dime of my family’s money.

    My husband and I were just talking about school options and the possibility of sending our child to a Catholic school. I was raised a Catholic and attended Catholic school and left because of a clash in my beliefs about homosexuality and birth control. I am so incredibly glad that I’ve left the church and that my child is being taught that God loves all of creation equally and trusts us to make our own decisions about our bodies.

  16. concerned says:

    @ Katy E: Thank you for your responses above. My family will soon (almost certainly) begin the process of becoming Catholic, and this is the main (almost the only?) thing that makes me hesitant. I’ve been wondering how devout Catholics take the inevitable attacks against the Church and themselves when such things like this are discussed. Thanks for posting.

  17. jenny tries too hard says:

    Catholics have been outraged and disgusted by Bill Donohue and his ilk for years. He pulled the same stunt last year, again, right before Holy Week and every Catholic I know was angry with him then, too. The man’s got a serious need for negative attention. Also, he spits when he talks.

    Catholics have been working hard to address the very real problem of pedophilia and pederasty among the clergy, but (and I’ve said this before) it’s the same problem that is faced by ANY organization that employs imperfect human beings in positions of authority over others. Catholic priests are accused of and convicted of abuse at numbers identical to clergy of other faiths and at a rate very similar to men in other leadership/mentoring positions (e.g. coaches, Big Brothers, teachers). How can I still be Catholic? The same way I can still go to dentists even though I’ve seen one knowingly do an unneeded extraction without properly numbing the patient. Same way I can send my children to school even knowing that pedophile teachers exist. I won’t turn away from knowledge and practice that is life-saving and correct because of the bad actions of some people who abuse that knowledge and practice.

  18. Shonna says:

    Thank you @Katy E. Well said. That is exactly how *this* Catholic feels too.

  19. Wow says:

    I am shocked by this story even though I must say it is well written. The reason there are more Catholic predators that any other demonition is because simply there are more Catholics in the world than all other religions combined. If you compare the percentages according to each denomination, then there is a slight increase in Catholic abusers over the rest. One thing needs to screamed from the mountain top, a child cannot legally consent to sexual contact until the child reaches the legal age of consent usually 17, I believe in most states. Donohue needs to understand this more than anyone. Also, pedophiles are people who pray upon children who have not reached puberty. Ephebophiles are people who pray upon children who have reached puberty. There is a big difference, in case anyone doesn’t remember their own childhood experience. Teenagers often believe that they are able to consent and promise not to tell for many reasons. The age of consent is a law that is not to be broken. I believe anyone of any age can be abused by someone in a position of power above them, but at least when we are adults, hopefully, we have the life skills to deal with it accordingly. It is really sad the someone like Donohue who is obviously uneducated and uninformed in the area of sexual abuse is allowed to open his mouth and spit out such terrible information. I am sure some of his followers believe what he says simply because he is in a position of power over them. Interestingly enough that a comparison can be made to child abuse in that way. The kids, no matter the age, are taught to believe what a priest says or does without question. I seriously think Donohue’s followers need to do their own research and draw their own conclusions from the facts available.

  20. Let Go Let Peace Come In says:

    Please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Gretchen Paules and I am the Administrative Director for a newly formed nonprofit called the Let Go…Let Peace Come In Foundation. Our mission at LGLPCI is to help heal and support adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse worldwide. We are actively seeking adult survivors who would be willing to post their childhood photo & caption, their story, or their creative expressions to our website http://www.letgoletpeacecomein.org. We also have a youtube video that can be watched at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b4PDC03Gl2k. By uniting survivors from around the globe we hope to provide a stronger and more powerful voice to those survivors who have not yet found the courage to speak out or have been cast aside with disbelief.

    I am writing to you today to ask you to please consider sharing our website with adult survivors you may come in contact with. It is through the support of courageous advocates like you that we will succeed in our effort to help one survivor at a time. If you have any questions please feel free to e-mail me directly at gretchen@letgoletpeacecomein.org. Together we can; together we should; together we NEED to stand up and be counted.

  21. Renee says:

    I just wanted to point out that the Catholic League is in no way supported by or affiliated with the Catholic Church. The Catholic League is really the extremist view that almost no actual Catholics believe – a bit like extremist Muslims may be violent when in reality their religion is peaceful.

    As an ACTUAL Catholic, the Catholic League disgusts me.

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