« At Get Religion | Main | »

November 15, 2004

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d83451be0d69e200d83471fefd69e2

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Silenced? Not quite.:

Comments

Henry Dieterich

Galatians 6:8. Since the 1960s the Church has been sowing to the flesh and has reaped corruption. I remember well that one of the reasons I never wanted to pursue the possibility of the priesthood when I was young (in the 1970s) was a feeling that the seminaries were full of homosexuals. It would appear this fear was well-founded. I wonder how many young men who actually had vocations were driven away.

On another point, what is a laicized priest, who committed adultery and then married his paramour, doing serving as a parish administrator? I didn't think such things were allowed.

Rich Leonardi

On another point, what is a laicized priest, who committed adultery and then married his paramour, doing serving as a parish administrator?

I believe he's now an Episcopalian.

Marie

I live in the diocese of Arlington, and I think this priest's numbers are way off. For one thing, if the number of homosexuals among the diocesan priests were as high as he suggests, why have there been so few allegations of abuse here as compared to elsewhere? For another, I find it hard to reconcile his figures with the diocese's long-standing policy (at least under former Bishop Keating) of not admitting homosexual men to the seminaries.
I think it's more likely that this priest has some issues, and that the Times is only too happy to give him a forum.

Fr. Matthew K

My comments on this article and the bigger issue are on my blog. Don't get me wrong on the references to Welborn and Dreher, I think they are both reputable journalists whom I normally pay attention to. But I'm just so sick and tired of this "one-note opera".

Desert Chatter

WashTimes to Bishops: "Welcome to Washington!" What timing for this "news" story!

Just one more scandal for the bishops to sit on and hope for the best.

al

Fr. Gould, mentioned in the article vouching for Fr. Haley, is a good and holy priest. He frequently appears on EWTN

Rich Leonardi

The fact that Fr. Haley apparently has reams of evidence, e.g., emails, photos, correspondence, with dates and names suggests there's more to this than just a smear campaign. But relying on Cozzens and Sipe is definitely a red flag (or at least a stale yellow one.) When Cozzens visited Cincinnati as a guest of VOTF last year, he thundered overturning the Church's "feudal" structure.

Joseph R. Wilson

"why are they so anti-clerical and anti-Catholic? Maybe because of their connection to the Unification Church? Seems to me the Moonies have enough problems of their own, without printing slanderous articles about priests."--Fr. Matthew K.

Father,please take care that you not jump to conclusions and possibly risk falsely maligning reputations. Your passion is understandable in light of this possible grave scandal. Very few of us faithful Catholics really want to believe these things about our shepherds.


Marie

"As his prospects of returning to life as a parish priest dwindle, he has amassed reams of tapes, videos, photographs, e-mail messages and 1,200 pages of documents for a tell-all book on homosexuality and the priesthood."

How do you suppose that Fr. Haley got his hands on these items? Think about it. This is a man who must have systematically rooted through the belongings and computer files of his fellow priests in an effort to expose the homosexual problem he perceived.
I believe that Fr. Haley is correct when he identifies homosexuality in the priesthood as a principal cause of the sexual abuse crisis, and he was also apparently correct in his evaluation of the sexual offenses of his former pastor and several other priests. But his conduct and comments reported in this article seem those of a man obsessed.

Joseph R. Wilson

"This is a man who must have systematically rooted through the belongings and computer files of his fellow priests in an effort to expose the homosexual problem he perceived." and, "But his conduct and comments reported in this article seem those of a man obsessed."
-- Marie


I'm not willing to speculate on the possibility that Father Haley may have engaged in misconduct or have an obsession, but I find the following quotes from the article attributed to Fr. Gould (an outstanding priest in his own right) to be of possible relevance:

"Father Haley is "a good man and a good priest," Father Gould said. "I am very concerned for him. It is still my hope to have him back in the priesthood, and he is always welcome with me.""

Shouldn't we all wait until we have more facts before making hasty judgments?

Christopher Rake

I don't know what the real deal is here. But I will never understand what appeared to be the nearly unbelievable handling of the Fr. Verrecchia scandal. This was a parish priest who was counseling a wife distressed about her marriage, and he ended up eloping with her. Despite Fr. Haley's complaints about the matter, the husband was stonewalled pretty much until the new couple's U-Haul was heading south on I-95. Can you even imagine being that poor man in this church? But by all appearances, Bishop Loverde trained his institutional wrath upon Fr. Haley, which, at the time, seemed to be a case of very poor aim.

But this is the pattern we have come to expect, which is why I said the handling of this case was nearly unbelievable.

al

Marie,
Maybe facing a scandal like the one we've seen over the last few years, obsession is the correct response. At least its better than blase.

caroline

Fr. Haley seems to have a simple, childlike soul. He has no talent for rationalization. When he sins, he just sins.
He can't understand how priests can offer Mass in the morning and screw around in the afternoon and feel innocent of serious sin while they're at it. I suggest the poor man's obsession is not with homosexual activity in the priesthood but with the ability of activly homosexual priests to rationalize their homosexual behavior.

Todd

"For one thing, if the number of homosexuals among the diocesan priests were as high as he suggests, why have there been so few allegations of abuse here as compared to elsewhere?"

Perhaps it is because there is less correlation between SSA and child sexual abuse than some think.

And some aspects of church feudal structure could certainly use toppling over.

Leo

I guess I have a simple childlike soul too.

I can sort of understand how a man can molest a child, though it's a stretch. I can certainly understand how a man can commit sexual sins, since I've committed a few.

And I can almost imagine mounting the altar to offer the Mass, that supreme prayer of the Son to the Father in the Spirit.

What I can't imagine is committing some vile sexual sin and then appearing at the altar in the morning as though nothing had happened. I think I can pull off one or the other. But doing both seems impossible to me.

Joseph R. Wilson

"What I can't imagine is committing some vile sexual sin and then appearing at the altar in the morning as though nothing had happened. I think I can pull off one or the other. But doing both seems impossible to me."

I've wondered the same, and can only conclude that such priests and bishops may not really believe, at least that which I understand we are called to believe.

Rich Leonardi

And some aspects of church feudal structure could certainly use toppling over.

Evidently the fourth mark of the Church is written in pencil.

Marie

"Perhaps it is because there is less correlation between SSA and child sexual abuse than some think."

There is no question, however, that the vast majority of the priest sexual abuse cases were homosexual in nature (and not pedophilia). If 60% of Arlington's priests are homosexual, one would expect a few more cases here, and they simply don't exist. Even Fr. Verecchia's conduct, although reprehensible, involved an adult female. Fr. Haley's credibility is seriously compromised by this ridiculous number.

Todd

"What I can't imagine is committing some vile sexual sin and then appearing at the altar in the morning as though nothing had happened."

Addicts are especially practiced at charming others as well as charming or deceiving themselves. Such people set up (at least) two separate compartments in their lives. Since it is so easy to deceive and seduce others, why not the virtuous self?

Marie, you posted, "There is no question, however, that the vast majority of the priest sexual abuse cases were homosexual in nature (and not pedophilia). If you define SSA of children as homosexual, then you are correct. I think the pathology of seducing minors: teens (ephebophilia) or children (pedophilia) overrides sexual orientation. In the secular sphere, most child abusers prowl both sexes without prejudice. However, most abuse cases occurred with priests formed before Vatican II, before, presumably, the gay subculture "took over." I still think the correlation is a flimsy one to make. Sure, some gays abuse children. But in the general population, there's no evidence they do so any more often than straight adults. There are also cultural factors at work in Catholic institutions (boys-only altar servers and all-boys schools) that severely cut down easy access of clergy to girls.

Joseph R. Wilson

Marie, I respectfully submit that Fr. Haley may know more about the priests of his diocese than do you. I'm not at all sure that you can accurately estimate the proportion of homosexual priests by the number of reported abuse cases. This would be a statistically unsound practice given the fact that such cases represent low probability events, and that much of the sexual abuse of underage boys goes unreported for understandable reasons.

Fr. Haley may lack credibility, but you haven't yet convinced me. The whole situation sounds incredible, but my guess is that Fr. Haley's impressions aren't far off. Can you agree that there is a real problem of unchaste homosexual priests in our Church?

Mimi

>I think the pathology of seducing minors:
>teens (ephebophilia) or children
>(pedophilia) overrides sexual orientation.

Not so, from what I have read -- abuse of the prepubescnet does indeed override orientation, but those who take advantage of sexually mature minors generally are simply acting on the "prettiest," most malleable members of the sex to which they attracted.

>In the secular sphere, most child abusers >prowl both sexes without prejudice.

Again, only those who target the prepubescent, I believe.

>most abuse cases occurred with priests >formed before Vatican II, before, >presumably, the gay subculture "took over."

Well, most of the history of the Catholic Church in America occurred "before Vatican II," so that is a kind of irrelevant if indisputable factoid.
Are you aware of some study that charts the INCIDENCE of abuse by the years the perpetrator spent in seminary?
I have seen statistics (I'll try to find the source to post,) that indicate clerical child abuse peaked in the late 70s, IIRC, but not the age or time of ordination of the priests involved.

>But in the general population, there's no >evidence they do so any more often than >straight adults.

Not true.
There is a strong statistical link between being vicitmized by sexual abuse as a child and growing up to self-identify as homosexual, and there is compelling evidence that abuse victims grow up to be abusers at a greater rate than the general populace. It is not politically correct to say so, (and I, for one, fear that such evidence will be used to keep homosexuals from the priesthood, which I feel would be a serious mistake on the part of the Church,) but a homosexual is indeed more likely to be an abuser than a heterosexual.

Meaghan

Fr. Matthew K,

" But I'm just so sick and tired of this "one-note opera".

As another poster commented on a previous thread, " For some reason which honestly escapes me, the violation of a child does not cause churchmen the SPONTANEOUS OUTRAGE (emphasis mine) that it triggers in EVERYONE ELSE( again emphasis mine). This is true even of men who are otherwise very sensitive. I am puzzled by the hierarchy's reaction here."

I agree with the comments I just posted and your comment above confirms these thoughts to me.

FYI, I am assuming that you are not the father of multiple sons. I happen to be a parent of multiple sons that, by the grace of God, were spared being victims of the primary abusing priest in Bishop Skylstad's diocese. We were in the parish where he was stationed with the then Fr. Skylstad overseeing him. The same Skylstad who supposedly made noise and comments when coming down the stairs of his apt. so that the abusing priest below would hear him. He has not fully explained that fact, and the statements from the abusing priest seem more forthright than the bishop's.

We then moved and were in the neighboring parish where the same abusing priest was sent (to the knowledge of 2 bishops before Skylstad) and who devastated many young boys/adolescents in that parish. Many families left the church for a non-Catholic church.

This "one-note opera" has devastated individuals, families and parishes. Please don't condescend to those of us who are living in dioceses that are suffering from the arrogance and abuse of the hierarchy. (My children weren't abused, and I cannot fathom the horror, pain and anger of those whose children were---it would not hurt the hierarchy to try to walk in humility in the shoes of those whom they say they are there to pastor.)

Ignatius

Mimi wrote:

There is a strong statistical link between being vicitmized by sexual abuse as a child and growing up to self-identify as homosexual, and there is compelling evidence that abuse victims grow up to be abusers at a greater rate than the general populace. It is not politically correct to say so, (and I, for one, fear that such evidence will be used to keep homosexuals from the priesthood, which I feel would be a serious mistake on the part of the Church,) but a homosexual is indeed more likely to be an abuser than a heterosexual.

Cite?

Rich Leonardi

Folks,

Both Todd and Ignatius persistently deny the truth of the Church's teaching on sexuality and rarely participate in threads unless given an opportunity to do so. Take their bait at your own risk.

Karen Howard

Fr. Matthew K.'s post on this subject on his blog (sodakmonk.crimsonblog.com/archives20041101.html#91268) is very good. In particular, the graph showing accusations as a function of ordination year does seem to indicate that the abuse problem is largely behind us.

One phenomenon that I've noticed in the reporting of the priest scandal is the emphasis on anecdotal, rather than statistical, information, ie, individual stories rather than the big picture. Obviously it's critical to look at the former, because that's where you really see the human cost of the scandal.

However, only looking at the anecdotal is going to have the effect of skewing our perception of the magnitude and nature of the problem. It's the statistics that are going to tell us how big and what kind of a problem we have.

Joseph R. Wilson

"It's the statistics that are going to tell us how big and what kind of a problem we have."--Karen Howard

There are lies, damn lies, and then there are statistics (attributed to Mark Twain). I don't think that they were used much in scripture.

Marie

"If you define SSA of children as homosexual, then you are correct."

I define "homosexual" activities to include adult men engaging in sexual conduct with adolescent males. More than 80% of the reported priest abuse fit that description. Fr. Haley is right on when he identifies homosexuality among priests as a primary cause of the sexual abuse of young males. He is out to lunch, however, when he claims that 60% of Arlington's priests are homosexuals.
Fr. Gould is no fool. His statement was very carefully worded, and you'll note that he did not comment on the 60% figure. Fr. Gould is first and foremost a pastor, and no doubt his primary concern is for the welfare of an evidently troubled priest.

Marie

"Fr. Haley may lack credibility, but you haven't yet convinced me. The whole situation sounds incredible, but my guess is that Fr. Haley's impressions aren't far off. Can you agree that there is a real problem of unchaste homosexual priests in our Church?"

My guess is that Fr. Haley's impressions are just that -- impressions.

Ignatius

Rich,
You understate my position. I believe that the Church's social policy toward gay people was formulated by men like Bishop O'Connell, who are who successively prey on homosexual youth and then throw them to the wolves in the laity, who profess outrage at the sexual exploitation of youth but would just as soon see a gay teenager dead.

Joseph R. Wilson

"I believe that the Church's social policy toward gay people was formulated by men like Bishop O'Connell, who are who successively prey on homosexual youth and then throw them to the wolves in the laity, who profess outrage at the sexual exploitation of youth but would just as soon see a gay teenager dead."

Ignatius, I doubt that Bishop O'Connel had these sentiments. Is there any room in the formulation of social policy toward SSA people for the Holy Spirit in your understanding of the faith?

Sara

yikes! Mercy... can anyone reading this just stop and say a prayer? ...... ok thanks. I'm in the diocese of Arlington and this is not the first time I've heard of things like this. In fact, I have even witnessed myself things that I felt were inappropriate between a priest and parishoner.

It is certainly disturbing if Fr. Hurley intends to take all this evidence and make it into yet another public scandal, because it seems that if he loved the Church as he says he does, he would take this to the hierarchy or other priests rather than the media. But at the same time, if it really is as bad as it sounds, perhaps the only thing he thinks will help is a wake-up call to the Church in the US.

Mercy.

Todd

Rich, you posted, "Both Todd and Ignatius persistently deny the truth of the Church's teaching on sexuality..."

Cite? And I'd suggest you come up with something more substantive than my position on the foster care system. And even if I expressed doubts (which is different than denial) that doesn't mean I don't have the facts straight.

Re Mimi's point, if you broaden the definition of homosexuality to include SSA to teens, you have instances of adults initiating adolescents quite frequently in Western culture, both heterosexually and homosexually. Prostitutes might be engaged (as my father pointed out to me) to "awaken" young men in his day. Such motivations are hardly a product of sexual attraction. I remain suspicious of the automatic branding of confused and pathological ephebophiles as gays. The proof would be in their sexual relationships outside of the underage category, not how others or even they themselves define what they are.

And back to baiting:
- I'm glad no one has come up with a convicning counterargument to mine on institutional accessibility as one factor in the skewing of clerical sex abuse 3-1 toward males.
- I also note silence on the point about the gay takeover since the 60's. If that did happen, why have abuse levels dropped substantially since 1973? If the gay molesters have always been there, what does that say about the large seminary contingents of the mid-20th century?

Rich, you and I have sparred well before, but attacking the messenger is a sign of an unwillingness to engage the truth. Avoiding the truth is not a virtue, nor is it a sensible approach in a time of crisis.

Bubbles

Todd, there is no such pathology as ephebophilia, it's a relative neologism. It is not recognized as a pathology by any reputable organization. The reason for this is that sexual attraction is understood to be triggered in part by the presence of secondary sexual characteristics. Finding a post-pubescent minor sexually attractive is not, in itself, pathological. It's biological. Your willing conflation of pedophilia with what has happened in the church has no basis in reality. None.

Pedophiles are attracted to pre-pubescent children. They find the lack of secondary sexual characteristics, sexually exciting. Their sexual attraction to children is primarily physical. Most pedophiles prefer one sex over the other, but with a lack of secondary sexual characteristics, this preference has less weight than in the normal sexual preferences of others.

Chicken-hawks, (as the gay community calls them) on the other hand, want secondary sexual characteristics, but in people who are virginal and easily manipulated. They like "first editions." Almost all chicken-hawks prefer one sex to another and will forego easy conquests if they are of the sex they do not prefer.

Finally, a father defiling his son by taking him to a whorehouse can not, in any way, be equated to a Priest seducing and then raping a 14 year old boy who's unfortunate enough to have pubic hair. It's contemptible that you would even try.

Todd

Bubbles, if the seduction of minors was all or mostly about sexual attraction, you would have a case. It would be my contention it is an addiction with sexual overtones, but not lacking a non-sexual pathology.

We see a tragic undercurrent in a minority of the helping professions: teachers, doctors, counsellors, ministers, lawyers, and others taking advantage of their role as a helper to seduce people they can overpower. Many deviant pathologies consist of "remaking" the person. This is not sexuality as healthy people understand it. Sex is a tool for the remaking, not the expression of self-giving and sacrifice. Many clergy avoid sexual contact with the minors they abuse.

I suggest you save your contempt for people who perpetrate sexual sins on minors. If you have an argument for or against prostitution, please make it without the personal attack.

al

"it is an addiction with sexual overtones, but not lacking a non-sexual pathology"

And Homosexuality is any different?

Marie

yikes! Mercy... can anyone reading this just stop and say a prayer? ...... ok thanks. I'm in the diocese of Arlington and this is not the first time I've heard of things like this. In fact, I have even witnessed myself things that I felt were inappropriate between a priest and parishoner.

I have already stopped and said a prayer, both for Fr. Haley but also for those many holy and orthodox priests and seminarians in our diocese who have to endure yet another scandalous slander against them -- and this time, from one of their own.
Fortunately, the Times is neither widely read nor highly regarded, and perhaps this too will pass.

Bubbles

Todd, if you weren't equating "first tript to a whorehouse" with "first rape by a priest" then please accept my apologies. I misunderstood.

"if the seduction of minors was all or mostly about sexual attraction, you would have a case."

Then I have a case.

Do you have any backing for your contentions that don't rely on unproven assertions?

Seamus

"'On another point, what is a laicized priest, who committed adultery and then married his paramour, doing serving as a parish administrator?'

"I believe he's now an Episcopalian."

He is. According to the Washington Times article, the church he's administrator of is "Holy Innocents Episcopal Church in Atlanta."

Considering the origins of Anglicanism, I can see how an Episcopal church might be pretty non-judgmental about an adulterer who "marries" his paramour.

Andrew

Fr. Gould is a good and holy man, he did my wifes and mine pre-Cana at St. Agnes in Arlington, love that guy.

Arlington [parishioners and Bishop] have a definite problem against orthodox priests so I could see homosexual priests getting a pass. I recall several years ago [I now live on west coast] a very good priest [no name mentioned] who expressed his indignation, in a private manner, to a parishioner with very pro-Democrat sympathies. Said parishioner went to the Washington Post, said priest got moved out to some parish in Nowheresville VA. Very sad considering he was only doing his job. Maybe his new flock appreciates his talents versus the lib's in Arlington.

Seamus

For what it's worth, "parish administrator" appears to be a lay, not a clerical, function:
http://www.holyinnocents.org/people.htm

Marcus

Pfft...the abuse scandle isn't about homosexuality. Lemme see, the vast majority of abuse cases involve grown men and 12-17 year old boys, boys, boys, boys, and oh yeah, boys. Oh no, homosexuality has nothing to do with it.

Karen Howard

"There are lies, damn lies, and then there are statistics (attributed to Mark Twain). I don't think that they were used much in scripture."

Oh, please. Statistics is a well-understood branch of mathematics and is quite capable of providing accurate and reliable information. Were this not the case, a fairly large chunk of modern technology would not work.

What Twain was referring to is the fact that it is easy to lie with statistics, because many people don't understand how to evaluate them. Bad data or methodology will produce bad statistics. This doesn't mean that you don't use them at all. It just means that you learn how to tell good from bad results.

Leo

Meaghan's post yesterday was right on. Even priests here on this blog sometimes seem curiously clueless.

In contrast, back in the dark ages when no one (at least no one in the Church, allegedly) thought child molestation was wrong even (that is, in the late 1970's) a fifth grade teacher in our local school was found to have child pornography in his home. Mind you, no one even asserted that he had molested any child in the school; the pictures were of children in his own neighborhood elsewhere, and no allegations of actual assualt were made even there.

Luckily the schools in my town, unlike the Roman Catholic Church, are controlled by PARENTS, not by dysfunctional and bewildered hierarchs. There was no soul-searching, no asking ourselves if a one-strike policy was "draconian." This guy was out of a job like yesterday. Are you kidding me??

I had children in that school. The result was pre-ordained, and no one even DISCUSSED "therapy" or "reassignment" or any other conceivable result. Well, yeh! It's OBVIOUS, beyond discussion.

Priests don't get it.

What I just can't figure out is, why not? It seems so obvious to me. You get more than one "strike"? One precious child's development disastrously derailed? We need two maybe? Remember what Jesus said about millstones? Did he require TWO children?? WHATEVER are these men thinking?? Can someone or other, maybe a priest here, explain this to me?

Marie

"Arlington [parishioners and Bishop] have a definite problem against orthodox priests so I could see homosexual priests getting a pass. I recall several years ago [I now live on west coast] a very good priest [no name mentioned] who expressed his indignation, in a private manner, to a parishioner with very pro-Democrat sympathies. Said parishioner went to the Washington Post, said priest got moved out to some parish in Nowheresville VA. Very sad considering he was only doing his job. Maybe his new flock appreciates his talents versus the lib's in Arlington."

There are "liberal" priests in every diocese in this country. However, I have run into precious few of them in Arlington. My own parish is solidly orthodox, and our priests have been criticized by a few (and applauded by far more) for speaking out consistently on the more challenging teachings of the Church, particularly those involving human sexuality. Our diocese is also regularly mocked for maintaining the tradition of having only boys serve at the altar -- indeed, that policy was instituted by the late Bishop Keating as a result of the overwhelming consensus of the priests. It is my understanding that Bishop Loverde would like to abolish that policy, but his hands are tied by a Vatican document making clear that individual priests would remain free to use only male altar servers; he has wisely declined to wade into those waters.
I know the priest you refer to above, and "nowheresville" is still part of the diocese of Arlington.

Todd

Bubbles, I could comb through the materials my wife and I collected during our training as foster parents. We indicated a willingness to adopt a sexually abused child, so not only were we thoroughly trained by the state agencies, we also availed ourselves of numerous seminars on the topic. I'm not an expert, but I'm well-read enough to doubt the "conventional wisdom" I see proposed in St Blog's. 73% adolescent male victims is substantial, but not "overwhelming." The 17% victimized as children, taken by itself, would still be a substantial scandal for the clergy and bishops.

And since I'm not here to make converts, I'll decline your invitation to substantiate my views with a guru. I don't doubt that some addicted gay people prey on same sex adolescents. My contention is that it's not the only story. Focusing on gays alone is a scapegoating mechanism. There are no easy answers to the tragedy of sexual abuse. And the easy solution of evicting SSA people from the ordained priesthood would seem to run against not just a sense of justice, but also against the statistics of the past thirty years.

I'm not an expert in psychology, but I know denial when I see it. And it's not just the bishops.

Karen Howard

"Even priests here on this blog sometimes seem curiously clueless."

Leo, Fr. Matthew's comments were correct. He's not being clueless. Look at the chart that he links to on his blog. If that chart is correct, then the problem peaked with priests ordained in the 60s and has declined dramatically since then.

Look, if we don't try to understand what's actually going on, rather than throwing around a lot of anecdotal information, then we are the ones who are going to be clueless. All we will succeed in doing is generating a lot of anger and hot air, making blind stabs at solutions that may or may not work, and generally running around in tight little circles accomplishing nothing, and perhaps doing a great deal of damage.

What have we succeeded in doing so far? From what I can see, we have taken away the civil rights of our priests, bankrupted several dioceses, seriously discouraged volunteerism (especially in the Hispanic parishes), crippled our ability to speak to society on life issues, and generally fed the anti-Catholicism beast.

Excuse me if I don't see how any of that protects children.

Marie

"73% adolescent male victims is substantial, but not "overwhelming." The 17% victimized as children, taken by itself, would still be a substantial scandal for the clergy and bishops.

And since I'm not here to make converts, I'll decline your invitation to substantiate my views with a guru. I don't doubt that some addicted gay people prey on same sex adolescents. My contention is that it's not the only story. Focusing on gays alone is a scapegoating mechanism. There are no easy answers to the tragedy of sexual abuse. And the easy solution of evicting SSA people from the ordained priesthood would seem to run against not just a sense of justice, but also against the statistics of the past thirty years.

I'm not an expert in psychology, but I know denial when I see it. And it's not just the bishops."

I know denial when I see it, too, and I'm looking at it right now. There is, in fact, an easy answer to the problems of clerical sexual abuse. It is "fidelity, fidelity, and fidelity," to borrow from Fr. Neuhaus. Priests and bishops who reject the teachings of the Church -- including but not limited to the teachings regarding the disordered nature of homosexual behavior -- should find employment elsewhere. Men who are sexually attracted to other men deserve our compassion, prayers, and support, but it seems increasingly clear to me that admitting them to seminaries and ordaining them is a very poor practice.

kevin

If anyone would care to check out the John Jay College of Criminal Justice study commissioned by the bishops they can look it up on http://www.jjay.cuny.edu/churchstudy/main.asp. Figure 3.5.1 shows that while the number of female victims increased slightly, the number of male victims rose rather dramatically beginning in the 60's and especially the 70's. The biggest number of abusers were priests from the ordination classes of 1970-75 (Fig. 2.3.3)

Todd

Marie, the difference in my point of view is that I recognize the complexity of the crisis. With respect to Fr Neuhaus, it requires more than "fidelity, fidelity, and fidelity." Remember, we're talking the Diocese of Arlington: they pretty much invented the flavor of neotraditional Catholicism in northern Virginia. Addicts and predators have easily compartmentalized their lives to separate their function as priests from their function as perpetrators. I think you mean there is a simple answer, but for human beings, even clergy, avoiding sin can sadly be far from easy.

I agree with your assertion that non-celibates need not and should not apply to the priesthood. And even among those Catholic clergy who are validly married, loyalty to one spouse would be a given. But seminarians with SSA should have nothing to worry us, provided they are morally and psychologically capable of living as celibates.

Going twice: still no takers still on male accessibility or on the post-60's gay explosion resulting in a huge decrease in sexual predation of minors.

Marie

"Marie, the difference in my point of view is that I recognize the complexity of the crisis. With respect to Fr Neuhaus, it requires more than "fidelity, fidelity, and fidelity." "

I think that fidelity should pretty much take care of it. Priests who live up to their vows won't prey on young males; bishops who live up to their calling will not admit to the seminaries men who are sexually attracted to other males, and will act promptly to assure that all priests under their care -- particularly those charged with the formation of future priests -- actually believe and preach and strive to live what the Church teaches.

"I agree with your assertion that non-celibates need not and should not apply to the priesthood. And even among those Catholic clergy who are validly married, loyalty to one spouse would be a given. But seminarians with SSA should have nothing to worry us, provided they are morally and psychologically capable of living as celibates."

But that wasn't my assertion. Men who are sexually attracted to other men are not suitable candidates for the priesthood; those who continue to deny this fact are the ones living in the state of denial.

kevin

"Going twice: still no takers still on male accessibility or on the post-60's gay explosion resulting in a huge decrease in sexual predation of minors."

The John Jay study answers your points.

What is interesting is that, just as clerics were leaving their 'ghetto,' and mixing with laity of both sexes increasingly in the 60's and 70's, there would be an increase in sexual involvement with males, NOT females.

After an inital splurge of priest-nun or priest-lay woman romances--remember the spate of priests leaving to get married in the 1960's-70's?--it became very much a gay thing. This is what the John Jay study shows and it was mostly the post-Vat. II ordination classes who were guilty of this (1970-75). Even the priests ordained before the Council seem to have been most active afterward.

And this only deals with partners between the ages of 11-18, the John Jay study has nothing to say about consensual "legally adult" gay relationships in the priesthood.

In summary, it is very odd that with increased contact between priests and women in the loose environment of the post-Conciliar years that there would be such a dramatic increase in HOMOsexual activity. One is left to conclude that there has been an increase in psychosexually immature and damaged men entering the priesthood. It may have begun slightly before the Council, but seems to have absolutely exploded after it.

Leo

Well, OK, kevin. It does seem that homosexuality is the predominant problem here.

But the homosexuals I know outisde of the priesthood are not interested, much, in children or adolescents, just as most of the heterosexual men I know prefer adults. It seems unfair to park this on gays generally. I think your formulation, "psychosexually immature and damaged men" is closer to the point than "homosexual."

Todd

Kevin, do you have your Jay study correct? My reading of it held that the peak of abuse took place in 1970-75, with the apex in 1973. It was previous seminary classes that were rife with abusers. Someone mentioned above the Jay study did indicate abuse of girls had not lowered as much as that of boys, which would reinforce my contention part of the bias toward adolescent males was opportunism, not necessarily homosexuality. Additionally, all-male environments (prisons especially but also the military and sports teams) also produce same-sex abuse from people who are otherwise heterosexuals.

I suspect the numbers of immature and psychologically damaged seminarians was tragically and consistently high until modern psychological screening methods came into use in the 70's and later.

Marie, we just disagree on celibate priests with SSA. I don't see it as a problem. There's not anything in the makeup of people born gay with a calling to celibacy to suggest the challenge couldn't be handled. If we wanted a 75% safer environment for adolescents and children, we'd just ordain women and lock men out.

Mike Petrik

I'm still not convinced that those two terms ("psychosexually immature and damaged men" and "homosexual") are not related.

Joseph R. Wilson

"One is left to conclude that there has been an increase in psychosexually immature and damaged men entering the priesthood."--Kevin

Father Henri Nouwen wrote a book, The Wounded Healer, that served as justification and even encouragement for the ordination of some troubled priests. Thus, having serious psychological problems was considered to confer a special empathy on the seminary candidate rather than be considered disqualifying. In some cases the theory probably worked. Unfortunately, psychologists and psychiatrists probably didn't serve the bishops well in many cases. I think that there may have been a problem of over-promising and under-delivering.

Todd

Joseph, I read The Wounded Healer and I never got that notion at all. There's a difference between a person who has a pathological handicap and a person who is aware of her or his own vulnerabilities, but is able to transcend them to live an enriched life. Nouwen was trained in psychology, and I seriously doubt he would have advocated the ordination of immature souls to the clergy.

Joseph R. Wilson

Dr. Scott Appleby (hardly a conservative), in a review of The Courage to Be Catholic By George Weigel published in the magazine America, writes:

"Who would deny that the postconciliar period has been a time of theological experimentation and pastoral confusion—a time when, for example, the Rev. Henri Nouwen’s insightful image of the priest as a “wounded healer,” distorted by an excessively therapeutic and narcissistic culture, gave some priests license to indulge their “inner child” and give themselves a pass on moral misconduct? Who can reasonably disagree with Weigel’s expectation that teachers in the seminary or novitiate should proceed from the presumption that the teaching of the church is true and binding, not one alternative among many for the priest to embrace?"


Sandra Miesel

Fr. Nouwen himself is said to have been gay but, as far as I know, celibate.

Marie

"Marie, we just disagree on celibate priests with SSA. I don't see it as a problem. There's not anything in the makeup of people born gay with a calling to celibacy to suggest the challenge couldn't be handled."

We don't know that people are "born gay." We do know that homosexual men are far more likely than other men to suffer from substance abuse and mental disorders, and that a substantial number of homosexual men who were ordained to the priesthood in the past several decades were not, in fact, up to the "challenge" of celibate life.

kevin

Sorry Todd, but you need to check the John Jay study again.

1980 was the peak year of incidents (approx. 800 committed by approx 500 priests). The numbers began to drop, then level off in 1985, and then drop dramatically after that. (Fig. 2.3.1)

I would argue that this was due to the sincere efforts of bishops to do something about the worst cases and to begin screening out such outrageous candidates as were beginning to hit the news and embarass the church in the early to mid-1980's (e.g. Fr. Gilbert Gauthe).

Incidents involving females remained about the same each of the five decades from the 1950's through the 1990's (250-500 per decade), whereas those against males form a teepee on the graph (approx. 500 in the 50's, 1750 in the 60's, 2750 in the 70's, 1750 in the 80's, 500 in the 90's) (Fig. 3.5.1).

Figure 2.3.3 indicates that the ordination class of 1970 was the worst, although 1971-75 don't have that much to brag about being a close second.

So we have a situation where the abuse of males and females is about the same in the 50's, and then it shoots up in the 60's and 70's for boys and it takes until the 90's before it is back where it has always been for girls. I am sorry but that indicates something and it is not that Catholic parishes became all-male institutions in the 60's and 70's.

The opportunity for free-wheeling contact between priests and attractive women parishioners (even attractive teenage girl parisioners) is greater now (since 1965) than it has been in 500 years--you would expect an increase in priest-woman dalliance, but instead we get this . . . ?

Remember, this is just the tip of the iceberg. We don't have statistics on priest-priest or priest-adult male dalliances, but if the anecdotal evidence has anything to say it paints an even grimmer picture.

In short we have had a problem for the past 40 years with homosexual men (whether attracted to 11-18 year olds, or 18+) who entered the priesthood apparently to "party down." The worst of it seems to be over, but the problem is still with us.

I think that St. John Eudes once said that in evil times, God sends us bad priests as a punishment. My goodness what have we done?

Joseph R. Wilson

"And since I'm not here to make converts, I'll decline your invitation to substantiate my views..."--Todd

'Tis the pity that our understanding of our faith, which is all about conversion after all, seems to be so different. Whether you use "a guru," modern science, statistics, logic, or scripture, substantiation of your views isn't really a lot to ask, is it?

Todd

Kevin, your assertion is correct, as I was viewing the report of first abuse, which indeed peaked in 1973, and might point to earlier times for the seminary training and ordination of perpetrators. And in all of these data, we consider only reported abuse. For all we know, coerced silence may have been (or is) in effect to some degree before and/or after the 70's. But I congratulate you for being the first on the thread to speak of facts rather than anecdotes in this regard.

Lynn Gazis-Sax

For what it's worth, "parish administrator" appears to be a lay, not a clerical, function:
http://www.holyinnocents.org/people.htm

Wow! Six priests in a single parish? And thirteen lay staff? That church must have one impressive stewardship drive.

Patrick Rothwell

Re: Holy Innocents

Much of clergy appears to be non-stipendiary. They have secular professions or do other church work. I grew up in an Episcopal parish literally adjacent to a university and we had 5 or 6 non-stipendiary clergy at one point - some retirees, some academics, and some who did other things. Also, Holy Innocents appears to be in a rather tony area of Atlanta so they probably are doing quite well financially. Some of the Catholic parishes in the nice suburbs of Atlanta, including All Saint's Dunwoody, also take in a pretty good collection.

Bubbles

Kevin writes: "1980 was the peak year of incidents (approx. 800 committed by approx 500 priests). The numbers began to drop, then level off in 1985, and then drop dramatically after that. (Fig. 2.3.1)

I would argue that this was due to the sincere efforts of bishops to do something about the worst cases and to begin screening out such outrageous candidates as were beginning to hit the news and embarass the church in the early to mid-1980's (e.g. Fr. Gilbert Gauthe). "

I encourage caution in believing that the actual number of incidents has dropped. Pertinent to this is the fact that the average amount of time between first offense and reporting for male vicitms is between 20 and 30 years. To wit, men are currently reporting abuse that happened in the early to mid 80's. Will we see that drop off as we reach the reporting window for those who were abused in the early to mid 90's? We don't know. But I strongly suspect that Wilton's asinine "It is history!" is pure hokum.

Bubbles

Todd, you're drawing conclusions based on unproven assertions. When asked to substantiate them, you decline. There is no longer any reason to take what you have to say seriously.

Others: as difficult as it may be to believe, there are men with SSA who are called to the celibate priesthood. They're not using the priesthood as a shield to hide behind, they actually belong.

Todd

Bubbles, actually, what I'm doing is raising questions. People say SSA men have no place in seminaries or in the priesthood. With no citation, only "I feel it's wrong." Hmm.

People say gays are to blame for clergy sex abuse, even as they complain the priesthood has been overrun by homosexuals since the 60's. But the Jay data suggest that abuse has plummeted. People complain about those silly shrinks that caused all this trouble in the first place. But the screening process overall has been better since the 70's. It would seem that the conclusions of many in St Blog's are based more on wamr fuzzies than hard facts.

I suggested all-male schooling and all-male altar server cadres might have skewed victim stats toward the males. Kevin is the only person who addressed that point, and he agreed that the Jay study would seem to indicate this is a measurable factor.

My conclusion is that seminary formation has been poor, and that abuser-priests are immature, amoral addicts. Some are gay, some aren't. One-sixth of victims were children. That's significant even if there were no teens involved at all. The focus on gays is missing the target. The focus for priest-candidates should be on a combination of emotional maturity, high moral standards, and a genuine, well-discerned vocation.

You think my questions shouldn't be taken seriously? You're missing the boat.

al

Todd,
The synopsis of the Jay study that Kevin provides, which has been widely reported, is what virtually all your interlocutors on the thread have been referencing, implicitly or explicitly. The case is closed there, as the statistics demonstrate, and as Kevin has cited .

Continuing to obfuscate, minimize and through dust in the air just discloses a predetermined conclusion--that SSA is not to blame.

For an analysis of the statistics to be dispassionate, this must be on the table as a possible conclusion. But with characterizations like "There's a difference between a person who has a pathological handicap and a person who is aware of her or his own vulnerabilities" you seem to have disclosed a prejudice against the facts and the Church's teaching on the matter.

Objective disorder, no matter how you explain it, denotes a "pathology" that is a handicap.

Todd

Al, the Church has never taught that SSA is responsible for child sexual abuse. Your conclusion is an untenable stretch. Additionally, I have never denied that some portion of the perpetrators of abuse are homosexual. My interlocutors seem satisfied to explain 83% of the abuse of minors. That doesn't satisfy me. A substantial portion of victims are girls and pre-teen. Focusing on the pathology of abuse, rather than SSA would seem to cover more bases, if not all of them.

I've said my piece. Originally, my post was: "Perhaps it is because there is less correlation between SSA and child sexual abuse than some think." I don't need somebody to authenticate that assertion. The Jay study doesn't come to a watertight solution on the matter of SSA and abuse. Kevin, at least, was willing to respond to my questions with data. The best St Blog's seems to be able to do on this topic is to appeal to emotions, dismiss the difficult questions that remain after the scapegoat is run out of town, and harp on fidelity and orthodoxy. My response: transcend your feelings, deal with the questions, and be cautious of people who spout orthodoxy as a cure-all.

Bubbles

"Focusing on the pathology of abuse, rather than SSA would seem to cover more bases, if not all of them."

Todd, roughly 80% of the reported victims were post-pubescent males. That makes it a homosexual problem, by roughly 80%. Claims of opportunistic homosexuality are absurd unless you're discussing a confined population. The priesthood simply isn't that. Add that to the very real fact that few if any heterosexual men, no matter how aroused, would look at a 14 year old boy and think, "Hmm, any port in a storm, I guess. He'll do." The large majority of reported cases involve sexually incontinent, homosexual men.

"But the Jay data suggest that abuse has plummeted." That's an unsupportable interpretation at this time. Given the established patterns of male abuse victims with regard to reporting, we can only safely assume that reporting itself has plummeted. Indeed, given what we know, it should be expected to plummet. It'll take another ten to 20 years to know enough to draw corollary conclusions like yours.

Leo

I've often wondered this - even asked some priests who identified themselves as "gay" - but never received an answer that satisfied me.

If you've sworn off of sex - which is what celibacy means - what does it MEAN when you identify yourself as "gay" or "homosexual"? Isn't that like a vegetarian who declares that he prefers pork to beef? Well, OK, but so what? You swore off of meat altogether, yes? Whatever does it matter what kind of meat you'd eat if you ate meat which you don't?

I am accordingly wary of priests who make such declarations. To me, that implies that he's sexually active. Like, otherwise, why bother to say it?

Joseph R. Wilson

"My response: transcend your feelings, deal with the questions, and be cautious of people who spout orthodoxy as a cure-all."--Todd

Todd,you have managed to create what seems to me a straw man; ie., that the sexual abuse scandal of our Church can be entirely attributed to SSA clergy or to a lack of orthodoxy. Few mature, well-informed Catholics would care to defend such erroneous claims. I would point out that some of your questions read like hand grenades, which may be what you intend. The conclusion of your last post seems eminently reasonable to me, though your arguments are sometimes hard to follow. I do enjoy reading your musings, though.

Personally, I would rather hear the reasoning of bishops regarding ordination of openly SSA candidates, since they are the ones called to make such decisions. I doubt that we can expect to be privy to any such discussion in the near future.

Marie

"I am accordingly wary of priests who make such declarations. To me, that implies that he's sexually active. Like, otherwise, why bother to say it?"

Good point, but such declarations suggest to me that these priests, even if they are actually celibate, still identify with and want to be part of the homosexual culture. And I think that the vegetarian analogy is not quite right. A Catholic priest is supposed to be "another Christ" whose bride is the Church for whom he has sacrificed the great good of marriage to a woman. We call him "Father" because although he has sacrificed physical fatherhood, he is spiritual father to his flock. Therefore, I think it DOES make a difference whether a celibate priest has sacrificed marriage with a woman rather than sinful sexual relationships with another man.

Leo

Well, OK Marie, you're right.

Maybe you've located my unease with such priests better than I could.

Patrick Rothwell

"A Catholic priest is supposed to be "another Christ" whose bride is the Church for whom he has sacrificed the great good of marriage to a woman. We call him "Father" because although he has sacrificed physical fatherhood, he is spiritual father to his flock."

The analogy is slightly flawed because, in fact, it is a relatively modern thing to call a secular priest "Father." I looked up an old yearbook from the 19th century and (at least in this diocese) the secular clergy were called "Dr." or "Mr." depending on their station in life. Moreover, I am not aware that it was ever a requirement - ancient or modern -that the choice for celibacy was supposed to be a "sacrifice" in the sense that Marie supposes. In fact, as I understand it, any allowance of marriage for priests was seen to be an accomodation to the weakness of man, in the first place.

Besides, how many of the good clergy can you ever really as "normal" husbands with a wife? Aside from the question as to whether these men are homosexual/heterosexual/whatever, it is my experience that most of these men are not "marriageble types" but instead have "bachelor" personality structures. That is not a bad thing whatsoever, in my view.


Marie

"Besides, how many of the good clergy can you ever really as "normal" husbands with a wife? Aside from the question as to whether these men are homosexual/heterosexual/whatever, it is my experience that most of these men are not "marriageble types" but instead have "bachelor" personality structures. That is not a bad thing whatsoever, in my view."

Actually, that hasn't been my experience. Most of the priests we know -- particularly the younger ones -- are men one could easily imagine as husbands and fathers. (Indeed, I know several who put off their entrance to the seminary precisely because they were seriously considering whether they might be called to marriage and family life). They share with good husbands and fathers the self-giving and self-sacrificing characteristics one does NOT ordinarily associate with "bachelor" types.

Todd

Joseph, I also think it would be good for bishops to speak publicly about the reason for ordaining a person who is attracted to the same sex.

I suspect some priests who are gay who have struggled with their lives before resolving personal matters might want to provide some sort of public witness for gay people who may not have come to such a degree of peace or virtue in their lives. If the expectation is that SSA people will live moral lives, it is hard for me to see how public examples would not be helpful to them. Again, it is a matter of personal maturity on the priest's part. I've known some clergy who were quietly open about being recovering alcoholics, or something else people might not think of as a laudable accomplishment. It struck me as being an important "in" for people who could identify with such conditions and needed help. If the person in question deemed such witness appropriate, I think the notion of service to others would override squeamishness from the morally suspicious.

al

"I think the notion of service to others would override squeamishness from the morally suspicious. "

Wow. Ever hear of scandal?

Todd

Al, heard of it. Don't see it applying here. Don't think a guy born gay who lives a celibate life as a priest and can be a success story and an inspiration for other gay people to live graced lives is a problem. Question: do you want the gospel spread to every corner of the globe, not just your own?

Mike Petrik

Todd, you are awfully insistent with this "born gay" business, considering we really don't fully understand these things.

In any event, if a person with homosexual appetites is willing to repress these appetites and live a celebate life in service of God and His Church, then I don't see why his sexual appetites would ever be sufficiently public to create scandal. After all, heterosexual priests don't normally share their sexual temptations with their parishioners. Indeed, we all have our various temptations, but we don't normally advertise them.

This is not to say that homosexual inclinations are not symptomatic of a disorder; it's just that I'm not ready to assume that such a disorder should automatically disqualify one from the priesthood. None of us are perfect, and all of us are more than our sexual appetities.

Mike Petrik

Ok, I should have said "None of us *is* perfect...." Sorry.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Working...
Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.

Working...

Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.