Alex Blaze

The Vatican talks man-boy love

Filed By Alex Blaze | September 29, 2009 9:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: boys, Catholic church, child abuse, child molestation, kids, priests, sex scandal

Ho boy. It's going to be fun to see the response to this one:

In a defiant and provocative statement, issued following a meeting of the UN human rights council in Geneva, the Holy See said the majority of Catholic clergy who committed such acts were not paedophiles but homosexuals attracted to sex with adolescent males.

The statement, read out by Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Vatican's permanent observer to the UN, defended its record by claiming that "available research" showed that only 1.5%-5% of Catholic clergy were involved in child sex abuse.

He also quoted statistics from the Christian Scientist Monitor newspaper to show that most US churches being hit by child sex abuse allegations were Protestant and that sexual abuse within Jewish communities was common.

We're not so bad, at least not as bad as those child molestin' Protestant whores! And the Jews... don't get us started, don't even get us started!

Only 5% of priests have touched those beautiful, barely-11 (seriously, that's the line the Church is drawing) boys' bodies. That's about the chance Britney Spears has underwear on! *rimshot*

I don't know what they're talking about with the Jews, but the Christian Science Monitor had this to say about Protestants (in 2002):

Dr. Shupe suggests the 70 allegations-per-week figure actually could be higher, because underreporting is common. He discovered this in 1998 while going door to door in Dallas-Ft. Worth communities where he asked 1,607 families if they'd experienced abuse from those within their church. Nearly 4 percent said they had been victims of sexual abuse by clergy. Child sexual abuse was part of that, but not broken out, he says.

James Cobble, executive director of CMR, who oversees the survey, says the data show that child sex-abuse happens broadly across all denominations- and that clergy aren't the major offenders.

"The Catholics have gotten all the attention from the media, but this problem is even greater with the Protestant churches simply because of their far larger numbers," he says.

Of the 350,000 churches in the US, 19,500 - 5 percent - are Roman Catholic. Catholic churches represent a slightly smaller minority of churches in the CMR surveys which aren't scientifically random, but "representative" demographic samples of churches, Dr. Cobble explains.

Since 1993, on average about 1 percent of the surveyed churches reported abuse allegations annually. That means on average, about 3,500 allegations annually, or nearly 70 per among the predominantly Protestant group, Cobble says.

The scandal wasn't just about the fact that there was child molestation going on in the Church, it was also about the fact that the Church covered it up for years, moving priests with issues with children from one church to another, and refusing to accept responsibility. Saying other religions are just as bad (because the "my religion is better" debate is definitely one worth getting into) doesn't respond at all and shows that they either don't get why people are mad at them or that they're just not going to make the necessary changes.

Of course, a rabbi had the smartest thing to say in response:

Rabbi Joseph Potasnik, head of the New York Board of Rabbis, said: "Comparative tragedy is a dangerous path on which to travel. All of us need to look within our own communities. Child abuse is sinful and shameful and we must expel them immediately from our midst."

Instead of opening up to the public, the Church has responded with homophobia, which will do nothing to prevent child molestation. They explain more here about why they're going down that path:

The statement said that rather than paedophilia, it would "be more correct" to speak of ephebophilia, a homosexual attraction to adolescent males.

"Of all priests involved in the abuses, 80 to 90% belong to this sexual orientation minority which is sexually engaged with adolescent boys between the ages of 11 and 17."

I'm guessing the reason they want to make that distinction clear is because they think they can blame it on gay people, not pedophiles. Which they'll then use to justify their homophobia.

I don't know if their numbers are correct there about who's been the victim, but I would guess that if the teens were more likely to be male, and we're not talking about pedophiles who are attracted to kids in ways that aren't accurately described as "homosexual" or "heterosexual" or "bisexual," it's probably because most Catholic priests are gay. Forcing them in the closet isn't going to help the situation much. Having actual disciplinary procedures that are open to public scrutiny, as well as officially allowing them to have relationships out in the open, would help.

That's if the problem is as the Church defines it, which should be doubted since the Catholic Church hasn't historically been on the side of science.

Update: Cathy Renna points to an informative article in the comments from USA Today:

About 79% of those who allege sexual abuse by clergy are male, according to a USA TODAY review of data on more than 1,300 victims.

So it's not surprising that some would assume a gay connection, says A.W. Richard Sipe, a retired La Jolla, Calif., psychotherapist and ex-priest. Sipe has done what's believed to be the longest-term, largest study on priests' sexuality, following 1,000 priests for up to 25 years. He's the author of three books on celibacy and the priesthood.

He emphasizes that enforced celibacy makes the priesthood a very different social milieu from the world outside. Priests become sexually frustrated, so some turn to children in desperation. "There's strong psychological research showing that sexual deprivation can lead a person to turn to children," says Sipe.

And boys have always been far more accessible to priests than girls -- on camping trips and athletic fields, in classrooms and as altar boys.

Sipe's study suggests that about 6% of priests have sex with minors, choosing boys over girls by a 3-1 ratio. But he found no tie between sexual abuse and homosexuality, and says gay priests were no more likely than straight priests to break vows of celibacy.[...]

Boys and girls were equally likely to have been molested by priests in a national survey of therapists who had treated clergy-related sex abuse, says University of Illinois psychologist Bette Bottoms, who did the survey.

Church officials this fall plan visitations of U.S. seminaries, after reports that a homosexual atmosphere in some discourages heterosexuals from studying for the priesthood.

Targeting gays wouldn't address the problem of pedophilia, says Berlin, but he notes that child sexual abuse is overwhelmingly committed by males.

"I respect their religious beliefs," he adds, "but you're going to see the least risk of all to children from female priests."

It's impossible to know the gender of everyone who's been molested, for obvious reasons. But it would be nice if the Church released their data that says 80-90% of the victims are male, but I doubt that'll happen.

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The group SNAP (which stands for something like Survivor's Network of people Abused by Priests) estimates that the majority of those abused were girls, which is the case with most sexual abuse of minors.

I can only imagine that the media and the church are so hung up on abusing boys because that's the REAL tragedy. Females are supposed to be used for sex, so the only problem with abusing girls is that they're too young. But touching boys is gay and therefore bad.

It would be wrong for the Catholic church to argue that it was mostly girls, so it's ok, but by ignoring more than half the victims, they're implicitly saying that the abuse of girls is not part of the wrong doing.

Thank you. I was thinking exactly the same thing.

"Christian Science?" Isn't that an oxymoron?

Some Christian Science groups are gay-friendly. And yes, they do try hard to reconcile the two things. It's a movement that has been around since the 19th century.

The Christian Science Monitor is a SURPRISINGLY progressive and VERY VERY respected publication. Its one of the leading Social Justice-oriented world-news periodicals. Its generally very short with only a few very indepth and very intellectual articles from some of the great thinkers in Social Justice movements around the world. They MOSTLY deal with poverty, hunger and AIDS issues, and steer VERY clear from teh gheys, but if you're a progressive you're much more likely not to be OUTRAGED by the CSM, but rather see it as an amazing tool!

I actually had to subscribe to it for a class once, and thought at first 'my professor must be some Conservative bigot pushing his beliefs on us. Jesus.' Turns out I kept it coming for a few years because it was so good. I was VERY far left then, too (not that I'm not left anymore, I was just a crazy radical college undergrad, though)!

The Church has used the focus upon boys to try and scapegoat "gay" priests for the scandal.

Huge surprise.

As for women, girs impregnated by priests in Ireland were locked up in the Laundries to preserve the secret; they spent their lives cleaning the linens of the very priests who not only raped them but frequently cane back to the Laundries to help themselves to 'seconds.'

If the UN had any stones, they would declare the Vatican City-State to be a rogue nation and send in troops to stop the crime syndicate that is operating out of Mons Vaticanus.

the Catholic Church is getting more sophisticated in their messaging and their homophobia - I dealt with this issue during the high points of media visibility in 2000 and am very angry to see that they are once again scapegoating gay priests

check out these links for some history and the facts:

this is very serious and hopefully those who monitor the Catholci Church and groups like Dignity, GLAAD and other will be on top of this

and FWIW, epheobophilia (which was a new word for me back then) is a serious issue and has more to do the the repressive sexual immaturity of many priests - gay and non-gay - that draws many of them to the priesthood in the first place

Sexual abuse is a terrible thing, but abusers have become the object of such wrath and scorn, that I think we forget that they are people, too. I would be interested in a discussion of how we, as a society, should treat people who have abused in the past. Should we should hold them in ridicule and contempt for their rest of their lives? Does anyone here personally know a priest who was an abuser?

Yes, yes, yes, in the first instance, the focus should be on the victims .... but at what point should we allow a past abuser to move on in life? Or is that just never possible?

david clohessy | September 29, 2009 2:36 PM

Scapegoating gays for the church's on-going clergy sex abuse and cover up crisis is part of the bishops' larger PR strategy of splitting hairs, parsing words, shifting responsibility, pointing fingers, and dodging accountability.

David Clohessy, National Director, SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests), 7234 Arsenal Street, St. Louis MO 63143 (314 566 9790 cell), [email protected]

I have no idea what Bilerico is, but after reading the five comments here, I'm impressed. Such literate, sensible, intelligent responses. I think my IQ just increased by five points!

I'm surprised that this issue took so long to surface. I always wondered what the holier-than-thou Protestants were up to on the child-molesting front, and started searching for information. This was way back in the early days (mid-90s), when AOL still was not very big and had its community forums, (including a GLBT forum)

I remember finding a Christianity Today forum that had a related discussion group or bulletin board on the subject of Protestant ministers who sexually molested children and minor teens. There was lots of discussion about how ministers would abuse their authority-figure image in order to have their way with victims to whom they were supposedly "ministering." Clearly it was a sizeable problem.

Anybody could find this group and read the comments. Eventually, though, the Christianity Today folks must have realized that they were being too public about it, and the board was taken down. This was about the same time that the Catholic Church was going through its own big scandals.

As a survivor of child sexual abuse I can say (IMO), its not 'gay' sex for the instigator. Its more like assisted masturbation using a child as a means to achive orgasam.

They don't care what your sex is. They don't care that your human. They don't care about you at all. They only care about getting off. After that they only care about covering the whole thing up any way they can.

Would the problem be solved by allowing the Catholic Preisthood to be non-celibate? Nope, but it would curtail it by a great margin.

Are the other relgions better or worse when it comes to child sexual abuse? Nope, I think they're about the same or maybe a bit better than the Catholic Church.

This Joker is talking in numbers and percentages, when he should be talking about the human suffering these pervert priest, brothers, deacons, nuns, lay workers and YES, even some bishops have perpetrated on the innocent children, young people and vulnerable adults of our church. The smoke of satan has not only entered the Church, he has set up house keeping and made himself to home.
This isn't a contest about which religion has the largest number of sexual deviants. Don't Talk It, Walk It. Stop talking about who's worse!! Get busy and clean up this mess in our church.

Seems to me the CC put out a document a few years ago that called the priests mostly ephebophiles because most of the abuse concerned children over 12. I thought I had a copy of it on my HD, but I cannot find it.