While the Pope expresses “shame and sorrow” over a grand jury report that found that 300 “predator priests” in the Catholic Church had sexually abused over 1000 children, the Catholic League in the U.S. is trying to downplay the accusations.
The scandal broke earlier this week when a grand jury in Pennsylvania released a 900-page report detailing sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, as well as the conspiracy to cover it up. Much of the evidence came from the dioceses’ own detailed records of the cover-up.
“Regarding the report made public in Pennsylvania this week, there are two words that can express the feelings faced with these horrible crimes: shame and sorrow,” said a Vatican spokesperson.
“The Holy See treats with great seriousness the work of the Investigating Grand Jury of Pennsylvania and the lengthy Interim Report it has produced,” the spokesperson continued. “The Holy See condemns unequivocally the sexual abuse of minors.”
Meanwhile, in the U.S., Bill Donohue of the Catholic League was doing his best to “debunk” the report.
Donohue published a document that disproves “myths” around the grand jury report, insisting multiple times that the Pennsylvania attorney general just “wanted to shame the Catholic Church” with the report.
One of the myths he debunked was the idea that children were raped.
“This is an obscene lie. Most of the alleged victims were not raped: they were groped or otherwise abused, but not penetrated, which is what the word ‘rape’ means,” Donohue wrote.
He also called out the “myth” that the priests here are pedophiles. Instead, he wrote, they are gay men.
“There have been two scandals related to the sexual abuse of minors in the Catholic Church. Scandal I involves the enabling bishops who covered it up. Scandal II involves the media cover-up of the role played by gay molesters,” he wrote.
His evidence is that most of the victims were male.
Of course, child abusers are more likely to abuse children they have access to, and in a gender-divided society, adult males spend more time around male children.
Moreover, research for the past several decades has shown that gay people aren’t more likely to abuse children than straight people.
“The mainstream view among researchers and professionals who work in the area of child sexual abuse is that homosexual and bisexual men do not pose any special threat to children,” wrote Gregory Herek of UC Davis.
Since gay people aren’t more likely to abuse children, and since the current scandal occurred within the Catholic Church and was covered up by the Catholic Church, it makes more sense to think of this as a Catholic issue than a gay issue.
But this is a talking point that Cardinal Raymond Burke is also using.
In an interview, he said that “these recent terrible scandals” are a result of “a homosexual culture” within the Catholic Church.
He also blamed birth control and abortion. The child abuse “has been considerably aggravated by the anti-life culture in which we live, namely the contraceptive culture that separates the sexual act from the conjugal union,” he said.
So if women didn’t take the pill, those priests wouldn’t feel like molesting children, or something.
Burke didn’t explain why the Catholic Church – one of the most anti-LGBTQ, anti-contraception, and anti-abortion institutions in the U.S. – is the most susceptible to these problems.
But it seems like the fact that the Catholic Church is already anti-LGBTQ and anti-woman is why both he and Donohue are blaming the child abuse on gay people.
“There is no need to develop new procedures. All of the procedures exist in the Church’s discipline, and they have existed throughout the centuries,” Burke said.
They don’t want the Catholic Church to actually do anything about this problem, or to face any pressure to change. If the Catholic Church’s current stances are the best solution, then there’s no need for anyone in the Catholic leadership to question themselves.