Catholic League Takes Out Full-Page Ad in NYT Blaming Priest Abuse on Homosexuality

The Catholic League's Bill Donohue (pictured) has taken out a full-page ad in today's New York Times blaming the epidemic of sexual abuse by Catholic priests on homosexuality and defending the Church from the mainstream media.

Donohue Says the ad, in part:

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. We know from the John Jay study that most of the victims have been adolescents, and that the most common abuse has been inappropriate touching (inexcusable though this is, it is not rape). The Boston Globe correctly said of the John Jay report that “more than three-quarters of the victims were post pubescent, meaning the abuse did not meet the clinical definition of pedophilia.” In other words, the issue is homosexuality, not pedophilia. 

The relentlessness of Bill Donohue's misinformed and vindictive ongoing crusade against homosexuality has to make sensible people question whether the thing that drives him is the thing he fears most about himself?

Here's the full text of the ad:


When the Boston Globe exposed massive wrongdoing in the Boston Archdiocese in 2002, Catholics were understandably angry. And when more horror stories surfaced elsewhere, we were furious. But now our anger is turning on those who are distorting the truth about priestly sexual abuse. That some are exploiting this issue for ideological and financial profit seems plain.

Every time a new wave of accusations surfaces in one diocese, not coincidentally we see a spike in accusations in other dioceses. What is not often reported is that the vast majority of new accusations extend back decades. For example, for the first quarter of this year, 80 percent of the cases of alleged abuse involve incidences that occurred before 2000.

In March, an 80 year-old man came forward in St. Louis claiming he was abused 70 years ago by a priest who has been dead for a half century. This is not an anomaly: the same phenomenon has happened in other dioceses. Unfortunately, too often bishops have been quick to settle, thus inspiring more claims. 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.

A common belief, fostered by the media, is that there is a widespread sexual abuse problem in the Catholic Church today. The evidence is to the contrary: In 2004, the John Jay College of Criminal Justice issued its landmark study and found that most of the abuse occurred during the heyday of the sexual revolution, from the mid-1960s to the mid-1980s. What we are hearing about today are almost all old cases. To wit: from 2005 to 2009, the average number of new credible accusations made against over 40,000 priests was 8.6. This is a tribute to the reform efforts that have taken place: 5 million children and 2 million adults have gone through a safe environment program. Indeed, there is no religious, or secular, institution that can match this record, either in terms of the low rate of abuse or the extensiveness of a training program.


Penn State professor Philip Jenkins has studied this problem for years. After looking at the John Jay data, which studied priestly sexual abuse from 1950-2002, he found that "of the 4,392 accused priests, almost 56 percent faced only one misconduct allegation, and at least some of these would certainly vanish under detailed scrutiny." Moreover, Jenkins wrote that "Out of 100,000 priests active in the U.S. in this half-century, a cadre of just 149 individuals--one priest out of every 750--accounted for over a quarter of all allegations of clergy abuse." In other words, almost all priests have never had anything to do with sexual molestation.

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. We know from the John Jay study that most of the victims have been adolescents, and that the most common abuse has been inappropriate touching (inexcusable though this is, it is not rape). The Boston Globe correctly said of the John Jay report that "more than three-quarters of the victims were post pubescent, meaning the abuse did not meet the clinical definition of pedophilia." In other words, the issue is homosexuality, not pedophilia.

When the National Review Board, a group of notable Catholics, issued its study in 2004, the team's chief, attorney Robert S. Bennett, said that "any evaluation of the causes and context of the current crisis must be cognizant of the fact that more than 80 percent of the abuse at issue was of a homosexual nature." One of the members, Dr. Paul McHugh, former psychiatrist-in-chief at Johns Hopkins, has said that "This behavior was homosexual predation on American Catholic youth, yet it's not being discussed." By the way, the figures after 2004 haven't changed--eight in ten cases involve homosexuality. Worldwide, the Vatican estimates that 60 percent of the cases are same-sex, 30 percent are heterosexual and 10 percent involve pedophilia.

Though the data belie the conventional wisdom, it's hard to break stereotypes. The assault on priests as child abusers has become a staple in the arsenal of Jay Leno, Bill Maher, Denis Leary, George Lopez, "The View" panelists, and others. So it is hardly surprising to learn that a stranger approached New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan at the Denver airport last month saying, "I can't look at you or any other priest without thinking of a sexual abuser." Indeed, most priests I know do not dress in priestly garb when traveling--they've had to deal with similar instances.

Why are priests being singled out when the sexual abuse of minors among other segments of the population is on-going today? According to Virginia Commonwealth University professor Charol Shakeshaft, the nation's leading education expert on this issue, "the physical sexual abuse of students in schools is likely more than 100 times the abuse by priests." We know from the work of Jenkins, and others, that there is no reason to believe that the rate of abuse is higher among Catholic priests than among the clergy of other religions. Moreover, there has been a slew of stories over the past few years detailing the extent of this problem in the Orthodox Jewish community; some rabbis still insist that sexual abuse cases should be handled internally. No wonder Jenkins maintains, "As a result of the furious investigations of the past decades, and particularly the John Jay study, the U.S. Catholic clergy are now the only major group on the planet that has ever been subjected to such a detailed examination of abuse complaints, using internal evidence that could not have come to light in any other way."

It would be nice if we could all get on the same page regarding the proper remedies. But just three months ago, Federal District Court Judge Jack B. Weinstein took a "compassionate" view toward a man found guilty of collecting thousands of explicit pictures of children, as young as three, that he downloaded from a child porn website. Weinstein slammed existing legal penalties for the crime, saying, "We're destroying lives unnecessarily. At the most, they should be receiving treatment and supervision."

How often has the Church been ripped for following the advice of psychiatrists who thought they could "fix" molesters? To be sure, that was the zeitgeist several decades ago, as virtually every institution and profession can testify. Indeed, the punitive approach so favored today would have been cause for condemnation at that time had it been followed. Interestingly, a report on this situation in Ireland correctly concluded that had more bishops followed canon law, instead of seeking a more "compassionate" strategy, much of the problem could have been avoided.

The real damage done by the therapeutic approach is that it fostered the phenomenon of reassigning priests after they were treated. The exact same thing happened in the teaching profession. Indeed, moving treated teachers to new school districts is so common that it is called "passing the trash." While moving treated priests to new parishes is no longer tolerated, the New York Times found that the practice of moving abusers around who work in New York's state-run homes is commonplace.

Mandatory reporting of sexual crimes is not uniform in law or practice. In New York State, several attempts to blanket the clergy and other professionals have been met with resistance. Not by the bishops--but by Family Planning Advocates (the lobbying arm of Planned Parenthood) and the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU). Planned Parenthood counselors routinely learn about cases of statutory rape; mandatory reporting would obviously work against their clients' interests. Even where mandatory reporting is law, such as in the state-run homes, it is seldom followed (more than 95 percent of the time the authorities are not contacted).

Calls for suspending the statute of limitations have regularly been made. But even if one sets aside the fundamental due process reasons why such laws exist, what is most disturbing about this issue is that they almost never apply to public employees. Unless explicitly stated, laws that revise the statute of limitations leave untouched those in education: they are protected by "sovereign immunity," making transparent what the real goal is--"getting the priests." And when proposed changes apply to teachers, in every state where this has happened, teachers' unions and school superintendents have organized to register their objections. Why, then, should bishops who protest these revisions be criticized for doing so?

When the bishops met in Dallas in 2002 to consider reforms, panic gripped the conference. If there was one cleric who saw what the rush to judgment would do to the rights of priests it was the late Cardinal Avery Dulles. Sadly, events have proven him right. Quite frankly, it is more acceptable in our society today to defend the rights of Gitmo detainees than Catholic priests.

Grand juries are launched with the specific directive of investigating "sexual abuse of minors by individuals associated with religious organizations and denominations," but then quickly evolve into the single-minded pursuit of priests; in Philadelphia, those who initially reviewed the accusations weren't even called to testify. The unseemly practice of attorneys searching for new "victims" in bars and prisons is a disgrace. Just as sick is the sight of attorneys advertising for alleged victims of priests, but refusing to represent those abused by others. It has gotten so bad that dioceses are now being sued for "wrongful death" in cases where an alleged victim kills himself after his accusation was found wanting. And when AP runs a story on the "scandal" of allowing ex-priests to go unmonitored--as if someone is monitoring non-priest abusers--the bias shines through.

There is a huge difference between an accusation, a credible accusation, a substantiated accusation and a finding of guilt. But not when it applies to priests. I once had a female reporter lambaste me in my office when I expressed my opposition to proposals calling for all dioceses to publish the names of accused priests. I then asked her for her boss' name and phone number. Startled, she asked why. "Because I want to press charges against you for sexually harassing me," I intoned, "and then I want to see your name posted on your employer's website." She got the point. is accessed by reporters and lawyers for information on priestly sexual abuse, though the standards it uses cannot pass the smell test. It admits that the database "is based solely on allegations reported publicly" and that it "does not confirm the veracity of any actual allegation." Swell. Furthermore, it says that "If an individual is 'cleared' or 'exonerated' by an internal church investigation and/or a diocesan review board decision, the individual remains in the database." Ditto for cases where a priest faces an allegation for an act which occurred after he left the Catholic Church; even lawsuits against the dead are listed. There is no other group in the U.S. which is subjected to such gross unfairness. No wonder wildly exaggerated claims have been made based off of such collected "evidence."

Perhaps no reform made in Dallas has proven to be more intrinsically dangerous than demands for "zero tolerance." It all sounds so macho, but priests on the ground know first-hand what it means. Obviously, there should be no wiggle room in the most serious cases, but when priests are sued for "emotional" abuse, or violating "boundary issues," the door is left wide open for exploitation. Dulles got it right when he said that "A priest who uttered an inappropriate word or made a single imprudent gesture is treated in the same way as a serial rapist." Even worse, we now have the specter of a priest being suspended because a woman heard a kid in a playground call him a pedophile; she promptly called the cops. Joe Maher, president of Opus Bono Sacerdotii, a group that monitors the incidence of falsely accused priests, says that "at least a thousand priests...have been removed and remain out of public ministry because of unproven accusations."

Because the Catholic Church is often criticized for not following a "zero tolerance" policy, the Catholic League did some investigation of its own. Here's what we found. Almost every media outlet, teachers' union and religious organization we examined does not have a "zero tolerance" policy in place for sexual misconduct (or any other offense). The few that do make no mention of mandatory reporting.

These organizations are not wrong for not having the same kind of policy that the Catholic Church has. The New York Times seems to understand this matter when applied to schools. In an editorial titled, "The Trouble With 'Zero Tolerance,'" it noted that schools which have adopted these policies have created conditions where children are being "arrested for profanity, talking back, shoving matches and other behavior that would once have been resolved with detention or meetings with the students' parents." The NYCLU agreed saying, "De facto zero tolerance causes wrongful arrests, searches and suspensions of students in too many of the city's neediest schools." Yet as recently as April 2, the Times issued another editorial insisting the bishops follow this flawed policy.

No amount of reform will ever satisfy some. Attorneys like Jeffrey Anderson, and his well-greased friends at SNAP, a professional victims' group, are dogmatic in their convictions; their hatred of the Catholic Church is palpable. Similarly, when others tell the bishops we're going to "sue the s*** out of you," and are informed that the goal is to put an "out of business" sign in front of every parish, school and charitable center, it is evident that the Church needs to fight back with greater vigor.

What accounts for the relentless attacks on the Church? Let's face it: if its teachings were pro-abortion, pro-gay marriage and pro-women clergy, the dogs would have been called off years ago.

The British atheist Richard Dawkins is no fan of Catholicism. But he is honest enough to say that the Catholic Church "has been unfairly demonized over the issue, especially in Ireland and America." Now if Dawkins gets it, why can't others?

Bill Donohue
Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights

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  1. Aside from the outright nonsense, they think most readers are actually going to plow through something that long?

    Posted by: Butch | Apr 11, 2011 10:42:06 AM

  2. now this is rich. what dumb asses.

    Posted by: Justin | Apr 11, 2011 10:49:01 AM

  3. What can I say....but I'm speechless!

    Posted by: Mike Triggs | Apr 11, 2011 10:52:45 AM

  4. Let m get this straight; according to this Putz, the homophobe peasant Bill Donahye, other groups do it, so we can molest and rape 'adolescents' - not children ( because, according to catholics, adolescent rape isnt really pedophilia - even though the law makes No Such Distinction). And even though a full 30% of these
    Molestations are performed by Heterosexuals...its the Homosexuals who are at fault...and liberals like the ACLU and PLANNED PARENTHOOD and The Blue Man Group.


    This has got to be the most disgusting thing I have ever read

    There are Liars and Damned Liars and then theres the Catholic Church!

    Posted by: Mikey Mugglesworth | Apr 11, 2011 10:53:52 AM

  5. Just so everybody knows, the Catholic League is made up of ONE person, Bill Donahue. This is a deeply confliceted man who is desperate for attention. I suggest we stop giving it to him.

    Posted by: Ken | Apr 11, 2011 10:54:09 AM

  6. I just love it when the "League" (aka one Bill Donohue) tries to project the Papists in a positive light while demonizing all those young people who were defiled by their priests. I can't wait to see what the backlash is from the abused group of Catholics. Mr. League is one of the most demonizing figures within the large group of bigoted Papists.

    Posted by: Rob | Apr 11, 2011 10:55:17 AM

  7. I love his defense : the Catholic Church is just as bad as everyone else by not having a zero-tolerance policy. ROTFLMGAO

    Posted by: Rucka | Apr 11, 2011 11:00:01 AM

  8. It's not the crime, Billy-boy, it's the cover up. And the Catholic Church has engaged in the largest criminal cover-up in the history of humanity, one that Donohue makes clear has gone on for decades - if not centuries - and is likely still hiding rapists (and that definition, even according to Donohue, fits at least some of these monsters). Not one Bishop, Archbishop Cardinal or even Pope has taken either moral or legal responsiblity for obstructing justice, intimidating witnesses into silence, paying others hush money, aiding and abetting felons and defrauding parishioners.

    It is interesting how this entire screed makes it clear that Donohue believes there is one group of people who bare no responsibility for these crimes - the leadership of the Church. And we wonder why they don't try to silence Bill when he gets all frothy-mouthed - I guess he's a useful idiot, as they say.

    Posted by: CPT_Doom | Apr 11, 2011 11:01:29 AM

  9. How many little boys has Bill Donohue raped? That is the question I would like answered.

    Posted by: homer | Apr 11, 2011 11:08:31 AM

  10. Probably one of the most disgusting, horrible, "we're the victims here" bullsh*t pieces in the history of the Catholic Church. This is akin (and I don't say this lightly) to Hitler saying, "Well, other people don't like the Jews either, why are you picking on us?"

    Every Catholic in America should demand this pathetic freak exit this job. The Pope should personally apologize to everyone for this man's words. How can Donohoe sleep at night? The only way is that he's so sick, twisted and deluded -- which is probably the case -- that he actually believes this filth he printed in the Times.

    Sick. Simply sick.

    Posted by: BartB | Apr 11, 2011 11:11:45 AM

  11. Statutory rape is still rape, Bill. If it were your 12-year-old son or daughter, you'd probably feel differently... but that's just because you can't extend compassion and lovingkindness beyond the tip of your own nose. And anyone who can't see the difference between two loving adults wanting to make a life together and an ordained sexual predator fondling a middle-schooler and then being transferred to another parish instead of being prosecuted like any other sexual predator.

    The catholic church has shown that they care about saving face and preserving the myth of ecclesiastical authority more than they care about the welfare of the most vulnerable and impressionable members of their "flock".

    Posted by: The Milkman | Apr 11, 2011 11:18:25 AM

  12. More homophobia from white men. They are the reasons why homophobia, sexism, racism or any type of prejudice exist. White folks.

    Posted by: Mel Smith | Apr 11, 2011 11:18:39 AM

  13. Mr. Donohue is once again making excuses and distorting the truth in an effort to whitewash a clear scandal within the Catholic church.

    Could the real reason that sexual abuse is more common among Catholic priests is because of the ridiculous celibacy requirement delaying sexual maturity? Clinically, sexual immaturity has been widely seen as one of the key causes of sexual abuse of minors by adults.

    One could go on and on deconstructing this ridiculous attempt at justification.

    I will actually be happy when the day arrives that this man goes on to his greater reward. Let's hope that it's the right one.

    Posted by: The_Fixer | Apr 11, 2011 11:19:02 AM

  14. Oops that should have read "anyone can see".

    Posted by: The Milkman | Apr 11, 2011 11:19:19 AM

  15. sounds like he's gunning to be the next pope.

    Posted by: mld | Apr 11, 2011 11:23:01 AM

  16. More obscurantism and cover-up from the Catholic apologists. Mr. Donohue wants us to presume an identity between a "clinical definition of pedophilia" and the legal definition of "child sexual abuse." I'm sure he knows the distinction very well and is simply muddying the water with confusion and distrust. What a mental scourge. What a scumbag.

    Posted by: Chuck Mielke | Apr 11, 2011 11:26:49 AM

  17. Let the assdrools spend their money to shout into an empty room. The only people who believe them are freaks of the same ilk.

    Posted by: MikeMick | Apr 11, 2011 11:30:05 AM

  18. The John Jay study of which he makes much could cull data only from the period it cites--the so-called "sexual revolution." Not surprisingly, anyone affected by the issue in years prior to that would not be available for canvassing for one reason or another. Undoubtedly many went to their graves--molesters or victims--without ever having the opportunity to acknowledge what happened--still less to have it validated. So basing his conclusions on a study of such limited scope is like saying there were no bacteria before the microscope was invented.

    PS Bill Donahue is a swine.

    Posted by: Danny | Apr 11, 2011 11:37:43 AM

  19. There's so much sleight of hand with statistics here.

    Look at this choice of words: "one priest out of every 750 -- accounted for over a quarter of all allegations of clergy abuse."

    Okay, well, so what? He's made a calculations that takes out of the equation the other THREE-QUARTERS of the allegations!

    He tells us about the ages of victims "correctly" cited by the Boston Globe, and then after the quotation marks appears his own sentence "In another words, the issue is hom,osexuality..." Even though this was in no way the implication!

    His own figures quite obviously contradict themselves in one sentence which directly follows another:

    "...more than 80 percent of the abuse at issue was of a homosexual nature...By the way, the figures after 2004 haven't changed--eight in ten cases involve homosexuality. Worldwide, the Vatican estimates that 60 percent of the cases are same-sex, 30 percent are heterosexual and 10 percent involve pedophilia."

    So in regards to "abuse of a homosexual nature," which is it? The percentage you cited in one sentence or the very different percentage you cite in another sentence in the same paragraph? I guess it really doesn't matter to the audience you're targeting, most of whom won't be able to add, anyway.

    In a male-centric environment like the priesthood, it would seem to go without saying that the potential for male victims is higher than for female victims (for example, because there are altar boys but no altar girls). Likewise, if, for example, a religion allowed only Hispanics to have alone time with its priests in most capacities, we would expect most victims to be Hispanic.

    But even if it is true that "only" 30% of victims are post-pubsescent females, we are supposed to think that "the problem is homosexuality?) That makes no sense.

    I read the "paraphrases" of the John Jay study by the likes of Donahue when it came out several years ago, and those paraphrases (by third parties only) were being cited by right-wing media outlets like the Moonies' rag the Washington Times.

    I was dubious, and so I read the whole John Jay College study myself. Not surprisingly, their claims about what the study said about homosexuality did NOT match up with what the study ACTUALLY said.

    Posted by: GregV | Apr 11, 2011 12:14:10 PM

  20. I HATE Bill Donahue and his Catholic League, but it is true the the American Psychiatric Association defines pedophilia as sexual attraction and activity with pre-pubescent children. Any sexual contact with a minor adolescent is either inappropriate heterosexual activity or inappropriate homosexual activity, based on if the victim is a male or female - but it is not, no way, no how, pedophilia. So it is accurate that the Catholic Church, which I have long since rejected, does not have much of a pedophilia problem.

    In the case of priests who had sex with teenage boys I do not blame homosexuality, but rather the sexual repression that sent these young seminarians from the 1950's and 60's into the priesthood to escape their true sexual nature - seminaries that became a breeding ground for sexual pathology. Another sad legacy of the closet.

    Posted by: JimSur212 | Apr 11, 2011 12:20:47 PM

  21. and what about the girls molested by male priests?

    Posted by: | Apr 11, 2011 12:24:03 PM

  22. @MSTROZFCKSLV The Catholic Church was an equal opportunity sexual repressor. In the cases where priests molested teenage girls I blame repressed heterosexuality and an unhealthy sex negative culture. In any case, it is not pedophilia.

    Posted by: JimSur212 | Apr 11, 2011 12:41:48 PM

  23. Bill Donohue is nothing more than a front for the Heritage Foundation. His job is to communicate the talking points of the Heritage Foundation in a manner that would be received by Catholics identifying as "conservative." He is to the Catholic community as GOPround is to the queers. Very queer scenario.

    All appearances aside, though, this piece isn't really about homosexuals or child abuse. It's about Planned Parenthood and teacher's unions. He's following up on O'Keefe's fraudulent video and the work in some States of breaking up public-sector unions. He's trying to leverage anger among conservative Catholics regarding what they believe is an assault on their priests to get them behind the coordinated opposition against Planned Parenthood and public-sector unions (particularly teachers unions).

    It is funny, though, this man seems perpetually obsessed with the discussion of homosexuality. Hehe.

    Posted by: William | Apr 11, 2011 12:59:05 PM

  24. Shouldn't there be a question about why the New York Times accepted this as an ad? I mean, what's next, if some lunatic religious group takes out an ad declaring their recent prosecution for embezzlement or fraud is the result of "the Jews" or "the blacks" would the New York Times accept that ad? Somehow I seriously doubt it.

    Why is this Bill Donohue guy always getting a free pass from the media for activities that would get other groups shunned or ignored? The New York Times needs to be called to account for this. If they want to run ads for all kinds of hate speech, fine. If not, let's make them stop feeling safe to make exceptions when it comes to speech against gays.

    The New York Times can be reached at and their ombudsman at

    Posted by: bobbyjoe | Apr 11, 2011 1:06:42 PM

  25. @Bobby Joe: Because the Heritage Foundation has a lot of money to throw around; and the New York Times, like the Archbishop of New York, knows it.

    Posted by: William | Apr 11, 2011 1:10:03 PM

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