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

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.

BishopAccountabilty.org 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
President
Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights

Comments

  1. Mikey Mugglesworth says

    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!

  2. Ken says

    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.

  3. Rob says

    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.

  4. CPT_Doom says

    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.

  5. BartB says

    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.

  6. says

    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”.

  7. The_Fixer says

    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.

  8. Chuck Mielke says

    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.

  9. Danny says

    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.

  10. GregV says

    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.

  11. JimSur212 says

    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.

  12. JimSur212 says

    @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.

  13. William says

    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.

  14. bobbyjoe says

    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 nytnews@nytimes.com and their ombudsman at public@nytimes.com

  15. William says

    @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.

  16. JimSur212 says

    @Bobby Joe: While I disagree with much of what spews from Bill Donahue’s mouth, much of which is in fact hateful, after carefully reading his ad, I do not view it as hate speech. The mislabeling of the priest sexual abuse scandal as pedophilia is a legitimate debate. The New York Times is itself guilty of this by using “pedophile priest” in their stories for cases that do not meet the definition of pedophilia. He also makes a valid point that the extent of the problem within the priesthood has been overblown by the media (what else is new – they over blow EVERYTHING sensational). It is also true that among sexual offenders, not just priests, the vast majority of offenses are committed by a small number of serial predators. So I disagree with contacting the New York Times to protest the running of the ad. As a gay man and strong First Amendment advocate, I do not want to silent our opponents, even if it was hateful. Remember, the freedom of speech is in place to protect UNPOPULAR VILE SPEECH. Civil discourse does not need protecting. Let’s not become censors.

    The logical conclusion of this ad to me is that the Catholic Church can solve this problem if they abandon their sex negativity, reject the Biblical barbarism of homosexuality as a sin and allow priests gay and straight to marry. Unfortunately, that’s not going to happen.

  17. GregV says

    Upon re-reading after I posted, I should concede he seems to be claiming that, nationally, 80% of allegations were “of a homosexual nature, and “worldwide” 60% were “same-sex.”

    However, I take such claims with a grain of salt, because he and other anti-gay types citing the John Jay College study have a history of re-interpreting numbers into pretending they said something they didn’t.

    Imagine a priest whose one-on-one time gives him access to males (altar boys, etc.) 90% of the time and to females 10% of the time. Lets say he gets accused by 6 boys and 4 girls of swatting their bare buttocks.
    The John Jay College study would have counted him as one person, and we would have no reason to assume anything at all about his sexual orientation based only on such numbers.

    The wing-nuts would reinterpret such numbers and say that 60% of allegations were “homosexually-oriented.” Some will use Paul Cameron-style “retooling” of the numbers to make this one person into either “6 homosexuals and 4 heterosexuals” or even take the fact there was ever a male victim and count him as a zero on the heterosexual column.
    So then we have statements like Donahue’s saying that “this means the issue is homosexuality.”

    This is what I noticed when I read the John Jay study. It did not determine that a single person involved was gay. The sexual orientation of the accusers and the accused was not classified at all in that study, in spite of the false claims that continue to come out.

  18. romeo says

    The damage to the Church’s reputation has already been done, and the Church did it to itself. Many people in the Church knew all along it was going on, and they handled it with their usual hubris. Now the chickens have come home to roost – and they’ll be roosting for a long time.

  19. BobN says

    “To wit: from 2005 to 2009, the average number of new credible accusations made against over 40,000 priests was 8.6.”

    Looks like the CL should trim Mr. Donohue’s grotesque salary and hire a copy editor.

  20. says

    The Catholic church is such an unsafe place for children.

    Catholics like Bill Donahue will use any excuse to defend child rape, including homosexuality, if he thinks it will make his loyal followers agree.

    I don’t care what you call it, if you are having sex with someone under 17, it’s a crime, so the Catholic church is absolutely filled with criminals.

    This is horrifying, yet the Catholic church is unforgivably slow in fixing it as proven by the grand jury report at http://www.philadelphiadistrictattorney.com/images/Grand_Jury_Report.pdf

    People who still go to the Catholic church are now just accepting of the church attitude towards child rape, lying, cover ups, et cetera.

  21. JimSur212 says

    @ PATRICK O’MALLEY You state that if you are having sex with someone under 17 it is a crime. Not true in every state. In the majority of U.S. states (26) and DC the age of consent is 16. In the majority of nations within the 27-member European Union the age of consent is 15. This is not to say that an adult having sex with a teenager is appropriate, just not necessarily criminal depending on the jurisdiction and circumstances. This is a sensitive and emotional issue, but it is important that we get our facts right.

  22. JimSur212 says

    @GREGV You analogy does not hold up because almost no offender priests crossed gender and had sex with both boys and girls. I have a friend who treats sexual offending priests and he informs me that over 95% are exclusively heterosexual or exclusively homosexual in their acting out. This reflects the general offender population where pedophile offenders targeting pre-teen children are known to cross genders, but offenders targeting adolescents rarely do.

  23. phil says

    Time and time again we see religious people making rules for others that don’t apply to themselves. Bill Donohue, it should be noted, is divorced. He doesn’t take the sacrament of marriage very seriously, at least in his own case.

  24. GregV says

    @JimSur212: I didn’t use an example of a priest “having sex,” since “touching under clothes” was the most common allegation.

    In spite of the fact that Donohue (misleadingly in the context) says that “the majority” of the victims in the John Jay study were post-pubescent, the reality is that is was just barely a majority.

    More than 47% were 12 or under, and about a quarter were 10 or under. The study also speculates that some victims may have forgotten or not recognized abuse that happened earlier than the stated age.

    If you read the study, the number of priests and deacons who were accused is 4692.

    The number of priests Donahue poo-poos as a tiny number (149 priests) is (though he doesn’t clarify this in his ad) only the number of priests who had more than ten accusations against them. (The study called them the “10+ group.”)

    There were thousands of others who were involved in the other 74% of cases. Notice that the study does not count any allegations of sexual abuse made by anyone 18 or older.

  25. GregV says

    JimSur212: Some other things to consider:

    It is true that the majority of allegations against any given priest came only from a male/males or a female/females.

    However, 56% of the allegedly abusive priests/deacons were the subject of a single allegation. That means for the majority, it would be logically impossible to have both sexes as accusers, regadless of whether an abuser had or did not have any preference for one sex or the other.

    83% had 3 or fewer accusations. At that level, it is hard to say whether there is a pattern of preference for one sex or whether only one sex being involved tends to be the result of what kind of victim is available.

    There is a tendency to see girls past a certain age as sexually vulnerable. Parents who would, for example, send a 7-year-old girl onto Santa Claus’ lap might feel more uncomfortable with the same girl as a teen sitting on a 60-year-old strange male’s lap.

    Priests live in a very male-centric mini-society where they are expected to spend more time with males than with females. As I said, they have altar boys and no altar girls. And the most common location for the alleged abuse was the priest’s home.
    Traditionally (especially during the era dealt with in the study) parents would certainly have hesitated to have their daughter hang out or “get tutored” or sleep over at a man’s house, even if he was trusted.

    Among accusers/victims under 7 years old, the majority were females while among those who were older than that, the majority were males.

    For Donahue to dismiss the youngest victims (when nearly half were 12 and under) as being “the minority” and then say that “homosexuality” was the problem is a gross oversimplification of the issue and an abuse of the facts before him.

  26. Patrick Hogan says

    From Donahue’s comments, you would think that the report showed only 15-17 year olds were abused, when in fact it showed that ~75% of those abused were 14 or younger. (And the average age of victims was 12.6.)

    I was curious, so I went ahead and looked at the breakdown of the data by age: it showed a sharp spike in the 11-13 year old range (about the age at which one can first be an altar server; at least, it was in the parish where I was raised), and a sharp decline from 14 – 17 (more or less the upper-ages of altar servers). In particular, over 1/2 of the victims were 11-14; if I had to bet, I would guess that most altar servers fall into that same age range.

    It’s also important to note, though, that the John Jay report utilized diocesan self-reporting, not criminal records or any kind of independent data source. On the one hand, that gives it the potential to be more comprehensive (since the report authors had indirect access to church records which are not available to the public, or even to law enforcement). On the other hand, it means that there is no means by which anyone can verify the completeness or accuracy of the data gathered. It also likely fails to include cases which were settled quickly and quietly, which — given the reluctance to drag children and adolescents through court proceedings — would be likely to push the mean age of victims upward.

    Given that the Church has a well-documented history of obfuscating evidence and flat out lying about allegations of abuse in order to protect its own reputation, I am skeptical of any report which relies on voluntarily-reported data from the Church.

    What the Church — and most especially Donahue — fails to realize is that although people were horrified and upset by the abuse, the true anger did not rise until it became obvious that the Church had covered up the scandal with blackmails and bribes, placing its own reputation before the well-being of its members. They also fail to realize that the hypocrisy of teaching the importance of chastity and of no extra-marital sex while facilitating the systematic abuse of children is what causes people to focus on the Church. In that, Donahue almost has it right — it’s partly due to the church’s teachings on sexual issues that the church has been such a lightning rod in the abuse scandals. However, it is recognition of hypocrisy — not petty mud-slinging or equally petty desire for self-justification — that motivates.

    As for Donahue’s statement concerning abuse rates over the last 7ish (I don’t remember exactly, and I have no desire to read his screed again) years: I find it entirely unremarkable that so few cases have been brought to light, given the extreme length of time typically lapsed between abuse and reporting.

    It would seem that, far from a “homosexual problem,” Mr. Donahue has a fact problem.

  27. Robert says

    So, all gays are pedophiles, in this instance it should be pederasts since almost all of the victims were post-pubescent. Well, bigot twice married Donohue, by your deduction then, all straight males must be rapists since the majority of rape is committed by your fellow straights. Nice try but deeply flawed argument.

  28. Joe H says

    This scandal has its roots in the Church’s long-held anti-gay attitudes,and the impact of those attitudes on our children and families.

    In the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s, the Church attracted thousands of confused, closeted, young gay and bisexual men who saw a celibate, Godly lifestyle as a way to finally rid themselves of their desires, and their unmarried status as priests could alleviate pressure to marry without suspicion. Some of those lucky enough to avoid suicide and join the Church surely found each other, but most played by the book and essentially became gay men living a long life of commitment to the Church, including celibacy. They went through their formative years dutifully studying scripture, but without healthy sexual relationships with adults as they suppressed their urges for years. By the time most reached their late thirties and forties, they had become damaged and isolated, beyond hope of a healthy adult relationship — yet with plenty of raging, unexpressed urges. Detached from adults, the one thing they did have was access to the only people they could now relate to: children. This system was a recipe for creating pedophiles, and it explains the oddly pervasive and enduring problem of the child abuse of boys in the Catholic church.

    If the Church wasn’t so anti-gay to begin with, these confused and damaged men would not have run to the faith in the first place, and the dire results of their failed conversions to “normalcy” would not have played themselves out on the canvas of our vulnerable children. The Catholic Church attracted homosexuals like a moth to a flame, not because these men wanted to prey on children but for the opposite reason — to become more Godly and lose their unwanted gay desires. As this ill-conceived plan failed over time, the celibacy, condemnation of homosexuality, isolation, and lack of healthy adult relationships essentially created pedophiles.

    There is irony in this view. Yet is is more compelling and sensible than the idea of salacious young gay pedophiles conspiring become priests, infiltrate the Church, spend the rest of their their lives there, then enjoy the spoils: alter boys. While that effectively vilifies the homosexual as predatory, lustful and cunning, it makes for a better sound bite from the hateful Christin right. I’m sticking with my theory of what happened here, that the Church is both responsible for damages done to the victims and the perpetrators.

  29. ewe says

    Donahue should be barred from signing his name under the title “religious and civil rights”. There is no civil rights in anything this disgraceful filth wrote nor is there anything of religious value in his dispicable rant either. I have informed Archbishop Dole that as executor for my elderly relatives financial affairs, i will continue to shred every piece of mail that comes asking for donations of any kind to anything Catholic related until he condemns this discriminatory hate speech against a select group of people. I suggest everyone else make it a point to tell anyone you know to do the same. SHAME on them all.

  30. Scott Levison says

    My ex is Catholic..I’m a Jew. She and I split in 1985 because she didn’t want to date a Jew anymore. Nowadays, she and her husband are members of the Catholic League. Not surprised. Bigots who are Catholic find a home there.

  31. says

    Donahue makes some interesting contributions to jurisprudence and the Catholic theory of morals and moral responsibility.

    Let me see if I can carry over this new theology to, say, abortion doctors, for example.

    “A lot of the abortions I performed were back in the heyday of the Sexual Revolution. Plus a lot of people are accused of killings they did not commit. Therefore, I really didn’t perform abortions.”

    or

    “People who attack me for performing abortions don’t attack others for letting children starve to death. So my abortions don’t count.”

    Donahue really scrapes the bottom of the Apologetics barrel, even when measured by the standards of past rightwing Catholic apologetics.

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