Critics Decry Panel Silence on Gay priests.(PAGE ONE)

Article excerpt

Byline: Joyce Howard Price, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

A draft document prepared by a panel of bishops does not deal with the issue of homosexuality as a factor in the sex abuse of minors by priests, and some in the Roman Catholic Church think that is a mistake.

But asked if he believes a homosexual man can be a "pure and whole" priest, the panel's leader, Minneapolis-St. Paul Archbishop Harry J. Flynn, answered only, "Yes."

The ad hoc committee on Tuesday announced recommendations for dealing with sexual misconduct by priests, which will be debated at a gathering of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Dallas next week. The recommendations were silent on the issue of homosexual priests.

"I'm sure that was intentional," said Stephen Brady, head of Roman Catholic Faithful (RCF).

Mr. Brady's group and other Catholic conservatives say that what they call "the homosexual-priest scandal" is not about pedophilia - persistent sexual attraction toward children who have not reached puberty - but about homosexuality.

At a press conference in Dallas next week, RCF plans to draw attention to a 1961 provision in the Code of Canon Law that specifically calls for barring from the priesthood those with "tendencies to homosexuality or pederasty," the latter term meaning sex between men and boys.

The law, put forth under Pope John XXIII, one of the most liberal popes, says: "Advancement to religious vows and ordination should be barred to those who are afflicted with evil tendencies to homosexuality or pederasty, since, for them, the common life and the priestly ministry would constitute serious dangers."

"These bishops should be made to follow the 1961 Vatican document," Mr. Brady said. "It's either infallibly binding or it's hogwash."

RCF, an international group that says it has 5,000 members, takes credit for exposing some bishops involved in same-sex relationships and a "network of homosexuals" in the Catholic clergy, which called itself St. Sebastian's Angels.

Mr. Brady said he expects resistance by bishops to having public attention focused on a priesthood that some say is 30 percent to 50 percent homosexual. He said he thinks some bishops "brought in their own kind" by recruiting homosexual priests.

RCF criticized the ad hoc committee's recommendations, which would defrock priests who sexually abuse any child in the future, but would show mercy for those who had already committed a single offense.

"Zero tolerance is a moot point. Who needs to go to Rome to find out that pedophiliacs shouldn't be in the ministry or that if you just murdered one person, it's OK?" Mr. Brady asked, saying the scandal won't be resolved "until we see some heads roll."

While some reported incidents of abuse by priests clearly involved pedophilia, those familiar with the problem say 90 percent of victims are teen-age boys. …