Media Silent on Gays in Clergy; Catholics See 'Moral Laxity' at Root of Pedophile Scandal

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), March 25, 2002 | Go to article overview

Media Silent on Gays in Clergy; Catholics See 'Moral Laxity' at Root of Pedophile Scandal


Byline: Liz Trotta, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

NEW YORK - Many priests, theologians and other clerical sources view the sexual-abuse scandal engulfing the Catholic Church as the inevitable result of a don't-ask-don't-tell policy that let many homosexuals enter seminaries during the cultural turmoil of the last three decades.

The scandal has been framed in many media accounts as an epidemic of priestly sexual abuse in which pedophiles have victimized children.

But some Catholic officials insist that the majority of the cases reported so far involve homosexual priests and young men.

"The overwhelming majority [involve] homosexuals, but the media steers away," said the Rev. Richard John Neuhaus of the Institute on Religion and Public Life. "It is no secret that there has been a certain moral laxity and that a significant number of active homosexuals entered the priesthood in the last 20 or 30 years."

No precise studies document this widely held perception, but many informed church sources maintain that pedophilia - an abnormal condition in which an adult has a carnal desire for pre-pubescent children - accounts for a relatively small portion of the sexual abuse scandal.

Some church officials and Catholic intellectuals contend that the media are not reporting the story as homosexual activity in a bow to political correctness and also out of reluctance by the church to publicly take on the issue of homosexuality.

"No one can look at these statistics and not draw the conclusion that this is essentially and basically a homosexual phenomenon," said Jack Hartigan, a Catholic lawyer active in child and education issues.

Two recent Florida cases show the pattern. In one, the diocese of St. Petersburg has been accused of paying hush money over charges of sexual harassment against Bishop Robert Lynch by his former spokesman - a married man with two children. In the other, an anti-racketeering lawsuit against the church accuses Palm Beach Bishop Anthony J. O'Connell of sexual misconduct with a former seminarian.

According to the lawsuit, the man was 15 at the time of the first sexual contact, which continued into adulthood.

George Weigel, author of "Witness to Hope," a biography of Pope John Paul II, called the priesthood "a homosexually oriented clergy not living celibacy the way it must be lived. …

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