Catholic commentary on culture, media, and politics.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

How to avoid "passing the trash:" Replying to a Reply

Is anyone having fun yet? In my dialogue with A. Carlton Sallet, I have learned that he believes screening out homosexual seminarians is unjust, and that I am guilty of committing the red herring fallacy in asserting that there is a link between homosexuality and child sexual abuse. (He also broadens the commonly accepted definition of homophobia ("irrational fear of homosexuals") to include any "unjust discrimination" against them. Therefore, by definition I am homophobic.

I told you this would happen.

He used the term "passing the trash" in reference to what some bishops did in moving perpetrators from parish to parish. I noted that , according to all available data, esp. the John Jay Report, "trash" must refer to the homosexual priests who molested boys and older teens, not pedophiles who preyed on little children. Which, as far as terms go, is a counter-intuitive way to fight homophobia as we wrestle this discussion toward truth.

He was patient enough to respond to my arguments, and I do appreciate it. I'm just sorry he didn't rebut much. He only repeated. His reply to my evidence homosexuality is related to higher rates of child sexual abuse could have been written by an O.J. Simpson juror: so much pesky evidence to ignore, so little time. To whit, I cited an important meta-study by Dr. Brian Clowes and David Sonnier that establishes the link between homosexuality and child sexual abuse, but my respondent deleted it in his Reply. Rather than repeat myself -- interested readers can return to that research (both bullet-point sample and full text) linked below in the previous post.

But forget the question of whether homosexual abuse childen in greater numbers (proportionate to their numbers) than heterosexuals. Even if they didn't, my support of tightening up the screening process at the seminary level doesn't stand or fall on this point. There is much more to it. With a touch of bravado, Mr. Sallet rather provocatively asks me if I have any proof of the lavenderized seminary/priesthood. I'm cutting him some slack on this one because his profile says he's a new Catholic. Honestly, it sickens me to share the following information. It's saddening and all the more bewildering because it's true.

This is but a slight glance at the problem:

* The NJ attorney Stephen Rubino says that of the over 300 alleged victims of priest sex abuse he has represented, roughly 85% are boys, and were teenagers when the abuse occurred.
* Dr. Richard Fitzgibbons, a respected Catholic psychiatrist who has treated scores of victims and priest-perpetrators, says 90% of his patients were either teen male victims or priests, or priests who abused teen boys. That the victims are mostly teenagers proves that the issue is not one of pedophilia as much as of homosexuality.
* Psychotherapist Richard Sipe has studied the problem for 40 years. Sipe is no conservative, being a laicized priest who writes critically of the Church's sexual morality. But after reviewing thousands of case histories, writes: "This is a system. This is a whole community. You have many good people covering it up. There is a network of power. A lot of seminary rectors and teachers are part of it, and they move to chancery-office positions, and on to bishoprics. It's part of the ladder of success."
* Fr. Donald Cozzens, former rector of St. Mary's Seminary in Cleveland and author of The Changing Face of the Priesthood -- again, not a conservative cleric -- confirms that the higher proportion of gays in the priesthood accounts for the inordinate numbers of Catholic priests dying of AIDS -- a rate much higher than that of normal male population. The Kansas City Star reported that, "there are at least 400 known deaths of priests from AIDS, and probably twice that number -- ranging from four times to eight times the rate in the general population." Two thirds of the priests interviewed said they knew at least one priest who had died of AIDS, and one third knew at least one priest living with it (January 2000: poll of 800 priests, Cozzens, p. 193).
Cozzens also reports of the "gay subculture" in many seminaries, and that the priesthood has become a "gay profession." Gay faculty and students put so much pressure on normal students that the latter are frequently forced to terminate their education and vocation.
* Supporting this, Thomas Fox, former editor of The National Catholic Reporter, concluded from his interviews that, "In some cases there have been reports of predominately gay seminaries and homosexual climates within them that became so pronounced that heterosexual seminarians felt uneasy and ultimately left" (Sexuality and Catholicism, 1995, p. 177). Garry Wills states: "Gays themselves register the change. In a survey of 101 gay priests, those ordained before 1960 remember their seminary as having been 51 percent gay. Those ordained after 1981 say their seminaries were 70 percent gay" (Wills, p. 194).
* In 1982 the thoroughly footnoted and indexed book titled The Homosexual Network: Private Lives and Public Policy, authored by Catholic priest Enrique Rueda, documented the spread of homosexuality throughout the Catholic Church. Rueda also tells of the growing network of support groups, counseling referrals, newsletters, and organizations of homosexuals and pro-homosexuals in the Catholic churches of America. He reports that in the late 1970's a key staffer at the Office of Public Affairs and Information at the U.S. Catholic Conference/National Conference of Catholic Bishops was a leader of the Washington, D.C. homosexual movement, as well as president of Dignity/USA (the radical pro-homosexual clerical group).
* Bishop Robert Lynch, the former general secretary of the NCCB recently admitted that, after he "crossed the boundaries" of professional relationships with a male member of his staff, he also paid off the victim with $100,778 to keep him quiet about harassment charges (The Tampa Tribune, March 23, 2002).
* Bishop Patrick Ziemann of Santa Rosa, CA, a known protege of Caridnal Roger Mahoney was removed from his bishopric after being found guilty of blackmailing a gay priest whom he had recruited for, um, special pastoral favors.
* Archbishop Rembert Weakland of Milwaukee resigned in disgrace in 2002 after it was discovered he paid $450,000 in hush money to keep his younger male paramour quiet.

If you haven't read Good-Bye, Good Men, the painstakingly documented book by Michael Rose, please do so. You asked for proof of "lavenderization"? Glory be to God, America's most famous liberal, Fr. Andrew Greeley -- not some homophobic conservative -- is the one who coined the phrase.

I could have made the above list much longer. But I don't have the stomach. And I don't want to provide a scandal to non-Catholic readers.

ACS's title is "Banning Homosexual Priests: A Reply." Again, the issue is not "banning," it's screening -- and, more to the point, we don't even know what the document says! I even admitted that any screening process is going to run into several difficulties, like: How gay is too gay? How closeted is closeted enough? How healed is healed enough? My respondent is arguing strenuously against the contents of a document that he has not read. (Nor have I.) Let's err on discretion's side.

I read the quotes from Pope John Paul II and then-Cardinal Ratzinger. Beautiful, inspriing words. If only I could see how they related to whether the Church should reduce the number of homosexuals in the priesthood.

If banning gay men from the clergy is the best way to reduce child abuse, then the best way to reduce car accidents is to ban red cars (statistically shown to be involved in more collisions). Just as you would focus on the driver's habits to reduce collisions, so would you focus on the people called to priestly vocation. A good assessment tool would include measures for maturity, self control, sound judgment, etc.

Ouch. The "red cars crash more often" tale is an urban legend. New Zealand researchers Furness, Conner et al have done all that homework for us. Speaking of red herrings, even if the red car myth was true, the analogy is invalid. "Car color risk" has to do with the visibility (or lack thereof) in the eyes of the other drivers, not with some inherent moral choice made by the vehicle itself. Homosexual desires are instrinsically disordered, however, and lead in greater frequency to the further disorder of attraction to minors of the same sex.

My repondent's solution is some kind of ongoing risk assessment plan based on generic tools. My solution is to reduce the risk before it leaves the gate. That's right: Since the wide majority of victims are young males (in the ephebophile profile age, and slightly older), it's correct to say that gay priests pose a higher statistical risk to minors. I take no pleasure in saying it. It's a scientific fact. When was the last time you read about a priest sexually abusing a young girl? It happens, but comparitively rarely. That is, unless the John Jay Report, the Clowes/Sonnier study, the frank admissions of gay-friendly authorities is all a bunch of homophobic B.S.

Any correlation between higher incidents of abuse involving males could probably be attributed to higher sex drives in males of offending ages. Not particularly helpful.

Why is it so hard to see that an inclination that is objectively disordered (because it desires an objectively disordered act) might be frequently accompanied by built-in psychosexual compulsivity? Friends who have battled same-sex attractions with the help of God's grace say the gay lifestyle is all gas and no brakes, if you catch my drift. Medals aren't handed out for chastity in the gay sub-culture, to say the least.

Now, is it theoretically possible for a homosexual to be sufficiently healed of same-sex desires, and to reach a level of maturity and social adjustment that he could function as a priest? I'd say the answer is yes. But I believe my fellow Canuck advocates a misplaced and ultimately dangerous compassion. As I said, I support managing the risk. But like a river that is polluted by an oil spill, let's get at the source, not just monitor things downstream where damage is already being done. That source is the seminary.

I wrote, "Since the John Jay Report clearly proved that the amount of pedophilic abuse is very low, the trash you're referring to are gay priests with a penchant for teen boys and young men. For the whole crisis, by a huge majority, is not about paedophile priests" -- a media-savvy alliteration -- preying on prepubescentcent children but gay men preying on teens, minors, vulnerable young men, often from bad family situations."

And Carlton replied, A non sequitur. This attempt to excuse the crisis as mostly "homosexual" as opposed to "abusive" is old hat - and wrong.

Huh? I'm not excusing anything; I'm describing. You have a false dichotomy. It isn't "homosexual vs abusive." It's simultaneously abusively homosexual and homosexually abusive. Switch the issue to skin color to see what I mean: If a black man is abused by a certain Klansman, you don't merely say, "Oh, leave racism out of it. It's just violence." No, it's both.

It presupposes that sexually immature teenage males are equal partners when courted for sex by adult males in positions of clerical authority.

I don't want to sound snarky, I never said, nor do I in any sense believe, that "sexually immature teenage males are equal partners when courted for sex by adult males in positions of clerical authority." Which is why I call them victims.

First, I don't give a rat's a** whether my priest is tall/short, fat/thin, big shoes/little shoes, gay/straight, masculine/effeminate or whatever! In the spirit of turning the other cheek, I would simply observe that one's personal preferences hardly form the basis for the eclesiastical bar of the profound nature being discussed. Nuff said.

Well, I admit I was open to be misunderstood on this point. I shouldn't have lumped in irrelevant categories; it only muddied the waters. Guilt as charged. But... with respect to a priest's life of holiness, "gay/straight" is not the same thing as "tall/short," or "fat/thin," and I think you know it. My point was merely a wish for more manly
priests. They don't have to be Marine drill instructors, or good ole boys from the ranch, or thugs. God forbid. But do so many have to overuse the word wunnnderful and dress like they walked off the set of Queer Eye?

Finally, A.C.S, this is very important: do you know nothing about the multiple interconnections in the Church between pro-gay organizations in the Church and Catholic dissent? They're practically hillbilly cousins, pardon the metaphor. They constantly cross-list each other in their literature: Dignity USA is a strong ideological partner of Call to Action, which invites speakers from New Ways Ministry, which hold seminars that include Voice of the Faithful leaders, which sends reps to the Religious Ed Congress in Anaheim (aka the LA Heresy Fest), all of which are ideologically interchangable with the Coalition of Concerned Canadian Catholics, which encourages dissent on many doctirnal fronts, etc etc etc. And on and on it goes. (Yes, there are some traditional-minded priests who have homosexual leanings, if you think they're the majority, I have some swampland on Baffin Island for you.)

Well, homophobic in this discussion merely means any unjust discrimination against gay men - which is what I believe a ban would be. As for my politics, well I have a Coulter '08 bumper sticker on order, so you make your own call. To me, a conservative respects institutions and the role they play while preserving individual freedoms. And rights.

You can have the "institution-preserving-individual-freedoms" model of the Church. I'll take Benedict XVI and the non-democratic Bride of Christ model. It's odd that an Ann Coulter fan would reject the idea that the institution of the Church has the right to regulate the quality and moral integrity of her priests at the level of instruction and formation.

Above all, I pray that good Catholics can agree amicably to disagree about how best to do this.


Blogger A. Carlton Sallet said...

First, activate word verification to get rid of comment spam. Next, I hope you just type angry!

Will reply in a day or so - must load brain before firing.

We're more on the same side than you think.

Attended Mass and Reconciliation in French today - takes a bit of getting used to!

A la prochaine, mon copain....

2:11 PM

Blogger A. Carlton Sallet said...

Done and done and done. Link over and you'll see. Pax.

6:36 AM

Blogger Patrick said...

I don't have the energy or patience to read everyting you've posted, but I will add this to the conversation. When I spent a summer with a religious order I could spot the guys in candidacy who were gay. They all ended up leaving. As a visitor to seminaries I could spot them as well. If they want to weed them out, just let me know. Maybe I have a new carreer in the offing (or outing).

I will also add that the first time I shared my own struggles with homosexuality in confession, the priest's response was "Have you ever thought about the priesthood?" This was at Steubenville, btw.

Furthermore, two very conservative priests said that my "issue" would not be an impediment to the priesthood. In fact, one said, "Pat! Is that all you're worried about?" However, one of them recommended I see a reparative therapist and that time in therapy was the beginning of the end of my faith and my vocation.

The Other Patrick

10:34 PM

Blogger Patrick said...

Dear Other Patrick:

Ergo...what? The very conservative priests gave good advice or bad? Reparative therapy ended up helping or hurting? The proprosed "weeding out" is a good or bad thing?

Yes, the Steubenville priest sounds like a piece of work (do ya think he'd come out, so to speak, with that question if you'd confessed to reading Hustler?)

But on the other stuff, I'm not being facetious: I honestly don't now how to interpret you. If you have the energy or patience (lol) help me out.

7:28 AM


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