The Catholic League Takes Aim at Homosexuals

Bill Donohue, the president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, took out a full-page ad in the New York Times on Monday to set a new agenda for “those who are distorting the truth about priestly sexual abuse.” His main point: That it’s not pedophilia — it’s homosexuality that’s the problem. And that’s a problem.

Donohue sets up his case by pointing out that priests have become so closely affiliated with sex abuse that they’ve stopped wearing their collars in public. Which is admittedly sad. And he suggests that bishops’ willingness to settle in cases where the accused priest has died leaves open the opportunity for fraud. Which could be construed as a valid concern. But it’s then that things get hairy.

Citing a 2004 John Jay College of Criminal Justice study commissioned by the Conference of Bishops, Donohue writes:

“Lets get it straight — they weren’t children and they weren’t raped,” Donohue alleged. “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.”

He goes on to point fingers at other organizations that he feels aren’t getting their fair share of the blame. His arguments in short: Sexual abuse happens in schools 100 times more than it does in churches; it’s also a problem in other religions institutions; Planned Parenthood doesn’t report statutory rape cases. He argues that laws have been prosecuted with the goal of “getting the priests” and that “[q]uite frankly, it is more acceptable in our society today to defend the rights of Gitmo detainees than Catholic priests.” He then contends that if the Church’s teachings were “pro-abortion, pro-gay marriage, and pro-women clergy, the dogs would have been called off years ago.”

Whoa. While it’s a terrible thing that the church has become synonymous with abuse, his statements offer little solace for victims, instead painting them as money-hungry church haters acting out of spite. Nevermind the fact that being taken advantage of by an authority figure who also dictates, and therefore undermines, your entire belief system wouldn’t be cause for some spite.

Not surprisingly, his effort to ostensibly move the conversation forward drew ire from survivor’s groups. In an article in The Advocate titled “Catholic Abuse? Blame Gays,” Dignity USA executive director Marianne Duddy-Burke rebuked Donohue’s claims, noting that half of the victims of abuse are female. “He avoids what is in many ways the larger sin — the cover-up and enabling of abuse” she said of the church’s hierarchy. And of Donohue’s claims of bias against the church? “That is a tremendous insult to everyone who has suffered abuse by people acting in the name of God.”

As the Globe points out, the ad runs counter to the Catholic Church’s concerted efforts to bring followers back to the fold. One wonders how many more they will alienate in its aftermath.