From The Washington Post:

A Catholic lay panel found that 4 percent of the nation’s Catholic priests who have served since 1950 were at one time or another accused of sexually abusing minors.

Let’s crunch some statistics, and see whether the crisis can be blamed on homosexuality per se:

  1. 20 percent of those alleged or reported abuses were male-female. Eighty percent were male-male.
  2. In other words, 3 percent (80 percent of 4 percent) of priests allegedly abused minors of the same gender. Of these same-sex offenders, some were gay and some were not.
  3. Conservatives including Bishop Gregory periodically complain that far too many U.S. Catholic priests are gay — between 20 percent and 50 percent.
  4. Therefore, even if the entire 3 percent of priests who were same-sex offenders were gay, and conservatively assuming 30 percent of Catholic priests were gay, then 27/30ths — or 90 percent — of Catholic gay priests would not be alleged sexual abusers.

Based on this admittedly superficial number-crunching, derived from a single report, it would seem that the number of same-sex offenders is disproportionately higher than the number of opposite-gender offenders, but that the cause is not attributable to sexual orientation per se.

Also worth noting:

  1. A great deal of abuse occurred in the 1950s and earlier, perhaps more than in any more-recent period. But victims either didn’t report it, or were ignored, because society did not tolerate talk about sexual abuse — especially in the church — until the 1960s.
  2. Abuse continues today, with some of today’s victims unlikely to report the abuse until they reach middle age.

What’s needed is accountability: All offenders should be punished, and removed from access to children.

Instead, what we are hearing from Bishop Gregory at the moment is that the offenders must somehow be dead or retired. This is implausible on two counts:

  1. his suggestion that the crisis has passed and no abuse is occurring now, when victims’ groups say otherwise, and
  2. his suggestion that retirement renders one ineligible for discipline or prosecution under civil and criminal law.

I fear we’ll soon be seeing the bishops reiterate their intent to cleanse the priesthood of gay priests instead of treating the real problems: tolerance for sexual abuse, and an absence of independent monitors empowered to hold priests and bishops accountable for their behavior.

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