[Library: Overview - Priests] Ipce Newsletter E 13, June 2002
A few quotes from a few articles about
The US accused priests
John, Wrong Labels Inflame Fears of Catholics,
New York Times March 22, 2002
There has been serious sexual misconduct, but we have exaggerated it by mislabeling it. The image of "pedophile priests" is largely a myth, according to Philip Jenkins, a professor of history and religious studies at Pennsylvania State University and the author of "Pedophiles and Priests: Anatomy of a Contemporary Crisis" (Oxford University Press, 1996).
[...] he says there is no evidence that the rate of pedophilia among Catholic priests is higher than among other clergy or other professions.
Most of the church's sexual abuse cases involve older teenagers above the legal age of consent, Dr. Jenkins said. "I don't want to excuse this behavior," he said. "Having sex with a 16- or 17-year-old boy or girl may be phenomenally stupid and wrong in many ways immoral, sinful, an abuse of authority but it's very different from pedophilia, which is the exploitation of prepubescent children. In most of these cases with older teenagers, there's some degree of consent, and in most jurisdictions they're legal." The age of consent is 17 in New York and 16 in many places.
[...] They were not pedophiles. You could call them pederasts, using a term that originally meant men attracted to boys up to adulthood, although it has come to be applied to homosexuals in general. The most precise term, Dr. Jenkins said, would be ephebophile someone with a sexual preference for boys or girls beyond puberty but don't expect to see that in many headlines soon. […]
Dr. Jenkins attributes the current misconceptions partly to linguistic
imprecision, partly to traditional anti-Catholic stereotypes and partly to the
desire to avoid an awkward issue: homosexual priests. Although there is no
evidence of disproportionate rates of pedophilia among priests, Dr. Jenkins
said, surveys have found that an unusually high number of priests have
homosexual inclinations. […]
John, The perils of reform at church, March
29, 2002, New York Times
[..] I worry that an overreaction to the current scandal will deprive today's boys of the kind of mentors that we cherished — the truly celibate men with the time and the freedom to make big differences in our lives. I spoke with one of them yesterday, and he confirmed my fears.
Some boy is the poorer for it.
Berry, Jason, Secrets, Celibacy and the Church, April 3, 2002, New York Times
[...] Celibacy does not cause pedophilia. But celibacy has given rise to a secretive culture in which sexual behavior in any form must be hidden. In such a context, homosexual activity is something to be ashamed of. Under Catholic teachings, it is considered a sin.
The problem, of course, is that pedophilia is not just a sin, it is a crime. But
the same secrecy
and shame that hides homosexuality in the church produces an atmosphere that has
acts of pedophilia. Just as bishops like Cardinal Bernard Law of Boston
tolerated pedophiles in
their midst, they have largely failed to reckon with the development of a
complex culture of gay
priests. One narrow strand of this culture consists of those priests who have
reliable survey has been done to determine how many priests are homosexual. But
growing literature on the issue underscores the crisis. The priesthood is
becoming a gay
problem is the power structure. Obsessed with secrecy, the bishops have denied
implications of the changes in ecclesiastical culture. In 1992 I published a
book on sexual abuse
by priests, with a long section on the gay clergy. Much of my research was based
filed by abuse victims. In scores of sworn depositions I read, the plaintiffs'
legal strategy was
clear: to show that a hierarchy that allows priests to break its own
ecclesiastical rules would also
shelter those who violated state criminal laws.
interviewed several dozen gay priests across America. With assurances of
anonymity (lest their
bishops punish them for coming out of the closet), they promptly began
discussing their sex
lives. I asked why, if they could not practice celibacy, they didn't leave the
saw themselves as leading the church toward the reform of outdated moral
including celibacy. […]
Conservative Catholics, meanwhile, should recognize that celibacy is a failure,
morally. They should also acknowledge that homophobia is immoral. […]
Jason Berry is the author of "Lead Us Not Into Temptation: Catholic Priests
Sexual Abuse of Children."
Mattingly, Terry, Fathers, Mothers & Catholic Sons, April 2002
the Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago eventually opened its files on all
2,252 priests who had served in the previous four decades. The powers that be
hunted for pedophiles and they found one.
key word is "one." One priest had been accused of assaulting a
prepubescent child. The other allegations involved priests and sexually mature,
but under-age, adolescents -- mostly boys.
"Those Chicago numbers are not unusual. This is,
in fact, part of a pattern we see in diocese after diocese," said Father
Donald B. Cozzens, former vicar for clergy in Cleveland and then rector of a
graduate seminary in Ohio.
"Of course, any abuse of children is horrifying
and it is just as wrong -- morally and legally -- when sexual abuse occurs with
teen-agers. But it isn't helping matters, right now, for people to keep blurring
the lines between these two conditions. This isn't just about pedophilia."
stressed that he agrees with researchers who believe sexual orientation is
irrelevant in discussions of pedophilia. But what if pedophilia is not the
definition, pedophiles are sexually attracted to boys and girls who have not
reached puberty. But Cozzens said reports he has studied, and his own experience
as a counselor, indicate the more common problem among Catholic clergy is
"ephebophilia." This is recurrent, intense sexual interest in
post-pubescent young people -- teen-agers.
"ephebophilia" is rarely used in church debates and the press. Yet,
Cozzens said that whenever clergy vicars held conferences 90 percent of the
sex-abuse cases they discussed fell into this category. Church authorities are
reluctant to investigate this reality.
[Library: Overview - Priests] Ipce Newsletter E 13, June 2002