BALTIMORE, Maryland, November 14, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone called for a study of homosexuality in the priesthood as it relates to the clerical sex abuse crisis Tuesday at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) semi-annual meeting.
While some dispute a connection between homosexual clergy and the abuse scandal, and with many hesitant to even suggest the possibility for fear of being labeled homophobic, Cordileone said a scientific look at the matter was necessary to get to the root of the problem, and also to exculpate same-sex attracted priests who don’t abuse.
The bishops are gathering this week for their Fall General Assembly in Baltimore with the abuse scandal front and center.
Their attempt to address the scandal within their purview was quashed by the Vatican on the meeting’s opening day after the Holy See via its Congregation for Bishops insisted the USCCB not vote on two measures on its agenda that would have augmented bishop accountability.
The Vatican directed the U.S. bishops to hold off acting on the measures until after the February 2019 meeting in Rome called by Pope Francis with the world’s bishops’ conference leaders to talk about the abuse crisis, further incensing lay Catholics.
Cordileone said there is a temptation to jump to the overly simplistic conclusion that there is direct causal connection between the presence of homosexual priests and bishops in the clergy and the sexual abuse of minors. This cannot be true, he said, because there are priests with a homosexual inclination who do not abuse minors and are serving the Church well.
“But there is a correlation between the two,” Cordileone said.
He brought up the recently-released Ruth Institute study by Father Paul Sullins that found, he said, a near 100 percent correlation between an increase of homosexual clergy and an increase of sex abuse of minors.
“I think the worst thing we could do is discredit this study so we don’t have to deal with it, or ignore or deny this reality altogether,” the San Francisco archbishop told his fellow prelates. “I think we need to lean into it. The correlation exists and we have to face it. To flee from it would be to flee from the truth, and to be perceived as fleeing from the truth.”
Cordileone cited the pope’s encouragement to follow the path of truth wherever it may lead.
Acknowledging a correlation still does not get to the root of the problem, Cordileone said.
“We don’t know why there is a correlation between an increased rate of homosexual clergy and an increased rate of sexual abuse of minors,” he said.
“So I would propose we commission a study to figure this out,” he continued, “or at least allow competent professionals in the field who want to conduct the study to have open access to all documentation and other such sources they need to help us understand this.”
Cordileone stressed that it’s important for the bishops to not infer from this that there is a direct link of causation.
The Sullins study, by Sullins’ own admission, was just a helpful first step, he said, and the study he was proposing would simply take the John Jay Cause and Context study to a deeper level.
“The Causes and Context of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests in the United States, 1950-2010” from 2011 was the U.S. bishops’ follow-up to their 2004 release of “The Nature and Scope of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests and Deacons in the United States 1950-2002.” Both have been used to either confirm or deny a link between abuse and homosexuality in the priesthood, depending on who cites them.
Cordileone urged the bishops to action in speaking from the assembly floor, referencing the Vatican’s earlier intervening in their work.
“This is something we need to do now,” he stated. “We didn’t need anyone’s authorization to commission that study [John Jay], and we don’t need anyone’s authorization to commission this one.”
“I think in doing so not only will it help us get to the root of the problem,” said Cordileone, “but we will be doing a service to many good priests who risk being wrongly and unjustly maligned by those who would like easy answers, we need to support them too.”
The answers will take time and they will be complex, he continued, concluding, “But I think it is imperative that we find these answer so that people will know that we’re are taking this seriously.”