November 5, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – A new report dares to ask the question those in authority in the Catholic Church have assiduously avoided for decades: Is there a correlation between the presence of a high proportion of homosexuals in the priesthood and the incidence of clergy sex abuse?
The report also examines how “homosexual subcultures” within Catholic seminaries may have contributed to creating an environment where homosexual clergy were more likely to abuse minors.
“Although over 8 in 10 of victims have been boys, the idea that the abuse is related to homosexual men in the priesthood has not been widely accepted by Church leaders,” wrote Father Paul Sullins, a retired Catholic University of America (CUA) sociology professor, in a new report for the Ruth Institute. “The data show that more homosexual men in the priesthood was correlated with more overall abuse and more boys abused compared to girls.”
Sullins’ report is titled Is Catholic clergy sex abuse related to homosexual priests?
The priest said in a recent press conference that this “question comes up logically because the vast majority of [priestly sex abuse] victims were boys. Usually in sex abuse of minors, two-thirds of victims are girls.”
The report compares “previously unexamined measures of the share of homosexual Catholic priests and the incidence and victim gender of minor sex abuse by Catholic priests from 1950 to 2001 to see if these matters are related.”
While Sullins’ findings are stunning, they serve to confirm what many have suspected all along:
- Clergy sexual abuse is still a problem. Since peaking 35 years ago, it has declined much less than commonly thought. The decline is consistent with an overall drop in sexual assault in American society.
- Since 2002 abuse has been rising amid signs of complacency by Church leaders, and today is comparable to the early 1970s.
- The share of homosexual men in the priesthood rose from twice that of the general population in the 1950s to eight times the general population in the 1980s. This trend was strongly correlated with increasing child sex abuse.
- A quarter of priests ordained in the late 1960s report the existence of a homosexual subculture in their seminary, rising to over half of priests ordained in the 1980s. This trend was also strongly correlated with increasing child sex abuse.
- Four out of five victims over age seven were boys; only one in five were girls. Ease of access to boys relative to girls accounts for about one fifth of this disparity. The number of homosexual priests accounts for the remaining four fifths.
And perhaps the most chilling conclusion of Sullin’s research is this:
- Estimates from these findings predict that, had the proportion of homosexual priests remained at the 1950s level, at least 12,000 fewer children, mostly boys, would have suffered abuse.
“What I say in the paper is that when homosexual men were represented in the priesthood at about the same rate as they were in the population, there was no measurable problem of child sex abuse,” said Sullins. “It was only when you had a preponderance of homosexual men.”
“When you get up to 16 percent of priests that are homosexual – you’ve got eight times the proportion of homosexuals as you do in the general population – it’s as if the priesthood becomes a particularly welcoming and enabling and encouraging population for homosexual activity and behavior,” he added.
“More homosexual men in the priesthood relates very clearly to more sexual abuse of boys,” declared Sullins.
Although we are told that sexual abuse within the Church “has declined to almost nothing today, this is really not true,” Sullins warned. The most reliable data available on sex abuse shows that while “clergy sex abuse did drop to almost nothing right after 2002, it started to creep up,” and today it’s up to a level “comparable to what it was in the 1970s.”
“There are signs that the bishops have gotten complacent about that,” he added, noting that the USCCB’s own annual audit reports, collected since 2004, make this clear.
The Dallas Charter and cover up by U.S. prelates
Sullins noted that the bombshell Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report (GJR) released this summer was like a replay of the events that “led to the establishment of strict policies and norms to increase child safety in Catholic settings, expressed in the 2002 Charter for the Protection of Children and Young Adults, commonly referred to as the ‘Dallas Charter.’”
A national review of the scope of clergy sex abuse was launched at the time, resulting in the 2004 report from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice revealing “that since 1950 over 10,000 children, mostly boys, had been sexually abused by over 4,000 Catholic priests,” explained Sullins.
What was new in the GJR “was not primarily the revelation of abuse by priests, but of a possible pattern of resistance, minimization, enablement, and secrecy – a ‘cover-up’ – on the part of bishops,” the priest noted.
“The 2002 Charter had not addressed or even acknowledged these issues, which seemed to confirm the suggestion of a cover-up: indeed, to the extent bishops may have covered up priestly misbehavior, the Charter itself may have covered up episcopal misbehavior,” continued Sullins. “Did the Charter fail to address these issues at the direction of the bishops? Could the Charter review be tainted or restricted by the desire of the bishops not to address uncomfortable or embarrassing facts?”
A lengthy investigative report by the Boston Globe in conjunction with the Philadelphia Inquirer, published one day after the Sullins report was issued, details the extent of prelates’ culpability and seems to confirm Sullin’s conclusion about the U.S. bishops.
“More than 130 US bishops – or nearly one-third of those still living – have been accused during their careers of failing to adequately respond to sexual misconduct in their dioceses,” and, “at least 15, including Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the former archbishop of Washington who resigned [from the College of Cardinals] in July, have themselves been accused of committing such abuse or harassment,” according to the Globe investigation.
The Boston Globe report continues:
Most telling, the analysis shows that the claims against more than 50 bishops center on incidents that occurred after a historic 2002 Dallas gathering of US bishops where they promised that the church’s days of concealment and inaction were over. By an overwhelming, though not unanimous, vote, church leaders voted to remove any priest who had ever abused a minor and set up civilian review boards to investigate clergy misconduct claims.
But while they imposed new standards that led to the removal of hundreds of priests, the bishops specifically excluded themselves from the landmark child protection measures. They contended only the pope had authority to discipline them and said peer pressure – public or private shaming they euphemistically called “fraternal correction” – would keep them in line.
‘Stop the denial’: Seminaries with homosexual subcultures foster abuse
The Sullins reports also calls attention to a 2002 survey of Catholic priests by the Los Angeles Times which asked, “In the seminary you attended, was there a homosexual subculture at the time?”
More than one quarter of the respondents said “yes,” and for those who had been ordained more recently, the number skyrocketed to 53 percent.
A similar survey conducted by Dean Hoge of CUA yielded essentially the same result – 55 percent – from recently-ordained priests to the same question.
“Homosexual subcultures encouraged greater abuse, but not by heterosexual men, just by homosexual men,” said Sullins.
In order to deal with homosexual subcultures in seminaries,“the first thing that needs to be done is to stop the denial,” said Sullins in a recent interview with the National Catholic Register. “We need to recognize that there’s a problem. And the idea that we want to keep from acknowledging that homosexual activity in seminaries or in the priesthood might be related to these kind of harms is really an important first step. The impulse that we don’t want to say anything that might stigmatize homosexual persons is an understandable one. But it has to be weighed against the potential for greater harm for these victims. How many times do we want to go around this block again and keep denying what is becoming increasingly obvious, and taking steps to address it?”
“Like most Catholics today, the credibility of our bishops, to me, is in question on this issue. I hate to say that. I love the Church,” he continued. “[Generally] speaking, the bishops, as a group, cannot be trusted to solve this problem at this point.” He suggested others may be better suited to do so.
Impact on kids
The Sullins Report is part of the ongoing work of the Ruth Institute, a global non-profit organization creating a mass social movement to end family breakdown by energizing the Survivors of the Sexual Revolution. Founded by Jennifer Roback Morse, Ph.D., the Ruth Institute focuses especially on the impact of family breakdown on children.
Morse said that up until now, the Ruth Institute had not addressed the issue of sexual abuse within the priesthood, but “we are now deeply involved in this question – the causes and cures for clergy sexual abuse.”
“In the 1970s, they didn’t think the molesting of children had any negative effect on children at all, or if they did, they believed it was very slight. They also believed that about divorce and lots of other things,” said Sullins. “Social scientists have subsequently discovered that there are lots of negative effects and harms” due to these things “and we have found that abuse of minor children sexually creates psychological trauma that is with them for most of their life.”
The entire report can be found here.