NEW YORK CITY, October 22, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) ― A former religion editor of Newsweek has published an article in a liberal Catholic magazine about networks of sexually active homosexual priests and prelates in the Catholic Church
Kenneth L. Woodward, an award-winning journalist, editor and author, acknowledged in an article written for the left-leaning Commonweal magazine that homosexuality has played a role in the clerical sexual abuse scandals and their cover-up.
“ … It wasn’t just clericalism that allowed McCarrick to abuse seminarians and young priests for decades, even though his behavior was widely known within clerical circles,” he wrote. “And it wasn’t just his ecclesiastical clout that provided him protection. It was networks, too.”
“By networks, I mean groups of gay priests, diocesan and religious, who encourage the sexual grooming of seminarians and younger priests, and who themselves lead double lives — breaking their vows of chastity while ministering to the laity and staffing the various bureaucracies of the church,” Woodward continued.
The veteran religious affairs journalist said he had heard about such networks throughout his almost 40-year career at Newsweek:
“During the nearly four decades I spent writing about religion for Newsweek, I heard numerous tales of ‘lavender lobbies’ in certain seminaries and chanceries, told mostly by straight men who had abandoned their priestly vocations after encountering them,” he wrote.
One of the few priests to complain publicly was the late priest-novelist, Andrew Greeley, who alleged that a homosexual network was active in Cardinal Bernadin’s Chicago archdiocese. Woodward also heard about networks in the Vatican “mostly from Italians, who are generally more relaxed about homosexuality than Americans and unsurprised when those leading double lives are outed.”
The essayist said that what concerns him is not only “personal hypocrisy, but whether there are gay networks that protect members who are sexually active.”
Woodward was thinking specifically of the late Cardinal John J. Wright, whose Pittsburgh diocese was reputed to be a “haven for actively gay clerics.” Wright was elevated by Pope Paul VI in 1969 to the cardinalate at age 60 and appointed the prefect of the Congregation for Priests in Rome.
After that, Woodward began to hear stories of Wright living semi-secretly with a younger lover. However, it is Wright’s relationship with another younger man that is of greater concern to the veteran journalist:
“What interests me now is not the private details of (Wright’s) double life, but whether it influenced how he ran the congregation overseeing the selection, training, and formation of the clergy,” Woodward wrote.
“Donald Wuerl, who recently resigned as archbishop of Washington D.C., would surely know the truth about Wright. Wuerl’s first assignment after ordination at the age of 31 was as secretary to then-Bishop Wright of Pittsburgh in 1966,” Woodward continued.
“The younger priest was said to be closer to the cardinal than the hair on his head. He became Wright’s omnipresent full-time personal assistant when the latter moved to Rome, even sitting in for him during the papal conclave that elected John Paul II,” he continued.
McCarrick’s adult bedfellows: abuse or initiation?
Earlier in his essay, Woodward concentrated on the general role homosexuality has played in the current crisis rocking the Church.
“One cannot deny that homosexuality has played a role in the abuse scandals and their cover-up, and to dismiss this aspect as homophobia one would have to be either blind or dishonest,” he wrote.
Woodward believes that men who are attracted to other males are “naturally drawn” to the priesthood and other professions or associations that give them access to boys and young men.
“ … Men who discover that they are sexually attracted to pre- or post-pubescent males are naturally drawn to occupations like the priesthood — and teaching and coaching and scouting — because of the trust accorded the members of these occupations, as well as the access to boys all these occupations provide,” he wrote.
The McCarrick case serves to illustrate the true nature of the clerical sexual abuse crisis, the journalist believes.
“To begin with, McCarrick doesn’t seem to fit the standard profile of a pedophile,” Woodward explained.
“In clinical terms, a pedophile is any adult who is sexually attracted to prepubescent children. According to the John Jay Report, only about 5 percent of cases of clerical sex abuse in the past 70 years involved prepubescent children,” he continued.
“McCarrick’s abuse of adolescent seminarians, dating back to a time when the church still maintained special seminaries for students of high-school age, does fit the clinical profile of an ephebophile — that is, someone who is sexually attracted to postpubescent minors, typically between the ages of 12 and 18.”
Woodward said ephebophiles are often “sick, sexually maladjusted adults,” but also stated that “like most middle-aged men, whether heterosexual or homosexual, McCarrick was attracted to younger bodies.”
He noted that McCarrick had preyed on minors, perhaps even pre-pubescent minors, which is why he has been dismissed from ministry, but pointed out that there are no laws, even canon laws, against a cleric having sex with adults. This means we are unlikely to find out how many of the seminarians and priests that, however grudgingly, granted McCarrick sexual favours, are still sexually active.
“ … What about all the young men with whom the bishop shared a bed at his beach house and elsewhere?” Woodward asked. “Some were surely coerced, some seduced. They were all initiated by a powerful church figure into a sexual double life to which McCarrick, as a bishop and cardinal, gave sanction by his acts. How many are still living that double life?”
The dangers of actively homosexual clergy living a double life were now very clear, he said.
“There will be clerical hypocrisy as long as there is a church, but we can and should do more to combat it,” he said.
Woodward is unlikely to be dismissed as a wild-eyed conservative. In his otherwise excellent essay, he takes potshots at “wealthy, politically conservative Catholics” and the Knights of Malta, whom he believes guilty of clericalism. He is also, without naming them, especially scathing in his criticism of media outlets to whom Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò chose to publish his testimony linking Pope Francis to the McCarrick scandal. Those include LifeSiteNews.