Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, spoke out in an article on the Washington Post's website on Thursday, defending his assertion that the widespread perception of a “pedophilia crisis in the Catholic Church” is not supported by data and research. The more significant problem, Donohue argued, is the incidence of homosexuality among priests.
Citing a number of medical journals in the field of human sexuality research, Donohue explained in his submission to the Washington Post's “On Faith” section that “homosexuals are disproportionately represented among child molesters.” Statistically, he said, the evidence for a “link between homosexuality and the sexual abuse of minors” in the general population is “overwhelming.”
This link is borne out in the majority of sex offenses committed by priests, according to Donohue. “As I have said many times, most gay priests are not molesters, but most of the molesters have been gay.”
In applying this correlation to the sex abuse crisis within the Church, he reiterated the findings of Roderick MacLeish Jr., who examined the full archives of the Archdiocese of Boston during his lawsuit against the Church. MacLeish represented nearly 400 victims of abuse in court, 90 percent of whom were male, and three-quarters post-pubescent.
Donohue also cited the conclusions of Robert S. Bennett, head of the National Review Board which released its report on sexual abuse in the Church in 2004. “There are no doubt many outstanding priests of a homosexual orientation who live chaste, celibate lives,” Bennett said at the time of the report's release, “but any evaluation of the causes and context of the current crisis must be cognizant of the fact that more than 80 percent of the abuse at issue was of a homosexual nature.”
The Catholic League president additionally mentioned the psychologist Leslie Lothstein, who noted that in his work with abusive priests, “only a small minority were true pedophiles.”
Donohue defended his view of the scandal as a “homosexual crisis” by citing the data of Dr. Richard Fitzgibbons, a psychiatrist who has worked with abusive clergy. Dr. Fitzgibbons says that his own clinical practice confirms the opinion of “many psychologists and psychiatrists” who have found “no link between celibacy and pedophilia.”
Rather, the psychiatrist's findings showed a “relationship between homosexuality and pedophilia.” “Every priest whom I treated who was involved with children sexually,” Fitzgibbons said, “had previously been involved in adult homosexual relationships.”
While taking pains to point out that “most gay priests are not molesters,” and that “being a homosexual” does not “make one a molester,” Donohue was adamant in stating that the Vatican was right to institute more rigorous procedures to screen out actively homosexual men from becoming priests.
Such screening, he implied, would have prevented the vast majority of priestly abuse from occurring in the first place. “I maintain it has been a homosexual crisis all along,” he insisted. “The evidence is all on my side.”