Eighty-one percent of sex crimes committed against children by Roman Catholic priests during the past 52 years were homosexual men preying on boys, according to a comprehensive study released yesterday on the church’s sex abuse crisis.
The John Jay study was commissioned 20 months ago by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) in response to hundreds of sex-abuse accusations that were made in nearly every U.S. Catholic diocese. It covered the years from 1950 to 2002 and found 10,667 cases of abuse.
The USCCB formed a 12-member review board of Catholic laity to conduct its own investigation. The board report was issued jointly with the John Jay study.
Revelation of the homosexual priest abuse was made at a crowded news conference where Washington lawyer Bob Bennett gave a lengthy summary of the review board’s report.
Mr. Bennett, a review board member, blamed seminary officials and bishops for not flagging at-risk homosexual seminarians.
There are “many outstanding priests of a homosexual orientation who live chaste, celibate lives,” Mr. Bennett said, “but … more than 80 percent of the abuse at issue was of a homosexual nature.”
“There’s an incredibly incongruity of a man of the cloth engaging in this type of conduct. How did they get into the priesthood?”
Seminaries, he said, allowed in “many sexually dysfunctional and psychosexually immature men,” and did not prepare clergy to survive “particularly in our oversexualized society.”
The study also found that during the same 52-year period, at least $572 million in church funds were spent in lawsuits or treatment for erring priests. Investigators said this amount was low, as 14 percent of 195 dioceses — about 27 — did not report dollar figures, nor was a recent $85 million settlement against the Archdiocese of Boston included.
The review board does not advocate barring homosexuals from the priesthood, he said, but “given the reality that a [seminarian] is entering what is essentially male culture, it is important care be taken in the selection and formation of seminarians so that every priest may honor his commitment to live a chaste and celibate life.”
“A litmus test would be inappropriate but we must look at the reality of what we are doing.”
The report itself went further by calling for “a more searching inquiry” of homosexual seminarians. “For those who choose to ordain homosexuals, there appears to be a need for additional scrutiny and perhaps additional or specialized formation to help them with the challenge of priestly celibacy,” it said.
Matthew Gallagher, executive director for Dignity, a Catholic homosexual caucus, called the findings “discrimination in the name of God.”
“Bishops are scapegoating gay priests and this is just a way for bishops to deflect tension from their inability to protect children in their care,” he said. “Bishops are not using modern thinking when they say a gay man is more prone to having sex than a straight man.”