Are all Catholic priests child molesters? No, of course not. Are some Catholic priests child molesters? Yes, indeed. But you know what? There are child molesters in schools and in other religious organizations and stuff, so we should really just forget the whole thing with the priests and leave them alone already.
Or so says Catholic League president William Donohue in an April 18 piece on the Catholic League’s website.
The gist of the piece is that everyone’s being too hard on priests over this whole abuse thing, and anyway it all happened a long time ago and the fact that most priests aren’t molesters is proof enough that this is no big deal. And anyway, Donohue writes, “[M]ost of the abuse occurred during the heyday of the sexual revolution, from the mid-1960s to the mid-1980s.” You know, “sexual revolution,” when everyone was way cooler about child molestation.
Oh, yeah, and that it’s a gay problem, not a pedophile problem.
Donohue writes, “The refrain that child rape is a reality in the Church is twice wrong: Let’s get it straight — they weren’t children and they weren’t raped. We know from the [2004 sexual abuse study commissioned by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops] that most of the victims have been adolescents, and that the most common abuse has been inappropriate touching (inexcusable though this is, it is not rape).”
Wow. These weren’t kids, huh? Interesting because adolescence begins at age 12. Call me crazy, but I consider a 12-year-old a child. My guess is that it’s not uncommon to consider 12-15 pretty solid child territory. In fact, I bet that Donohue would be pretty quick to call two 12- to 15-year-olds having sex with each other children. But if they’re being sexually assaulted by a priest then they’re all grown up, I guess. Whether they want to be or not.
Oh, and just because the most common type of abuse was “inappropriate touching,” that doesn’t mean that no children were raped. I’m not sure how many child rapes it takes for Donohue to count them as real or significant, but I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that even one is way too many.
Donohue goes on to say, “The Boston Globe correctly said of the [2004 report] that ‘more than three-quarters of the victims were post-pubescent, meaning the abuse did not meet the clinical definition of pedophilia.’ In other words, the issue is homosexuality, not pedophilia.”
Woah, wait a minute. Considering puberty begins between 8-13 for girls and 9-14 for boys, Donohue’s claim that it’s all good in the hood just because the abuse doesn’t meet the “clinical definition of pedophilia” is not only misleading, it’s pretty sick. Because that certainly meets the criminal definition of pedophilia, something that Donohue never acknowledges. He just blames it on the gays.
This is, of course, not new territory. Donohue isn’t the first to blame the abuse scandal on a few bad homo priest apples. And if you think homosexuality and pedophilia are the same thing, it’s a pretty convenient conclusion to come to. One that tidily assigns blame and allows you to avoid answering some very difficult questions. It’s pretty easy to see why folks like Donohue cling to it.
Donohue bemoans the “assault on priests as child abusers” and says the Catholic Church did nothing wrong with how it handled the abuse scandal because they were just trying to be compassionate, rehabilitating molester priests and then sending them off to new dioceses. What others call a massive cover-up, Donohue calls a “therapeutic approach.”
“What accounts for the relentless attacks on the Church?” Donohue asks. “Let’s face it: If its teachings were pro-abortion, pro-gay marriage and pro-women clergy, the dogs would have been called off years ago.”
Right. Because anyone who is bothered by clergy abuse obviously just has a wacky liberal agenda.
D’Anne Witkowski has been gay for pay since 2003. She’s a freelance writer and poet (believe it!). When she’s not taking on the creeps of the world, she reviews rock ’n’ roll shows in Detroit with her twin sister.