Dreher on “The Gay Priest Problem”

Rod Dreher looks at “The Gay Priest Problem” in the Catholic Church. He quotes Richard John Neuhaus quoting Phil Lawlor:

Lawler adds: “Homosexual influence within the American clergy was not in itself the cause of the sex abuse crisis. The corruption wrought by that influence was a more important factor.” He very gingerly addresses a theory proposed by a number of commentators on the crisis, namely, that bishops engaged in cover-ups and other deceptions because they were threatened with homosexual blackmail. He cites a number of instances in which this appears to be the case and bishops were permitted to resign when their misdeeds could no longer be denied. “The blackmail hypothesis,” he writes, “provides a logical explanation for behavior that is otherwise inexplicable: the bishops’ willingness to risk the welfare of the faithful and their own reputations in order to protect abusive priests.”

Dreher continues:

Some conservatives don’t understand the nature of the gay priest problem. It’s not that gays = child molesters, a formulation that is not only factually incorrect, but understandably offensive to homosexuals. (Still, it cannot be denied that while all gays are not molesters of youth, in the Catholic scandal, the authoritative John Jay College report found that nearly all molesters of youth were gay). The real effect of the gay priest problem has to do with the institutional corruption it spawned, owing largely to do with secrets, lies and clericalism.

Over and over again, in interviews, I’d be told stories. There was the laicized priest who finally left the priesthood in disgust over the way the large gay contingent in his diocese openly violated their celibacy vows, and made sure the bishop, who is thought to have been compromised, looked the other way when a sexual corruption scandal hit the local seminary. That’s the way it works: it’s not that the gay priests in that diocese were molesters, but it is that they formed a network that shared a bond of secrecy that was used to cover up for all kinds of sexual misconduct. This former priest told me that his gay clerical colleagues constantly taunted the straight priests in their diocese, telling them that they might as well get girlfriends, because nobody cared. In fact, said the former priest, this was true: the bishop was in their corner, and nobody would care at all. The former priest said the rigors of the celibate life were tough enough without having to deal with many of one’s fellow priests making a mockery of it. This man told me every heterosexual in his ordination class eventually left the priesthood, demoralized.

I heard this kind of story over and over again, and not just from conservative Catholics. Richard Sipe and Fr. Tom Doyle are very far from being conservative Catholics — in fact, Fr. Doyle has been involved with Call to Action — but they also happen to be among the most knowledgeable experts on the sex abuse crisis. Sipe, who is probably the expert on the sexual lives of Catholic clerics, told me that the seminary system is the problem. Many seminaries are run by corrupt gay clerics, he said (Fr. Doyle agreed). If a seminarian struggling with homosexuality and chastity is admitted, the attempt will quickly be made to corrupt him by getting him involved in sexual activity. If he falls, he’s done for. Even if he repents and lives a blameless celibate life thenceforth, the network has something on him, and is willing to use it. He’s been neutralized. Besides, the network takes care of its own.

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