Traditionalist Church leaders are again trying to blame sexual abuse by clergy on gay priests and religious men. One bishop has even suggested a ‘homosexual subculture” is “wreaking great devastation in the vineyard of the Lord.” But many Catholics have pushed back, rightfully acknowledging the positive role gay priests and religious have played in the Church while identifying real causes of abuse as crimes of power not sex. Today’s post reports on the bishops’ gay-negative statements while tomorrow’s post shares several analyses of this trend.
Bishop Robert Morlino of Madison, Wisconsin, offered some of the strongest attacks on gay priests in a letter published August 18th. National Catholic Reporter documented his words:
“‘It is time to admit that there is a homosexual subculture within the hierarchy of the Catholic Church that is wreaking great devastation in the vineyard of the Lord’. . .
[Morlino] pointed to a deeper crisis of acceptance and diminishment of sin, saying ‘we have refused to call a sin a sin,’ and urged the church to resist becoming a refuge for sin, including ‘deviant sexual — almost exclusively homosexual — acts by clerics.'”
“‘We are talking about acts and actions which are not only in violation of the sacred promises made by some, in short, sacrilege, but also are in violation of the natural moral law for all. To call it anything else would be deceitful and would only ignore the problem further,'” Morlino said.”
Morlino added that being gay makes one “unfit” for priesthood, and called on Catholics in the Madison diocese to report “unchaste behavior.”
Other U.S. bishops have made similar claims about homosexuality and the priesthood. Cardinal Raymond Burke, formerly of St. Louis and who was demoted by Pope Francis from a top Vatican position, said, according to Gay Star News:
“‘I believe that there needs to be an open recognition that we have a very grave problem of a homosexual culture in the Church, especially among the clergy and the hierarchy, that needs to be addressed honestly and efficaciously. . .I think it has been considerably aggravated by the anti-life culture in which we live, namely the contraceptive culture that separates the sexual act from the conjugal union.'”
In Denver, Archbishop Samuel Aquila affirmed Morlino’s letter and also published his own letter. He stated in it that Catholics “have listened more to the world than to Christ and the Church when it comes to human sexuality.” Separating sex from procreation makes it possible to “justify just about any sexual act,” he stated, including homosexuality, which he condemned per Catechism 2357. Aquila also tweeted a highly charged article by the LGBT-negative Monsignor Charles Pope that blamed “active homosexuality” for the abuse crisis.
Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield released a video, “Sexual Misconduct: Pruning and purification continues within the church,” reported NCR. In it, Paprocki stated, “Clergy as well as lay people have far too easily rationalized why and how the church’s moral teachings on sexuality and chastity do not apply to them, resulting in the scandalous situation in which we now find ourselves.”
Bishop Richard Stika of Knoxville tweeted that “uncontrolled homosexuality” is a cause of abuse among several others.
Tomorrow, Bondings 2.0 will review a number of responses to bishops and others who claim homosexuality is somehow a cause of clergy sexual abuse. But one observation now is simply that Morlino and others show through their comments that they poorly informed on both sexuality and abuse and that they have seemingly rejected contemporary knowledge on these topics. People in their dioceses deserve better than junk science and prejudiced claims from shepherds who are supposed to teach and lead with pastoral concern.
—Robert Shine, New Ways Ministry, September 3, 2018