Matt C. Abbott
December 7, 2004
The clergy abuse scandal: homosexuality or pedophilia?
By Matt C. Abbott

As many who have been following the clergy sex abuse scandal should know by now, there has been a debate of sorts over the issue of homosexuals in the priesthood. Part of this debate centers on whether men with the homosexual inclination should be ordained in the first place (orthodox Catholics say no), and the other part which is the focus of this column centers on the "Is this largely a 'homosexual' scandal or a 'pedophile' scandal?" issue.

I received the following e-mail from Betty Clermont:

"Could you please explain to me why orthodox/conservative Catholics refuse to tell the truth about the statistics of sex-abuse in the Catholic Church? Whether it's or, the lie goes round and round that homosexuality is the cause of the sex-abuse scandal and not one of you quotes the original source of the data only incorrect reports get quoted.

"The original source is the John Jay College of Law study conducted with data reported by the U.S. bishops. The URL is: There you will find that 80.9% of alleged victims were males (Table 4.3.1). Table 4.3.2 gives a breakdown by age of both male and female combined. There is no table showing the ages of only male victims. The report does state that the average age of all alleged victims is 12.6. You will also find that 15.1% of victims were aged 16 and 17 and 47.6 were aged 13 through 15. That's 62.7% of both male and female victims who were age 13 and above.

"You will also note there were 160 reported victims aged five and under! 'Pedophile' and 'homosexual' are not synonyms. The average Catholic is more outraged by the cover-up of the bishops than the criminal acts of some pretty sick men. The decline in the number of Catholics will show a marked increase starting in 2002. That means you and your readers will be left holding the bag for all the bills that the priests and bishops run up and for supporting the clergy and hierarchy in the manner to which they have become accustomed.

"The dissenters and liberals can walk away with clear consciences no matter what names you call them. So if I were a conservative/orthodox, I'd start thinking about asking for some kind of financial accountability and openness. As my pastor told us, his and the bishop's salary and benefits will be the last things that ever get touched. Doesn't bother me, either. I stopped contributing long ago."

Catholic writer Steve Kellmeyer ( responded:

"While it is true that pedophilia is distinct from homosexuality, the two are not necessarily separate at all times. Like sadomasochism, which is a combination of the disorders of sadism and masochism, homosexuality may or may not delve into pedophilia. As long as the one perpetrating the abuse is of the same sex as the one being abused, the abuse is by definition homosexual. The age of the victim might also make it pedophilia. So, a woman who abuses a boy is a pedophiliac but not a homosexual. A man who abuses a boy is both. A woman who abuses a girl is both, while a man who abuses a girl is merely a pedophiliac. See the division of pedophilia into exclusive and non-exclusive categories in DSM-IV:

"Since the predilection of homosexuals for young victims is well-attested to in gay literature, the disorders of homosexuality and pedophilia are commonly found together, though this is not always the case."

In a subsequent e-mail, Clermont stated:

"There is no valid study which shows that homosexuals are more likely to abuse children than heterosexuals. In fact, the largest incidence of child sex-abuse by far are stepfathers, mothers' boyfriends, uncles and other males known to the family abusing little girls. Read the John Jay Report.

"Part of the reason that 80.9% of the recorded abuse of minors involved boys may be because priests had more access to boys altar boys, etc. While Catholic parents thought nothing of letting their sons sleep at the rectory, go on over-night camping trips, outings to amusement parks etc. with priests, the opportunity for priests to molest girls was far more limited. Read the National Review Board Report.

"No one would argue that there are more homosexuals in the priesthood than other professions. I have heard it said many times that, in the past, Catholic families with 'strange' sons would put them in the priesthood as the only honorable thing to do with them. Nor would I argue that there were seminaries that promoted the gay lifestyle and persecuted straight and/or orthodox seminarians.

"Have you read any of A.W. Richard Sipe's studies showing that the incidence of unchastity in priests and bishops is about even between heterosexuals and homosexuals? That a priest or bishop that had a girlfriend was just as likely to look the other way at the criminal behavior of his fellow clergy as a priest or bishop with an adult boyfriend?

"The point is this: The orthodox want their followers to believe that homosexuality is the root cause of the sex-scandal and that once seminaries weed them out, the remaining priests and bishops will be holier men. I, and many others, disagree. The primary cause of the sex-abuse scandal is the culture of clericalism whereby bishops and priests hold themselves above and apart from the laity to the point where they see themselves as even above civil criminal laws as well as, of course, canon and God's laws. How else could you account for the destruction of tens of thousands of Catholic children including babies, girls and pre-pubescent boys? They have become accustomed to lives of privilege, unchecked authority, and acquiescence of the laity to whichever way they choose to retain their exalted status.

"As I already mentioned to Matt, Catholics are leaving in droves. I understand that there are persons who, by personality type, are comfortable with, indeed need, an authoritarian, hierarchical structure in their lives. They want a 'father' figure to tell them what to do and how to do it and how to think and what to believe. Unfortunately for you, that is a minority of human beings. Those who want to be 'The Remnant' may find that their wishes come true. Just remember, whoever is left gets to pay the check.

Kellmeyer responded:

"Homosexuals, as homosexuals admit, make up roughly 1% of the population (see the footnotes to the brief filed by the homosexual lobby in the Texas sodomy case). So, in raw numbers, it is certainly true that more heterosexuals are abusing than homosexuals, if only because there are 99 times more heterosexuals in the world. Simple questions of access come into play. You can't abuse a child you have no access to.

"Children are most often abused by non-biological household residents, i.e. step-parents, parental boyfriends, girlfriends, etc. Following that, biological relatives are the next most frequent abusers (uncles, fathers, brothers, mothers, sisters). This is followed by public school and day care personnel. The reasons are obvious: access and stigma.

"While the access to children for both non-biological and biological household residents is high, the stigma is relatively lower for non-biological residents than for biological residents. The access for child-care custodians is somewhat lower, but the stigma is lower still. More could be said on this point, but you get the idea.

"So, comparing raw numbers of heterosexual abusers to raw numbers of homosexual abusers does not give us a good understanding of the problem. We have to compare on a per capita basis. That is, what percentage of heterosexuals versus homosexuals abuse, and what is the average number of victims abused?

"On both counts, the homosexuals come out on top. In terms of pure percentage of respective populations, more homosexuals abuse, and each homosexual abuser attacks far more victims.

"Now, it is not the case that simply removing homosexuals from seminaries will make resulting graduates holier. I fully agree that clericalism is rampant, that a large number of bishops and priests in the United States are out of touch with their communities and with the larger reality of American culture. I absolutely agree that bishops are insulated from everyone by layers of bureaucracy that rivals any on the face of the earth.

"Unfortunately, there is nowhere else to receive Jesus Christ in the Eucharist nor does any other faith contain the fullness of Truth. So, we have to put up with their sins and they have to put up with ours."

"That's life on this planet."

(Steve Kellmeyer would like readers to check out the following articles: and

© Matt C. Abbott


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Matt C. Abbott

Matt C. Abbott is a Catholic columnist with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication, Media and Theatre from Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago, and an Associate in Applied Science degree in Business Management from Triton College in River Grove, Ill. He has worked in the right-to-life movement and is a published writer focused on Catholic and social issues. He can be reached at

(Note: I welcome thoughtful feedback from readers. If you want our correspondence to remain confidential, please specify as such in your initial e-mail to me... (more)


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