Bill Donohue

When the clergy sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic Church is discussed, the focus is usually on the two principal parties to it, namely the molesting priests and their enabling bishops. In my new book, The Truth About Clergy Sexual Abuse: Clarifying The Facts And The Causes, I call this Scandal I.

It is my contention that there was another scandal. Scandal II is how the media, the entertainment industry, advocacy groups, victims’ activists and their lawyers, state attorneys general and others have been preoccupied with the Church, to the exclusion of other groups and institutions. Quite frankly, they have been playing us. Their interest in combating the sexual abuse of minors depends solely on the identity of the abuser, not his conduct.

Ch.1 “Catholics Don’t Own This Problem”

The opening chapter reviews extensive data on sexual misconduct committed by many other organizations. We have known for a long time that when adults and minors interact on a regular basis, problems of sexual abuse arise. After reviewing the problem of sexual abuse by the clergy of other religions, I turn my attention to sexual misconduct in secular institutions.

The evidence shows that those who work in the media, government, education, healthcare, and many other professions, have had their fair share of sexual deviants. Not only that, they covered up for them. In short, we don’t own this problem, though many elites—those responsible for Scandal II—would like to convince the public otherwise.

Ch. 2 “The Church Confronts the Scandal”

This chapter explores how the Church responded when the Boston Globe broke the news of Scandal I in 2002. There is an analysis of the Dallas reforms and the progress that had been made. Though most of this part is praiseworthy, fault is noted regarding the short shrift given to the due process rights of accused priests.

The progress made is undeniable. In the 1970s, which was the worst decade, over 6,000 accusations were made in any given year against current members of the clergy. Now the figures are in the single digits.

Ch. 3 “The Poisoning of the Public Mind”

This chapter hones in on Scandal II. The faulty public perception that no progress has been made is commonplace. The role played by the media has been huge. By reporting on new accusations—even though the alleged misbehavior took place decades ago—it leaves the impression that nothing has changed. There is no other institution in society that is treated this way.

Hollywood has also fanned the flames by making movies about alleged mistreatment of children by nuns. By doing so, it leads the public to think that sexual abuse of minors is common in many parts of the Catholic Church. Yet a closer look at these films reveals how utterly dishonest the portrayals have been.

The Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report, along with victims’ lawyers and victims’ advocates, have also poisoned the public mind. Their agenda, and their distortion of the truth, is discussed in detail. Included is an extensive takedown of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), a mostly moribund group that was the media’s darling. The role the Catholic League played in dismantling this dishonest entity is given much coverage.

Ch. 4 “Myths of the Scandal’s Origins Debunked”

Before I explain what really caused Scandal I, the myths regarding its origin are debunked. Celibacy, for example, had nothing to do with it. If celibacy were the problem, then why were so few priests engaged in sexual misconduct in the 1940s and 1950s? Why were the 1960s, 1970s and the 1980s the worst decades?

Some critics actually blame Catholic moral teachings, as if teaching the virtue of sexual restraint somehow caused priests not to restrain themselves. Just as ludicrous are attempts to blame homophobia.

This chapter also explains why some bishops enabled the molesters. Six explanations are offered: fear of scandalizing the Church; in-group favoritism; elitism; ineptitude (e.g., not picking up on red flags); the role of therapists; and the failure to follow Vatican norms.

Ch. 5 “The Role of Evil”

The fifth chapter makes clear that while all of the molesters were sick men, most were not evil. However, some were. When a priest uses sacred objects or sacred words when abusing his victims, this is evil. There is an extensive analysis of the McCarrick Report, named after former cardinal Theodore McCarrick. While he was solely responsible for his behavior, many in the Church were derelict in their duties by not reining him in decades earlier.

Ch. 6 “The Role of Homosexuality: Denying the Obvious”

This chapter focuses on those bishops, priests, nuns, and laypeople who have danced around the obvious, namely the overwhelming role that homosexuals have played in creating the scandal. Indeed, the dance is still ongoing, as witnessed by the Vatican Summit of 2019. Those clerics put the blame squarely on clericalism, as if elitism had anything to with why priests molested minors (it may have had something to do with why some bishops enabled the molesters). Also, such supposed causes of priestly sexual abuse as pedophilia and ephebophilia are examined and discredited.

Ch. 7 “The Role of Homosexuality: Admitting the Obvious”

Some Church leaders, such as Pope Benedict XVI, have been courageous in discussing the role that homosexuals have played, though they have been hammered for doing so. To understand what happened, we need to give due consideration to the deleterious effects of the gay subculture. The evidence that a gay subculture contributed mightily to the scandal cannot be denied. The good news is that the seminaries have undergone a much needed reformation.

Ch. 8 “The Role of Homosexuality: An Analysis of the John Jay Thesis”

I credit the methodology of the John Jay College for Criminal Justice researchers for doing the two reports on this subject for the bishops. But I fault them for being deceptive in their analysis of the data.

For example, they admit that most of the abuse was male-on-male sex, and that most of the victims were postpubescent. They also do not deny that the sexual acts were homosexual in nature. Yet they discount the role that homosexuality played. How did they pull off this magic trick? They said that many of these molesting priests did not identify as homosexual.

So what? Sexual identity is not dispositive. It is one’s behavior, not his perception of it, that counts. If the molesters identified as heterosexual, would the social scientists at John Jay have concluded that we had a heterosexual-driven scandal?

Ch. 9 “The Role of Homosexuality: Does Homosexuality Cause the Sexual Abuse of Minors?”

This may be the most controversial chapter in the book. While I conclude that homosexuality does not, per se, cause the sexual abuse of minors, I also conclude that there is a link between the two (otherwise homosexual priests would not be so overrepresented).

There is an intervening variable, one that intervenes between homosexual priests and the sexual abuse of minors, and that variable is the emotional and sexual immaturity of the offenders. In other words, homosexuals are more likely to be immature, and immaturity is associated with the sexual abuse of minors. The immaturity that is prevalent among homosexuals was noted by Freud and Jung. Subsequently, the evidence has only grown.

There is another homosexual trait, narcissism (it is a close cousin to immaturity), that helps explain why homosexuals are overrepresented among those who abuse minors. Gay psychiatrists and psychologists have been open about the role that narcissism plays in the gay community.

The self-destructive behaviors that gays engage in is also discussed. By this I mean promiscuity (almost all homosexual men are promiscuous, and most can’t form lasting relationships). This is not easy reading, but the sources cited are authoritative and the truth needs to be told.

Ch. 10 “The Role of the Sexual Revolution”

The tenth chapter shows the social context in which the scandal occurred.

The sexual revolution was felt everywhere, but nowhere was it more impactful than in Boston. There is a reason why Boston was the epicenter of the scandal: it spawned a deviant cultural environment. Father Paul Shanley, who abused males of all ages, was a hero to liberal non-Catholics, as well as to the Catholic left.

There is a section in this chapter, “Justifying Man-Boy Sex,” that focuses on American and European intellectuals, celebrities, and psychiatrists who have sought to justify sex between adult men and children. It shows how phony these people are. To be specific, why are they upset when molesting priests did exactly what they promote?

Ch. 11 “The Role of Dissent in the Church”

The scandal could not have happened if men who were already troubled or disordered were not given the rationale to do so. Those who provided the rationale were Church dissidents. The evidence is clear that the assault on traditional Catholic moral teachings that occurred in the second half of the 20th century did much to feed the scandal.

Beginning in the late 1960s, many seminaries became hotbeds of dissent. This chapter devotes considerable attention to the sexual misdeeds of Father Shanley and Archbishop Rembert Weakland, two dissenting and morally compromised clerics.

Ch. 12 “The Role of Organized Dissent”

Starting in the 1960s, there was no shortage of organized Catholic dissidents who were in open rebellion against the Church’s teachings on sexuality. The National Catholic Reporter certainly inspired dissidents in many Catholic circles, including those who worked in the dioceses. Just as disconcerting, legions of nuns openly defied Catholic teachings, giving support to the sexual offenses committed by homosexual priests.

Catholic colleges and universities were infected with dissent, and many still are. But not all the agitation occurred within the Catholic community. Outside activists also sought to undermine the Church; their role is covered in detail.

I expect that many Catholics will welcome this book. But not everyone will be happy.

The pushback against the book will be formidable. There is a segment of our society that does not want the truth to be told about the damage that many homosexual priests have done, as well as the disastrous role played by Catholic dissidents.

However, this book was not written to shade the truth, but to tell it.

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