Homosexuality and the Sexual Abuse Crisis: A “Pro Gay” but Heterosexual Perspective

As Catholic-Americans become increasingly divided over “homosexuality” in the American Church, particularly as we continue to suffer from the Sexual Abuse Crisis and face new sex scandals involving homosexual activity, it’s becoming apparent that the one perspective that is missing in the public discourse is that of the minority of men who can most readily tell the truth of things as they have been lived out in our recent American Church history: the perspective of the minority group of heterosexual men who were 1) eyewitnesses to relevant Ecclesiastical realities, 2) harbor no bias against other men merely for being sexually attracted to men; and 3) committed to the Spirit of Truth above all else.

On the whole, we are much better suited to attempt to convey the truth of how homosexuality is lived in the Church than most laypersons as we witnessed things in the real world.  We thus can do more than merely speculate as to “homosexuals,” the so-called “gay lobby,” etc. as we know how things have played out in recent Church history. As for me, I happen to have been an eyewitness to many, many facts, including facts surrounding the McCarrick component of the sexual abuse Crisis, as well as facts ranging from the severe sexual harassers to those seemingly more harmless men engaging in sex based decision-making. As the commercial puts it, I “know a thing or two” about the behavior of Priests and Bishops with same sex attraction, including the predictable behavior of those men who just can’t help themselves, because “I’ve seen a thing or two.”

Moreover, our testimony is needed in today’s Church as we are uniquely situated between two extreme Catholic camps. On the one hand, we are much more “gay friendly” than the camp which seeks to turn this moment into a Custer’s last stand against homosexuality as such. On the other hand, unlike those who go overboard in their defense of all conduct falling within the ambit of homosexuality, we refuse to amputate the truth about a pervasive pattern and practice of too many men in the Church with same sex attraction engaging in sex based decision-making and subtle to severe forms of sexual harassment, as well as a showing a tendency to fail to police their own.

Thus, as a servant of Truth above all else, I offer the following truthful account/summary of where things stand on homosexuality and the Sexual Abuse Crisis, based on actual history:

First and foremost, in the lived experience of our contemporary American Church (setting aside the separate issue of the role of women in the Church), every man is presumably as suited as the next man for priestly ministry, regardless of sexual orientation. The Church has yet to declare it as clearly as that or explain/nuance some of the previously used language about homosexuality; but when the dust settles, the Church will recognize that any man chosen by God to serve in the persona Christi can be the instrument of God’s Sacramental Grace and thus serve in Priestly ministry, regardless of sexual orientation.

In this regard, it’s time to admit reality, and stop the collective denial because a majority of our priests have same sex attraction, and there is no reasonable statistical correlation between the number of same sex attracted males in American society as in the Priesthood. There is an even larger statistical deviation in the bishop ranks (i.e. a larger number of homosexual bishops as would be expected given statistical baselines of the relevant applicant pool) and arguably an even greater disparity in the ranks of American Cardinals. Given the numbers alone, it’s time to eliminate all the fictions about excluding homosexual men, or continue to think we can weed out those Priests with “homosexual tendencies.”

Second, when it comes to homosexuality, things are complicated somewhat as many of the men who have same sex attraction had to work out their sexualities in the seminary, and still others have remained in self-denial for years. Thus, many have come to terms with their same sex attraction in the seminary formation period while others do so in the Priesthood or even after their installation as Bishop. Others can somehow remain disintegrated and in denial throughout their lives as priests or even Bishops. To complicate things further, there are some in denial who would even self-identify as heterosexual (telling themselves that they would have liked to have been a husband and father and therefore heterosexual by nature). Nevertheless, despite their inner negotiations, objectively speaking, they are simply not attracted to women like the average heterosexual male. As a general rule, if seminarian, priest, or Bishop/Cardinal has any sexual identity issues in the seminary, or lives with a suppressed sexuality, and/or has to work out whether he is attracted to men or women – he is inevitably attracted to men – whether as homosexual (same sex attraction) or bi-sexual attraction with same sex attraction being somewhat dominant on the continuum.

Third, although we tend to think solely in terms of private sexual sins, truly I say that the social sins of living according to the Flesh more adversely affected the Church than the private sexual sins. Albeit more subtle and largely undetectable to most, these sins are greater in my view because they go to the heart of the Parable of the talents and vitiate the Pauline vison of encouraging gifts of the Holy Spirit. The truth is that most of the seminary priests, a good majority of my seminary rectors, and many of the bishops that I have observed over the many years routinely engaged in sex based decision-making. Favoritism is also shown to those who are similarly situated (ordinarily other men with same sex attraction but savvy enough not to openly discuss being gay and avoid any publicity of their homosexuality). As an aside, based on my experiences of seminaries spanning decades, it seems that a good number of these seminary priests, even if they do not recognize it, like teaching in seminaries because of their natural attraction to handsome young men, and this affects them much more than they may realize. As some of my priest friends and I have joked over the years: “I’d like teaching at a seminary too if it had an equal number of gorgeous, talented, highly intelligent and musically gifted women on campus!”

But despite the truth of all of the above, and despite the systemic and entrenched discriminatory practices against heterosexual men, to suggest that homosexuality explains the component of the Sexual abuse Crisis relating to the abuse of young boys is simply untrue and unhelpful. There are admittedly many complex realities that will need to be addressed if we are to experience True Reform; but to posit that “homosexuality” as a stand-alone plausible theory can explain the depth of depravity committed by men upon young men and young boys is not helpful as it is neither supported by empirical data (see John Jay Study), or the actual history of things. The many good gay priests’ friends I have are no more capable of ever sexually abusing a young boy than my many good straight priests’ friends are capable of ever sexually molesting a young girl.

Yes, there has been an undeniable pattern and practice of favoritism towards handsome young men by Ecclesiastical decision-makers who have same sex attraction. Yes, of course at the core of the Sexual Abuse Crisis, we are primarily talking about men harassing and abusing younger men and boys. Yes, there has been an undeniable and disconcerting connection between the unintegrated sexually immature man who can’t help himself in front of younger handsome young men and a culture of tolerance of severe sexual misdeeds, whether we end up labelling these overlapping truths as parallel realities, correlative realities, coincidences, or to borrow a term from the psychiatric lexicon, co-morbidities.

But can homosexuality as such, either as a stand-alone theory, or even a catch all category, explain the Sexual Abuse Crisis, particularly the most horrific evils involving sex abuse and rape of young boys? Absolutely not.