Wednesday 3 February 2010

Why did it all happen? Reason #1b: Homosexuality

See previous blogs, January 23rd and January 31st.

The second issue is a bit different. There is the totally misguided belief that the priests who sexually abuse children are homosexual. This is, of course, because most of the children who were/are being abused by priests are male. One of my friends, abused by the same priest as I was, when we talked about my sexual abuse, said in disbelief, "but he's gay". He could not see that what happened to him was anything but "homosexual". He had never pushed through to the point where he understood that what happened to him when he was 13, had nothing to do with homosexuality or "gayness". It was a clear abuse of power. This was perhaps the clearest indication of the problem faced by boys who are abused - confusion over sexual orientation.

I think it was back in 2002. I had delivered a paper at the regional AAR (American Academy of Religion). A bunch of us were in the "common room" discussing my paper when the U.S. Council of Bishops(or was it the Cardinals in Rome? - somebody can check that one - if I turn this into a book, I'll make sure to get it right) made some statement at a press conference about the sexual abuse scandal. There was a television in the room that was turned way up for the statement. There were a bunch of eastern rite priests sitting in the room and they started to talk about how it was all blown out of proportion. After all, most of these boys who were complaining were in their teens and they knew what they were doing. I tried to be nice, but in the end that was not possible - so I finally stamped my feet and said that if they wanted to be technical about it - these priests are called ephebophiles (the technical term for people who prey on post-pubescent children) and they were preying on young boys (or young men, if you will). Besides, these men weren't supposed to have sex at all - I think they call it the vow of celibacy. So what part of this can be excused or brushed off as "choice".

It also puts female victims of Roman Catholic priestly sexual abuse at a distinct disadvantage. There are fewer of them and the popular perception that these men are "gay", is fostered by the Church itself. To quote Cardinal Mahoney in Deliver Us From Evil - "We knew you were being abused but you were a girl; if you had been a boy, that would have been obscene". It is almost as if the institution is relieved when the priest is accused of sex with a girl - at least they're not "homos".

Our society seems to still have a lot of problems with homosexuality. The prejudice against them is never-ending. It permeates all aspects of our society. (as I constantly reiterate when I get into discussions about born or made - who would choose this sexual orientation given the prejudice?)

Given the prejudice, it is piling horror on horror for the gay man when the society makes this type of erroneous connection between men who sexually abuse male children and homosexuality. And the Roman Catholic institution is one of the "Leaders of the Pack" in this disinformation.

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