Wednesday, May 11, 2005

The scandal of homosexuality in the priesthood

The hard statistics come from an article by Clowes and Sonnier in the recent H&PR (May 2005) posted over at Free Republic.

The article documents what has been clear from the statistics: the priesthood scandal is not best termed a "pedophilia" scandal; it is more accurately a scandal of pederasty: adult men seeking teenage or near-teenage boys. Here are the figures:

Age.................Number......% male....% of all victims
Ages 1-7........ 487 victims.....42% male....5% of all victims
Ages 8-10......1390 victims.....71% male...14% of all victims
Ages 11-17....8410 victims....85% male....82% of all victims
Totals.........10,287 victims....81% male...100% of all victims
........................................................totals exceed 100%
........................................................due to rounding

82% of the victims come in the 11-17 year age range, and 85% of these victims are boys. This is the heart of the problem. Homosexual men in the priesthood are looking for teenage or near-teenage boys as partners.

This is not, of course, a new issue. In Aristotle's day, many Greeks would have considered this normal behaviour by a man.

It is not clear what percentage of American men think of themselves as homosexual. Clowes and Sonnier cite estimates of about 3%. In the CNN 2004 exit poll, 4% of voters identified themselves as gay. The percentage of men in the priesthood who think of themselve as gay may be higher.

But the general problem remains the same: the homosexual 4% is causing 80% of the problem. If we assume that 20% of priests are homosexual, it would still be the case that homosexual men in the priesthood are several times more likely to violate their vows with underage persons than the heterosexual men are.

That is a serious problem, and one that is likely to be addressed firmly under Pope Benedict XVI.

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