Pharyngula

This is a real mystery. Donohue is an angry guy with a fax machine who gets donations from affronted Catholics, which is nothing the church can do about, obviously…but he also pretends to be a defender of Catholicism while having no standing with the church and while making the most outrageous claims. You’d think someone in the hierarchy would take a moment to mention to journalists that the crazy ranting guy does not speak for them. I guess maybe the old guard thinks he does a good job representing their views, which makes him even worse.

Donohue is waxing indignant again about church pedophilia scandals. He has returned to his familiar excuse: it isn’t child abuse, it’s evil homosexuality.

The refrain that child rape is a reality in the Church is twice wrong: let’s get it straight—they weren’t children and they weren’t raped. We know from the John Jay study that most of the victims have been adolescents, and that the most common abuse has been inappropriate touching (inexcusable though this is, it is not rape). The Boston Globe correctly said of the John Jay report that “more than three-quarters of the victims were post pubescent, meaning the abuse did not meet the clinical definition of pedophilia.” In other words, the issue is homosexuality, not pedophilia.

If it is inexcusable, why is Bill Donohue making excuses for it?

He is certainly downplaying it. He’s desperately trying to point out that there is a continuum of sexual behavior here, as if that means it wasn’t as bad as everyone thinks it was. Why, it wasn’t always a priest pinning a 9-year-old girl down and penetrating her vaginally with his penis, so it was all OK! All it was was mostly cases of a priest being manually masturbated by 15-year-old boys, so everyone should go home now and not worry about nasty rotten evil priests any more.

He really doesn’t get it. The problem here isn’t what specific sex act was performed, or the exact age of the victims: it is a violation of trust and an abuse of minors from a position of power. I know that kids of that age may think about sex and have desires that they indulge in with their peers…but that simply does not make it acceptable for older men to hide behind their piety in order to manipulate them into gratifying their desires.

Take the case of Lawrence Murphy, the priest who molested 200 deaf boys in his care in Wisconsin. That he was having sex with males does not bother me at all; if he were being defrocked for loving, consensual sexual behavior with a man (or a woman, for that matter), I’d be holding him up as an example of the inhuman insensitivity of the church. But that wasn’t what he was doing: he was bringing bewildered schoolboys into his office, using his authority to order them to strip naked, and fondling their bodies. And then receiving no chastisement from the church, which actually protected him from official action because he was considered a valuable fundraiser.

I’d like to know what Donohue would consider acceptable behavior from a priest. Forceful vaginal penetration is clearly off the table, while a priest doing anything with a boy is going to be condemned as homosexuality…so I guess compelling 13-18 year old girls to give you oral sex is perfectly normal, healthy sexual behavior for a Catholic priest? Well within the boundaries of his vows, I’m sure.

It seems to me that by trying to excuse one part of the range of sexual activities by implying that another set of of coerced sexual activities is worse just means that Donohue is admitting that you can’t trust priests with boys in choir or confirmation classes or Sunday school. Good work, Bill.

By the way, the US court system has now served the pope with papers. The pope knew about the abuse, sheltered it, and even enabled it by defending child-molesting priests.


There are Catholics who reject Donohue’s representation — I just heard from Rev. Robert M. Hoatson, Ph.D., Co-founder and President, Road to Recovery, Inc. and founding member of NSAC (National Survivor Advocates Coalition), a fellow who has been fighting to get the church to distance itself more from the hate advocates like the Catholic League. Good for them!