Defining different kinds of "abuse"
The U.S. media were largely disappointed with a meeting of
U.S. Catholic bishops and Vatican officials in Rome this week,
as it failed to produce a "one-strike and you're out"
policy against priests involved sexually with minors. Why, it
is being demanded, should there be any question?
Why indeed? A few weeks ago, this column referred to the present
"crisis" as nothing new, and a problem of priestly
sexual misbehavior that the Catholic Church has always had to
deal with, celibacy being a very heavy discipline. This observation
provoked what seemed unfeigned outrage in some quarters.
One letter writer accused me of "gross ignorance on a nearly
inconceivable scale" and "an appalling lack of comprehension
of the distinction between misconduct and criminal behavior"
which she characterized as "pedophilia" and "perversion."
Is this what is going on? Well it depends on how you define terms.
According to an article of March 22 by AP religious writer Rachel
Zoll, "researchers have identified a pattern in the molestation
crisis afflicting the Roman Catholic Church: most of the victims
are older boys." Pedophilia, on the other hand, is defined
by the American Psychiatric Association as sex with prepubescent
children, considered rare in the church. So it would appear that
we'll have to drop the delicious and alliterative term, "priestly
pedophilia" from the discussion.
Puberty, in sexual matters, is a far more important divide than
the age of 18, both morally and legally, and between misbehavior
and perversion. Of course, priests consorting sexually with adolescent
boys is intolerable and despicable, and it must be remembered
that it is a very tiny percentage who are involved.
That said, the behavior that is presently causing scandal and
embarrassment in the Catholic Church is what most people consider
a fairly garden variety homosexual behavior, and although technically
illegal, very widespread.
Otherwise why would you be able to tune into Public Radio and
listen to features about Gay Pride Days in the public high schools?
Unfortunately for the liberal mainstream of U.S. media, to continue
beating up on the Catholic Church, which they despise because
it continues in unflinching opposition to homosexuality and abortion,
they must stigmatize and label perversion what is a very common
homosexual behavior. This they are loathe to do.
Count on the Minneapolis Tribune for a creative solution to the
problem. In an op-ed piece published last Thursday, we get this
analysis from Walter Bera, a founder and director of the Kenwood
"There is a myth that men who sexually abuse boys are homosexuals.
However, the great majority of these offenders are heterosexuals."
Well, I'm glad to have that cleared up. Apparently it's those
gay guys that have been abusing the girls all this time and,
meanwhile, the liberal media can get back to abusing the Catholic