The Catholic Church’s Problem is Homosexuality
But neither the Church nor the media will admit it
Note: The author revised to article to add Fr. Michael Carlson and again to add an update from the diocese of Norwich.
“All eyes and ears will be on the Vatican during an unprecedented gathering Feb. 21-24,” reports Catholic News Service, “to discuss the protection of minors in the Catholic Church.” That’s true — unfortunately, because the gathering is going to be a bust.
The Catholic sex-abuse crisis is not primarily heterosexual or pedophiliac. The Catholic crisis is primarily homosexual. The gathering is going to be a bust because it is only about “the protection of minors in the Catholic Church.”
Seventeen years after the first wave of clergy sex abuse scandals hit the Catholic Church, “The Elephant in the Sacristy” is still “The part of the Catholic Church’s priest-abuse scandal that no one talks about.”
For more on this subject, see Peter Wolfgang’s earlier article, Catholics Have a Problem. But Is It Celibacy? He answered “No.”
That it is primarily homosexual has been known with sociological certainty since the 2004 John Jay report. That revealed that 81% of the victims were male. And most of that 81% were post-pubescent males.
That’s homosexuality, not pedophilia. Pedophilia is the sexual abuse of pre-pubescent children. And yet both the Church and the media would rather talk about the crisis as if it was mostly just about the abuse of minors in general.
In response to the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report, dioceses across the country are now releasing lists of priests they deem to have been “credibly accused” of the sexual abuse of minors. Many are also hiring outside investigators to do more detailed reports of their records.
It is an admirable step in the direction of greater transparency and making a fresh start. But it fudges the issue. To be sure, “minors” is a legal term, not a biological one. It includes both pre- and post-pubescent victims.
The public has already known since 2002 that Catholic bishops had covered up clergy sex abuse of minors. Despite the extra and quite gory details, the Pennsylvania report told us something we already knew.
What It Doesn’t Include
So, for instance, my own Archdiocese in Hartford releases its list of credibly accused priests, a list that by its very nature does not include Fr. Kevin Gray. He baptized my oldest child. He’s also the guy sentenced to three years in prison for stealing a million dollars to fund a secret gay lifestyle in New York City. He used the money to pay for male escorts, strip clubs, the works.
It doesn’t include Fr. Michael F.X. Hinckley. He baptized two more of my children. He left the priesthood, “married” a man, and now promotes various gay and transgender causes on his Facebook. And worse? He was once our archdiocese’s bioethics expert. He had a regular column in the diocesan newspaper.
In fact, he was my pastor when I was leading a campaign to overturn our State Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage ruling. My wife was near tears for several Sundays that October, wondering why the Family Institute of Connecticut executive director’s own seemingly faithful pastor was refusing to even mention the campaign from the pulpit. The Church asked every pastor to do so. Now we know why.
And it doesn’t include Fr. Michael Carlson, the administrator of the Shrine of St. Anne from 2011 to 2012. He baptized yet another of our children. He’s started graduate studies at the University of North Carolina. His UNC page scrubs his history as a priest (“a 10 year gap to peruse graduate degrees in philosophy, theology, and theological anthropology,” Father?). It also says that “He comes to UNC with a desire to pursue his interests in…gender and LGBTQ+ studies. He plans to research how opera serves as a vehicle for personal, spiritual, and sexual identity.”
That’s three gay activist priests in ten years for the Wolfgangs.
And the Archdiocese’s list doesn’t include any reference to this strange story. The subheading says it all: “A 2012 investigation at the Connecticut seminary found evidence of a homosexual network that extended into several dioceses, and despite its findings, some of those involved were subsequently ordained to the priesthood.”
The Media’s Elephant
And it is not only the Church that is avoiding the elephant in the sacristy. The media is, as usual, worse.
When the Archdiocese of Hartford released its list of accused priests, The Hartford Courant did its due diligence. It reported that one of them was in the Hall of Fame of the Connecticut State Firefighters Association.
But when the neighboring Norwich Diocese released its own list of priests it said were credibly accused of abusing minors, the Courant did not inform its readers that the list included a priest who got a glowing obituary from the newspaper for his out and proud gay ministry. A ministry that included telling people to do something the Church considers a possible mortal sin.
Then, when on Friday the diocese admitted it had put him on the list by mistake, the Courant ran the correction on the front page above the fold. Good to publicize a man’s exoneration? Of course. But to feature it in the plum position on a newspaper when you avoided mentioning the original charge? You’re pushing a narrative, not the news.
To Avoid Talking
The Church and the press are talking about one so as to avoid talking about the other. We have to talk about homosexuality in the priesthood. That is what the new wave of scandals that have rocked the Church since last summer are primarily about.
Did the 20,000 men who left the priesthood in the U.S. after Vatican II, most of them to marry, leave us with a priesthood that is disproportionately homosexual? Did that, in turn, create a homoerotic subculture within the priesthood that made the current scandals possible? If so, how can we turn it around?
These are the questions that ought to be discussed, from our local dioceses all the way up to Pope Francis’ sex-abuse summit. Bishop Wilton Gregory, then the head of the American bishops, said back in 2002: “It’s an ongoing struggle to make sure the Catholic priesthood is not dominated by homosexual men.” Almost no one in the Church’s hierarchy is actually struggling. And no one in the media is urging them to.
The voluntary release of lists of priests credibly accused of abusing minors shows good will on the part of the Church and a desire for greater transparency. Unless Church leaders address the elephant in the sacristy, they are just kicking the can down the road. The crisis will only grow worse.