The Rocky Horror Bishops Show: Many Bishops Don’t Understand the Roots of Sex Abuse
This week the American bishops meet in their general assembly. The agenda? The ongoing scandal of sex abuse. On Monday, we learned that Pope Francis ordered them not to vote on any reforms. That should play really well with disgusted laymen, especially parents.
Whatever else the bishops do, they need to look at the recent blockbuster report on sex abuse by Dr. Paul Sullins. A retired sociologist from The Catholic University of America, Sullins now works for the Ruth Institute. There he studies clergy sexual abuse. His most important finding? After some years of happy decline, the numbers of abuse cases are on an alarming rise once again (p. 40). This can only mean that past reforms proved inadequate. Now bishops must find some new ones. Or maybe some ancient ones.
What was a key driver of clergy sexual abuse? A depraved seminary culture which corrupted future priests, forming them in a hedonistic, largely homosexual environment. Sullins writes: “Without the influence of the [homosexual] subcultures, a concentration of homosexual men in the priesthood would not have led to as large an increase in minor sex abuse as proved to be the case,” (p.38). The report agrees with the conclusion of the 2011 John Jay Report (p. 62) that homosexual activity during seminary “was significantly related to the increased likelihood of a male child victim.”
Sullins documents a clear pattern going back to the early fifties. It shows that the incidence of sexual abuse tracked almost perfectly with one trend. That is, the increasing presence of homosexual subcultures in seminaries, both peaking in the eighties. If you want a vivid depiction of these subcultures, I recommend reading Michael Rose’s Goodbye, Good Men.
Two major problems. First, the seminaries promoted unbiblical, un-Christian views on homosexuality. Teachers and rectors denied that it is disordered or sinful. And second, these seminaries managed to encourage homosexual activity among future priests.
This past summer gave us a glimpse into what these hedonistic subcultures looked like. The revelations concerning former Cardinal Ted McCarrick’s sexual pressure on seminarians were stomach-churning. As was the Pennsylvania Grand Jury report. And then there was the “cocaine-fueled homosexual orgy” in a Vatican apartment. …
It reads like the plot of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Like the unsuspecting characters Janet and Brad, seminarians got seduced into a hedonistic culture by the likes of Cardinal Frank N. Furter, and a host of other Frank N. Furters, who succeeded in turning too many priests into sex monsters.
But Correlation Is Not Causation …
Neither the Sullins report nor the John Jay report offers an explanation as to how exactly homosexuality morphs into child abuse. But I offer a theory in my book and in this article for The Stream. The process is not exclusive to homosexuality.
Both heterosexual and homosexual persons can get sucked into criminal sexual abuse through addiction. Thomas Doyle said so in his report to the American bishops way back in 1985. Sex offenders are addicted to sex. Thus it may be that a predator who turns to children for sexual gratification is like the desperate alcoholic who resorts to rubbing alcohol. It’s not necessarily a matter of preference, but quite possibly, one of desperation and compulsion.
What if the addiction model of sexual abuse is valid? Then we’re wrong to blame the abuse of minors on priests who simply prefer them to adults. Actual pedophilia and ephebophilia may be quite rare, on this theory. Most abusers are unlikely to prefer minors, just as alcoholics are unlikely to prefer rubbing alcohol. Terms like “pedophilia” and “ephebophilia” may be misnomers in most cases. Nevertheless, those beholden to political correctness keep using them. Why? Because they provide cover from the accusation that homosexuality is linked to child abuse. And they bury the deeper, spiritual issues at stake.
Sullins’s report shows real links between sexual abuse and homosexuality. And heterosexuality, for that matter. Any person, gay or straight, could be at elevated risk for becoming a predator. How? If, thanks to overindulgence, they lose rational control of their passions.
The Moral of Proverbs 16:25
The addiction theory that I advance in my book does not argue that homosexual subcultures intentionally created child molesters. The sex abuse was an unforeseen consequence of sexual addiction. And such addiction itself turned out as the unintended consequence of clerical hedonism.
But where did all this hedonism come from? How did so many priests and bishops get it into their heads that plunging headlong into mortal sin was a good idea? Only one answer proves possible. They no longer believed that sodomy or fornication was sinful. It was this ideological dimension of the seminary subculture that was so lethal. It is what allowed the rot to spread so easily. And who is the most vocal and recognizable spokesman today for this toxic ideology? It is Fr. James Martin.
Martin flatly rejects the Biblical teaching that homosexual deeds are sinful. He tells his audiences that God made gays the way they are. That “they are wonderfully made.” In his book Building a Bridge, he criticizes the language of the Catechism (CCC 2357) that calls homosexuality “intrinsically disordered.” Instead, he recommends saying “differently ordered.” That removes any moral judgment against homosexual acts.
In this video, Martin assures us that modern science has refuted the ancient, Jewish-Christian condemnation of same-sex indulgence.
It’s clear that the “science” that undermines Biblical teaching comes from Sigmund Freud. For example, Martin claims that gays who attempt to be chaste are psychologically less healthy than those who act on their desires. But Freud’s theory that it is unhealthy to deny our sexual passions is not just an argument for homosexuality. It is an argument for hedonism as well. And that is exactly where Martin’s Freudian ideas of human nature logically lead us — to the hedonism of Ted McCarrick. To the cocaine-fueled orgies at the Vatican. To the basement of a Chicago rectory where a priest turned up dead, strapped into a sex machine. I can almost hear his dying words now. Words drilled into him from seminary. God made me the way I am. And I am wonderfully made.
As the Good Book reminds us: “There are ways that appear good to men, but in the end, they lead to death” (Prv. 16:25).
Frank N. Furter Does the “Time Warp” …
Many Church leaders before James Martin unwisely and uncritically accepted Freud’s message. So generations have been catechized with a Freudian form of Christianity. It replaces traditional discipline with the values of the sexual revolution. Freud’s name rarely gets a mention, but his ideas constantly echo. Have a listen below, and you’ll see what I mean.
“It’s Just a Jump to the Left …”
The problem with Martin’s “scientific” understanding of human sexuality? It’s outdated. As in “debunked,” now proven false. The Frank N. Furters of the Church seem trapped in a time warp. It’s always 1960-something. So they have an awful time getting their hands on some current scientific research.
But the truth is that neuroscience today understands that it is actually healthy and necessary to practice some ascetical self-denial. Just as the Church always taught. Otherwise, we’ll find ourselves becoming addicted to pleasure.
The Church has always correctly taught that the rational control of our passions depends on the practice of asceticism. It’s a teaching that goes back to the Bible, notably, the New Testament epistles. And the idea is defended both in Humanae Vitae and Pope John Paul’s Theology of the Body. Neuroscience has vindicated this teaching. As John Paul predicted it would. For John Paul understood what the Frank N. Furters of the Church seemingly cannot. Namely, that the teachings of the apostles are—for a lack of a better word—TRUE!
A sincere “thank you!” goes to Dr. Sullins for allowing me to interview him for this article.