- Cardinal Theodore McCarrick’s sexual abuse scandal reignited the call among conservative Catholics to expel homosexuals from the clergy.
- Moderate and liberal church leaders caution against a purge, arguing that clericalism, not homosexuality, is the root cause of abuse.
- Conservatives retort that the fact that the majority of clergy abuse victims are post-pubescent males, and evidence of a gay subculture among priests, proves that a purge is necessary to root out abuse.
Conservative Catholics renewed the call to purge homosexuals from the clergy in light of the abuse allegations against Cardinal Theodore McCarrick.
Theologically conservative church leadership and lay faithful claim that credible allegations that McCarrick abused young seminarians highlight the fact that homosexuality, as opposed to pedophilia, is the root cause of clerical sex abuse. Some moderate and liberal church leaders, like Cardinal Blase Cupich, have cautioned against expelling all gay priests, arguing that the culture of clericalism, not homosexuality, enables abuse. Conservatives reject that claim as either ignorant or deceitful in light of the fact that the overwhelming majority of victims of clerical abuse are post-pubescent males. (RELATED: WaPo Opinion Writer Says Catholic Church Has A Gay Priest Problem)
Michael Hichborn, president of the Lepanto Institute, therefore urged a “complete and thorough removal of all homosexual clergymen from the Church,” according to The Associated Press.
“It is going to be difficult and will likely result in a very serious priest shortage. But it’s definitely worth the effort,” he added.
Cupich, archbishop of Chicago, said he “would be very careful” about arguing homosexuality among the clergy was the root cause of abuse.
“I really believe that the issue here is more about a culture of clericalism in which some who are ordained feel they are privileged and therefore protected so that they can do what they want,” he told America, a Jesuit magazine.
Rev. James Martin, an outspoken Jesuit priest in New York and editor-at-large of America, echoed Cupich’s concern, saying, “The idea of a purge of gay priests is both ridiculous and dangerous,” highlighting the fact that there is a substantial number of gay individuals within the priesthood.
“Any purge would empty parishes and religious orders of the thousands of priests (and bishops) who lead healthy lives of service and faithful lives of celibacy,” Martin added, according to The AP.
A 2011 independent report by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice on clerical sex abuse indicates that Cupich, and perhaps Martin, are out of touch, according to Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, founder and president of the Ruth Institute.
“Cardinal Cupich sounds more like a bureaucrat than a pastor,” Morse told LifeSite News. “I am particularly concerned that he is recycling the old canard from the 2002 go-round of clerical sex abuse: ‘this has nothing to do with homosexuality.'”
“Both the 2004 and the 2011 John Jay Reports concluded that 80% of the cases of sexual abuse of minors were of adolescent boys. That has something to do with homosexual activity,” she added. “The current crisis is about seminarians being sexually harassed by their superiors. That has something to do with homosexual activity.”
Hichborn went so far as to accuse Cupich of lying in light of his interview with America.
“He is either completely out of touch with reality or he is a liar,” he said of Cupich, according to LifeSite.
Other conservative Catholic leaders alleged that a “homosexual subculture” among priests, as opposed to simply individual priests’ homosexual tendencies, drove both the abuses and their subsequent cover-ups.
“Numerous reports from clergy and seminarians are coming out worldwide which confirm the existence of networks of homosexually active men who cover for each other,” argued Rev. Paul Sullins, director of the Leo Institute at Catholic University, according to AP.
Cardinal Raymond Burke, member of the highest court in the Catholic Church and former archbishop of St. Louis, echoed Sullins’s claim of an insidious homosexual clerical network and advocated for the expulsion of sexually active homosexual priests.
“Now it seems clear in light of these recent terrible scandals that indeed there is a homosexual culture, not only among the clergy but even within the hierarchy, which needs to be purified at the root,” Burke said, according to The AP.
“What is needed is an honest investigation into the alleged situations of grave immorality followed by effective action to sanction those responsible. Shepherds can go astray … and then must be appropriately disciplined and even dismissed from the clerical state,” he added.
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