To link homosexuality and pedophilia is a “great injustice” and a “criminalisation” of gay sexual and affective identity, a key Vatican official has insisted.
Driving the news
Jordi Bertomeu Farnós, a priest in the all-powerful Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) and one of the Pope’s right-hand men in the fight against clerical sex abuse, took down the myth gay clerics are more likely to offend against minors in a essay for the Spanish magazine Palabra.
Bertomeu – one of the special investigators sent by the Pope to look into the sex abuse crisis in Chile in 2018 – based his conclusion on the 6,000 cases of priestly abuse against children that have made their way since 2001 to the CDF, the Vatican area in which serious canonical crimes committed by clerics are judged and sanctioned.
Criticising the “biased positions strongly influenced by a certain ultraconservative ideological posture” that would affirm otherwise, the CDF official underlined that “there is no direct relationship between homosexuality and pedophilia”.
Neither, Bertomeu continued, is there any relationship between pedophilia “and a ‘progressive style’ of clergy”.
“From a privileged observatory such as that of this Dicastery, it can be affirmed that the phenomenon of homosexuality does not know of clerical styles, since it affects [sic] priests of both a ‘traditional’ cut and others of a more open or ‘progressive’ cut (despite the misguided nature of these qualifiers)”, Bertomeu wrote.
The most that can be argued from CDF statistics is “that a certain homosexual subculture typical of some clerical groups and present in certain seminars or novitiates, with the consequent tolerance towards active homosexual behaviors, can lead to pedophilia”, the Vatican official continued.
“These are situations that deserve greater attention from pastors, who have the pastoral and disciplinary means to invite by example, word and even coercion to a chaste life that does not pose a danger or scandal to the priest himself and to the Church”, Bertomeu warned.
Why it matters
Bertomeu’s busting of the gay-priest-more-prone-to-abuse myth is important because, as the priest himself admits, in certain circles of the Church “there is talk of homosexual priests even being three times more likely to commit the crime of pedophilia”, which casts unfair aspersions on faithful gay priests living celibate lives.
The CDF official also took down other fantasies in his essay, such as the one that holds that clerics commit the most child abuse in society, when in reality religious only make up “less than 3% of those reported to civil authorities” for crimes of that type.
Such myths are particularly hard on good and faithful priests, Bertomeu lamented, who “are increasingly seen or even treated as ‘suspects’ of having committed this horrible crime” of pedophilia.
For the record
Elsewhere in his piece, the CDF official discounted absolutely the belief that priestly celibacy is either a “cause” or “risk factor” for child abuse, again on the basis of the cases judged by the CDF over the past almost twenty years.
Moreover – given the prevalence of child abuse in society outside the Church – there is no guarantee that abolishing compulsory celibacy and/or opening up the priesthood to women would do away with the problem of child abuse in the Church, Bertomeu argued.
“There is no scientific evidence to show that a married life would put an end to the deviant behavior of these few priests with this sexual disorder” that is a desire to prey on children, the CDF official said.