Study of Church Scandals
Overlooks a Key Issue
By Paul Likoudis
January 23, 2003
NEW YORK — Even when a reporter for a major American newspaper
tries to be reasonable, honest, and fair in presenting a balanced picture
of the sex abuse crisis in Amchurch, the effort fails because the root
of the problem cannot be recognized or named.
In "Trail of Pain in Church Crisis Leads to Nearly Every Diocese"
(January 12), The New York Times’ Laurie Goodstein, and those who
assisted her, presented a number of valid insights in what might be the
most comprehensive survey and analysis of the current sex abuse crisis
in the U.S. Church.
Among her findings, based upon the Times’ survey — "the
most complete compilation of data on the problem available":
• Some 1,205 priests have abused 4,268 people in all but 16 of the
country’s 177 Latin rite dioceses, and a total of 1.8% of priests
working in U.S. parishes from the 1950s to today have been implicated
in sexual abuse charges;
• Though there are cases of clerical abuse dating back to the 1930s,
most of the revelations of the past year involve priests who were ordained
between the 1950s and 1970s;
• Two Ordination classes, 1970 and 1975, have the highest percentage
of abusers, at 3.3%;
• The first Ordination class to show a significant number of abusers
was 1956 (this class includes, among others, former Bishop Daniel Ryan
of Springfield, Ill., an alleged molester, though Goodstein does not mention
• "The number of those accused out of each Ordination class
fluctuated only slightly through about 1963, when it reached 40, or 2.6%
of that year’s class. Then it remained fairly consistent through
the mid-1970s. But since fewer men were being ordained in the 1970s, priests
accused of abuse made up a larger proportion of their classes," reported
Put another way, the fact that abusers made up a larger proportion of
their classes indicates that seminaries may have already been successfully
filtering out non-homosexual candidates by the late 1960s. That would
further indicate that a homosexual network had control over much of the
U.S. Church by that point, which is the basic assertion of this reporter’s
book, Amchurch Comes Out.
• The northeast has the largest number of abusers, with 434, followed
by the Midwest with 335, the South with 246, and the West with 206. Goodstein
informs readers that "some priests were counted more than once if
they abused in more than one region," but she does not inform that
many of the most prominent clerical abusers originated, for example, in
priest-rich New England and then studied in seminaries elsewhere and were
incardinated outside their home dioceses.
• While there is a national average of 1.8% of priests ordained
in the last half-century implicated in sexual abuse, three regions greatly
exceed that average: Boston with 5.3%; Baltimore with 6.2%; and Manchester,
N.H., with 7.7%;
• At least half of known abusers molested more than one minor, and
16% had five or more victims;
• "While the majority of the priests were accused of molesting
teenagers only, 43% were accused of molesting children 12 and younger."
But in seeking out the root causes of the crisis for her report, Goodstein
omits the biggest cause: the sexualization of American society that began
in the late 1920s and early 1930s, and accelerated in the 1950s under
the impulse of sex researcher Alfred Kinsey. That process took a giant
leap forward in the late 1950s and early 1960s when the U.S. bishops and
their educational and catechetical establishments threw their enormous
resources into the sexualization of Catholic children and young adults.
Their campaign was far more aggressive than that of their secular peers
in public education, and amounted to an attempt to assimilate Catholics
into the larger culture.
Put another way, this New York Times survey apparently can’t
see, as the Song of Roland declares so succinctly, "Christians are
right and Pagans are wrong."
It’s a failure to see, or at least admit, that the Catholic Church
is right about sex: that masturbation, homosexuality, adultery, divorce,
contraception, sterilization, and abortion and all the other aims of the
sexual revolution are wrong.
Instead, in her attempt to understand the root causes of what drove Catholic
priests to molest and assault youth, The New York Times reporter
and others pin the blame on the Church’s "repressive"
notions of sexuality which attracted young men afraid of their sexuality;
on the repressive atmosphere in seminaries and minor seminaries; on the
cultural revolutions that traumatized both Church and society in the 1960s;
and on the sweeping changes that overthrew traditional priestly life during
and after Vatican II.
But Goodstein ignores the fact that there was a massive effort in the
Church, and in society at large, to join in sexualizing the culture. This
happened in Catholic parishes and schools especially through religious
education, and the effort was accelerating at the same time as the percentages
of homosexual predators in the priesthood and seminaries began to rise.
Then, once large numbers of American priests and nuns rejected Humanae
Vitae — which was inevitable due to the widespread agitation by
Catholic elites in the late 1950s and early 1960s to abandon Church teaching
on contraception, abortion, and divorce — the sex education of children
and adolescents became the means to promote the sexual revolution.
Nuns, priests, and other change agents often used sex education to teach
about every form of sexual activity and birth control, and then casually
— if at all — mention the Church’s position. As one
critic once observed, it was like teaching generations of children every
angle of becoming an efficient arsonist, and then mentioning that the
Church is against arson.
Most Americans, as exemplified by this New York Times report,
do not seem to understand that the sexualization of Western society that
began with Wilhelm Reich and Alfred Kinsey is the key to understanding
the terrible tragedy of sex abuse in the U.S. Church.
Three years ago, when Wesleyan University and other top colleges in the
country were the center of public attention for offering students various
courses in pornography, former Nixon aide Charles Colson wrote a column
titled, "Sex as Salvation: Not Mere Vice," which neatly summarized
the nub of the problem of the ongoing "sexualization of society."
"How did undergraduates go from studying Homer to creating pornography?
The answer is that sexual liberation has become nothing less than a worldview
— a vision of reforming human nature and creating a new society.
"It’s a worldview that begins with the assumption that humans
are products of Darwinian evolution, and concludes that our identity is
found by delving into the biological, the natural, the instinctual.
"Especially the sexual instincts. Liberating our sexuality is thus
seen as the high road to healing and wholeness.
"If this sounds overblown, listen to the words of key founders of
the sexual revolution. For Margaret Sanger, an early champion of birth
control, the drama of history consists in a struggle to free humanity
from biblical morality. ‘Through sex,’ she wrote, ‘mankind
may attain the great spiritual illumination which will transform the world,
which will light up the only path to an earthly paradise.’
"This is nothing less than a vision of salvation through sex.
"The same quasi-religious fervor motivated Alfred Kinsey, whose surveys
have been enormously influential. Kinsey likewise saw history as a moral
drama, with science competing against religion and superstition. He spoke
as if the introduction of biblical sexual morality were the watershed
of human history, a sort of ‘Fall’ from which we must be redeemed
through sexual liberation.
"Another architect of the sexual revolution was Wilhelm Reich, who
became something of a cult figure in the 1960s. Reich taught that all
dysfunctions are a symptom of sexual failure — and can be cured
by sexual release. A book about his philosophy is aptly titled Salvation
Through Sex. . . .
"Social science has uncovered clear evidence that sexual licentiousness
is devastating to any society. The decline of sexual morality in America
since the 1960s has produced an epidemic of abortion, sexually transmitted
diseases, and children born into fatherless homes, with all the attendant
social pathologies, such as increased drug abuse and crime.
"If we want to stand against the sexualization of American culture,
it’s not enough to express moral outrage. We must fight the battle
on the level of worldview versus worldview.
"And we must be ready to show that true liberation is not about the
gratification of our sexual instinct but the satisfaction of our deepest
But what Wesleyan and other elite colleges were doing in the late 1990s
was old hat, at least in Catholic schools and seminaries, convents and
retreat houses, where the study of sexology and pornography was already
far advanced, and the "human potential movement," which was
driven by the apostles of "salvation by sex," had already taken
Archbishop Rembert Weakland of Milwaukee was ordained in 1951, and reported
in 2002 to have had a homosexual attraction to a theology student in 1979-1980.
Long lionized by The New York Times, Weakland exemplifies the
problem the Times report does not see.
Having apparently embraced some major tenets of the sexual revolution,
Weakland enlisted the aid of major sexologists — both non-Catholic
and Catholic, lay and religious, many of whom were prominent homosexualists
— in various archdiocesan sex education programs.
For decades Weakland was praised for being a progressive prelate, but
now he is worse than pitied; he is forgotten, which is the fate of all
the casualties of America’s sexualized culture.