Top Vatican Official: Linking Gay Priests to Abuse Is “Scientifically Untenable Association”

New Ways Ministry [Mount Rainier MD]

July 17, 2023

By Ariell Simon

Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State for the Holy See, refuted the idea that homosexuality is linked to sexual abuse, writing in a new book that blaming the abuse crisis in the church on gay priests is a “serious and scientifically untenable association.”

The Italian prelate, one of the highest ranking officials in the Vatican, also argued:

“‘Homosexual orientation cannot be considered as either cause or aspect typical of the abuser, even more so when it is decoupled from the general arrangement of the person.’”

Parolin defended gay priests in his preface to a new book on sexual abuse in the church, Il dolore della Chiesa di fronte agli abusi (“The Pain of the Church in the Face of Abuse”). The collection includes “contributions from a number of Catholic theologians, psychologists and other experts on clergy sexual abuse,” according to the National Catholic Reporter

Sadly, the false association between gay priests and sexual abuse persists. Archbishop Timothy Broglio of Military Services in the U.S., who last year was elected president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, has made this claim repeatedly and publicly. Just last year, Broglio defended his 2018 assertion that “there is no question that the crisis of sexual abuse by priests in the United States is directly related to homosexuality,” claiming “it would be naive to suggest that there’s no relationship between the two.”

Parolin is not the first high-profile Catholic leader to refute these claims in recent years. At a 2019 Vatican summit on clergy abuse, Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta, a leader for the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith’s clergy abuse section, said, “To generalize, to look at a whole category of people is never legitimate…I would never dare to indicate a category as a category that has a tendency to sin.”

Parolin’s new statement echoes this concern, as he writes in the book’s preface: “Any parceling of the person to a single datum of his or her history or personality represents a heavy and unfair a priori condemnation.”

Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago, an organizer of the 2019 summit, dismissed the connection as well, saying, “It is not as a result of being homosexual that you abuse, as though homosexual people are more prone to abuse children than straight people.”

Jesuit Fr. Gerald McGlone, a survivor of clergy abuse and former chief psychologist for the Pontifical North American College in Rome, said that the evidence points to the opposite: “Today, we know that the majority of pedophiles and other types of sexual offenders in the United States are white, married, heterosexual males. It would be illogical, a tad uninformed and potentially harmful to suggest that being white, heterosexual or married has a role in, or even causes, pedophilia or sexual offenses.”

In the preface, Parolin offered his thoughts on why abuse really occurs and what can be done to combat it. NCR  reported:

“The tragedy of abuse, [Parolin] observed, is increasingly linked to ‘serious personality deficits,’ particularly regarding an individual’s emotional and relational capacities.’

“‘It becomes clearer, then, how the scourge of abuse, inside and outside the church, is linked rather to personalities that are disharmonious, severely emotionally and relationally deficient,’ he wrote. . .

“Instead, he calls for seminaries and religious institutes to dedicate more time and resources to the psychological vetting of priests and the formation of the full dimensions of the human person, before and after ordination.

“‘Human maturity: this is precisely the central, though not exclusive, aspect to be taken into serious consideration in the evaluation of those on a vocational journey, in seminaries and religious communities, and not only in the initial phase of the journey,’ he wrote.”

By addressing the red herring of homosexuality in the clergy sexual abuse discussion, Parolin’s new publication not only reduces the scapegoating of gay priests, but of the entire LGBTQ+ community. Importantly, it also points the church toward a more constructive path for protecting vulnerable people from harm.

Ariell Simon (she/her), New Ways Ministry, July 17, 2023