Bishop Accountability

Study of Church Scandals
Overlooks a Key Issue

By Paul Likoudis
The Wanderer
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 that fact);

• "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 Goodstein.

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.

Colson’s Commentary

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 spiritual hunger."

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 deep root.

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.


Original material copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.