Apr 1, 2010

Bill Donohue on the "Homesexual Crisis" in the Catholic Church

Bill Donohue of the Catholic League has refined missing the point to an art form. Why anyone ever hands him a microphone is a mystery to me, but Larry King gave this bloviating gasbag plenty of opportunity to thoroughly offend Tuesday evening. And being Larry King, challenged him on none of it. His justification? The problem isn't pedophilia, it's homosexuality. Not a new argument for the Catholic Church, but Donohue can always be counted on to take obnoxious wrong-headedness to soaring new heights.

His most unintentionally funny line?

"You've got to get your facts straight. I'm sorry. If I'm the only one that's going to deal with facts tonight then that'll be it."

An amusing statement from one so wrong on fact... and grammar, but I'll let that go.

He outlined his argument in a recent missive:

The Times continues to editorialize about the 'pedophilia crisis,' when all along it's been a homosexual crisis. Eighty percent of the victims of priestly sexual abuse are male and most of them are post-pubescent. While homosexuality does not cause predatory behavior, and most gay priests are not molesters, most of the molesters have been gay.

Where to begin... For starters, and assuming his stats are accurate, what about the twenty percent who are female? Do they not matter?

Next: Homosexuality doesn't cause predatory behavior, but the problem is still homosexuality, not the predatory behavior... Huh?

But let's get to the meat of his argument: The majority of the boys were "post-pubescent." No, they weren't. Postpubescence is when puberty is over and in boys, since we apparently only care about boys, that can be as late as 17, even 18. Donohue would have you believe that postpubescence begins at "12, 13 years of age." But that's when puberty is just starting in the average boy. So, at best, we could say a majority of the male victims were pubescent.

Post-pubescent means beyond puberty. In other words you're an adolescent and that's what homosexuals do and most of them -- the molesters -- have been homosexuals in the Catholic Church.

No, Mr. Donohue, adolescence refers to the social and behavioral issues that concur with puberty.

In fairness, Donohue is right about one thing. Pedophilia refers to sexual attraction to prepubescent children. An adult attraction to pubescent children is hebephilia. Sexual interest in older adolescents is not considered a mental disorder, like pedophilia. Acting on it, however, is very often illegal. The age of consent varies around the world and in the US ranges from 16 to 18. (In Wisconsin, for instance, where as many as 200 deaf children were exploited by Rev. Lawrence Murphy and ignored by then Cardinal Ratzinger, it's 18.) It's called statutory rape. It's a crime. And if you can't count on members of the clergy to be law abiding, who can you trust?

If the sexual advances are unwanted, as they clearly were according to the many abuse survivors who've come forward, there's nothing "statutory" about it. It's rape. It's sexual assault. And few could argue that there isn't a significant power disparity between a priest, aged, on average, over 30, and a 14 or 15 year old kid. These were authority figures in their churches, schools, and communities. But Mr. Donohue would have us chalk all this up to an indiscretion to which homosexuality can, but does not necessarily, make one prone.

Mr. Donohue would like to misdirect us by focusing on what the scandal isn't. What about what it is? The physical and sexual abuse of minors. No amount of obfuscation or homophobia changes that fact. But Donohue is an old hand at parsing these crimes to dust and blaming the victims.

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