The sexual abuse scandal which has surfaced in Philadelphia - 300 priests guilty of abusing at least 1000 victims - has brought the long-simmering scandal of homosexuality among Catholic clergy to a boil.
The Catholic bishop of Madison, Wisconsin, Robert C. Morlino, wrote on Saturday that “It is time to admit that there is a homosexual subculture within the hierarchy of the Catholic Church that is wreaking great devastation in the vineyard of the Lord.” He added bluntly, “we are talking about deviant sexual — almost exclusively homosexual — acts by clerics.”
To make matters worse, a sickening percentage of these deviant sexual acts involve underage boys. Two studies by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice - which were commissioned by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops - found that “more than 80 percent of the cases of clergy abuse were male-on-male-predation by priests against pre-teen and teenaged boys.”
A 2002 survey of nearly 2,000 Catholic priests by the LA Times revealed that 44% of respondents said there was a “homosexual subculture” in their diocese, and 53% of recently ordained priests said there was a homosexual subculture in the seminary they attended.
Jesuit priest and writer Rev. James Martin acknowledges that the problem is so widespread that "any purge would empty parishes and religious orders of...thousands of priests (and bishops).”
Prominent ex-Cardinal, Theodore McCarrick, is credibly accused of engaging in sex with adult seminarians, and similar scandals have popped up in places such as Chile, Honduras, France, and Italy. Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston is launching an investigation into his own diocesan seminary.
The problem began in the 1960’s when the Church, unable to recruit enough heterosexual priests to fill its ranks, began to lower its standards and turn a blind eye toward homosexuals who wanted to enter its seminaries.
Catholic observers are aware that the necessary purge will create an immediate clerical crisis in the Church. Conservative Catholic Michael Hichborn insists, correctly in my view, that there must be a “complete and thorough removal of all homosexual clergymen from the Church.” But he admits “it’s going to be difficult and will likely result in a very serious priest shortage.”
But it must be done. Settlements the Church has already made to pacify the abused have cost $3 billion, a toll that unquestionably will rise significantly.
Research is making it clear that change is possible. According to a study published in The Linacre Quarterly, nearly 70 percent of respondents who went through sexual orientation change therapy (SOCE) self-reported "some to much" reduction in their same-sex attraction and behavior and an increase in their opposite-sex attraction and behavior.
The Bible is quite clear that unrepentant sexual sin in the church, whether the church is Protestant or Catholic, must be dealt with firmly by removing the unrepentant sinner - whether priest or parishioner- from the church. As Paul said in 1 Corinthians 5:6-7, speaking of sexual sin, “Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump.” Therefore, he says in v. 13, “Purge the evil person from among you.”
In 1 Corinthians 6:9, Paul makes it clear that “men who practice homosexuality...will not inherit the kingdom of God.” But he also makes it clear that such men can be transformed by being “washed...sanctified...[and] justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:11).
The homosexual/pedophilia scandal in the Catholic Church is very real, and likely much worse than anyone thought. But dedicated leaders in the Church are determined to clean up their part of the vineyard. We should all hope and pray that they will be successful.