The blame game

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The Vatican’s spin machine has shifted into high gear, trying to deflect responsibility for its worldwide clerical-abuse scandal by blaming homosexuality and attempting to paint its critics as opponents of “family values.”

There is, however, ample evidence that the culture of the Church itself is to blame.

Obscured under current headlines are the widespread abuses of women and girls within the church. In early April, for example, the archdioceses of Newark and Orlando settled a suit by a woman who was sexually assaulted in her home by a priest in 2004. Despite her complaint and others, the Church transferred the priest to Florida, where he broke into a woman’s home and ripped her clothes off.

The priest pleaded guilty in 2007 to assault and aggravated stalking, but he has yet to be dismissed from the clergy.

Catholic priests in Africa have been increasingly forcing themselves on nuns in order to avoid getting HIV from local prostitutes. In some cases, nuns who become pregnant are pressured to have abortions. When one nun died while having an abortion, her abuser led the funeral mass.

When women and girls report sexual abuse, they are condemned as temptresses and whores. They are asked what they were wearing at the time and whether they enjoyed it.

Settlements involving female victims tend to be smaller than those for male victims of pedophiles, because it’s presumed they’re less harmed. Due to the way they’re treated, women are less likely to report abuse.

Last year, researchers at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice issued a preliminary report commissioned by U.S. Catholic bishops on clerical abuse. It found no evidence that gay priests are more likely to molest children than heterosexual clergy.

A life of celibacy must seem an attractive alternative to men who can’t deal with their sexual feelings, whether they’re gay, straight or pedophiles. Men with healthy and well-integrated sexual identities would be less-inclined to seek out a celibate life.

Add to that recipe for disaster the Church’s practice of enabling offenders by covering up their crimes and protecting them from prosecution, and you have the perfect storm for sexual abuse.

Homosexuality is not the problem. Celibacy, institutionalized secrecy and cover-ups are to blame.