A Catholic cardinal responded to the sweeping Pennsylvania grand jury report on child sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Church last week by ludicrously claiming homosexuality was to blame.
“It was clear after the studies following the 2002 sexual abuse crisis that most of the acts of abuse were in fact homosexual acts committed with adolescent young men,” Cardinal Raymond Burke said in an interview Thursday. “There was a studied attempt to either overlook or to deny this.”
Burke went on to emphasize that he believes there is “a very grave problem of a homosexual culture” both among the clergy and within the Church’s hierarchy that “needs to be purified at the root.” He added, “It is of course a tendency that is disordered.”
Downplaying the possibility there is any systemic problem within the Church, he claimed that Pope Francis bore direct responsibility for the scandal, calling on the pontiff to “take action” to enforce the Church’s disciplinary procedures.
Contrary to Burke’s rhetoric, there is no connection between child sex abuse and homosexuality. Pedophilia is classified as a “paraphilia” — a sexual disorder — and has nothing to do with one’s sexual orientation, which refers to the sex(es) a person might be oriented toward. Men are more likely to experience pedophilic disorder, and they are more likely to have access to young boys than they do young girls. This is particularly true in the Catholic Church, in which women have few leadership opportunities.
Conservatives have deployed this particular tactic in direct response to past child sex abuse scandals within the Catholic Church. In 2010, when another example of ongoing abuse in the Church came to light, Bill Honahue of the Catholic League ran a full-page ad in The New York Times blaming the issue on homosexuality.
“While homosexuality does not cause predatory behavior, and most gay priests are not molesters, most of the molesters have been gay,” he insisted at the time.
More recently, following the Pennsylvania grand jury report, Donahue claimed once again that “the problem is gay-driven,” but also suggested horrifically that “most of the victims were not raped” because they weren’t penetrated.
Cardinal Burke himself is considered the leader of the conservative wing of the Vatican, and Pope Francis’ chief opposition. His comments last week were made during an interview with Thomas McKenna, president of Catholic Action for Faith and Family, an organization for which Burke is listed as an episcopal adviser.
McKenna previously interviewed Burke in 2016, giving him a platform to condemn the University of Notre Dame for honoring Vice President Joe Biden, who is pro-choice and pro-marriage equality. Burke spoke to McKenna in 2014 as well, rebuking Pope Francis for responding “Who am I to judge?” when asked about gay priests in the Church.