Vatican official dismisses link between homosexuality and clergy sexual abuse

clergy sexual abuse

The Vatican’s secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, has unequivocally rejected the assertion that clergy sexual abuse is connected to homosexuality, deeming it an “unsupportable association” without any scientific basis.

“Homosexual orientation cannot be considered as either cause or aspect typical of the abuser, even more so when it is decoupled from the general arrangement of the person,” wrote Italian Cardinal Pietro Parolin.

Cardinal Parolin made the comments in the preface to the book “The Pain of the Church in the Face of Abuse,” which features contributions from Catholic theologians, psychologists and experts on clergy sexual abuse.

Given his position as the Vatican’s second-highest-ranking official, Cardinal Parolin’s statements hold significant weight and indirectly challenge the claims made by various right-wing prelates and activists who have sought to establish a link between clergy abuse and homosexuality.

Parolin’s remarks are consistent with leading scientific research on the origins of abuse.

A 2011 study commissioned by the US bishops’ conference and conducted by John Jay College of Criminal Justice found no correlation between homosexual identity and the sexual abuse of minors.

The study also revealed that homosexual priests were not more likely to abuse minors than their heterosexual counterparts, aligning with the findings of other studies.

Conservatives connect homosexuality and abuse

Despite pressure from traditionalists and conservative Catholics who have endeavoured to establish a connection between homosexuality and clerical abuse, the Vatican, under Pope Francis, has consistently rejected this association.

During the prominent 2019 Vatican summit on clergy abuse attended by presidents of Catholic bishops’ conferences worldwide, attempts to link homosexuality to clerical abuse were firmly repudiated.

Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta, who also serves as an adjunct secretary in the Vatican’s doctrinal office, categorically stated that generalising and categorising an entire group of people is unfounded. He emphasised the existence of individual cases rather than labelling entire groups as prone to sin.

Likewise, Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago, another organiser of the summit, dismissed any connection between homosexuality and abuse, stating that being homosexual does not make individuals more inclined to abuse children compared to heterosexual individuals.

However, Archbishop Timothy Broglio, president of the US bishops’ conference, has previously attributed the abuse crisis to homosexuality.

Nevertheless, Jesuit Fr Gerald McGlone, a survivor of clerical abuse and former chief psychologist at the Pontifical North American College in Rome, refuted such claims.

In an article published in the online publication Outreach, McGlone highlighted that the majority of paedophiles and sexual offenders in the United States are white, married, heterosexual males. He stressed the need for a more nuanced approach and greater sensitivity in combating clergy sexual abuse.

Cardinal Parolin, in his preface echoed this sentiment, asserting that reducing an individual to a single aspect of their history or personality is an unfair condemnation.

The cardinal noted that the tragedy of abuse is linked to severe deficiencies in emotional and relational capacities, underscoring the importance of evaluating an individual’s overall maturity and psychological well-being in the selection and formation of priests.


National Catholic Reporter

CathNews New Zealand

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