A preliminary report commissioned by the nation’s Roman Catholic bishops to investigate the clergy sex abuse scandal has found no evidence that gay priests are more likely than heterosexual clergy to molest children, the lead authors of the study said Tuesday.
The full report by researchers at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice won’t be completed until the end of next year. But the authors said their evidence to date found no data indicating that homosexuality was a predictor of abuse.
“What we are suggesting is that the idea of sexual identity be separated from the problem of sexual abuse,” said Margaret Smith of John Jay College, in a speech to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. “At this point, we do not find a connection between homosexual identity and the increased likelihood of subsequent abuse from the data that we have right now.”
It looks like the report’s authors are coming to the same conclusions I did when I tackled the question in our report, “Testing the Premise: Are Gays A Threat To Our Children?”I poured through the professional literature and found no connection between homosexuality and child molestation. The Catholic Bishops commissioned a $2 million study in response to the clerical sexual abuse scandals which came to the same conclusion. Here’s the money quote:
At the meeting Tuesday, Bishop Edward Braxton of the Diocese of Belleville, Ill., asked the researchers whether their study indicated that homosexuality should be considered when evaluating a candidate for the priesthood. In 2005, the Vatican issued a policy statement that men with “deep-seated” attraction to other men should be barred from the priesthood.
Smith said: “If that exclusion were based on the fact that that person would be more probable than any other candidate to abuse, we do not find that at this time.”
Last year, Pope Benedict XVI drew a distinction between homosexuality and pedophelia, saying “I would not speak at this moment about homosexuality, but pedophilia which is another thing. And we would absolutely exclude pedophiles from the sacred ministry.” Yet the Vatican’s instructions barring gay men from entering holy orders unless they had “overcome” for at least three years still stands.