October 17, 2005

Gays, priest sex abuse: Is there any connection?

Boston Globe

By Carey Goldberg, Globe Staff | October 17, 2005

If the Catholic Church wants to prevent sexual abuse by priests, several abuse experts said, there are better ways to do it than by trying to bar gay men from the clergy.

The church recently began checking American seminaries for ''evidence of homosexuality," and the pope is widely expected to ban actively gay men from taking holy orders.

But it will be tricky to cull gays from the priesthood, the abuse experts said this month. And it would be more effective -- and more humane -- to target likely abusers rather than all gays.

''There's no adequate way to screen out homosexuality," said Martin P. Kafka, a psychiatrist at Harvard's McLean Hospital. ''We don't have any lab tests."

Kafka was among a half-dozen abuse experts invited to the Vatican in 2003 to report on the latest research. He and two others who attended said they recommended the church improve its monitoring of priests, as well as its teaching about intimacy and sexuality -- which the church had already begun to do.

Posted by kshaw at October 17, 2005 08:14 AM