October 18, 2005

Sexual hypocrisy from the Vatican



The Vatican has decided how to deal with its sexual problems. It will sit in judgment on gay seminarians. It won’t ban all of them from the priesthood, just those who are “out” -- who dare to identify with the gay community; who have had sex as long as three years ago; and most disturbingly, whose homosexual orientation is deemed, by what criteria we have no idea, to be too “strong” and “permanent.”

The Vatican’s underlying message is this: Since so many clerical sexual abuse cases involved boys, this will take care of the problem. In fact, that is a far cry from the truth. Many Catholic girls and women have been victims of clerical sexual transgressions, ranging from pedophilia and child sexual abuse to sexual exploitation, harassment, molestation, rape, beatings and potentially negligent homicide. Many sexually active priests have left a trail of wounded women and fatherless progeny in their wake. Others have prevailed upon their women lovers to have abortions, made the arrangements for those abortions and paid for them.

It’s been spilled all over the tabloids that the Catholic church’s clergy sex scandal has revisited the New York archdiocese, and it has nothing to do with pedophiles or gay men. Msgr. Eugene Clark -- rector of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, high-profile fundraiser, and crusader against American cultural immorality and homosexuality -- has resigned, accused of having an affair with his married secretary 30 years his junior, which he denies. The defense of archdiocesan spokesperson Joseph Zwilling was telling: He said Msgr. Clark was not accused of molesting boys. In 2002, New York Auxiliary Bishop James F. McCarthy resigned after admitting to “a number of affairs with women over several years,” including a woman “approximately 21 years old.”

In fact, the whistleblowers in these cases -- often women who work for the church -- continue to be in great jeopardy. Most recently, Regina Soares Jurkewicz, eight years a professor at the Theological Institute of the Catholic diocese of São Paulo, Brazil, was fired, this right after she published the results of her doctoral research on sexual violence against women by Catholic clergy in Brazil. Her findings were in keeping with the findings of internal church reports from the 1990s, which documented the sexual exploitation and abuse of nuns and other adult women by Catholic priests in 23 countries on five continents.

Posted by kshaw at October 18, 2005 12:04 PM