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Catholic League president: Priests aren’t pedophiles, molesting children is ‘what gays do’

By Stephen C. Webster
Tuesday, April 6, 2010 23:35 EDT
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In another coup for the seemingly part-time political pundit Bill Donohue, CNN broadcast on Tuesday a conversation about the Catholic church’s thousands of pedophilia scandals that would be awkward to even over-hear in public, let alone broadcast nation-wide.

That’s because Donohue, who presides over the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, decided to take the matter of a 14-year-old’s sexual abuse to a level of technicality where none of his fellow contributors really cared to tread.

Objecting to the term “pedophilia” being used to describe the rampant claims of children being sexually abused by priests and nuns, Donohue instead called the acts “homosexuality,” later suggesting “that’s what gays do.”

Though repeatedly cited in the media as the Catholic Church’s “pedophilia” problem, Donohue instead prefers a longer term, according to his editorial published by CNN on March 19: “the sexual molestation of minors.”

And, actually, the two terms are not mutually exclusive, explains the psychology department at UC Davis, noting that “pedophilia” as used to describe the church’s scandals “can cause confusion.”

“Whereas pedophilia and hebephilia refer to psychological propensities, child molestation and child sexual abuse are used to describe actual sexual contact between an adult and someone who has not reached the legal age of consent,” they explain. “In this context, the latter individual is referred to as a child, even though he or she may be a teenager.”

What Donohue is saying is that the priests who carried out such horrendous offenses against children did not have a psychological fixation on children: they were simply attracted to people of the same sex, and that’s just what homosexuals do. His own bar for limiting use of the term “pedophilia,” according to his CNN interview, is, “I dunno, 12, 13 years of age?”

Host Larry King cut the Catholic League president off, saying: “We’re out of time. We’ve just touched the surface.”

In this instance, Donohue simply parrots an occasional meme of the rightwing press, no more true in present day America than it was when similar charges were commonly leveled against other minority groups.

In fact, the UC Davis study notes:

In yet another approach to studying adult sexual attraction to children, some Canadian researchers observed how homosexual and heterosexual adult men responded to slides of males and females of various ages (child, pubescent, and mature adult). All of the research subjects were first screened to ensure that they preferred physically mature sexual partners. In some of the slides shown to subjects, the model was clothed; in others, he or she was nude. The slides were accompanied by audio recordings. The recordings paired with the nude models described an imaginary sexual interaction between the model and the subject. The recordings paired with the pictures of clothed models described the model engaging in neutral activities (e.g., swimming). To measure sexual arousal, changes in the subjects’ penis volume were monitored while they watched the slides and listened to the audiotapes. The researchers found that homosexual males responded no more to male children than heterosexual males responded to female children (Freund et al., 1989).

Science cannot prove a negative. Thus, these studies do not prove that homosexual or bisexual males are no more likely than heterosexual males to molest children. However, each of them failed to prove the alternative hypothesis that homosexual males are more likely than heterosexual men to molest children or to be sexually attracted to children or adolescents.

The Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance take a differing perspective on the definitions, classifying “homosexuals” as individuals who are solely attracted to adults of the same sex. Pedophilia, they note, “is now generally used to describe an adult who sexually abuses children; a child molester. Some pedophiles are attracted to both boys and girls; some are attracted to children of only one gender.”

Meaning: it does not matter the gender of the child, sexual abuse by an adult makes the perpetrator into a pedophile in the eyes of society. Mr. Donohue’s argument that “homosexuality” is to blame for the Catholic Church’s problems would seem to be misplaced.

Adding insult to the victims’ injury, The New York Times recently reported on a case in which the church moved a priest accused of sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl in the United States to a school in India, where he was employed in the appointment of teachers.

This video was snipped from CNN’s Larry King Live by Crooks and Liars on April 6, 2010.

Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
 
 
 
 
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