Blaming the gays won’t end the Catholic sex abuse scandal

Pedophilia and homosexuality are not the same thing. Should I say it louder for those in the back? Pedophilia and homosexuality are not the same thing. I know this may come as a real shock if you’ve been listening to conservative news outlets lately, but it’s true. Most pedophiles don’t even experience any sexual desire for adults, but for those who do, the vast majority identify as heterosexual. 

Unfortunately, with the recent allegations of sex abuse within the Catholic church, this outdated argument has resurfaced. “It is time to admit that there is a homosexual subculture within the hierarchy of the Catholic Church that is wreaking great devastation in the vineyard of the Lord,” wrote Bishop Robert Morlino in a letter to the Diocese of Madison, Wisconsin.

Really? You can’t do any better than the classic “blame the gays” excuse?

For decades, Bible wielding pastors have blamed natural disasters and terrorist attacks on the growing acceptance of LGBTQ people. These arguments are usually so absurd they’re almost humorous, but I refuse to laugh now. With more than 1,000 children reporting that they were molested by hundreds of Roman Catholic priests in just six Pennsylvania dioceses, we must contest all claims that this is a “homosexual problem.”


As one America magazine writer explains, “using an abuse and accountability scandal to scapegoat Catholic queerness is not okay.” In fact, blaming homosexuality for sex abuse just enables the church to avoid addressing the actual problem. Attributing this issue to those evil, inherently disordered gays, is a far easier pill for certain religious people to swallow than confronting the fact that their institution has been complicit in truly horrific crimes and requires systemic change.

I personally witnessed the effectiveness of this destructive narrative last week. I have to be vague for the sake of privacy, but I will say that I was in a professional setting when

the discussion of the sex abuse scandal arose. A person I know fairly well, let’s call them Tina, and a member of a religious order, lets call them Frank, were involved in the conversation. Initially Tina spoke about how wonderful the Catholic church was and how this scandal was needlessly overshadowing the institution’s goodness.

catholic church priest sexual abuse scandal cartoon vatican action pinata blind leading blind hypocrisyThen, out of nowhere, Tina says, “I just think we have to stop letting actively gay men into the church.” She continued to convey a disdain for homosexuals and claimed that she’d feel more comfortable if the priests were attracted to women and expressed a “normal” sexual orientation.

I literally couldn’t believe my own ears. I always thought that brand of ignorance was reserved for the comments section on social media (…and Donald Trump’s Twitter feed.)

However, Frank’s response is what actually made me cry.

Instead of agreeing with Tina, he vehemently opposed her positions, challenged her misconceptions and ultimately defended homosexual people. He explained that pedophiles are frequently perpetuating the cycle of abuse and it has absolutely nothing to do with sexual orientation. Finally, he stressed that “all darkness must come to the light” and the Church must finally correct this problem before it can rebuild, stronger.

To draw on my Catholic upbringing, Tina’s response to this situation is reminiscent of the Pharisees, who refuse to acknowledge their own flaws. In Matthew 23:25-26, Jesus said, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean.” 

In order to fix this issue, Catholics must be willing to clean “the inside of the cup.” Please, recognize that priests are fallible, doctrine was written by man and the Catholic church is not a perfect institution. Be open to challenging your firmly held beliefs and refuse to accept the easy way out by blaming queer people. We are not the cause.

Believe Out Loud