Gavin Ashenden looks at the Catholic church’s problems with ephebophilia
Not long ago in Wales, a child doctor, a paediatrician, had her house vandalised and damaged.
A morally indignant Welshman had become understandably enraged by some of the stories he had heard about paedophiles.
Sadly, his etymological Greek was not good, so when he looked up Paediatricians in the Yellow Pages, he reckoned he had rooted out a member of a child-abusing sex gang and acted accordingly. He vandalised her house. He spray painted “PEDO” across her front walls.
Pope Francis’ visit to Ireland last weekend was also overshadowed by a sex scandal. But rather like the vigilante in Wales, not everyone in the media grasped what had actually been alleged.
A dreadful scandal has just broken in American which appears to be made of two parts: clerical paedophilia, on a rampant scale and a cover-up on a worse scale.
A Grand Jury report has just been released, and claims that internal documents from six Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania show that more than 300 “predator priests” have been credibly accused of sexually abusing more than 1,000 ‘child’ victims.
Some truly distressing cases of child abuse have been documented. But that said, only a quarter of the cases were to do with children as reported; 75% of it has been ephebophilia.
What on earth is ephebophilia? And why don’t we know about it? We have become sickeningly familiar with paedophilia – the sexual attraction to and abuse of children; so what is ephebophilia? The answer is (homo)sexual attraction to, and abuse of post-pubescent boys.
The wider context has been a long and serious argument about whether or not the Catholic practice of celibacy is the cause of clerical paedophilia.
But the facts are suggesting otherwise. The research that shows families have a far worse record in terms of sexual abuse of children: a 2009 study from the University of Barcelona reported the prevalence of incest rapes of around 34.4% for Africa, 23.9% for Asia, 10.1% America, 9.2% for Europe. These numbers are far higher than alleged priestly abuses.
The issue emerging from the Grand Jury report is that the problem is not celibacy and child abuse, but unrestrained male homosexuality and the abuse of boys.
Robert Mickens (July 2018) recently wrote in the Washington Post, “There is no denying that homosexuality is a key component to the clergy sex abuse (and now sexual harassment) crisis. With such a high percentage of priests with a homosexual orientation, this should not be surprising.”
American Catholic commentators are claiming that there has been a huge rise in the number of Catholic clergy who are gay in the USA; and not only gay, but sexually active.
The recent John Jay College of Criminal Justice studies (2004, 2001 and 2016) “The Causes and Context of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests in the United States, 1950-2010,” found that only 4% of the 6,000 identified abusive priests were paedophiles. 80% of the victims in the Church have been males, and involved post-pubescent teen age boys.
The 2011 report also shows 81% abuse to be homosexual in nature.
The Grand Jury report last week confirmed these numbers, showing that 74% of the abuse in six dioceses was homosexual predation on males, and over 60% was committed against post-pubescent teens.
Michael Vorris, the Catholic journalist who runs the “Church Militant’ claims that one survey done by a New Jersey Franciscan priest and researcher revealed that 45% of 500 priests surveyed volunteered that they were gay and that one in four of them had AIDS — implying a rampant promiscuity.
In case we might imagine this is just an American problem, in Honduras, 48 seminarians at Tegucigalpa’s major seminary wrote to the bishops in July protesting a “homosexual epidemic” in the seminary. This followed months of allegations involving homosexual abuse of seminarians by Auxiliary Bishop Juan Jose Pineda.
In Chile, all 34 bishops were summoned to Rome after revelations of a gay priest sex ring.
But it is in America that the trail of a Vatican cover-up has been exposed; and it goes all the way up to the pope,.
Theodore McCarrick, the recently ‘retired’ Cardinal Archbishop of Washington DC, was forced to step down after seminarians and priests accused him of decades of homosexual predatory behaviour. McCarrick called those under his charge “nephews” and asked them to call him “Uncle Ted”.
This last week, Archbishop Vigano, the man who was in charge of all the Papal nuncios the world over, having examined the evidence, accused Pope Francis of shielding and promoting Cardinal McCarrick. He claimed that Pope Benedict had forcibly retired him and that Pope Francis, knowing that he had been accused both of sexual abuse and also promoting and protecting a gay priest mafia in the States, reinstated him. He called on Francis to resign. A tongue-tied pontiff refused to answer journalists’ questions about the Vigano report on the plane to Dublin.
To those who read history, this will at one level show us that we live in a time when the Church needs a serious spring-clean.
I remember hearing how a woman explained why she became a Catholic Christian after watching a film on the Borgias: “only the existence of a God could explain how an institution once so corrupted could then produce both St Francis and Mother Theresa of Calcutta.” The Church has often been overcome by human frailty and needed a spiritual renewing. This would be as good a time as any for a moral spring-time and a spring-clean.