Let’s NOT go on a Witch Hunt against Gay Priests

As I’ve proven in my articles at Catholicism.io here, most men who abuse boys are not gay, and that includes most priests who abuse boys. Is that counter-intuitive? So what. All fields of study reach conclusions which are contrary to what a person might think who has not studied the field. No one who works with abused children for a living thinks that men who abuse boys are gay. The abuser treats the victims like an object, and objects do not have gender. The abuser is not attracted to the victim based on the victims gender; he is just using the victim as a sex object.

So now there are a number of persons in the conservative Catholic subculture calling on the Church to declare that the child sexual abuse (CSA) crisis is caused in large part by gay priests. These commentators point out that 81% of the victims (per the John Jay Report) are boys, and the priests who abuse are men. Therefore, they conclude that the root of this problem is homosexuality. But everyone who works with abused kids knows better. So this is the case of a mob of internet commentators — who have no experience or knowledge in this field of study — wanting to be in charge. (Isn’t that a common problem is our society?)

And it is also a case of conservative Catholics assuming that the majority opinion among conservatives must be correct. They think that merely by being conservative they are the most faithful, and so they expect all Church decisions to be in agreement with their thinking. If only they would be put in charge, they think, all these problems would be solved.

Blaming gay priests for the child abuse crisis in the Church is a witch hunt. It is a problem, a different kind of problem, when a seminarian or priest or bishop does not keep his promise or vow of chastity, and they have sex with an adult man or woman.

But when, instead, a priest is celibate and chaste, but has a homosexual orientation, why don’t you leave him alone and let him serve God. He could be a good example for lay persons who are gay. Blaming celibate gay priests for the child abuse crisis is scapegoating; it is a witch hunt.


The John Jay Report of 2011, commissioned by the USCCB, found that 3.8 percent of priests who abuse children could be considered pedophiles. [1] The largest grouping of priest offenders were “generalists” who abused minors of whatever age or gender was available to them. These offenders are not adults with a primary attraction to pre-pubescent children (pedophiles). They do not have a primary attraction to teenagers (ephebophiles). These are men who abuse whatever bodies are available to be abused. And, at least outside of the Catholic clergy, they also have sex with adults. On the child psych unit where I worked, it was axiomatic that the typical abuser is neither a pedophile or a homosexual, but rather a heterosexual man, who has sex with adult women (a wife or girlfriend), and who abuses children of whatever age or gender is available to him. That profile fits a majority of abusers.

If it is counter-intuitive that most adults who abuse children are not pedophiles, it is even more so that men who abuse boys are usually not gay men:

John Jay Report: “What is not well understood is that it is possible for a person to participate in a same-sex act without assuming or recognizing an identity as a homosexual. More than three-quarters of the acts of sexual abuse of youths by Catholic priests, as shown in the Nature and Scope study, were same-sex acts (priests abusing male victims). It is therefore possible that, although the victims of priests were most often male, thus defining the acts as homosexual, the priest did not at any time recognize his identity as homosexual.” [2]

Priests who abuse boys commit homosexual sexual acts, but the priests typically do not have a homosexual orientation. They do not choose to abuse boys because they are sexually attracted to males. They seek sex without regard to gender. And they enjoy the abusive aspect of the interaction. But they are not gay men attracted to males and as a result having sex with male children.

John Jay Report: “The data do not support a finding that homosexual identity and/or preordination same-sex sexual behavior are significant risk factors for the sexual abuse of minors.” [3]

As to whether a history of sexual abuse makes the priest more likely to become an abuser, the 2011 John Jay Report was divided. Data from three treatment centers was analyzed. The first showed a correlation, the second did not; the third did not have sufficient data to draw a conclusion. [4] An earlier report from John Jay (2004) stated: “Fewer than 7% of the priests were reported to have experienced physical, sexual or emotional abuse as children.”

If you remove gay men from the priesthood, you remove a small percentage of abusers. The vast majority of priests who abuse boys are not gay. They were not gay before they entered the seminary. They were not gay in the seminary. They behave like the vast majority of abusers in secular society: they abuse boys and/or girls, depending on who is available to them. But they have a heterosexual orientation.

Witch Hunters

The definition of a (figurative) witch hunt is a search for persons to blame, incorrectly, for a problem. Centuries ago, a catastrophic problem in a community, such as a blight on the crops, might be blamed on “witches”. Then some persons in the community would be singled out as the cause of the catastrophe, by the false claim that they had used their powers as witches to cause the harm. Having been blamed, they would be punished. Then the community would feel they had solved the problem, when in reality no solution occurred and innocent persons suffered unnecessarily.

And that is what will happen if you blame gay priests for the abuse crisis. Blaming gay priests for the child sexual abuse crisis is a witch hunt. The facts show that the vast majority of child abusers, in society and in the Church, are not persons with a homosexual orientation.

But do VICTIMS of abuse become abusers? A meta-analysis of 37 studies involving 25,367 people found that the likelihood of a “victim-perpetrator cycle” — the childhood victim grows up to become an abuser — was 16%. So 84% of abuse victims do not become abusers. [6]


The problem of child sexual abuse is complex. It has deep roots in sinful secular society, where millions of child abusers thrive. It is promoted by pornography. It is nourished when the Church fails to convince the faithful to believe and to practice the faith. It benefits whenever the true teaching of the Church is distorted, so as to make excuses for grave sin.

The CSA problem is essentially a problem of sin. The abuser is not in a state of grace, and has not been for many years. Some gravely immoral acts are beyond the ability of a person in their right mind to mistakenly think the acts to be moral. Child sexual abuse cannot be committed with a sincere but mistaken conscience. So we are talking about persons who thrive in the Church, while not being in the state of grace for years on end. And this type of person is able to thrive because the rest of the faithful are not holy, not prayerful, not devoted to self-denial and works of mercy.

I notice that some prominent teachers of the Catholic faith, who are widely praised by bishops, priests, deacons, religious, and the laity, are not in a state of grace. I can tell by their behavior, their pride, their false teachings, their expression of malice from time to time. You might argue that we cannot be entirely sure who is and is not in a state of grace. Fine. But sometimes it becomes clear that the person, in all likelihood, is not in a state of grace, has not been in a state of grace for many years, and does not wish to be in a state of grace. For being in that state requires a person to admit their past sins, repent, change their gravely erroneous views publicly, and speak and act with humility. They do not want humility. They do not want to give up malice and arrogance.

Persons like that thrive in the Church of today. They cannot be removed from their positions of influence in the Church. Not a single Bishop notices that they are not in a state of grace. And they have thousands of followers who will swear that these persons are among the holiest leaders in the Church. But they are essentially the same as child abusers. For they are not in a state of grace, and do not wish to be. And some of these persons, who wear the mask of holiness behind a face of grave sin, are trying to put themselves in a position to address the child abuse crisis in the Church.

They don’t realize they have lost the state of grace. (I’m not talking about the abusers now.) They are like the Pharisees who thought themselves to be very holy. “And you, Capernaum, would you be exalted all the way to heaven? You shall descend all the way to Hell.” (Mt 11:23). They are part of the CSA problem in the Church. They are very similar to the child abusers. (Though the abusers may realize they are not in a state of grace.) They are amoral. They do much harm to the little children of the faith. They seek power over others and misuse that power. They cannot be removed, just as McCarrick could scarcely be removed. And no one realizes their double life, in that they present themselves to be holy, but they are on the path to Hell.

If you want to solve the CSA problem in the Church, you have to recognize and remove from positions of leadership persons who are not in the state of grace. And that is very hard to do.

Ronald L. Conte Jr.

[1] John Jay Report, 2011, “Causes and Context” p. 54
[2] Ibid. p. 36
[3] Ibid. p. 64
[4] Ibid. table 3.5
[5] John Jay Report, 2004, “Nature and Scope”.
[6] Paolucci, Elizabeth Oddone, Mark L. Genuis, and Claudio Violato. “A meta-analysis of the published research on the effects of child sexual abuse.” The Journal of psychology 135.1 (2001): 17-36.
[7] Jenny, Carole, Thomas A. Roesler, and Kimberly L. Poyer. “Are children at risk for sexual abuse by homosexuals?.” Pediatrics 94.1 (1994): 41-44.

This entry was posted in the Church. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Let’s NOT go on a Witch Hunt against Gay Priests

  1. King Robert the Bruce says:

    I will say it again it will take the warning to happen in order to have root and branch reform of the church as you say Ron these people are too entrenched in positions of authority to be removed it will take divine intervention

  2. Is a priest who masturbates committing a lesser sin then one who commits fornication or pedophilia, because the later priest either harming a child physically, or harming his female partner spiritually, and giving scandal?

  3. Grindall says:

    Point taken, yet in spite of your arguments, the Church forbids homosexuals to become priests. A priesthood of celibate, holy men with homosexual orientation would be a failure. Why? An effeminate man cannot play the role of father. He does not comprehend authority, he cannot act with authority, and that said, he mocks genuine femininity, cheapens self effacing femininity.

    • Ron Conte says:

      Effeminate is not the same as gay. Some homosexual men are effeminate, and others are not. Some heterosexual men are effeminate, and others are not. The main reason that gay men should not be admitted to the priesthood is that their orientation toward a sexual disorder is very likely to undermine their belief in the teachings of the Church on sexual ethics, marriage, and family. However, their orientation does not make them more likely to abuse children.

      In the distant future, after Christ returns, the Church may well have female priests — if Christ gives the Church that authority once He returns.

  4. Ron D. says:

    “In the distant future, after Christ returns, the Church may well have female priests — if Christ gives the Church that authority once He returns.” – what ? There won’t be any priests after Christ returns to judge us. No need for priests after the Second Coming. I am shocked. It is plain that the apostles did not want effeminate (GAY) presbyters to lead their churches. Jesus chose Peter a family man. Homosexuals cannot be allowed to take over the church. We are in full blown crisis mode.

    • Ron Conte says:

      Homosexual and effeminate are not the same. See my article on the subject reviewing the use of the term effeminate in Scripture and early Church fathers.
      Priests should be lambs without blemish, which excludes gay men. There are also some good practical reasons for excluding gay men from the priesthood. But don’t blame the child abuse crisis on them.

      As for female priests, this is speculative. It depends on whether my eschatology is correct that Jesus returns twice, with a period of time between. The first return is after the tribulation; the second return is for judgment. That time period in-between could have certain women priests.

Comments are closed.