Abuse Summit: my criticism of the criticism

1. Criticism: the summit only addresses minors being abused, not vulnerable adults and seminarians.

Reply: Why should the Church be run by online commentators, or by whatever opinion is in vogue in discussions in the media? There is an attitude in society today that puts popular opinion in charge of society, substituting for the decisions of those with proper authority. The summit could have been designed either way, though I think it is a rather absurd criticism, coming from persons who have been shouting that the Church must do more about child abuse, to then say, why aren’t you taking time away from the four-day summit for another topic?

2. Criticism: that some Church leaders refuse to acknowledge what seems obvious, that 80% of the abuse was a man abusing a boy, indicating that the abuser is gay.

Reply: The most common abuser of boys in society and in the Church is a straight man who acts contrary to his natural orientation toward adult women. This fact is well-known to everyone who works with abused teens and abused kids. It has been explained, in its relation to the Church’s abuse crisis, by psychologist Thomas G. Plante. See my review of this point here.

Assertions to the contrary are due to ignorance on the subject of child abuse, laziness in not taking the time to research the subject and arrogance in deciding to publicly proclaim a conclusion on a subject that one has not studied. If it seems obvious that the problem of child abuse in the Church must be due to homosexuality, well, what seems true at first glance isn’t always true.

Psychologist Thomas G. Plante has worked with victims of abuse and has written books on the subject of the Church’s abuse crisis. See his interview with Catholic Baltimore February 10, 2019 on player.fm

Plante: “we know, research is very clear here as well, sexual orientation by itself isn’t a risk factor for pedophilia. So people will point to the fact that 80% of victims in the Church are male, and say, ‘Well, see, that makes it a homosexual problem.’ But they don’t understand the psychopathology of pedophilia. They don’t understand that research has found that clergy offenders are generally what we call ‘situational generalist’ which means they are going to abuse what they find. And that was made clear in the John Jay Reports. That’s been clear in research that I’ve done, other people have done.”

John Jay Report 2011: “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.”

I’ve worked with hundreds of abused children and I can tell you that very few abusers are gay. Rather, the abuser is treating the victim like an object, and objects do not have gender. The abuser is not attracted to the victim, as a male, but rather is attracted to the activity: abusive sex. And it is more the abuse than the sex that is the attraction for the abuser. Also, child abuse is unnatural, so the man who abuses boys is setting aside his natural attraction to women to do something unnatural, abuse a child.

3. Archbishop Vigano: “no sign of a genuine willingness to attend to the real causes of the present situation.”

Vigano sinned by imputing interior sins and outright evil motivations to the Roman Pontiff. Now he commits the same type of sin against many Bishops by judging their interior willingness. How would he know? But this is a common sin in secular society, to judge the person as if one could know their motivations. It happens in politics often. But Church leaders must not behave like secular politicians. Christian charity requires us to assume the best, not the worst, of other persons.

4. Calls for resignations

The Roman Pontiff reigns over the Church by the will of God, not by the election of a majority of voters. He is not subject to the judgment or authority of anyone on earth. No one should be calling for the resignation of the Pope; that is rebellion against an authority ordained by God.

Bishops are the successors to the Apostles. The Holy See and the Pope have authority over them, if they should need to be subject to judgment. It is against rebellion against God and against Church authority to call for Bishops to resign.

Ronald L. Conte Jr.
Roman Catholic theologian
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