What will the papal accusers think of next? This: the claim that his vestments contain a symbol used by pedophiles. [Insert swear words here.] The explanation is fairly simple. In summary, pedophiles have adopted and adapted a number of existing symbols to use in representing their moral perversities in a somewhat hidden manner. That is the reason they used existing symbols, rather than making a new and overt symbol of their crimes.
Here is an FBI briefing on symbols used by pedophiles. The symbols include a spiral blue triangle; a blue spiral (not triangular); two hearts, one within the other; and a butterfly symbol made of two larger hearts and two smaller hearts. The latter perhaps represents two adults with two children. These symbols were chosen apparently to disguise the new meaning being given to simple symbols, some of which already existed. See some of the symbols in this news article.
The two hearts symbol used by pedophiles was misappropriated from the Good Humor ice cream symbol, but reversed to its mirror image. The spiral triangles, usually blue, sometimes gold, was misappropriated from symbols used in Christianity for the Trinity. Sometimes pedophiles use three interwoven triangles, not blue — the very same symbol for the Trinity, unchanged.
There are pictures and accusations making the rounds on the internet: Pope Francis wearing vestments with the spiral triangle on them, sometimes gold, sometimes blue. This is nothing other than a symbol for the Trinity. The fact that it was misappropriated by pedophiles (most of whom probably don’t know the symbol’s origin) does not mean that the Church should abandon it. And the accusation that this symbol is used deliberately to show a Pope’s support for crimes against children is absurd. Pope Francis has done more to fight child abuse in the Church than any other Pope in recent generations. (Unfortunately, much more work remains to be done.) These accusations against Pope Francis come from persons who do not like having a liberal Roman Pontiff, who do not believe that the teachings and decisions of the Pope are the work of the Holy Spirit and are from the Lord Jesus Christ. They are seeking any way to discredit him, no matter how clearly false the accusation might be.
The problem with symbols is that they have no inherent meaning. A triangle does not mean anything by itself. Meanings are attributed to symbols by the persons who use those symbols, and therefore the intentions and meanings can vary greatly. Two hearts, one within the other, can refer to a brand of ice cream. A spiral triangle can refer to the Trinity. And when symbols are used, often the persons making the image will vary the symbol in one way or another. The triangles might be different colors. Instead of a spiral, there may be three triangles interwoven. This common practice of taking a symbol and altering it stylistically results in many different versions of any symbol. It is easy for someone to use a symbol without realizing that it may have a different meaning in another context.
Here is an article claiming that the Kardashians have used occult symbols from the Masonic cult. One example given is a floor with black and white squares. Is it really true that any floor with such a pattern is an expression of support for a masonic cult? Of course not. Then there is the eye within a pyramid symbol, which is masonic, but is often used by people without realizing its source. Symbols mean what people mean when they used those symbols. I don’t think that the Pope should change his vestments to remove those symbols. The Church’s used of the triangle representing the trinity predates its misappropriation by pedophiles.
I would like to see Pope Francis and the Church do more against child abuse in the Church, as well as do more to remove clergy who have violated their vows of chastity, even with a consenting adult. But making false accusations against the Roman Pontiff, especially of such severity, simply because you wish the Pope were conservative, is reprehensible. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.
My Work with Abuse Victims
Note: Many years ago, I worked on two locked in-patient psychiatric units, one for children and one for teens. Most of the patients on any such units, 75 to 80%, are there because of behavioral and psychological problems caused by sexual abuse. I estimate that over the two years that I did that type of work I personally worked with about 200 or so abused children, not including other children who were not sexually abused. I received many disclosures of abuse from teens or children, some new disclosures. I met family members of these victims of abuse. Later, we would sometimes discover that one of the family members we all met was the abuser. I’ve also worked with a few youthful offenders. So I have some knowledge in this area.
On these psych units, it was well understood that the most common type of abuser was the “situational generalist”, an adult heterosexual male who abuses boys and/or girls, depending on who is available to him. The fact that the sexual abuse is male-male does not indicate that the abuser is a homosexual. The abuser treats the victim like an object, and objects do not have gender. The abuser is acting contrary to nature, as an adult who has sex with a minor; having abandoned and contradicted nature, he is not going to then act in accord with nature and only abuse females. This is well known. See this article with a longer explanation.
A person who sexually abuses children can be called a pedophile, in the general sense: any adult who has sex with any minor. The term pedophile can also be used in the narrow sense of an adult who is primarily or exclusively attracted to children, usually pre-adolescent. Pedophiles in the narrow sense are a minority of children abusers. Most abusers are heterosexual men who are sexually active with adult women, and who then abuse children when they have the opportunity.
Some persons claim that gay persons cannot be pedophiles, since to be gay means being attracted to adults of the same sex, whereas pedophiles are attracted to children. That is only true of pedophiles in the narrow sense. The other false claim is that men in the clergy who sexually abuse boys must be gay. Wrong. Most abusers of boys are heterosexual men. They act contrary to their own natural inclinations as heterosexual. Studies have shown that only 1 to 3% of child abusers are gay , whereas a much larger percentage of the general population is gay. This means that gay men are less likely to be abusers than straight men.
Women are less likely to abuse children than men. However, we did see some cases of adult women sexually abusing children. In one case, two gay women were abusing a child. In multiple other cases, a heterosexual couple were found to be abusing a child, who might be a boy or a girl. Women are sometimes drawn into abusing children by their adult sexual partner.
More reading on the Child Abuse Crisis in the Church:
* A Common Misunderstanding about the Abuse Crisis
* Homosexuality is not the cause of the Church’s abuse crisis
* This is Not How You Fix the Abuse Crisis
Ronald L. Conte Jr.
 Briere, John, and Diana M. Elliott. “Prevalence and psychological sequelae of self-reported childhood physical and sexual abuse in a general population sample of men and women.” Child abuse & neglect 27.10 (2003): 1205-1222.
 National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse, Statistics.
 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.
 Hanson, R. Karl, and S. Slater. “Sexual victimization in the history of sexual abusers: A review.” Annals of Sex Research 1.4 (1988): 485-499.
 Jenny, Carole, Thomas A. Roesler, and Kimberly L. Poyer. “Are children at risk for sexual abuse by homosexuals?.” Pediatrics 94.1 (1994): 41-44.
 Doll, Lynda S., et al. “Self-reported childhood and adolescent sexual abuse among adult homosexual and bisexual men.” Child Abuse & Neglect 16.6 (1992): 855-864.
 Pereda, Noemí, et al. “The international epidemiology of child sexual abuse: A continuation of Finkelhor (1994).” Child abuse & neglect 33.6 (2009): 331-342. PDF link
 Thomas Plante, “Homosexual Applicants to the Priesthood: How Many and Are They Psychologically Healthy?” Pastoral Psychology 2007.
At this point these papal accusers are behaving like the anti-Catholic Protestants. They have same spirit, and no, it’s not from the Holy Spirit (1 John 2:18-19) (1 John 4:6). For example, I have heard some Protestants claim that the Pope is the antichrist because there are pictures of a Pope sitting on a chair with the upside cross symbol. But that is simply the cross of Saint Peter symbol.
“It is easy for someone to use a symbol without realizing that it may have a different meaning in another context.”
That is true, one of the flags of the indigenous community looks like the LGBT flag (a rainbow flag). One can find out by googling “real Inca flag”, “flag of Cusco”, “indigenous community ecuador flag” or “comunidad indigena ecuador bandera” and look at the images.
Thanks for taking on this topic. I am constantly getting brow beat over this along with pachamama, the pachamama coin, and the Paul VI audience hall with that horrible modern art statue. Do you have any other evidence of the use of the spiral triangle as a symbol of the trinity? I wonder if that FBI report is really legit…
I looked online. You can do a Google search for symbols of the Trinity. Certainly, a triangle is a symbol of the Three Persons, as it has three corners. That is very common. The spiral symbolizes eternity as it suggests something continuous.
Hey Ron, I appreciate this blog and the work you put into it. It’s been extremely helpful during these crazy times. Along the lines of crazy conspiracies, do you know of any Pope’s prior to John Paul II who used an upside down cross. I understand that Peter was crucified upside down, but is there any evidence that you know of, that the Church used the upside down cross to represent that prior to JPII?
I think it was used for many centuries in that manner, but I don’t have a reference on that point.
Since you are so knowledgeable about sexual abuse, what is your verdict about the Suppressed Memory vs. False Memory debate?
I saw over 200 patients with histories of sexual abuse. Only a few had suppressed memories. Example, a 14 y.o. girl who said she had been abused for as long as she could remember. Her earliest memory was from when she was 8 y.o. Most people can remember back to when they were 3 to 5 years old. That is suppressed memory, which is uncommon. We never saw a case of false memory.