April 3, CKNW’s Sean Leslie interviewed Professor John Stackhouse and talked about the Roman Catholic Church’s defensiveness in responding to incidents of child molestation.
Dr. Stackhouse is a Professor of Theology at UBC’s Regent College. His posted biography is lengthy and includes:
“. . . He is the author of more than 500 articles, book chapters, and reviews in the history, sociology, and philosophy of religion and in theology. He has published seven books and edited or co-edited four more. Dr. Stackhouse’s commentary has been featured by most North American television networks, many radio stations, and print media . . .”
Despite his long academic career, extensive studies and voluminous writings, apparently he remains ignorant about the facts of homosexuality and child molestation. He said this:
“. . . the Catholic Church continues to hire only men, and only single men, and that is simply in the nature of the case, going to give you a higher incidence of homosexuals – because most of the pedophile priests have been homosexuals. It’s very difficult for them to say we’re just going to sack this guy when there’s nobody to replace them. . .”
That is the sort of antigay statement one might expect from loony fundamentalist preachers such as Fred Phelps of the Westboro Baptist Church. I’m shocked to hear this misinformed and moronic statement from a Vancouver Professor of Theology, even a Christian evangelical.
Throughout history, bigots have portrayed minority groups as dangerous to vulnerable members of society. Blood libel accusations against Jews claimed, among other things, that Christian children were kidnapped and murdered for religious rituals. Blacks were lynched for daring to look at white females. American scout leaders ban gays from membership and volunteer positions, claiming that homosexuals would “recruit” and molest children. The Vatican’s response to early revelations of sexual abuse by priests was to declare that gay men should not be ordained.
Modern surveys show that, in North America, particularly Canada, only a small minority of people hold to the view that gay people are more likely to be child molesters. Research, of course, indicates otherwise. That is, most child molesters don’t have an adult sexual orientation. They have never developed the capacity for mature sexual relationships with other adults, either men or women. Instead, their sexual attractions focus on children – boys, girls, or children of both sexes.
People, gay or straight, who have developed sexually mature attitudes are not predators of children. The problem of the Catholic Church is not that they hire too many gay Priests. The problem is that they deny Priests an opportunity for fulfilling lifelong adult relationships. Sexuality is undeniably a normal element of every human being and gender preference is simply part of ordinary variance that affects every human taste and inclination.
Peter and other apostles of Jesus were married men. In the fourth century, Pope Siricius left his wife in order to head the church. At the end of the sixth century, Pope Gregory decreed that all sexual desire was sinful. In the 11th century, Pope Gregory VII said priests must ‘first escape from the clutches of their wives’ and Pope Urban II had priests’ wives sold into slavery and children abandoned. In the 16th century, the Council of Trent stated that for priests, celibacy and virginity are superior to marriage.
Church attitudes towards celibacy, sexuality and marriage changed throughout time. In the current system, young priests are asked to deny their adult sexuality, to remain childlike in natural urges. Given access and opportunities, they molest children. That results from stunted mental and emotional development and has nothing to do with gender preferences.
Pope Benedict XVI, it is time for another change.
Please read the exchange in comments with Dr. Stackhouse. I accept his explanation of imprecise conversation but this is a situation of careless language from which all of us could learn.
Here is a live link to the Burke articles referred to in my comment of response.