Highly educated, still ignorant

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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 was 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 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.

Brian and Brendan Burke, father and son

Categories: Prejudice

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6 replies »

  1. Further demonstrating NW's loss of Top Dog status:

    Today, talk show person Cristy Clark kept mixing up the name of the abuser and the abused in discussing the Graham James case. Ignorance or carelessness, matters little, still shameful.


  2. I don't have a transcript of what I said but if, indeed, I am quoted correctly above, then may I clarify a few points.

    First, I did not mean to imply that the incidence of pedophilia is higher among homosexuals than among others. I couldn't have meant that because I frankly don't know–it's not an area of my expertise. And since this blog appeared, I have checked with people who do know, and they tell me that the research is not definitive. So I can at least say that, however unfortunately ambiguous my language was, that was not my intended meaning.

    Second, I think I was simply saying, and not very clearly, it seems, that as most of the victims (not all, to be sure) have been male, and the priests ipso facto have been male, then we're talking mostly about homosexual pedophiles. But, again, to observe that fact (in passing) is not to say anything about homosexuals in general.

    Third, my main point in this part of the interview was that the Church has been desperate to staff its churches and other institutions with priests and yet, because it has restricted the priesthood to unmarried men, it has continued to struggle with recruitment of priests–and so has been especially reluctant to defrock anyone. I stoutly disagree with the Church on all of these points, but I'm just trying to explain what has happened.

    I trust this makes things more clear. I'm sure we won't agree on all the points at issue, but at least we can clear this one up. I'm sorry it was ever in doubt–no wonder you were outraged!


  3. Thank you for this prompt and reasonable response. I suggest though that casual statements such as the one you made are harmful because they reinforce prejudices that exist already. And, yes, I did quote accurately. I listened live and was startled so I listened carefully and repeatedly on the NW archive.

    I further suggest that you should drop the term pedophilia from any discussion. That word speaks of attractions, not actions. The Catholic Church issue is one of sexual molestation of children, not quite the same. In fact though, it is the acts of molestation that are illegal, as well as immoral in every right thinking society.

    The key to my argument was this: “People, gay or straight, who have developed sexually mature attitudes are not predators of children.”

    I know, and you will know, adult homosexuals who are distinguished and honorable people who pose not a whit of risk to youngsters or anyone else for that matter.

    Please read through the two articles on this blog about Brian and Brendan Burke, father and son. Follow through to the linked Sports Illustrated article and I expect you will be touched. And, if you are touched, you will speak more carefully of sensitive subjects and encourage others who minister to do the same.

    This links to the Burke articles I refer to. I'll add them to the blog as a direct link.


  4. Dr. Stackhouse says,
    “I did not mean to imply that the incidence of pedophilia is higher among homosexuals than among others. I couldn't have meant that because I frankly don't know–it's not an area of my expertise. And since this blog appeared, I have checked with people who do know, and they tell me that the research is not definitive. . .”

    That partly depends on the research because there is too little from legitimate sources. UC Davis Psychology Dep't believes it is definitive and agrees with what Mr. Farrell wrote here. The Dean of Liberty University “School” of Law argues the opposite.


  5. Liberty Law School, you must be joking! That's where you go if you wanted to be in Alberto Gonzo's US Department of Justice. I doubt if their grads will be filling many openings on the federal bench or in the DOJ under Obama. They'll have to go back to defending corporations from torts relating to poisoning, injuring, killing and otherwise harming human beings and the planet.


  6. I think that was the point of Anonymous' comment. At least part of the so called research that suggests child molestation is a function of gender preference and thereby associated with gays and lesbians comes from people with built in bias.


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