Looking Back at the Priest Scandal

By: Paul Murano – January, 2011

The scandal within the Catholic Church was one of ignorance and evil. No question. It was the cause of much confusion and pain. But two evils do not make a good. The second evil I speak of is the mischaracterization communicated through the media about it. The facts seem to clearly indicate the scandal had little to do with pedophilia. According to the APA pedophilia is the disorder of sexual attraction to pre-pubescent children. The overwhelming majority of cases involved were of ephebophilia, a term that refers to sexual attraction to minors who are post-pubescent, i.e. teenagers and young adults. Secondly, an overwhelming majority of the priests involved in these incidents were accused of sexual molestation of adolescent males, not females. This adds up to mean that the nature of the scandal was homosexual. Why the media downplayed or ignored this fact you can make the call.

Since the scandal broke and the clean-up began, less than one-half of one percent of priests have been dismissed or resigned. According to the findings of John Cloud (“Pedophilia,” Time, April 29, 2002) these abuse numbers are around eight times lower than in the general population, but regardless, even one case is way too many – particularly with those that are ordained to teach in Christ’s name the moral law of God. This law the Church officially teaches with the authority of Christ includes that all sexual activity contradicting its natural end and outside of the covenant of marriage between man and wife is the matter of mortal sin. Regardless of how the sexual revolution tried to make this truth politically incorrect, and despite how difficult our broken nature finds it, the Spirit will not allow the Church to shirk her duty in teaching the truths necessary for salvation. It is a matter of divine faith that Christ gave His Church the gift of infallibility but not impeccability; which simply means the Holy Spirit keeps her free from error on matters of faith and morals but not free from sin. That is for each individual to work out in his cooperation with the spiritual means God gives him. Like her Head the Church is divine and human; unlike her Head the human part can sin.

What has the Church officially stated about ordaining men to the priesthood who have a homosexual orientation? A document released by the Sacred Congregation for Religious in 1961 states:

“Advancement to religious vows and ordination should be barred to those who are afflicted with evil tendencies to homosexuality or pederasty, since for them the common life and the priestly ministry would constitute serious dangers.”

In 2005 Pope Benedict approved a Vatican letter that states the following:

“The [Church and the] Catechism distinguishes between homosexual acts and homosexual tendencies. Regarding acts, it teaches that Sacred Scripture presents them as grave sins. The Tradition has constantly considered them as intrinsically immoral and contrary to the natural law. Consequently, under no circumstance can they be approved. Deep-seated homosexual tendencies, which are found in a number of men and women, are also objectively disordered and, for those same people, often constitute a trial. Such persons must be accepted with respect and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. They are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter. In the light of such teaching, this Dicastery, in accord with the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, believes it necessary to state clearly that the Church, while profoundly respecting the persons in question, cannot admit to the seminary or to holy orders those who practice homosexuality, present deep-seated homosexual tendencies or support the so-called ‘gay culture.’”


In line with this notion of loving the sinner while hating the sin, for the sake of souls, the 1992 Vatican statement on the ‘Non-discrimination of Homosexual Persons’ states:

“As in every moral disorder, homosexual activity prevents one’s own fulfillment and happiness by acting contrary to the creative wisdom of God. The church, in rejecting erroneous opinions regarding homosexuality, does not limit but rather defends personal freedom and dignity realistically and authentically understood.”

In other words, challenging as it may be for some, this statement underscores the truth of our being that one can never be authentically happy or free while violating human nature and natural law.

Will a reaffirmation of Church law regarding priestly ordination and homosexuality help purify the priesthood, an office that stands in for Christ as Groom to His bride the Church? Reason would attest that the answer is yes.