John Jay report in hand, Catholic group calls for end of church gay bashing

Equally Blessed coalition leader Jim FitzGerald released the following statement today about the John Jay Report.

“The John Jay College Final Report issued yesterday does faithful Catholics good service by discrediting the ungrounded, homophobic accusations of the Catholic League's Bill Donohue and others that the church’s clergy sex abuse scandal was caused by gay priests. Now that research commissioned by the bishops themselves has shown Donohue’s rhetoric to be based in prejudice rather than in fact, we call on the US Conference of Catholic Bishops to speak out on the side of truth when Donohue and his allies perpetrate homophobic slurs in the name of Catholicism.

“As Catholics who love our church and want it to follow Jesus’ teachings of compassion and justice more closely, we are struck by the report’s comparison of the conditions that allowed child abuse to flourish to those that foster police brutality. Both sins require a closed, authoritarian structure that is suspicious of outsiders and mistrustful of the people it is supposed to serve. While the church, at last, is laboring mightily to overcome the shame of clergy sex abuse, the conditions that allow sexual and financial abuse and other misdeeds to flourish will remain in place as long as laypeople and women and men religious have no authority to hold their clerical leaders accountable for their behavior. We call upon the bishops to address these serious structural flaws in the church.

“While we are thankful that the report finally lifts the cloud of homophobia from this debate, it has been too long in coming and raises several significant concerns. In particular, we find little support within the document for its authors’ assertion that the social upheavals of the 1960s and 1970s were responsible for the sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests. It is equally possible that those upheavals, which gave people new courage to oppose repressive authoritarian structures, made it more possible for abused Catholics who had long been carrying heavy secrets to come forward. Neither can the countercultural revolution in the United States be blamed for the global scope of the crisis, or for the fact that it continues today in places such as the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

“Like many of our brothers and sisters who advocate for the abused, we are dumbfounded by the decision to define children ages 10-13 as pubescent. This classification, which should alarm parents with common sense regardless of theological persuasion, has the effect of making clergy abuse scandal look less sinister because fewer ‘children’ were involved. This is an insult to many survivors of abuse and their families, and we urge our brother and sister Catholics not to allow this error to mitigate their sense of horror at what has been done.”

Equally Blessed is a coalition of faithful Catholics who support full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people both in the church and in civil society. Equally Blessed includes four organizations that have spent a combined 112 years working on behalf of LGBT people and their families: Call To Action, DignityUSA, Fortunate Families, and New Ways Ministry.

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