By Jesϊs Colina
PAMPLONA, Spain, 15 APRIL 2010 (ZENIT)
Numbers might not be
politically correct, but they shouldn't offend anyone, according
to an author who says the current discourse on pedophile priests
is a typical example of a "moral panic."
Massimo Introvigne, director of the Center for Studies on New
Religions, affirmed this in speaking of the media firestorm
surrounding a press conference given Monday in Chile by Benedict
XVI's secretary of state.
In response to a question asking if there is a link between
celibacy and sexual abuse by the clergy, Cardinal Bertone
responded: "Many psychologists and psychiatrists have shown that
there is no link between celibacy and pedophilia, but many
others have shown, and have told me recently, that there is a
link between homosexuality and pedophilia."
The media response, according to Introvigne, is a case of
aggression based on twisting the cardinal's statements.
ZENIT spoke with Introvigne about the press reaction and what
Cardinal Bertone actually said.
ZENIT: In response to a journalist, Cardinal Bertone simply
referred to studies carried out on cases of priests who have
committed sexual abuse, confirming that in the majority the
abuse was perpetrated against males who had passed puberty. What
are the numbers?
Introvigne: I believe it is a duty to express solidarity with
Cardinal Bertone, who is a victim of an unworthy and, frankly,
ill-mannered aggression. In the framework of a press conference,
which is not a scientific exposition, the cardinal limited
himself to alluding to an obvious fact that all the experts
know. According to the 2004 report from John Jay College of New
the most authoritative study that exists on the subject
in the United States 81% of minors' accusations of abuses by
priests affect boys and not girls. We are speaking of males who
abuse other males. In Ireland also the abuses of priests against
boys are double compared to those of girls.
These are numbers and, as such, they shouldn't offend anyone and
one cannot make them say more
than what they say.
ZENIT: But one cannot say that homosexuals are pedophiles...
Introvigne: No one has said that. No one has said that all
priests with homosexual tendencies abuse minors. That would be
an absolutely unjust accusation. However, it is a fact that the
majority of priests who abuse minors, abuse minors of the same
ZENIT: How have Cardinal Bertone's words been twisted?
Introvigne: Cardinal Bertone certainly did not wish to make a
medical assessment of this behavior: ephebophilia,
homosexuality, pedophilia. Those who criticize him confuse a
press conference with a medical treatise, and seek to prohibit
the mention of statistical data they consider politically
incorrect. This is an unacceptable form of censure, on occasions
disguised as scientific.
ZENIT: In his pastoral letter to Ireland's Catholics, Benedict
XVI notes a clear relation between these cases of loss of
respect for the Church and her teachings, which has developed
within her after Vatican Council II. Do you see a direct
Introvigne: In my personal opinion I believe that a certain
tolerance in some Catholic seminaries
let it be clear, not in all
a homosexual subculture of the 70s, has had more than a
secondary role in the moral confusion and in the theoretical and
practical answer of the moral magisterium of the Church, which
the Pope criticizes in his letter on Ireland. This doctrinal and
practical confusion prepared the ground in which at times the
evil weed of tolerance was able to grow regarding the abuses. It
certainly has not been the only cause of the crisis, but it is
part of a more general problem. The Church has taken measures
precisely to address this problem.
It shouldn't be something new for anyone that the Church
making very clear the respect owed to homosexual persons as
regards homosexual acts always as objectively disordered. And if
she considers them so in society in general, she cannot tolerate
it in novitiates and seminaries.
ZENIT: Why are there such harsh and unjust attacks made against
Cardinal Bertone, the Pope and the Church?
Introvigne: Everyone is struck right now by the action of a "gay
lobby" that seeks a pretext in the issue of pederast priests to
silence the Church, to impede her from presenting her doctrine
on the objectively disordered character of the homosexual act,
and above all to set up obstacles to the extremely effective
action that Catholics have carried out to block states' public
recognition of homosexual unions. The appropriate way to respond
to the arrogance of the lobbies is not to back down. What is
more, the doctrine of the Church on homosexuality must be
proposed again and explained with serenity in all venues. This
doctrine must be explained with its reason-based foundations,
and not only those of faith, also to non-believers. And to ask
states to take this into account is not meddling by the Church,
but a service to the common good. And the laity, particularly
those involved in politics, must raise their voice against
public recognition of homosexual unions.
[Translation by ZENIT]