Pedophilia is sexual contact with a child who has not yet reached puberty, say before age thirteen. Sexual relations with older adolescents past puberty is accurately termed “hebophilia” or “ephebophilia.”
Why is the distinction important?
The presence of pedophiles in the priesthood describes a group of psychologically disordered men who can be found among any group. Married men with children, for example, have more than a 3% likelihood of being pedophiles.
However, one group of men has a markedly higher percentage of pedophiles — homosexual men.
Homosexual males are more likely than heterosexuals to engage in sex with minors. One study shows that homosexuals are three times more likely than straight men to engage in adult-child sexual relations. Other studies demonstrate that 35% of all pedophiles are homosexual (see www.narth.com).
Most of the reported instances of priests having sexual contact are with teenage boys, and points in an obvious direction: There are a lot of homosexuals in the priesthood. And some of these homosexual priests are responsible for the alarming number of instances of sexual misconduct among the clergy.
The secular media will avoid this conclusion. Its editorial bias will keep any fingers from being pointed in the direction of homosexuality. The “problem of pedophilia” will be the ongoing refrain with the solution somehow being found in a married or female clergy. All the while, a major facet of the problem will be ignored.
Others have already said that the encouragement of sexual activity among married priests is the strangest of all remedies for pedophilia – as if married sex will drive out pedophiliac desires!
But there’s a caution in this. In addressing the significant homosexual subculture in the Catholic clergy, we need to avoid at all costs a witch-hunt for homosexual priests.
Clearly, homosexuality does not necessarily lead to pedophilia or hebophilia. There are many instances, I believe, of homosexually-disposed persons living chaste lives of heroic self-command. They may well be living among our priests.
To address the situation squarely the Church will have to submit itself to a rigorous investigation of homosexuality and the priesthood. This process should be undertaken in a measured and methodical way, engaging laypeople with genuine expertise in the areas of personnel management and sexual disorders.
Some in the Vatican have already gone on record saying that homosexuals shouldn’t be ordained at all. What happens if the Church reaches this as an official conclusion? Will it mean that all priests with homosexual inclinations are invalidly ordained? Will some Catholics actively demand they “out” themselves and “resign” their priesthood?
I raise these questions as a note of caution. Catholics are feeling scandalized. We’re looking for answers and explanations. We also want solutions and reforms. I recommend all of us look down the road a distance before we allow our present passions to make the damage worse than it already is.