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Priests, AIDS, and the Abuse Crisis

Priests, AIDS, and the Abuse Crisis

This is a controversial topic and hotly debated.  I intend to present both sides and let you the reader decide.

In the last two decades, the Kansas City Star has researched and investigated the the number of Catholic priests who’ve died of AIDS related illnesses and found “priests are dying of AIDS at a rate at least four times that of the general U.S. population,” the story was picked up by news outlets across the country and around the world.

The newspaper came under heavy criticism for its findings, primarily based on the methodology in which it drew its conclusions.  However, the numbers are high, relatively speaking, for AIDS deaths among Catholic priests.

Of course, this should lead us to ask about the number of sexual abuse victims who’ve been infected with AIDS as a result of being abused by a priest.  That number is not known.  At least, I couldn’t find it.  Now, some will legitimately say that there is no evidence relating the sexual abuse crisis and homosexuality.  This is where the real debate begins.

On the one hand, there are those who cite the highly respected studies from John Jay that note 80% or more of all victims of sexual abuse were male and that 78% of those were postpubescent.

According to the National Catholic Register,

“Seven years on, the Ruth Institute has weighed into the research of the sex-abuse crisis, specifically addressing the issue of homosexuality. A global nonprofit organization, the Ruth Institute was founded by Jennifer Roback Morse, Ph.D., to help study and find solutions to the toxic impact of the sexual revolution. The new report was the work of Father D. Paul Sullins, Ph.D., a senior research associate of the Ruth Institute. Father Sullins recently retired as professor of sociology at The Catholic University of America, in Washington, D.C., and has focused on same-sex parenting and its implications for child development, the trauma that women suffer following abortion, and the impact of clergy sex abuse. A former Episcopalian, Father Sullins is a married Catholic priest.

The central thrust of the report is that the share of homosexual men in the priesthood rose from twice that of the general population in the 1950s to eight times the general population in the 1980s, a trend that was strongly correlated with increasing child sex abuse. At the same time, a quarter of priests ordained in the late 1960s report the existence of a homosexual subculture in their seminaries, rising to over half of priests ordained in the 1980s, a second trend that was also strongly correlated with increasing child sex abuse.”

On the other hand, there are those who argue that the pedophile and/or ephebophile (attraction to postpubscents) are attracted to children and don’t necessarily differentiate between the sexes.

More research has to be done on the subject.  Right now, the problem in the Catholic Church isn’t going away and the leadership of the church isn’t making any progress in dealing with it.

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