Gays Are Not Pedophiles

What I should say is that not all gays are pedophiles, nor are all straights. Unfortunately there are many people who equate being gay with being a gay pedophile. There has been a great deal of publicity about gay priests and even bishops who have molested young men as teenagers. One could even question whether this was pedophilia. Pedophilia is a psychological sexual disorder occurring in a small segment of the population. Generally it is an obsessive desire to have sexual contact with a child 13 or under which may or may not include sexual intercourse. When the perpetrator is a teen usually there is at least a five-year age difference. Sexual misconduct is not necessarily pedophilia. When we are talking about a celibate clergy there are also other factors to take into account. There is, I believe a great deal of confusion in the straight and gay community regarding this topic. Many straight people (especially those who are homophobic) believe that anyone who is gay is out to seduce their children or will try to influence their sexual orientation. It is a misconception that gays are constantly fighting. Although there is no evidence to support this misconception it is still commonly held by a great many people. Because this stems from prejudice there is no way to disprove this commonly held conception.

Another misconception held by the general public until relatively recently is that gay people choose to be gay. Even after the American Psychological Association has removed being gay as a psychological disorder many people still believe that if gays are not exactly immoral they are mentally disturbed and need counseling. The first thought of most parents who discover their child is gay is to send him or her off for psychological treatment. Because of these misconceptions gays often do develop psychological problems but it is in trying to deal with a society that does not understand or accept their sexual orientation. Most gays are not only mentally healthy but many times are extremely gifted individuals. Often they make significant contributions to society, for which they get no social recognition. For all gays some secrecy is absolutely necessary, and many times they are forced to live a double life. And we do adapt and survive.

Recently because of the many cases that have arisen in the Church both in America and in Europe some Roman bishops are questioning the validity of the ordination of gay men. This is absolutely and patently absurd and can cause a great deal of confusion and division not only within the clergy itself but also among the members of the Church in general. They are trying to impose a simple solution on a very complex problem in which the solution becomes an even bigger problem. For the Catholic Church in particular and maybe even for the Christian Church in general it would seem the focus of morality has always been on sexuality. In the study of moral theology the study of the sixth and ninth commandments (they are the ones having to do with sexuality) are the largest sections of the book. Incidentally, when the Latin texts for theology were translated into English these were the last texts to be translated. When treatises on homosexuality appeared in print they always had the annotation “For Private Use Only”. That a large percentage of the clergy is gay is a well known, but unpublicized fact by the Bishops of this country. Most of the hierarchy operate under the principle “ignorance is bliss, it is folly to be wise”. Jesus says, “the truth will set you free”. It is ignorance that promotes prejudice. Not only do we all need to have information, but also we need to have accurate information.

All professional people have a grave responsibility to be honest and worthy of respect. This is even truer when it comes to religious leadership. I am constantly dismayed by the role of politics in government that lead to the compromise of basic principles. I am even more dismayed when this occurs within the framework of Church government. However, it is a reality that has to be faced and dealt with. I must confess that I am very fearful that theology might be forced to give way to politics and economics. Misunderstanding and fear could weaken if not destroy the whole structure of the Church. Hopefully saner thinking will prevail over the misguided and prejudiced thinking of those who seek to deal with a problem by simply dismissing it. It is with a watchful eye that I continue to follow these unfolding events. Hopefully, those who are in a position to make a difference will realize that not all gay priests are pedophiles or engage in sexual misconduct.