I thought statements like these were successfully quarantined to the right-wing Catholic blogosphere. But, no, here we have a Catholic priest sprouting this nonsense in the mainstream media – BBC1’s The Big Questions program, to be precise.
Following is an excerpt from Clerical Whispers:
Asked by the show’s presenter, Nicky Campbell, whether the church cared more about its own reputation than the welfare of children, Owen replied: “These matters are so ghastly that people don’t want to look at them, they can’t believe these things are taking place within the orbit of a Christian church, perversion of Christianity.
“Let me tell you of course before you go too far, most of the offences are being committed by homosexuals.”
. . . He said the “vast majority” of abuse cases in the UK affected teenage boys. “Now what does that tell you?”
I appreciate Colleen Kochivar-Baker’s response to Fr. Owen seemingly rhetorical question:
It tells us the Church has problems with an all male clerical structure (kind of like prisons) and that most abusers found themselves frequently in the company of altar boys. Pedophiles in mixed school settings were equal opportunity predators.
Thankfully Fr. Owen’s comments didn’t go unchallenged when he initially made them. Notes Clerical Whispers:
Despite condemnation from the other panelists, two of whom were sexually abused, [Fr. Owen] insisted he was stating the facts and told them to “be silent.”
. . . Colm O’Gorman [pictured at left], author of “Beyond Belief”, a book about his own experience of clerical sexual abuse, and who was on the program, described Owen’s comments as “ill-informed, ignorant, corrupt and dishonest.”
He said: “The church has created a link between homosexual sex and priests who rape and sodomize children. It scapegoats someone else and creates a side issue.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: No organization of clergy sex abuse survivors places blame on homosexuality. They are capable of making the distinction between sexual orientation and sexual abuse; between homosexuality and pedophilia. It’s time the hierarchical Church made - and boldly announced - these distinctions as well.
And there are signs it is doing so. Clerical Whispers reports, for instance, the following bit of good news:
A statement from the archdiocese distanced itself from Owen, saying “his comments seeming to link abuse and homosexuality” did not reflect the “consistent views” of the Archdiocese of Cardiff.
Recommended Off-site Link:
An Abuse Too Far By the Catholic Church – Madeleine Bunting (The Guardian, May 21, 2009).
See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
• Fr. Thomas Doyle: “There is Something Radically Wrong With the Institutional Church”
• Archbishop Weakland, the Clergy Sex Abuse Scandal, and Homophobia