Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Fordham Theology Professors: "We Categorically Condemn the Vile Slander That the Crisis in the Catholic Church Is Due to the Presence of Gay Men"

Andy Staron, who is an assistant professor of theology at Wheeling Jesuit University, has shared a letter written by two members of Fordham University's theology department, Patrick Hornbeck and Fr. Bryan Massingale, to their colleagues. Since Andy Staron has shared this in his public feed, and I see it now being shared on Facebook, I am assuming it can be shared here, too — and that he shared the letter with the permission of the authors. 

The entire letter is in Andy Staron's public Facebook feed. Two excerpts to which I would like to draw attention, in particular:

[W]e write with particular concern for two groups among us, namely, those who identify with the LGBTQ community and those who are survivors of sexual abuse, especially abuse perpetrated by members of the clergy. While all of us feel in some way the stresses of this time, members of these groups may perhaps be the most acutely distressed and vulnerable. The constant — at times graphic — discussions of childhood abuse can be difficult for survivors to bear, reminding them of wounds "that never completely heal. The efforts by some influential persons to lay responsibility for the church's situation upon gay priests and our society's growing acceptance of same-sex orientations and relationships can occasion feelings of anger, betrayal, and perhaps even shame. 


We categorically condemn the vile slander that the crisis in the Catholic church is due to the presence of gay men. It reflects one of the most pernicious and deeply rooted stereotypes of gay persons, that of the sexual molester and child predator. It is a prejudice rooted in ignorance, fear, and/or hate. It negates the witness of many gay men who serve as priests with dedication and even distinction. It minimizes or even ignores the pain endures by female survivors of clerical abuse. Moreover, the alleged connection between pedophilia and homosexuality is unsupported by the Catholic church's own commissioned research. The crisis facing the Catholic church is not one of sexual orientation. It is instead a crisis of sexual violence, systemic dishonesty, and episcopal malfeasance.

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