Many of you have asked for Bishop Barron’s thoughts on the McCarrick abuse crisis, the Pennsylvania grand jury report, and the recent report from Archbishop Viganò. We’re all devastated by the horrific suffering of these many victims, and we’re all wondering what to do next.

Bishop Barron shared some thoughts a couple weeks ago, in an article, but we thought it might be helpful to have a more candid conversation today, building on the USCCB’s recent statement.

Listen to the discussion here, and together let’s pray for the victims and the entire Body of Christ.

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8 comments on “BONUS: Bishop Barron Q&A about the Sexual Abuse Crisis

  1. Kris Higdon Aug 28, 2018

    Bishop Barron I have a great deal of respect for you and your work. However, I feel compelled to write you about the video you put out in response to the current multifaceted sexual abuse scandals currently enveloping the US Church. First, You looked exhausted in that video and I want to thank you for taking the time to sit down for it after long hours of travel. However, in that video you were way off base equating the perpetrators of acts of child sexual abuse to persons with homosexual attractions. Attraction to children, male or female, is a wholly different sexual dysfunction from same sex attraction. A priest being attracted to young boys in no way equates to attraction to other men.

    I would urge you to review the John Jay college reports as well as any number of scholarly reports highlighting the difference between the two. It is a dangerous environment where same sex attraction is used as a scapegoat of sorts for the real issues at play. I do not believe you are doing this intentionally. Rather I believe this comes from a lack of understanding of the situation. Please do not unwittingly bolster those who want use homosexual attractions as another way to coverup the real problem.

    Thank you for all you do in bringing the good news of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to the world. You and your fellow bishops will continue to be in my prayers.

    • Charles Aug 28, 2018

      Kris, I think there are plenty of folks who would take your point and reach precisely the opposite conclusion. That is, you are correct that no one can truthfully say that this is solely a problem of homosexuality. There are indeed two different problems (pederasty and pedophilia), one of which is, well, homosexual-oriented by definition. Worse yet, that one seems to be the numerically larger problem. So yes, by all means, let’s distinguish them fairly, but let’s not shy away from a conversation about both either.

    • Kimberly Aug 31, 2018

      Hi, Kris – a couple of thoughts:

      In this interview, Bishop Barron addressed your concerns about “scapegoating” homosexuals. At the same time, he rightly noted that we can’t ignore that the vast majority of victims are post-pubescent males. Since 100% of the perpetrators are male, that makes it homosexual in nature, and it’s fair to look at that when discussing how to prevent future abuse. We had the chance in 2003 and again in 2011, but fears of hurting feelings allowed more than feelings to be hurt by men who destroy lives.

      I’d be surprised if the bishop hasn’t read the John Jay reports (there were two). The first version that I read included a discussion on the homosexual nature of the majority of the abuse cases. I’ve recently heard (though I can’t vouch for it) that the USCCB sent the first version back insisting that part of the report be changed, for the reasons you cite. But McCarrick and those connected with him were among those who would have insisted on the change (if, indeed, that’s why it was removed).

      In any case, if you’ve read those reports, then it should be obvious to you that the majority (70%) of victims were male, and of the male victims, 81% were teen boys, making those assaults homosexual ephebophilia.

      But you should also note that this is just the breakdown of the *victims* — not the perpetrators. Among the perpetrators, there isn’t a typical criminal sexual profile. By that I mean that the typical pedophile is neither heterosexual nor homosexual, they are sexually and romantically attracted to pre-pubescent children. The typical ephebophile is either heterosexual or homosexual, and sexually attracted to teens of a preferred sex (either opposite sex or same sex). For ephebophiles, there isn’t generally a romantic attraction. For the overwhelming majority of homosexuals and heterosexuals, there is generally a preference for peer group partners, within about ten years age difference either way. But for the perpetrators of the crimes analyzed in the John Jay Report, their sexual tastes were omnivorous in some cases (mostly male, but both sexes, all ages). In most of the cases, the sexual preference was “homosexual omnivorous” — males of any age. As noted, it is a subgroup of homosexuals, but it’s not rare among homosexuals who engage in predatory behavior by seeking positions that will gain them access to sexual targets. That’s why you’ll find this profile clumped into certain careers.

      You might be interested in digging up an article – I think it’s called “The Elephant in the Sacristy.” It was written before the John Jay Report was commissioned, but the author had already picked up on what would be the gist of the analysis in the original report, before the characterization “homosexual ephebophilia” was changed to “ephebophilia.”

  2. I saw interview. Bishop Barron talked about the importance of investigating all allegations to get to the truth. Separately, he said the Church’s focus has to be on the victims of these diabolical crimes, including the crimes of bishops in covering up these crimes. I suspect that what would resonate most powerfully with the victims is a statement by bishops that the focus should be on an absolutely thorough investigation of all crimes, sexual misconduct of clergy and cover-ups as the surest means of focusing on the victims; I.e., connecting the two. Talk about prayers and ”healing” for victims is probably meaningless to victims without seeing first a thorough investigation of the crimes and coverups—also crimes—with action showing victims the Church is not afraid of the truth and that it will make hard decisions to remove predators and bishops who have protected predators from contact with potential future victims, child or adult.

  3. What people are saying is: if the Pope & advisors wanted to do something about sex/violence in the Catholic Church they would be doing it.

    I think that the Pope & advisors just don’t grasp that many people will not ever recover in their lifetime. Every year the Pope and Bishops and Priests should have to take a two day workshop on the consequences of abuse in order to remain certified. The course should pull no punches so that when they are running around their offices and getting through their day, they do not forget what the life of a victim is like.

    I suggest Catholics think in detail about how the structure of the Church is such an effective incubator for sex abuse. — like a bacteria incubator where the bacteria doubles overnight. What are the commonalities to other places eg sports teams that sex abuse happens. Then change the Church structure so that it does not/can not incubate abuse.

    • Brian Aug 30, 2018

      This is something that could be done to help abuse survivors. Very practical and important. Also, will as you say keep the hierarchy in the Church aware and thinking about the survivors.

    • Kimberly Aug 31, 2018

      JEAM – What do you think it is about current Church structure that you think incubates abuse? Do you think there have been any changes since child safety policies were instituted and regulated in the aftermath of 2002?

  4. Vincent DeAngelo Aug 31, 2018

    The idea of a committee composed of a plurality of Lay people with forensic investigative responsibility is a good one, but won’t work. The problems of the church governance is never going to be solved as long as the clergy controls anything other than doctrine and spiritual matters in the church.. The clergy will never give up any power. Any such committee will be controlled by the clergy which has shown throughout history that it is incapable of self regulation. My grandfather always said that our family was Catholic in spite of the clergy. Don’t get me wrong; there are many, many great priests. However, once you send a priest to Rome to study, he becomes a member of the elite. This growth of a professional, inbred group has not and will not police itself or give meaningful power to any group of laypeople. Even if the committee is 10 priests and 50 laypeople, the priests will control it and I am sure that the lay members will be selected from “loyal” Catholics who are so used to deferring to priests that they will not override the priests. The only solution is to totally transform the church and let the entire clergy be relegated to the spiritual life of the church. It should be a rule that only after 15 years of parish work, at least 7 or which must be in poor parishes, could a priest be considered to become a bishop. There should probably be deductions for having served in any church central bureaucracy, including any diocesan office serving the local bishop. If I sound a bit angry, I am.; and I do not believe any real change will come until we change the basic belief that the clergy are somehow superior to the laity. The clergy should truly be servants and lead by example; but that will not happen. If the church struggles it is because of a failure of true spiritual leadership. As Ghandi said, if the Catholic church actually practiced what it preaches, it would convert the world. I had hoped that Pope Francis would lead a revival of the idea that true Catholicism is not caught up with worldly possessions or trapping of power. I am saddened to learn that he may have been involved in any cover up of an Archbishop.

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