Diocese Denies Homosexual Problem, Fingerprints Parents Instead

By Christopher Manion

The "safe environment" programs inaugurated by Arlington Bishop Paul S. Loverde are once again in the spotlight, in a tug-of-war that pits a chancery that blames sex abuse on parents and laity against a flock that demands the removal of homosexual priests from active ministry.

The issue came to a head at an April meeting held at Saint John the Baptist Parish in Front Royal. Dr. Eleanor Kelly, Saint John's longtime Director of Religious Education, invited Father Terry Specht, director of the diocesan Office of Child Protection and Safety, to discuss widespread misgivings among parishioners regarding the programs.

Dr. Kelly, who holds a doctorate in education from Columbia University, is a Lady of the Holy Sepulcher widely admired in the Catholic community. She requested the meeting because of numerous parishioners, including religious education teachers, joined several priests in the diocese and refused to participate in the criminal background check and fingerprinting program mandated by the bishop. (An appeal of the program to Rome is now under review). According to the Arlington Catholic Herald, a total of 15,000 parents and volunteers are required by the diocese to submit their records to civil government authorities. If it stands, the mandate threatens to split parishes throughout the diocese, since parents and volunteers who refuse to be fingerprinted would not be allowed under the policy to participate in any parish activities that involve children.

The Burning Question Ever since the clerical sex scandals became national news in 2002, "gay activists" have attempted to deflect the sex-abuse issue away from homosexual priests and towards normal families. Dr. Brian Clowes, Director of Research and Training at Human Life International, has co-authored with David Sonnier an extraordinary analysis of the pro-homosexual offensive in the May 2005 issue of the Homiletic and Pastoral Review (the article can be viewed in its entirety at www.hli.org). Focusing on the relationship of homosexuality and child abuse in the priesthood, which was factually demonstrated in the John Jay Report, Dr. Clowes observes:

"During the current crisis, homosexual activists within and outside the Catholic Church have done everything they could to divert attention away from even the possibility that there may be a higher percentage of homosexuals among the priesthood than in the general public, and that this may be the root of the problem of child sexual molestation within the Church. It is particularly the link between homosexuality and child molestation that they seek to deny."

One wonders if Dr. Clowes is describing the homosexual activist left, or the bishops who wrote the charter in Dallas; where Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz of Lincoln could not even find a second for his motion to study the role of homosexuality and theological dissent in the clerical sex-abuse crisis. Dr. Clowes continues: "The situation has become so charged that anyone who even suggests that there may be a connection between homosexuality and pedophilia is instantly and reflexively labeled a "homophobe" and a "gay basher." The powerful homosexual lobby reacts instinctively to negative publicity and information by, as researcher Laird Wilcox calls it, "ritually defaming" those who dare raise their voices. Organized homosexual groups first attempt to completely ignore the evidence, or, if it simply cannot be ignored, they smear and discredit those who produced it."

This analysis goes far to explain the views of Mrs. Jennifer Alvaro, Father Specht's predecessor at the chancery. In 2004, Mrs. Alvaro told diocesan Directors of Religious Education that "children are safer with homosexuals than with heterosexuals," evidently including their own parents. Although Mrs. Alvaro left her position shortly thereafter, her apparent contempt for parents became a central theme of the chancery's approach to "sex-abuse prevention."

Dr. Clowes reveals that anti-Catholic "gay activists" agree resoundingly with Mrs. Alvaro's view. According to his study, "[c]onvicted pedophile and NAMBLA [North American Man-Boy Love Association] member David Thorstad has said that "I think that pederasty should be given the stamp of approval. I think it's true that boy-lovers [pederasts] are much better for children than the parents are . . ."

"The Best Defense is a Good Offense"

The Clowes/Sonnier study reveals another central element of the homosexual activist agenda that is mirrored in many dioceses today - in-your-face denial: "Such casual dismissal of documented facts, and the accompanying refusal to even discuss the possibility of a link between an active homosexual lifestyle and child sexual abuse, is a grave disservice not only to the victims, but also to society at large. Obviously, a proven link between homosexual orientation and child sexual molestation would badly damage the carefully crafted public relations image of the homosexual rights movement."

Of course, it would also badly damage the rationale for Virtus (an adult "sex-abuse prevention" program) and the approach of the Arlington chancery.

Their attitude is reflected in Father Specht's statement that "I don't care if the person is a homosexual heterosexual or metrosexual, if they abuse children they exhibit certain behaviors and that's what the training is about."

Is it really? Dr. Clowes continues, "instead of calmly and rationally discussing the issues, homosexual rights leaders subscribe to the axiom "the best defense is a good [and loud] offense," and remain in a permanent attack mode."

Bishop Loverde has already justified his burdensome programs for the laity by alleging that "sometimes parents are the abusers," an accusation that has naturally rankled many families. Indeed, many parents attending the meeting with Father Specht were deeply offended -some of them were outraged — that the chancery would fingerprint 15,000 lay people while it stridently refused — like the bishops in Dallas, as encouraged by the "gay activist" movement — even to address the issue of homosexual priests.

Dr. Clowes addresses the issue squarely:

"The only way to solve the problem of priestly child molestation is to proceed methodically: establish the facts, objectively study all facts relating to the situation, and finally, but most importantly, have the courage and faith to respond by taking appropriate steps. If all of this is not done, any such effort, no matter how well intentioned or vigorously pursued, will be utterly squandered. Certainly we owe it to the victims-and to the Catholic Faith itself-to determine the truth behind this volatile topic."

While most bishops, including Bishop Loverde, have been most reluctant to discuss the role of homosexuality in sex abuse, the people in the pews appear to recognize it all too well. Since Bishop Loverde has consistently refused to comply with the demand for transparency in Article VII of the Charter, Father Specht's visit provided a rare opportunity for parents publicly to share their concerns with a representative of the chancery.

While Father Specht repeatedly attempted to focus on the mechanics of the background check program, he was inundated with questions about homosexual priests and the bishop's intentions regarding them. One mother's view was typical: "we need to know how to recognize homosexual priests. Couldn't we have a database, a public database of the homosexual priests so that we would at least know that these are the priests we need to be careful of, and watch our children?"

Father Specht responded quite emphatically: "I don't know of any homosexual priests who are active in our diocese." (Father Specht later made clear to this reporter, in a telephone conversation on May 24, that he intended that statement to mean that he knows no homosexual priests who are active in ministry, and that he knows no priests who are active homosexuals. "If I knew of any priests who were active homosexuals, or priests who were homosexual, I would report it to the bishop," he told the Wanderer).

One woman at the meeting addressed the reporting issue squarely. "Well, Father Haley communicated it [homosexual priests] to him [Bishop Loverde] and he got canned," she said. "Why was Father Haley vilified," asked another.

"Father Haley's case is before the Roman court and I can't speak about that," replied Father Specht.

Father James Haley was a popular, talented priest in the Arlington Diocese for many years. According to the Washington Times of November 15, 2004, "[a]fter hearing from the priest about numerous instances of homosexual activity among diocesan clergy, Arlington Bishop Paul Loverde ordered the priest silenced Oct. 23, 2001." According to the Times, Father Haley "says the true source of the crisis is a priesthood that is 'honeycombed' with homosexual clerics, especially in the Diocese of Arlington.. Father Haley says his only crime is his insistence that homosexual priests, not solely pedophiles, are at the root of the sexual-abuse crisis. The Catholic priesthood is demoralized, he says, by groups of homosexual clerics who control who gets admitted to seminary, which men get nominated for bishop and which priests get the plum parishes."

Father Haley's case is still pending. According to the Washington Times, his hearings before a canonical court in the United States was repeatedly delayed. Father Specht's remark, however, implies that the case has now been forwarded to the Vatican for final adjudication.

Whatever its eventual outcome, Father Haley's canonical case aptly reflects the confrontation of Bishop Loverde's agenda regarding the laity, on the one hand, and the laity's demand for honesty and action regarding homosexual priests, on the other. In this regard, Dr Clowes reaches an astounding conclusion. In an analysis of the John Jay Report, he observes, "[i]f we use the more reasonable assumption that five percent of all priests are homosexual (still about twice the average in the general population), we see that a homosexual priest is .110 (one hundred ten) times more likely to molest a child than a heterosexual priest. It is well known (and logical) that homosexuals with a desire for young children purposefully seek employment that will bring them into proximity with the greatest number of children possible. The most 'promising' jobs of this nature include clergymen working in youth ministry."

Should the diocese be screening active clergy and seminarians much more closely to prevent homosexuals from entering active ministry, as Dr. Clowes's study implies, or will it be more successful in preventing sex abuse by fingerprinting priests, employees, and 15,000 parents and volunteers?

In this regard, the comments of Governor Frank Keating might shed some light. When he spoke to a group of Catholic laity at Saint Catherine of Siena Parish in Great Falls, Virginia, in March, he said, "[f]ingerprinting will not identify many hundreds, perhaps thousands, of the clerical predators who were never charged with crimes during the past fifty years, because they were not turned over to the criminal authorities." On April 15, 2005, Governor Keating explained in a telephone interview: "Priests who were abusers weren't turned over to the police. They were shuffled around, transferred, and protected by the bishops," he said. "So they were never fingerprinted - and they wouldn't be caught by any fingerprint check."

Governor Keating, a former FBI agent, went on: "Unfortunately, for years many bishops weren't required by law to turn over abusers to the authorities. And the outrageous thing is that, when states began to rewrite their laws to require it - like Massachusetts - the strongest opposition to those laws came from the bishops. It's disgraceful."

Governor Keating served as the first president of the Bishops "National Review Board" overseeing the sex abuse crisis. According to CBS News on June 13, 2003, "Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony said he was outraged by a statement Frank Keating comparing some unnamed members of the church hierarchy to the Mafia."

According to the CBS report, Governor Keating said, "I certainly have concluded that a number of serious officials in my faith have very clay feet. To act like La Cosa Nostra and hide and suppress, I think, is very unhealthy."

The CBS report continues:" [o]ne person applauding Keating's remarks was Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley, whose office has been investigating allegations of sexual abuse by priests. The office has charged eight current or former priests and a former seminarian with sexually abusing children and expects more charges.

"'For more than a year,' Cooley said, the archdiocese has been 'aggressively resisting' turning over subpoenaed church documents relating to investigations. Keating 'apparently has been as frustrated as we have been in our efforts to secure information,' he said."

(c) The Wanderer Press 2005

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