Home > National News, Rant and Rave, Religion > Rant and Rave: Cardinal Bertone’s Claims May be Unpopular, But They’re True

Rant and Rave: Cardinal Bertone’s Claims May be Unpopular, But They’re True

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone.

By Helen Lee

However unpopular, Cardinal Bertone’s claims are not completely off the mark.

After being asked about the possible link between celibacy and sexual abuse among priests, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican’s secretary of state, responded, “Many psychologists and psychiatrists have shown that there is no link between celibacy and pedophilia.” He then added that they had found “a relationship between homosexuality and pedophilia.” Cue awkward silence.

Needless to say, Bertone’s remarks are not exactly being received warmly. Bernard Valero, the French Foreign Ministry spokesman, commented that Bertone made an “unacceptable association that we condemn.” But while Cardinal Bertone’s timing might have been a little off (fuel to the fire?), his facts were not.

First of all, I applaud him for being clear that celibacy is not related to pedophilia (or, to be more specific, paraphilia, which includes sexual abuse of post-pubescent minors). Sexual abuse occurs just as frequently in Protestant and Jewish communities (where celibacy is not a factor) as it does in Catholic ones (not to mention within families, where celibacy is also not a factor). Some studies have shown that more Protestant ministers than Catholic priests are pedophiles. Moreover, at least 96% of priests (and that’s low-balling it) have never sexually abused a minor.

Celibacy is not the problem.

I would not go so far as to say that homosexuality causes paraphilia, and neither, it seems, would Cardinal Bertone. He merely points out that a correlation between homosexuality and paraphilia has been found, and he is correct.

A 2003 study done by Gerard J. McGlone, a clinical and research fellow of Johns Hopkins University’s Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, notes that while many agree with the assumption that 80% of offenses are male to male, a more recent study determined that 68% of offenses were male to male (with 20% being male to female and 12% being both males and females).

This study largely relied on the self-appraisal of offending clerics, who classified themselves as 40% heterosexual, 44% homosexual, 15% bisexual, and 2% asexual. These numbers do warrant attention and do demonstrate a correlation. Let’s not jump down Cardinal Bertone’s throat just for stating a fact in response to a false allegation.

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