Paul Murano reports for ChurchMilitant.com – Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich and Freising is asserting that the clerical sex abuse crisis is tied to a lack of women leaders in the Church — a claim countered by research from the Ruth Institute.
Marx made his comments last week, reflecting on a 2018 study of clerical sexual abuse commissioned by the German bishops’ conference, which showed clerical structures and a male clerical administration named as factors in the massive abuse scandal in the Church and its cover-up.
“Women in leading positions in the Church — and this is precisely not a matter of women’s ordination — contribute towards breaking up closed male clerical circles and associations in the Church,” Marx stated. “For the sake of our credibility as a Church and our credibility as bishops, we must do everything we possibly can to get women to take up leading positions in the Church.”
Marx blamed the trend of young people being less involved in serving the Church on the fear that women are still treated unequally:
The developments and experiences of recent years in the Church in Germany — and probably worldwide — show us that for young people, both men and women, serving the Church has become less and less attractive. They simply do not believe that the Church will treat women as equals or really allow them to participate.
Steering clear of the controversy of women clergy, whose official rejection by Pope St. John Paul II in Ordinatio Sacerdotalis is irreformable, Marx focused on service to the Church in other areas.
In the spirit of affirmative action, he explained that to increase the percentage of women in leading positions, bishops and other leading clerics must make a clear commitment to hiring qualified women, even if this means disappointing qualified male candidates. Marx suggested there is an “unconscious bias” within the Church, favoring the hiring of men.
A second, related point Marx made is that women need female role models within the Church, leaders whose faces are seen by the public, to attract more women. “Particularly as far as public relations and press work are concerned, we have not yet succeeded in making women more visible,” he claimed. “We must appoint press spokeswomen, for example, to make it clear that women, too, give the Church a face and can speak for it.”
Sex Abuse Tied to Homosexuality
Marx’s view has been countered by Fr. D. Paul Sullins, Ph.D., of the Ruth Institute, a Christian nonprofit organization dedicated to researching the ruinous effects of the sexual revolution. Analyzing the data from a groundbreaking study compiled in the report, “Is Catholic Clergy Sex Abuse Related to Homosexual Priests?,” Sullins told Church Militant there is a direct correlation between the sex abuse of minors and the rise of homosexuality in both clergy and seminaries.
Sullins noted that the John Jay Report, commissioned by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, had tried to dissociate the sex abuse crisis and sexual orientation. But he noted that report’s flaws: “The John Jay researchers reasoned that the crisis had nothing to do with sexual orientation because they found no correlation between the incidence of abuse and the number of homosexual priests,” said Sullins. “They didn’t actually look at any data on homosexual priests, but based their conclusions on clinical samples or media reports.”
“I examine actual survey data in which priests report their own sexual orientation, which shows there is a very strong correlation with the incidence of abuse and with the proportion of victims who were male,” he continued. “Thus, taking the John Jay Report’s own argument, and just as a statement of empirical fact, the spate of child sex abuse in the 1970s and 1980s was strongly related to a concentrated presence of homosexual men in the Catholic priesthood.”
Sullins said that clergy sexual abuse had its peak in the 1980s (those numbers were around three times higher than in the last decade), although it has risen 17% over the past 10 years. He recognizes that much of the blame lies with the bishops who ordained men with predominant same-sex attraction, despite the clear directives from the Vatican dating back to 1961 and reaffirmation in 2005 that they cannot be ordained to the priesthood.
Sullins told Church Militant:
In the past, bishops enabled the crisis by ordaining homosexual men to the priesthood, despite the clear guidance of the popes that this was not to be done. Bishops also allowed priests to continue to prey on child victims, sometimes shielding them from exposure and using nondisclosure payments to keep victims silent.
Observers note that Cdl. Marx may have a prerational instinct that a lack of women in Church leadership is a reason homosexual priests molest boys, but Sullins and the Ruth Institute demonstrate the data shows otherwise.