Math and the Catholic Priesthood

Stories of sexual abuse of minors (teens and pre-teens) by priests are back in the news. These are not, to my knowledge, mainly new instances of abuse. These are mostly old crimes that are now coming to light again, but some for the first time. There was a study of abuse by priests, conducted by John Jay College years ago. Because the crimes now back in the news are mostly old crimes, the John Jay study is relevant.  Other studies are noted here.  The other studies not only support, but intensify my conclusions.

Without devoting serious time to the disgusting details of the John Jay study or other evidence of sexual abuse, we can take some available numbers add in some reasonable assumptions, and make some tentative observations about what seems to have happened.

  • Fact: 100% of abusers among Catholic priests were male. The study limited itself to abuse by Catholic priests, an all-male group.
  • Fact: over 4% of priests were accused of sexual abuse
  • Assumption: Some of these accusations were false
  • Assumption: Most of these accusations were true.
  • Assumption: 4% of priests were abusers.
  • Fact: 81% of abuse victims in the John Jay study were male.
  • Assumption: 80% of abusers abused males. I simply assume abuser percentage followed abuse percentage, and round off.
  • Conclusion: 80% of abusers committed homosexual abuse, thus were homosexual or bisexual men.
  • Assumption: 2% of the US male population is homosexual or bisexual. There are other studies that place this percentage higher, but there has been some social and political pressure to inflate the percentage in support of gay activists. I’m sticking with 2%.
  • Assumption: 20% of priests are homosexual or bisexual. It is very likely that the percentage of homosexual priests is much higher than the percentage of homosexual men in the public at large. I use here a percentage ten times the percentage found in studies of the general population (see previous assumption).  An honest study of this number would be quite illuminating.
  • Fact: 78% of the victims in the John Jay study were adolescent.  Thus, the term ‘pedophilia’ and an image of small children being abused do not reflect what happened in most cases; these were teens.

First, 4% of priests were abusers?  That’s huge.  100% of priests took a vow of chastity, and then 4% were very unchaste.  100% of priests were placed in positions of authority and trust, and 4% abused that trust in a way that shocks the conscience.  Line up 25 priests, and (statistically) one of them raped (or otherwise sexually abused) teenage or younger children.  It would be useful to see how that figure compares to clergy of other faiths, and to school teachers or others with access to children.

Now do a little math on the percentages: 80% of priests are assumed to be heterosexual. That population included priests who committed 20% of the abuse. I assume herein that 20% of priests are homosexual or bisexual. That population included priests who committed 80% of the abuse. If the assumption about the percentage of homosexual/bisexual priests is correct, then a priest from the homo/bi population is sixteen times as likely as a hetero priest to become an abuser.

Are all gay/bi men abusers of children?  Of course not.  That’s not a reasonable conclusion from the available data or from this thought experiment.  Does there seem to be a greater likelihood of abuse from the gay/bi part of the priestly community?  Yes, there seems to be a much greater likelihood.  The key variable in this is unknown: what fraction of priests are gay.  If priests are ten times as likely to be gay as males in general, then my numbers are about right.  If priests are less than ten times as likely, the rate of abuse would be more than 16 times higher for gays.  If gays are much greater than 20% of the priest population, then they are less than 16 times as likely as straight men to be predators.  But if that’s the case, why would priests be gay at rates greater than ten times the general population?

Now someone is going to read this, call me a homophobe, and tell me that abusers prey on either sex.  Well, OK, you can say that.  You can even point to ‘studies’ that show it (About those studies, I would direct you to some posts in this series).  It might even be true for abusers of very young children.  I could research that aspect, but the whole topic turns my stomach. But note that about 80% of the abuse victims were adolescent teens.  What is the characteristic that separates heterosexual from homosexual males?  Is it participation in gay pride parades?  Is it dressing or speaking a certain way?  No.  The behavior that separates homosexuals from heterosexuals is a desire to have intercourse with males.  Men who abuse teenage or younger boys are abusing males.  They are engaging in homosexual acts.   While the view of which behaviors makes one a homosexual changes from culture to culture, we are talking about US priests.  They and we live in a culture in which initiating sexual contact with a person of the same sex is homosexual.

This is not to say abuse of boys is worse than abuse of girls, or that or that abuse of girls is worse.  I leave those questions aside.  I am just making some assumptions, doing some math, and drawing some conclusions.  The overall conclusion is that the abuse crisis was made worse by an order of magnitude by homosexual and bisexual priests.  This conclusion is obvious, except for those who will not see.

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