Bishop Gene Robinson has written an open letter to Pope Benedict the 16th offering some thoughts on the present sexual abuse scandal that has been rocking the Roman Catholic Church of late.
He shares the lessons that the Episcopal Church has learned during its struggle to come to grips with the abuse within its own denomination. He also warns of the error of imagining that the abuse of children is somehow the fault of Gay Christians.
He writes, in a column that will be published in the print edition of the Washington Post tomorrow:
"The Christian church -- like any institution -- is as capable of sin as any individual. We have been wrong before, from the Inquisition and the Crusades down to our defense of slavery (using scripture) and our denigration of women. Over time, the church has repented for these sins and sought to change its ways. The discovery of sexual abuse by clergy is another situation that calls for the church's repentance and reform.
I would not presume to instruct you. That would be arrogant. Nor would I impose upon you advice you've not sought. But I do offer you the benefit of my experience as you seek to deal responsibly with these challenges to the integrity of your church. Your letter to the faithful in Ireland and your meeting in Malta with victims were a good start. I hope the future will bring more truth-telling, which will make your church a better, safer place.
However, I believe it is misguided and wrong for gay men to be scapegoated in this scandal. As a gay man, I know the pain and the verbal and physical violence that can come from the thoroughly debunked myth connecting homosexuality and the abuse of children. In the media, representatives of and advocates for the Roman Catholic Church have laid blame for sexual abuse at the feet of gay priests. These people know, or should know, that every reputable scientific study shows that homosexuals are no more or less likely to be child abusers than heterosexuals. Psychologically healthy homosexual men are no more drawn to little boys than psychologically healthy heterosexual men are drawn to little girls.
Sexual activity with children or teenagers is child abuse, pure and simple. Meaningful consent is impossible, by definition, for the underaged. You will not rid your church of sexual abuse by throwing homosexuals out of your seminaries or out of the priesthood. Homosexual priests have faithfully and responsibly served God throughout Catholic history. To scapegoat them and deprive them of their pulpits is a tragedy for the people they serve and for the church. Yours is a problem of abuse, not sexual orientation."
Read the full letter here.