Last month, Pope John Paul II summoned American cardinals to Rome. The purpose for the summit was, of course, the scandal involving the sexual abuse of minors by priests and the handling of these cases by American church officials. No sooner was the summit over than many in the mainstream media proclaim that neither the Vatican nor the bishops "get it." Well, there is much to criticize in the way the church has handled this sorry affair, but what's clear is that the Catholic Church's liberal critics are just as clueless as they accuse the church of being. This cluelessness is best illustrated by the media's handling of the story of the Reverend Paul Shanley. Revelations about the way that the Archdiocese of Boston handled, or mishandled, accusations against Shanley nearly caused Cardinal Law to resign his post. Shanley has been arrested and charged with molesting at least fifteen boys while serving in the archdiocese. Attorneys for Shanley's victims allege that officials knew about the allegations against him and yet continued to allow him to work in proximity to minors. Some of the most damning evidence lies in 800-plus pages of documents turned over to lawyers pursuant to a court order. These documents clearly show that the archdiocese was aware of the accusations against the priest. Failure to respond to this information has many Catholics, like my friend, Bill Bennett, calling for Cardinal Law's resignation. As I've previously stated, as a Baptist, I leave that to my Roman Catholic friends to decide. But there's more here. One of the victim's attorneys pointed out that the documents show that the officials knew about Shanley's "views on gay love." The documents tell us that Shanley was not only attracted to boys, he publicly advocated sex between adult men and boys. What's more, Shanley attended meetings of what became the infamous North American Man-Boy Love Association, or NAMBLA. The attorney's use of the expression "gay love" and the references to NAMBLA point to an aspect of this story that many in the media are intent on ignoring. Rod Dreher of the National Review has written, "What we're seeing is gay men who cannot or will not keep their pants up around teenage boys." The fact is that at the root of these scandals is the homosexual subculture that has grown up among priests, but to say this is anathema to many commentators and reporters. As a result, documents are reported on as proof of misconduct by church officials, but somehow Shanley's promiscuous and predatory homosexuality is scarcely mentioned. You also see this double-think at work in reports about another Shanley-related document: a letter he wrote to former Cardinal Humberto Medeiros. In it he complained about being forbidden to "[encourage] gay unions" and to give his opinion on the morality of homosexual acts. The letter is cited as proof of malfeasance by the church, but again the issue of Shanley's homosexuality is left out. George Orwell, of 1984 fame, once wrote that he lived in an age when stating the obvious was the first duty of intelligent men. We live in such an age. We must be prepared to state the obvious: that homosexuality, not celibacy, is the problem in the Catholic church. And we state it even when the media insists on ignoring it, for we must not allow their cluelessness to become ours. For further reading: Charles Colson and Nancy Pearcey, The Problem of Evil (Tyndale House, 1999). BreakPoint commentary no. 020403, "Celibacy and Scandals." Rod Dreher, "Law Stays Put," National Review online, 15 April 2002. Sacha Pfeiffer and Kevin Cullen, "Ex-priest Paquin held in rape case: $750,000 bail is set for Shanley," Boston Globe, 8 May 2002. Garry Wills, "Lies of the Cardinals," New York Times, 28 April 2002. "Cardinal Law Arrives for Testimony in Abuse Case," New York Times, 8 May 2002.


Chuck Colson


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