It seems the Catholic Church are keen to blame anyone other than themselves for the recent Ryan Report detailing endemic child abuse within Catholic run institutions. I’ve written on this subject previously, so I shan’t cover the same ground again. I will, however, point out something I said at the time this story first broke:

So how should the Catholic Church, and the Irish government (which funded many of the accused institutions) deal with the situation? They almost certainly should not sweep it under the carpet. They also shouldn’t bury their heads in the sand. Unfortunately, religion and “doing the right thing” has rarely gone hand-in-hand. Bearing that in mind, it would take a Catholic of immense arrogance, ignorance and insensitivity to go on the offensive at this time.

In the original post I spoke of the absurd, and deeply misjudged comments made by Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor and his attempt at switching the focus on to atheism, blaming it for the world’s problems. Surely one instance of this attempt at shifting the blame is unthinkable, but two…

Unfortunately, that’s exactly what we’ve had. They’ve had a pop at atheism, so what’s next? What other enemy of the Church can they try and shift the focus on to? Well, how about homosexuality.

Father John Owen recently appeared on an edition of the BBC’s “Question Time” in which he made the following statement:

These matters are so ghastly that people don’t want to look at them, they can’t believe these things are taking place within the orbit of a Christian church, perversion of Christianity.
Let me tell you of course before you go too far, most of the offences are being committed by homosexuals.

While that sinks in, I’d like to point out who John Owen is. He’s not some rogue church member, far from it. He’s actually communications officer for the archdiocese of Cardiff and a Catholic chaplain at Cardiff University (although the page containing information about him is mysteriously missing from the University’s websiteGoogle cache version, including phone number and email address is still available). As a communications officer, he would have been well aware of what he was doing and saying. Just to back this up, when other panel members disputed this he told them to “be silent”. The panel included victims of the abuse.

This is a dangerous route to head down. When we look at the perpetrators of the abuse, we know one thing. 100% of them were Catholic. Even if the Father’s claims are true, and that a majority were homosexual, the number still won’t come close to 100%. Therefore, there were more Catholic child abusers than homosexual child abusers.  Also note the way in which he made this statement: “of course” they were homosexuals, as if it was some obvious, indisputable fact.

Again, the Catholic Church has dodged and side-stepped the issue by trying to blame someone else. Anyone else. For Father Owen to do this in such a public forum, in front of victims of the abuse, who clearly disagreed with him, is just unimaginable. Instead of targeting and focusing on the minority of homosexuals associated with the Church, why aren’t they targeting the abusers?

The line about homosexuals being responsible for a statistically disproportional amount of child abuse has been pushed by anti-homosexual organisations for a long time. It’s usually based on poor statistics and flawed studies. I don’t have enough information to determine whether there’s a statistical link between Catholicism and child abuse, but the implications from recent, and not so recent, stories is clear.

Colm O’Gormon, who wrote a book about his own experiences of Catholic sexual abuse, Beyond Belief, told UK newspaper The Guardian:

{the comments were}…“ill-informed, ignorant, corrupt and dishonest”. He said: “The church has created a link between homosexual sex and priests who rape and sodomise children. It scapegoats someone else and creates a side issue. It removes the criminal aspect and the rape becomes some sort of consensual adult behaviour.”

I think he’s downplaying it. The comments are also in incredibly bad taste and indicative of the Catholic Church’s inability to focus the lens on investigation and accountability inwards. It all boils down to a lack of responsibility. They can see a correlation between homosexuality and child abuse but not a correlation between Catholicism and child abuse, despite there appearing to be a stronger statistical link.

He is right when he points out that the Catholic Church is looking for “scapegoats” and “side issue[s]”. This is classic distraction, and it’s just not going to fly.