By Mark Segal
Publisher, Philadelphia Gay News
[Warning: This is one of the strongest columns I’ve ever written. It’s a subject that LGBT people must take seriously and nationally, since the church has used what they have been institutionally practicing against us for years. While the Catholic religion should be treated with respect, its leadership needs to be called out and in some cases go to jail. There a suggestion in the column on how the church could begin to redeem itself and a hard finish. It comes after reading the complete 877 page report.]
There is not a more important position that this community has to make a stand on than the Catholic Church’s institutionalizing child rape by their priests, bishops and cardinals. Did you read that? CHILD RAPE! That’s what is in the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s report, along with children tied up and whipped and a kiddy-porn ring of priests.
The real facts: The Attorney General of Pennsylvania just issued a report that estimates 300 priests, bishops and cardinals have in some way been complicit in the rape or sexual assault on over a thousand children, and that’s just in Pennsylvania. Put that together with the same form of scandals in Boston, Arizona, Washington D.C. and other countries over the last few years and the list of victims of little girls and boys being raped and sexually abused goes into the tens of thousands. In the U.S., it all started with the U.S. Council of Bishops attempting to cover this affliction by its “religious leaders” by transferring priests, not calling the police, denying it when they knew it was true, moving records, and at one point, trying to ship those records out of the country so the police could not get their hands on that evidence. And let’s not forget fighting the statute of limitations. That law would allow officials to charge a priest, bishop and yes, even cardinals, with their crimes five or 10 years later, and not allow them to go skipping into a nice retirement.
A message to His Holiness the Pope:
You’ve said you’re on the side of the victims and yet, the victims are saying these are just words that they’ve heard before. So, Your Holiness, I have a suggestion that can put your words into action: Tell your cardinals and archbishops to support the end of “Statute of Limitations” laws so that the child rapists in your church are brought to justice.
If you’re not sure what that means, here’s the point: Those 300 priests and bishops who were named in the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s report might not be charged due to that law, and here’s the kicker — there’s only one organization in the state fighting that: the Catholic Church. Their lobbying arm is the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference. And its largest supporter is the Archbishop of Philadelphia Charles Chaput. Your Holiness put out a statement asking the Pennsylvania Catholic Church not to lobby to protect child-abusing priests no matter how long ago it was, and support the abolishment of statute of limitations laws for child rape and abuse.
Now here’s where the LGBTQ community comes in. It was bishops like Chaput who suggested that LGBTQ people not be allowed around children, and for that reason (they’ve now changed that explanation) LGBTQ people should not be allowed to adopt.
Excuse me, shouldn’t it be, “Don’t trust your children with priests, bishops and cardinals?” Tens of thousands of children beg you not to.
Mark Segal, publisher of the Philadelphia Gay News, is the nation’s most award-winning commentator in LGBT media. His best selling memoir, “And Then I Danced, Traveling The Road to LGBT Equality” is a National Lesbian Gay Journalist Book of the Year and is available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.