CNSNews.com managing editor Michael W. Chapman has been pushing a war on Pope Francis by right-wing Catholics who think he's a little too liberal and unclear on certain issues. Another recent example is an April 10 blog post in which Chapman criticized "the ever-growing confusion and scandal in the Catholic Church created by Pope Francis's ambiguous teachings on divorce, remarriage, and adultery" and touted a "final declaration" by other church clergy and activists "that reaffirms the 2,000-year-old teaching of the church on these matters."
This was followed by an April 17 column that is an excerpt from the anti-Francis book "The Dictator Pope," from the right-wing publishing house Regnery. So the above activists weren't dictating things? Isn't the job of the leader of the Catholic Church to dictate things to a certain extent? The excerpt doesn't get into that, but there was confusion from the start. The book's author is listed on the cover as Marcantonio Colonna, but the CNS byline on the excerpt is Henry Sire, who's listed in his CNS bio as the author of the book. As it turns out, Colonna is Sire's pen name -- and he's such a reactionary that he doesn't believe that the church's Vatican II reforms of the 1960s were legitimate.
The excerpt itself gets off to a misguided start that reflects the author's bias:
The phenomenon of widespread homosexuality among clergy and bishops had been public knowledge since at least 2001, when the Boston Globe began a series of exposés on the clergy sex abuse scandals. The John Jay Report, an investigation commissioned by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, published in 2004, found that more than 80 percent of the victims of clergy sexual abuse had been adolescent males. Reports from dioceses around the world—including national bishops’ conferences in Australia, Canada, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, the Philippines, India, and most of Europe—found similar results.
The John Jay Report covered the period from 1950 to 2002 and found the complaints had peaked at a period coinciding with the vogue for ignoring or re-writing seminary admission guidelines to allow homosexuals to study and be ordained as priests—the 1960s to the 1980s—a period that can be likened to the Catholic Church’s own internal Sexual Revolution.
As we've pointed out when Bill Donohue of the right-wing Catholic League makes this same basic claim, this is a deliberate misreading of the John Jay report. The researchers stated that no connection was found between homosexual identity and an increased likelihood of sexual abuse and argued that the idea of sexual identity should be separated from the problem of sexual abuse, since one does not have to have a homosexual identity to commit homosexual acts. The John Jay researchers also stated that the reason more than 80 percent of the victims of clergy sexual abuse were adolescent males is because that's who the priests were around a lot of the time, making this in no small part a crime of opportunity rather than one of sexual orientation.
The rest of the excerpt mostly complains that Pope Benedict -- a conservative pope more to the liking of Chapman and Sire/Colonna -- was being blamed in part for the church's slow response to the sexual abuse scandals.