An aide of the Archbishop of Cardiff has claimed that gay men are the main perpetrators of paedophilia in the Catholic Church.
In the wake of recent exposures of widespread cases of paedophilia within the Catholic church, controversy has been renewed by Father John Owen.
Speaking on BBC1’s Big Questions programme on Sunday, the communications officer for the archdiocese of Cardiff stated that “most of the offences are being committed by homosexuals”.
Father Owen, also a chaplain at Cardiff University, said that teenage boys were the group affected by the “majority” of abuse cases in the United Kingdom, adding: “Now what does that tell you? Now that is a fact.”
Owen faced strong opposition to his views live on the programme, as radio talk-show presenter James O’Brien who himself had been taught by monks in a Catholic school as a teenager, replied: “The monks who ended up facing criminal charges for abuse were paedophiles not homosexuals and I find your attempted defence of these crimes repellent.”
Author and director of Amnesty International Ireland Colm O’Gorman, who has written of his own abuse, described Owen’s words as “ill-informed, ignorant, corrupt and dishonest”.
O’Gorman continued saying: “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.”
Stating that while the crimes of his abuser were the responsibility of the abuser alone, O’Gorman concluded: “The crime of the institutional church is the crime of denial. Of cover up, of secrecy and of facilitation.”
Upon being asked whether the church cared more about its own reputation than children’s welfare, Father Owen replied: “These matters are so ghastly that people don’t want to look at them, they can’t believe these things are taking place […]”
The archdiocese subsequently sought to distance itself from the views Owen had expressed during the interview, saying in a statement that his linking of abuse and homosexuality did not reflect the “consistent views” of the archdiocese of Cardiff.
Last week, the 2,600-page Ryan report revealed that sexual abuse was widespread in Irish Catholic industrial schools and orphanages run by the church, having drawn on testimony from former pupils, inmates and officials.
Father Owen’s statements were made just days after the Archbishop of Westminster Vincent Nichols’ claimed that it took “courage” for clergy involved in child sex abuse to confront their actions.
He told ITV News at Ten: “I think of those in religious orders and some of the clergy in Dublin who have to face these facts from their past which instinctively and quite naturally they’d rather not look at. That takes courage, and also we shouldn’t forget that this account today will also overshadow all of the good that they also did.”