A columnist for the conservative news website The Federalist has claimed that the main problem with Catholic priests isn’t pedophilia, but homosexuality.
The column, titled “Pedophilia Isn’t The Main Problem With Catholic Priests, Homosexuality Is” and published on Friday, attempted to rebuff an opinion piece published in The New York Times by the newspaper’s editorial board earlier this month on the topic of clerical pedophilia and Pope Francis’ “long overdue” action on the crisis.
The column’s author Maureen Mullarkey, described as a “an artist who writes on art and culture” at the bottom of the article as well as The Federalist’s “senior contributor” on her Twitter account, criticised the Times for ignoring “homosexual predation as the culprit” of widespread child sex abuse in the Roman Catholic Church.
In the wake of recent investigations, one revealing that more than 300 “predator priests” in six dioceses in Pennsylvania molested more than 1,000 children in the past 70 years and a study in Germany that estimated that more than 3,600 children have been abused in the country in a similar timeframe—Pope Francis has faced increasing pressure to address and resolve the systemic cover-up that allowed abuse to go unreported and unpunished for decades all around the world.
Part of the conversation has focused on the vow of celibacy that all members of the Catholic clergy are expected to observe—a characteristic that sets them apart from most other denominations within Christianity that allows some or all of their religious leaders to marry and have a family—but certain Christian extremists have taken the opportunity to conflate consenting same-sex relationships with sexual abuse of minors.
Mullarkey’s column is the latest to push back against society’s increasing acceptance of homosexuality, which the Vatican has slowly begun to acknowledge by, for instance, using the term LGBT in an official document for the first time this year.
“Homosexuality has been normalised, officially approved, ratified, and okayed,” she wrote. Central to her thesis is her belief that priests who have committed child sex abuse have not engaged in pedophilia—a term that denotes adults feeling sexual attraction towards a child—but pederasty, a term specifically denoting sexual attraction by an adult male towards a younger, often teenage, boy.
Mullarkey believes that pederasty is thus associated to homosexuality, rather than being another form of pedophilia that is, as such, forbidden and punishable under the law.
Her article as not been well received by readers of The Federalist, who have expressed negative feedback on the article when it was shared on Twitter.
“Sorry, but it is totally the sexual abuse of children that is the 100% of the actual problem,” one reader wrote.
“I’ve never done such a quick and profound reversal on my estimation of any organization before. I am sickened that I was ever hoodwinked by the terrible people @FDRLST,” another commented.
As for Mullarkey’s authority in writing about ecclesiastical matters, even another conservative Catholic website has previously casted doubt on her knowledge, accusing her of “contradicting Catholic dogma”—in other words, committing heresy—in relation to her analysis of the backlash Pope Francis faced for his apostolic exhortation “Amoris Laetitia.”