A senior Vatican cardinal’s claim that homosexuality and child sex abuse are connected has met with a firm rebuttal by the Catholic Church in England and Wales.
Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican’s secretary of state and effectively the Pope’s second-in-command, said earlier this week that research showed that gay people were to blame for paedophilia.
He was speaking to journalists in Chile in the wake of the child-abuse scandal that is still rocking the Roman Catholic Church worldwide.
He said: “Many psychologists and psychiatrists have shown that there is no link between celibacy and paedophilia but many others have shown, I have recently been told, that there is a relationship between homosexuality and paedophilia.”
Pink News reports that the Vatican tried to clarify Bertone’s remarks through its spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi, who said: “General assertions of a specifically psychological or medical nature are not the responsibility of church officials.”
The Catholic Church in England and Wales has now issued a rare rebuttal of Cardinal Bertone’s comments.
Father Marcus Stock, general secretary of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, said: “There is no empirical data which concludes that sexual orientation is connected to child sexual abuse.
“The consensus among researchers is that the sexual abuse of children is not a question of sexual ‘orientation,’ whether heterosexual or homosexual, but of a disordered attraction or ‘fixation.’
“Many abusers of children have never developed the capacity for mature adult relationships. Instead, their sexual attractions focus on children – boys, girls, or both.
“In the sexual abuse of children the issue is the sexual fixation of the abusers, and not their sexual orientation.”
Condemnation of Bertone’s remarks has also come from the French Foreign Ministry, which has said they were “unacceptable.”
Last week, Vatican officials denied claims that the Pope was involved in a cover-up of the child-abuse scandal, saying that the allegations were part of a “hate campaign” against him.
“Two senior cardinals suggested last Tuesday that the claims were revenge for Pope Benedict’s opposition to gay marriage and abortion,” says Pink News.
There have been a number of allegations in recent weeks that Pope Benedict was aware that paedophiles continued to work as priests and allowed them to do so while he was Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.
Some abuse victims have said that they were forced to sign confidentially agreements about their experiences, or be excommunicated.