Virtus vs. Valor 

A comparison of the Catholic Church's "Protecting God's Children" sexual awareness program (Virtus) and the John Jay College study of sexual abuse by our clergy

Do Catholics have the courage to face the truth about the abuse in our church?

From: "Virtus - Pat Neal" <>
To: <>
Subject: RE: John Jay Study vs. Virtus re homosexuality (comment/question from participant of the Dio of Bridgeport, CT)
Date: Fri, 2 Jun 2006 13:47:17 Email address of sender:

Note: All text in blue is mine (Joseph Carl DeCaro)
Several years ago I attended a Virtus seminar in Bridgeport diocese that down-played the role of homosexuality as a factor re the abuse in the RC Church. But this contradicted the John Jay Study that concluded that the RC scandals were characterized by homosexual behavior. How do you explain this discrepency?

Hello Joe,
Thank you for your return call. The following is a response from one of our consultants, Sharon Doty.
Thank you,

Thank you for your question. I hope that this will clear up any confusion you might have about this. The Protecting God's Children program is not about clergy child sexual abuse. It is a program about child sexual abuse-and a very small percentage of the people who commit that crime are clergy. Therefore, the statements in the video and the program are accurate. Approximately 80% of the people who commit child sexual abuse identify themselves as heterosexual. So, the program did not say that homosexuality was not a factor in the problem in the church. The program said that most offenders are not homosexual-and that is accurate.

Re child sex abuse by clergy: Yes, there is a relatively small percentage of clergy who do this, but they reside in a church infrastructure that goes to great lengths to protect these priests from prosecution -- such as moving them to new, unsuspecting parishes -- so there is a greater number of victims per priest predator in the RC Church. As for the majority of child abusers being heterosexual, that stat is disingenuous as anything heterosexuals do,  for good or ill,  far outdoes anything done by the gay population (at only 3 %) by sheer weight of numbers!

Second, what the John Jay study showed was that 80% of the victims of clergy abuse were boys between 11 and 17. The researchers did not conclude that homosexuality in the priesthood was, therefore, the cause of the abuse. They said that they did not conduct research on that issue. The researchers could not conclude from the information gathered whether the problem was homosexual priests or a similar situation to that in prisons when homosexual acts are committed because other men or women are the only sex partners available. There is a study being prepared that will attempt to discover the answer to that question. I know that it is hard not to conclude that homosexuality is the problem given the numbers. But, remember in the 1960's and 1970's when most of these crimes occurred, young men were the only ones the priests had an opportunity to abuse. Females were not yet allowed to serve on the altar so all the alter servers were altar boys.
Re that John Jay researchers did not conclude that homosexuality in the RC priesthood was the cause of the sex abuse: The Bishops National Review Board -- that based it's findings on the John Jay study -- reported the following in February 2004:  "That 81 percent of the reported victims of child sexual abuse by Catholic clergy were boys shows that the crisis was characterized by homosexual behavior." As you said, it's certainly hard not to conclude that homosexuality is the problem in the RC Church!
Further, the RC church is not a cloister, or a prison where the only sexual relations available are same sex relations.
I hope that this helps resolve this for you. The Diocese of Bridgeport presented accurate information. In fact, when all victims and all offenders are considered, the most frequent victim is a girl under the age of 14 and the perpetrator is a male-either a member of her biological family or someone she and her family know and trust.
If you have further questions about this matter, please feel free to ask. God bless, Sharon Doty, Consultant to the VIRTUS Program

Many other Catholics who attended the Virtus seminar with me assumed it was geared toward issues in our Church.  After all, it was our voluntary service in that church that compelled us to attend Virtus in the first place.

Joseph Carl DeCaro