What do we call guys like Cardinal McCarrick? (Please, no smart aleck answers.) Terminology is extremely important in the on-going discussion about how the Body of Christ should address same sex attraction. We need to steer clear of 2 different pitfalls.
- “Pedophilia abuse” vs. “homosexual abuse.”
- “Gay” vs. “same sex attracted” or some other term.
During previous rounds of clergy sex abuse scandals, advocates for normalizing homosexual practice were quick to claim that the scandals had nothing particular to do with homosexual practice. Such advocates redefined the issue to be “pedophilia,” even though most of the cases were not cases of men having sex pre-pubescent children. Some 80% of the cases involved priests having sex with teenage boys. Labeling the scandals “pedophilia” diverted attention from the “homosexual” nature of these predatory acts.
McCarrick is not strictly a pedophile: he has had some victims who were minors and some who were not. He is certainly a predator: the sexual history that is coming to light is a history of having sex with people in subordinate positions.
We don’t want to call a man like McCarrick “gay,” because of the philosophical baggage attached to that word. Embedded within that term as it is commonly used today are ontological claims, as well as scientific claims.
I’m friends with some pretty cool, and very holy people who are challenging those embedded assumptions. These are same sex attracted people who are committed to living a chaste life, and they pointedly avoid the term “gay.”
I am particularly interested in their opinion.
My friend Doug Mainwaring is a same sex attracted man who is married to a woman and a father to two sons. My friend Dan Mattson has written a book called “Why I Don’t Call Myself Gay.” Dan, Paul Darrow and Rilene Simpson are featured in a film put out by the Courage apostolate, “Desire of the Everlasting Hills.” Joseph Sciambra and Hudson Byblow are also contributors to this discussion.
One accurate descriptor of Cardinal McCarrick would be, “a man who used his position of power and authority to indulge himself sexually with male victims, including but not limited to children.”
That is a mighty long adjective.
What say you? What do we call Cardinal McCarrick? What do we call his enablers?