Bishop Barron is right to identify young people’s abandonment of the faith as a crisis, but he misses an important statistic about the “clerical sex abuse scandal” as a contributing factor. The vast majority of instances of sex abuse by priests and bishops has been homosexual predation of post-pubescent boys (pederasty) and young men (typically seminarians). People know it and, sadly, have victims within their families even though it is rarely mentioned by the bishops. Softer language is chosen to cover over the fact, such as “clerical sex abuse.” Who’s being abused? Who’s doing the abusing? And in what manner? Such language is ambiguous, if not intentionally deceptive.
How is this related to the high ratio of those leaving the Church to those entering in the U.S.? The cultural normalization of homosexuality has made the Church’s teachings untenable to many people, and not all of them are young in my experience. As Archbishop Chaput said, “It took the Church 300 years to denormalize homosexuality and it took the culture about 50 years to undo the Church’s work.”
I engage in an online forum in which the (usually) polite conversation includes gays and even Christian ministers (Unitarian Universalist) who support same-sex marriage and defend homosexual practices as “normal.” After all, “science” has shown that in any mammalian species, a certain small subset of the population will exhibit same-sex behaviors. It’s “natural.” And, as long as it’s consensual, no one is getting hurt. Who is the Church to deny people with same-sex attraction love and marriage and adoption of children? It seems cruel and uncharitable.
Ryan T. Anderson did an admirable job of defending real marriage from a secular point-of-view during the advancement of Obergefell at the Supreme Court. But, Pope Francis and most of the bishops seem too embarrassed or too cowed to speak forthrightly about the impossibility of any act which denies the other his full human potential in accordance with God’s creative enterprise being authentic “love.”
People are leaving the Church because she doesn’t accept same-sex marriage. They’re leaving because it seems hypocritical to deny people in otherwise loving same-sex relationships the sacraments while men burdened by same-sex attraction populate the priesthood and sometimes prey on our sons. All the issues Bishop Barron lists to explain people heading for the exits — disbelief in classical Christian teachings, the ostensible conflict between science and faith, cultural relativism and increasing secularism, the challenge of living by the Church’s moral teachings with regard to sexuality, and even the supposed violence perpetrated by Christians (against gays) — are tied up with the homosexuality issue. Unless and until the clergy speaks fearlessly, forthrightly, lovingly, and unambiguously about authentic love and its demands (self-sacrifice for the good of the other) and about how homosexual acts violate love, we should expect more losses.
Pray for the clergy to face the culture war with courage. We are the Church Militant, after all, and in any conflict, the opposing side has a choice about the terms of engagement. The gay lobby has chosen to attack the most fundamental institution for family formation and human flourishing — marriage. Many souls are at stake and the battle continues. Who will lead us to the front, if not the bishops?