Donohue: those Catholic priests didn’t rape anyone, and besides, it’s The Gays’ Fault

Portrait of Bill Donohue

Bill Donohue has come out with his defense of the Catholic Church in the Pennsylvania case (pdf). A couple of things leapt out at me. He often parses the language finely to excuse the problems. For instance, it wasn’t rape.

Most of the alleged victims were not raped: they were groped or otherwise abused, but not penetrated, which is what the word “rape” means. This is not a defense—it is meant to set the record straight and debunk the worst case scenarios attributed to the offenders.

Furthermore, Church officials were not following a “playbook” for using terms such as “inappropriate contact”—they were following the lexicon established by the John Jay professors.

Examples of non-rape sexual abuse found in the John Jay report include “touching under the victim’s clothes” (the most common act alleged); “sexual talk”; “shown pornography”; “touch over cleric’s clothes”; “cleric disrobed”; “victim disrobed”; “photos of victims”; “sexual games”; and “hugging and kissing.” These are the kinds of acts recorded in the grand jury report as well, and as bad as they are, they do not constitute “rape.”

It’s OK if there was no penetration! Is this a new Catholic rule? Priests get to get naked with teenagers while watching porn and grope them, and that’s not a problem?

Then he plays games with the numbers.

How many of the 300 were probably guilty? Maybe half. My reasoning? The 2004 report by the John Jay College for Criminal Justice found that 4 percent of priests nationwide had a credible accusation made against them between 1950-2002. That is the figure everyone quotes. But the report also notes that roughly half that number were substantiated. If that is a reliable measure, the 300 figure drops to around 150.

The Pennsylvania reports says that 300 cases of abuse were credibly supported by the evidence — this was a specific analysis of the evidence in Pennsylvania. So Donohue argues that other, national figures say that half of their cases are unsubstantiated…so he evades the specifics and tries to claim that half the Pennsylvania cases are unsubstantiated. You don’t get to do that.

Also, even if he were right (he’s not), it’s 150 child molesters in the Pennsylvania clergy. What number is acceptable? I’m saying zero would be a number to shoot for.

His next excuse: most of the cases can’t be tried, because we’ve past the statute of limitations.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh “Salacious” Shapiro admitted on August 14 that “Almost every instance of child abuse (the grand jury) found was too old to be prosecuted.” He’s right. But he knew that from the get-go, so why did he pursue this dead end?

Because even if the crime can’t be prosecuted, the criminals should be exposed? Because this is an ongoing problem in the Catholic Church, so the church needs to be constantly prodded to make changes? Because the law isn’t always about justice, but justice must be pursued?

And then, most despicably, he doesn’t mince words in one excuse. This isn’t a problem with pedophilia in the church; this is a problem with The Gays.

How do I know that most of the problem is gay-driven? The data are indisputable.

The John Jay study found that 81 percent of the victims were male, 78 percent of whom were postpubescent. Now if 100 percent of the victimizers are male, and most of the victims are postpubescent males, that is a problem called homosexuality. There is no getting around it.

It’s an 80/20 male/female ratio of victims, but priests are 100% male, and priests are mostly going to be in charge of boys and young men. This ratio sounds like a ratio of opportunity.

Did I say he doesn’t play word games with this one excuse? Not quite. You see, Donohue argues that if the victims were post-pubescent, it doesn’t count as pedophilia. I don’t see a difference that matters — they’re all minors under the supposed care of the priest. It’s a vile abnegation of responsibility and decency. But to Bill, it’s just plain The Gay Abomination.

How many were pedophiles? Less than five percent. That is what the John Jay study found. Studies done in subsequent years—I have read them all—report approximately the same ratio. It’s been a homosexual scandal all along.

No, Bill. It’s been a Catholic scandal all along, and you’re not helping.


  1. hartwick says

    Okay, Bill, have it your way. There are 150 gay priests that sexually assaulted people. Do you find that acceptable?

  2. Gregory Greenwood says

    What kind of mental gymnastics does it take to think this way? Sexual assault is only a problem if there is penetration? That would almost be comically clueless if it wasn’t so horrifyingly inhumane. As for his attempt to use what essentially amounts to numerology to massage the figures for the number of paedophile priests downwards, even if his figures weren’t pulled out of his backside, 150 sexually predatory paedophile priests is still 150 too many.

    Perhaps strangest of all is his obsession with the notion that the problem is somehow homosexuality, when obviously the problem is people raping children. Donahue’s attempt to cast consensual homosexual sex between adults as equivalent to the rape of children is nauseating. It wouldn’t make a blind bit of difference if all the victimised children were female, or if the abusers were all women, or any other combination of genders in abused and abusers – the evil would be equally heinous.

    Child rape is not magically rendered more acceptable if the abuser is a man and the abused child a girl, and it takes a moral monster to imply that it is. Which of course leaves Donahue uniquely qualified for the role.

  3. spurge says

    I’ve given some thought to this continuing problem in the Catholic church along with all the others as far as I can tell. Here’s my suggestion for dealing with this: any organization that has child molesters and hides them or covers it up should lose their tax exemption. This way we just might start getting information about offenders when it happens and we can prosecute. If we don’t we made progress toward a balanced budget and the churches lose their special, undeserved status.

  4. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    Bill O’Dunder is thicker than a brick (sorry J.Tull)
    – Gays can rape gays,
    – unwanted sex is rape, regardless of the genders involved.
    – A power differential exploited for sex is rape.
    How thick does one have to be to not get it?
    oh yeah thick as O’Dunderhead.

  5. vucodlak says

    Now if 100 percent of the victimizers are male, and most of the victims are postpubescent males, that is a problem called homosexuality. There is no getting around it.

    So when I was 3 a “good Christian man” raped me. I was a boy. He was an elder in the church my parents attended, and the husband of the woman who ran the unlicensed daycare I was put it. He also did things (I know not what, as she refused to have anything to do with me after that day) to my friend, a three year-old girl. As I said, he was married to woman, with a son about our age who was terrified of him.

    He wasn’t gay. I’m not even sure it would be appropriate to call him a pedophile, because his assaults seemed to be born purely out of anger and cruelty. I suspect we were merely convenient and malleable victims. You can’t tell much about a rapist’s sexuality based on who they rape, beyond the bare fact that they’re a rapist. I can say for certain only that the man who assaulted me, my friend, and likely many others, was a sadistic predator.

    For the last 30 of my 33 years I’ve struggled with my sexuality, thanks to that rapist and people like Bill Donohue. I still have trouble getting intimate with partners. So Bill? A piece of advice: never, ever say anything like your little hateful screed to a victims face. I’m know you don’t give a damn about the victims’ feelings, but I say this for your sake. Because, well, I think Emilie Autumn said it best when she sang:
    I want my innocence back,
    and if you can’t pacify me
    I will break your bones.
    You think I’m bluffing?
    Just try me.

  6. Rich Woods says

    @mikehuben #1:

    How does he square this with the Pope saying it is awful?

    The Pope’s opinion carries no weight when Bill Donohue is speaking ex cathedra.

  7. unclefrogy says

    2 things about bills 150 vs 300 number
    the 300 number is in fact the number in this equation that is equivalent the 150 number in his defense example.
    from what I have heard the numbers of unreported sexual abuse dwarf the numbers of reported by a large factor. How can he or anyone else for that matter guarantee that the 300 is the actual total of all cases that fall under the definitions used for sexual assault?
    I spent too many years having to listen to that kind of bull shit legalistic crap when I was in school thank you very much he should choke on a host and puke on the floor at mass.
    uncle frogy

  8. Saganite, a haunter of demons says

    Evil. If there were a devil, people like Donohue would be his closest servants. But there isn’t so he’s just plain evil in a very human, very disgusting way.

  9. cartomancer says

    Funny, isn’t it, how male on female rape, paedophilic or otherwise, doesn’t get called a “heterosexuality problem”?

  10. demonax says

    Mr Donahue has dis informed over one State’s crimes. He will be kept busy when other States report on the Sacred activities in their bounds. He has an impressive grasp of perversion for a layman.

  11. tacitus says


    Okay, Bill, have it your way. There are 150 gay priests that sexually assaulted people. Do you find that acceptable?

    He would say no, of course not, but then Donohue would go on to place blame where he believes it lies — with the 1960s liberalization of the US Catholic seminaries that allowed homosexuals into the priesthood, thus “proving” his position that liberals are to blame, not the institution of Catholic Church.

    In other words, your question simply allows him to promote his thesis that liberals are evil.

  12. aziraphale says

    Donohue is scum, of course. But he does have one point. If I know that anyone under my authority has committed rape, I of course have a duty to report him to the police. But if I know that he has engaged in sexual talk with a child? Certainly I should talk to him and there should be some sort of disciplinary action, but what would the police have to do with it? There is a reason why we reserve the word “rape” for the most serious offences.

  13. nowamfound says

    i don’t get it. when i was in catiholic grade school grade school, girls couldn’t wear patent leather shoes. and it is a terrible sin to be gay. but it’s ok for men in dresses to grope altar boys? this donahue guy, does he have children? what if had been his kids? and statisticallly, given his age, he was probably gropily non-penetrably by th be sainted father paddy mcdrun when he was an altar boy

  14. iiandyiiii says

    Donohue is even worse than this — he argues over and over again that it doesn’t count as pedophilia if the victim was over 10 years of age. Seriously. It’s just bullshit semantic games because he understands how awful it sounds if people think of the Catholic Church as full of pedophiles. It’s dishonest and monstrous and he’s a morally bankrupt liar.

  15. patricklinnen says

    I group Bill Donohue with the Opus Deus bunch. They speak a-sotto against Capital Punishment and unjust wars (aka, Iraq War) but are just fine with Christians supporting those efforts.

    To be excommunicated, one has to support the right for LGBT folks to live and for abortion.

  16. says

    I think we should allow to make things straight.
    Groping is not the same thing as rape, raping 3 year old is pedophilia, raping 13 year old is raping an adolescent.

    Those are all different things. Those are not equal.
    All are unacceptable.
    So I think we should concede thos donohue guy that part of the offenses were not pedophilia and some were not rape but a sexual abuse (which I think would be called statutory rape if there is abuse of power position over a victim? I am not native english speaker)

    But even conceding all of that we still have an institution that protects a gang of child rapists long enough so they cannot by pursued for those crimes.

  17. anbheal says

    Vey, where to start?

    But mainly, I think his thesis boils down to the Catholic clergy are all homosexuals, not rapists. Our One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church and The Vatican and The Pope, the Infallible Pope, and all the saints and martyrs, are as gay as Jesus and Saint John The Evangelist. So when you’re as gay as Jesus and John, it can’t be rape. Gay is the problem. And we’re all gay AF. Or at least everyone who runs our religion is.

    Weird argument.

    We had three priests in our parish. Monsignor Sullivan, who wore pink and purple dresses, and who drank with my father and important men, greeted their wives cordially as they entered the church on Sunday morning, and never deigned to speak with children or poor people. Father Corrigan, the Corregidor, the Inquisitor, probably the rapist, he was always dragging boys by their ears back to the rectumry. And the sweet gay Father McLaughlin. From an order that wore the full cassock and cap. He would actually tie his cassock up into a loincloth playing basketball in the parking lot, so that he could dribble between his legs. Feather-soft jump shot, nifty Hell’s Kitchen moves. Bawled like a baby on the altar when he announced that he had accepted a Liberation Theology move to Nicaragua or Guatemala. The whole fucking parish was crying too.

    McLaughlin was the only good one of the lot. Literate, wise, nuanced. Trained crows, with cans of tuna fish, called them by name, they’d come and perch on his shoulders and arms. Looked like a scene from The Omen. One of the finest men I ever knew. I wish all priests were sweet smart gay men. I might have stayed Catholic.

  18. answersingenitals says

    A Friend In Deed

    Father Murphy is the alter boy”s friend.
    He tells him how he’ll meat his end.
    He takes him to that refectory place
    and teaches him how to repurpose his face.
    He shows him where and when to bend
    to reach that state of ethereal grace.

  19. ionopachys says

    Well hey, at least he’s acknowledging that homosexuality and pedophilia are not the same. That’s actually better than I would expect from him.

  20. Usernames! 🦑 says

    I think we should allow to make things straight.
    Groping is not the same thing as rape

    — Maciej Gorzkowski (#21)

    Pleased to excuse, but which of these, in your opinion, is or is not rape?

    Unwanted contact between:
    1) Genital and genital
    2) Anus and genital
    3) Mouth and genital
    4) Hand and genital