Human rights and gay campaigner Peter Tatchell, who is an atheist but was a Christian in his earlier years, has praised Catholic bishops for rejecting baseless Church claims that being gay is linked to abusing children.
His comments came in response to a considered statement issued by English and Welsh Catholic bishops on 13 April 2010, following controversial remarks by a senior Cardinal, Tarcisio Bertone, who was close to the last pope, as well as the current one.
Bertone, who is highly influential in the Vatican, said earlier this week that unspecified '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 there.
But Fr Marcus Stock, General Secretary of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, declared: “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'."
He continued: “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.”
Campaigner Peter Tatchell, who has been outspoken about both homophobia and abuse within the churches, said today: "I commend the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales for their intelligent, calm and accurate rejection of a causal link between paedophilia and sexual orientation."
"Their measured, non-homophobic tone contrasts sharply with the shrill, scapegoating comments of Cardinal Bertone," said the activist with the gay human rights group OutRage!
"The Bishops are right to point out that a propensity to child sex abuse is not based on a person's sexual orientation but on a sexual fixation with young people," said Tatchell.
He continued: "The reputation of the Vatican and the Pope has been badly damaged by recent attempts to blame gays, the media and Jews for the public outcry over the sex crimes of Catholic clergy."
"The response of the English and Welsh Bishops is much more mature and reasoned than the nonsense that has been coming out of the Vatican in the last few weeks," said Mr Tatchell.