Accurate to Describe as Pedophilia?

Dear Father Phil,

I'm Lutheran pastor in Lancaster, PA. My wife asked me a question that I couldn't answer.

Is it accurate to describe these sexual offenses as "pedophilia"? She suggests several reasons that it should be looked at in the broader context of homosexuality.

a) In almost all cases, the victims are teens, not children.

b) In almost all cases, the victims are boys, not girls.

c) Among homosexual males, the behavior doesn't begin in adulthood. Often he's "initiated" as an adolescent.

I think she has a point. I've heard no one ask whether the guilty party has been involved in other types of homosexual behavior?

I'd welcome your observations.

Blessings to you in Holy Week.

Jonathan Jenkins


Dear John,

Good to hear from you. It seems to me your wife is on the right track. I work with a group called Courage which tries to help men and women with same sex attractions to live Jesus' teaching on chastity. As you might imagine, it is often a horrible, painful struggle, particularly for the men. Many have come out of an inferno of promiscuity, often combined with alchohol, drugs, rampant consumerism, etc. They recognize they really have only two options: holiness or absolute misery. Of course, those are the same options all human beings face, but these guys are much clearer about it.

A number of my priest friends experience same sex attractions and are living chaste, holy lives. Their parishioners would be astounded to know their struggles. Henri Nouwen is a good example of a priest who struggled with those attractions - and triumphed, through the grace of Christ.

Of course, priests with attraction to the opposite sex also face struggles, as I imagine you do from time to time in your ministry. But women seem to be smarter than men in this area and are good at putting a guy in his place if he gets wacky....

The problem with clergy involved with children or adolescents deserves special attention. As your wife noted, true pedophilia (attraction to pre-pubescent children) is extremely rare. But pederasty has been a more common problem. Canon law has always had strict sanctions in that area. However, because we have failed in our internal discipline, civil law has had to step in.

I tried to say something about this in my homily last nite:

On Monday of Holy Week I met with my priests’ support group (Jesus Caritas). The six priests in the group felt the embarrassment, sadness and humiliation the Archbishop referred to. We also expressed anger and even disbelief that the Archdiocese of Boston had allowed a child abuser to return to active ministry. Back in the 1980’s Archbishop Hunthausen ordered “the systematic examination of all personnel files and asked the State Attorney General’s Office to review them with an eye toward the safety of our children.” We had assumed this happened in all dioceses. It was discouraging to find out that as late as the early 90’s, a priest with pedophilia tendencies and others who had been involved sexually with teenagers were allowed to continue in the ministry.

At the same time my priest group reflected on this tragedy, we also acknowledged that each of us has our own personal demons, struggles and failures – like every human being. For that reason I am going to make a personal request of you this Holy Thursday. The people who attend this Mass are the core of Holy Family Parish. I know you love the Church and desire the best for her. I ask you to pray for priests. (Holy Thursday Homily)

I would appreciate any reflections of yours, John.

Also could you help me with a question. Someone asked about Luther's famous "dunghill covered with snow." Do you know if and where he made the statement?

Have a beautiful Easter.


Fr. Phil Bloom

Pedophilia and Teaching of Bible

Other Letter regarding Boston Scandal

Letter from Former Catholic

Catholicism is the Answer

Felony Pedophilia

Is Celibacy the Problem?

"devil is asserting his power"

"you want Holy Priests, then we must adopt them..."

"I would still like to see him stay"

Homily on Boston Scandal


the modern world (even while mocking sexual innocence) has flung itself into a generous idolatry of sexual innocence--the great modern worship of children. For any man who loves children will agree that their peculiar beauty is hurt by a hint of physical sex. (from Orthodoxy by G. K. Chesterton)