most, presents a number of quite significant difficulties. Forrnexample, it cannot be denied that some priests, being human,rncommit serious crimes, while large institutions tendrnsometimes to favor self-interest and self-protection over thernpublic good. But we knew this already. What is more contentious,rnand indeed wildly speculative, is the estimate of thernscale of the problem. Who has the slightest idea whether thernnumber of priests who molest children is twenty percent of therntotal or whether it is a fraction of one percent? And contraryrnto the impression derived from “experts,” we do not knowrnmuch about the impact of noncoercive molestation on childrenrnor adolescents: in the late 1970’s, most therapists thoughtrnthe effects were relatively trivial; in the early 1990’s, we thinkrnthey are devastating. Who is to know?rnProblems are defined by language, and the issue of “clergyrnabuse” is no exception. The term builds on an existing fund ofrnsocially available knowledge and imagery. Since we knowrnwhat “abuse” is (or think we know) and what clergy arc, werntherefore can work out what the terms mean in combination.rn”Clergy abuse” means exploitative molestation of children byrnpriests or religious; or so it should. But looking into the somewhatrnbizarre literature on the topic, it swiftly becomes apparentrnthat “clerical abuse” means no such thing. In effect, thernterm relates to any sexual contact between a clergyman andrnany of his parishioners, male or female, no matter how adult orrnconsenting. A recent article in Ms. defined “clergy abuse”rnwith incredible breadth as “inappropriate sexual behavior orrnsexual contact with parishioners, clients or employees.” Inrn1991, the journal Episcopal Life published an irate and deeplyrnfelt series on “clergy sexual abuse,” which it presented as onernof the gravest crises facing that church; yet most of the casernstudies offered involved heterosexual relationships betweenrnconsenting adults. We can imagine that a woman in her 30’srnmight feel “abused” or exploited in such a relationship, but thisrnis hardly on a moral par with the actions of a schoolyard molester.rnPriestly pedophilia has become a superbrnweapon to be used against the Church,rnbecause it presents a stereotype thatrnappears gravely threatening to the most loyalrnCatholic parishioners themselves. Pedophiliarnalso seems so unquestionably evil that itrnbecomes impossible to challenge the critics: tornquestion the panic is to attack the patheticrnvictims or—still worse—to exhibitrnthe grave pathology known as ‘denial.’rnIn the Catholic Church, we hear much about “pedophilia,”rnan attractive term because of the alliterative quality of “priestlyrnpedophilia.” Like “molestation” or “abuse,” this word suggestsrninvolvement with children, ranging in age from toddlersrnto pubescent youngsters, and further suggests forced acts thatrnpartake to some extent of the nature of rape. These acts haverncertainly occurred, indeed in some of the more notorious cases.rnHowever, by no means did all of the scandals involve “molestation,”rnand many did not include victims we can accuratelyrncharacterize as “children.” When considered in detail,rnperhaps eighty or ninety percent of the cases involved sexual liaisonsrnbetween priests and boys or young men in their teens orrneady 20’s.rnThis behavior may be reprehensible in terms of ecclesiasticalrnand moral codes of sexual conduct, specifically in violatingrnvows of celibacy; and it might well be that the power relationshiprnbetween priest and young parishioner renders it difficultrnto speak of it as fully consensual. However, the nature ofrnthe act would seem to be better characterized as “homosexuality”rnthan “pedophilia” or molestation. In the words of arnNova Scotia bishop, following the scandal at the Mount Cashelrnhome in Newfoundland, “we are not dealing with classic pedophilia.rnI do not want to argue that homosexual activity betweenrna priest and an adolescent is therefore moral. Rather itrndoes not have the horrific character of pedophilia.”rnThis is neither to defend nor to justify the conduct, but it isrnnecessary to stress that conventional language may exaggeraternboth the degree of force used on and the nature of harm donernto the supposed victim. Failure to discriminate between homosexualityrnand pedophilia was long a feature of antihomosexualrnpolemic; it is surprising to find such a confusion of terminologyrnin contemporary liberal circles.rnBut there are many oddities in this controversy, many areasrnin which our normal expectations about partisan attitudesrnare confounded. For instance, the Catholic Church hasrnfor years recognized the problem of abusers in its ranks and hasrnattempted to deal with the problem in a humane and therapeuticrnway, refusing to invoke the criminal justice system.rnOffending clerics have been treated both as sinners capable ofrnreform and as sick individuals deserving treatment rather thanrnpunishment. This would seem to be a model example ofrnpenological liberalism, yet it is this very humanity that hasrnearned the wrath of liberals and feminists who demand thatrnoffenders be subject to the rigorous penalties of law for theirrnsexual misdeeds.rnCan this be correct? Liberals denouncing homosexuality?rnLiberals calling for the police and courts to enforce moralrnlaws? This would all be very surprising if we did not recognizernthe deeper anti-Catholic agenda at work here. Priestly pedophiliarnhas become a superb weapon to be used against thernChurch, because it presents a stereotype that appears gravelyrnthreatening to the most loyal Catholic parishioners themselves.rnPedophilia also seems so unquestionably evil that it becomesrnimpossible to challenge the critics: to question the panicrnis to attack the pathetic victims or—still worse—to exhibitrnthe grave pathology known as “denial.” It is simply not acceptablernto believe or to state that some, even a handful, of thernalleged victims might be less than impeccable in their stories.rnIn child abuse, as in Catholic doctrine, there is a firm butrnselective belief in infallibility.rnMoreover, if in fact the problem is as bad as has been described,rnthen desperate measures are required to deal with it;rnand by a remarkable coincidence, the best solutions appearrnto be found in the traditional liberal and anti-Catholic agendarn—measures that strike at the heart of Catholic belief, teaching,rnand practice. If this statement seems hyperbolic, considerrnseveral specific practices that have long been attacked byrn26/CHRONICLESrnrnrn