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Leaders of DignityUSA today condemned statements by Vatican spokesman Dr. Joaquin Navarro-Valls in which he blamed clergy sexual abuse on gay priests. Navarro-Valls was quoted in the March 3, 2002 The New York Times as saying that "People with these inclinations just cannot be ordained," and likening their ordination to a marriage that could be annulled.

"This is nothing more than a vicious and transparent attempt to shift the blame, in an effort to deny institutional culpability" in light of recent clergy sexual abuse scandals, said Mary Louise Cervone, DignityUSA President. "This is about violence against children and abuse of power. It has nothing to do with sexual orientation," she declared.

"Church leaders should be out among the victims of sexual abuse, listening to what happened and how it impacted their lives," said Cervone. "The Christian response would be to make meaningful restitution to the victims, cooperate with law enforcement to bring perpetrators to justice, and to learn how to prevent future abuse. Instead, they are trying to make gay priests the scapegoats for decades of criminal abuse. It's appalling."

Cervone predicted that Navarro-Valls' blaming of gay priests for sexual abuse would persuade few Catholics. "Members of our Church know the difference between abuse of children and a healthy, mature sexuality. They see the sex abuse issue for what it is--a symptom of a repressive, arrogant system that sees self-preservation as more important than caring for individuals."

Cervone concluded by expressing sympathy for all victims of clergy sexual abuse, both male and female. "To be abused by someone who also serves as a representative of the Church, and, indeed, as a representative of Christ, is a truly wrenching betrayal of all that is sacred. We in DignityUSA pray that all such victims get appropriate treatment and care, and find some way to be at peace."

DignityUSA is the nation's oldest and foremost organization of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered Catholics, their families, friends and supporters. Founded in 1969, it is an independent nonprofit, with members and Chapters throughout the US.