Predatory Priests, Silenced Victims: The Sexual Abuse Crisis and the Catholic Church

Predatory Priests, Silenced Victims: The Sexual Abuse Crisis and the Catholic Church

Predatory Priests, Silenced Victims: The Sexual Abuse Crisis and the Catholic Church

Predatory Priests, Silenced Victims: The Sexual Abuse Crisis and the Catholic Church

Synopsis

The sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic Church captured headlines and mobilized public outrage in January 2002. But much of the commentary that immediately followed was reductionistic, focusing on single "causes" of clerical abuse such as mandatory celibacy, homosexuality, sexual repressiveness or sexual permissiveness, anti-Catholicism, and a decadent secular culture.

Predatory Priests, Silenced Victims: The Sexual Abuse Crisis and the Catholic Church, a collection of groundbreaking articles edited by Mary Gail Frawley-O'Dea and Virginia Goldner, eschews such one-size-fits-all theorizing. In its place, the abuse situation is explored in all its troubling complexity, as contributors take into account the experiences, respectively, of the victim/survivor, the abuser/perpetrator, and the bystander (whether family member, professional/clergy, or the community at large). Setting polemics to the side, Predatory Priests, Silenced Victims provides a sober and sobering analysis of the interlacing historical, doctrinal, and psychological issues that came together in the sexual abuse scandal. It is mandatory reading for all who seek thoughtful, informed commentary on a crisis long in the making and yet to be resolved.

Excerpt

Most reporters agree that the Catholic Church’s contemporary sexual abuse scandal began in Henry, Louisiana, when molestation allegations were made against Fr. Gilbert Gauthe in 1983 (Berry, 1992, 2000; Bruni & Burkett, 1993, 2002; Investigative Staff of The Boston Globe, 2002; Jenkins, 1996; Wills, 2000). The Gauthe case contained all the elements that eventually would become associated with the Church crisis. In fact, a review of the relevant literature, including more than 100 newspapers articles, suggests a deadeningly repetitive paradigm of perpetration and cover-up, first revealed in the Gauthe case and lived out for decades across the United States.

* Portions of this chapter appear in Frawley-O’Dea, Mary Gail. Perversion of Power: Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church. Vanderbilt University Press, 2007.

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