Sexual Abuse and the Culture of Catholicism: How Priests and Nuns Become Perpetrators

Sexual Abuse and the Culture of Catholicism: How Priests and Nuns Become Perpetrators

Sexual Abuse and the Culture of Catholicism: How Priests and Nuns Become Perpetrators

Sexual Abuse and the Culture of Catholicism: How Priests and Nuns Become Perpetrators

Synopsis

An inside look at the reasons Catholic priests and nuns commit sexual abuse
Sexual Abuse and the Culture of Catholicism digs beneath the public scandals to explore the underlying causes of sexual abuse by priests and nuns from the unique perspective of an abuse victim/survivor who is an experienced mental health practitioner and social science researcher. This powerful book includes the author s personal account of sexual abuse by a nun and her years of struggle to recover. Passionate but scholarly and objective, the book advocates the need for healing dialogue, empirical research, and informed prevention strategies to bring a meaningful resolution to the crisis of sexual abuse in the church.
Popular explanations for the reasons behind the crisis have included issues related to celibacy, homosexuality, the power structure of the church, and poor seminary screening practices. But none of these theories are supported by research nor can they explain why Catholic priests and nuns may be more likely to abuse children that other adults in positions of trust. Sexual Abuse and the Culture of Catholicism uses a complex, systemic approach to draw parallels between the church as a human system and a family that has experienced incest, presenting a model for a sexual trauma cycle in the church based on systemic sexual shame passed down through the beliefs and practices of Catholicism.
Sexual Abuse and the Culture of Catholicism examines:
  • the prevalence and characteristics of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and nuns compared to sex offenders in the general population
  • celibacy, homosexuality, and the power structure of the church as contributing factors in the sexual abuse crisis
  • an analogy of the church as a family in which incest occurs
  • the effects and causes of sexual offending from one generation to the next
  • how current research on sexual offending applies to sexual abuse by priests and nuns
  • healing and empowerment for those affected by religious-based sexual trauma
  • reform and renewal within the Catholic Church
  • and much more
Sexual Abuse and the Culture of Catholicism is a unique and important resource for clergy, religious order, and lay leaders in the Catholic Church and other Christian denominations; social science researchers; social workers and mental health professionals; lay and religious members of the Catholic Church; and anyone recovering from religious-based sexual trauma.

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    Excerpt

    Since the mid-1980s the Catholic Church has been rocked by repeated revelations of sexual abuse by its clergy. Perpetrators included deacons, priests, bishops, and at least one cardinal. Although the initial public revelations captured media attention in 1984, the uncovering of a massive cover-up by The Boston Globe in January 2002 thrust the issue onto center stage, where it remained for over a year. More than four years have passed and the victims of Catholic clergy sexual abuse continue to come forward. Their cases plod on in the civil courts and the Catholic hierarchy continues to defend its indefensible actions.

    The phenomenon of clergy sexual abuse was first described as a “crisis” and has been regularly referred to as a “scandal.” Though the revelations since the mid-1980s have shocked many, the historical reality is that sexual misconduct and violations of mandatory celibacy by Catholic clerics and religious women is not new in our era. The Catholic Church’s own official documentation shows a regular pattern of awareness of sexual abuse and consistent attempts to curb it and enforce celibacy through disciplinary measures. What we have

    Father Thomas Doyle is a Dominican priest with a doctorate in canon law and certification as an addictive disorders counselor. He became an expert on the problem of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church during the time he served as a canon lawyer for the Vatican Embassy in Washington, DC, from 1981 to 1986. At that time, a number of accusations of child abuse by priests, bishops, and members of religious orders were reported to the embassy. Fr. Doyle has since become a major advocate for victims of clerical sex abuse and has received numerous awards for his work including the Cavallo Award for Moral Courage in 1992, the Priest of Integrity Award from Voice of the Faithful in 2002, and the Isaac Hecker Award from the Paulist Fathers in 2003. He has published extensively on the topic of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church and recently co-authored the book Sex, Priests, and Secret Codes: The Catholic Church’s 2,000-Year Paper Trail of Sexual Abuse (Volt Press, 2006).

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