Bless Me Father for I Have Sinned: Perspectives on Sexual Abuse Committed by Roman Catholic Priests

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THOMAS G. PLANTE (ED.): Bless Me Father for I Have Sinned: Perspectives on Sexual Abuse Committed by Roman Catholic Priests. Praeger Publishers, Westport, CT, 1999, 200 pp. $59.99 ISBN O-275-96386-1.

The subject of sexual abuse of male adolescents by priests, particularly Roman Catholic priests, has attracted wide public attention in the last decade or so. This edited book summarizes the experience of a group of clinicians who have spent a large portion of their professional life working in this very specialized area. The chapters cover theoretical as well as clinical topics. Plante indicates that some naive individuals believe that priests do not engage in sexual activity Well, count me among the naive ones. That is what I thought abstinence meant. As an adolescent who had Catholic friends, and as a psychoanalyst who treats some Catholic patients, I continue to be impressed by the guilt expressed by Catholics about any form of sexuality. Some of the chapters focus on intervention in clergy sexual abuse and the forensic psychological assessments of both the offender and the victim. Some neuropsychological findings in members of clergy point to problems with the right frontal hemisphere, findings that seem to be coming out about all sexual abusers. There is an excellent chapter on the treatment of molesting priests and a detailed description of a model program in Washington, D.C. A useful chapter deals with the treatment of the victims of clergy sexual misconduct. I found the chapters dealing with psychosocial issues to be more informative than the findings on the sexual abusers. These latter chapters were a rehashing of information about sexual offenders in general. …


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