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

By Mary Gail Frawley-O’Dea; Virginia Goldner | Go to book overview

1
Introduction
The Catholic Sexual Abuse Crisis:
Gender, Sex, Power, and Discourse*

Virginia Goldner

The Reverend Ann Richards, who spent six years coordinating sexual misconduct cases involving Episcopal clergy, describes the priesthood as “a strenuous way of life.” A priest, she writes in her chapter for this volume, is “a numinous figure, representing God and all the energies associated with God in the religious tradition.” Such a role, she explains, “requires emotional strength, maturity, self-knowledge, tolerance of great ambiguity, and most important for the present topic … the ability to … hold boundaries.… [When] undertaken consciously, it can be very fulfilling and freeing. Blundered into, it can lead to great grief and emotional hurt to others, because the emotional strains of the job are usually great enough to threaten the maintenance of appropriate boundaries, at least occasionally.”

* Some of the chapters in this book (chaps. 5, 6, 9, 12, 16, and 16) are adapted from papers that appeared in the journal Studies in Gender and Sexuality (2004), as part of its special double issue devoted to the clergy sexual abuse scandal.

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