"Let books be your dining table, / And you shall be full of delights. / Let them be your
And you shall sleep restful nights" (St. Ephraim the Syrian).

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Abuse and Lies in the Catholic Church

Does anyone have any patience left for yet another article, report, story, book about the sex abuse crisis in the Catholic Church? How many have we had in the last three months alone? The McCarrick Report (which "psychological disaster" I addressed here), the English-Welsh bishops' report, the attorney general's report on the Diocese of Buffalo, and at least two others I have seen. We've had such reports going back forty years and more at this point, and nothing has changed. Has anyone the slightest faith left that this will ever be seriously addressed? Does anyone for a moment remain so fatuous as to think bishops will ever really change? Who amongst us has been able to resist the thought that the entire episcopate is simply protecting their monopoly on power like a bunch of neighborhood gangsters? 

For those who have the stomach and the patience to read another book about the problem, Routledge has just come out with The Abuse of Minors in the Catholic Church: Dismantling the Culture of Cover Ups, eds., Anthony J. Blasi and Lluis Oviedo (Routledge, 2020), 288pp. We are offered the following description and table of contents (from which, I note without surprise, that once more any consideration of structural problems in the Church, which I alone seem to have taken seriously enough to write a book about, are absent): 

This book offers an academically rigorous examination of the biological, psychological, social and ecclesiastical processes that allowed sexual abuse in the Catholic Church to happen and then be covered up. The collected essays provide a means to better assess systemic wrongdoing in religious institutions, so that they can be more effectively held to account.

An international team of contributors apply a necessarily multi-disciplinary approach to this difficult subject. Chapters look closely at the sexual abuse of minors by Roman Catholic clerics, explaining the complexity of this issue, which cannot be reduced to simple misconduct, sexual deviation, or a management failure alone. The book will help the reader to better understand the social, organizational, and cultural processes in the Church over recent decades, as well as the intricate world of beliefs, moral rules, and behaviours. It concludes with some strategies for change at the individual and corporate levels that will better ensure safeguarding within the Catholic Church and its affiliate institutions.  

This multifaceted study gives a nuanced analysis of this huge organizational failure and offers recommendations for effective ways of preventing it in the future. As such, it will be of keen interest to scholars of Religious Studies, Sociology of Religion, Psychology, Psychiatry, Legal Studies, Ethics, Anthropology, Cultural Studies, History, and Theology.

Table of Contents: 


1 Sexual Abuse of Young Boys in the RomanCatholic Church: An Insider Clinician’s Academic Perspective

Jay Feierman

2 For a Sociology of Pederasty in Catholic Clergy

Javier Elzo

3 Does Faulty Theology Play a Role in the Abuse Crisis?

Lluis Oviedo

4 The Role of Informal Networks in the Coverup of Clerical Sex Abuse

Anthony J. Pogorelc

5 From Causes toward Stratagems and Theological Considerations

Anthony J. Blasi

6 Has Canon Law Solved Any of the Challenges of the Sexual Abuse Crisis?

Patricia M. Dugan

7 Clergy Sex Abuse Litigation: Attribution of Responsibility to Religious Entities by Civil Courts

Nicolás Zambrana-Tévar

8 Sexual Abuse and Clerical Homosexuality: Notes on an Enigmatic Context

Dominikus Kraschl

9 Conclusion: Trying to Learn Some Lessons and Correct Past Mistakes

Anthony J. Blasi and Lluis Oviedo


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