Perversion of Power: Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Churchby Mary Gail Frawley-O'Dea
Pub. Date: 03/28/2007
Publisher: Vanderbilt Univ Pr
Since 2002, the Roman Catholic Church has been in crisis over the sexual abuse of minors by priests and the cover-up of those crimes by bishops. Over 11,000 alleged victims have reported their experiences to the Church, and more than 4,700 priests since 1950 have been credibly accused of sexually victimizing minors. The Church has paid over one billion dollars to
Since 2002, the Roman Catholic Church has been in crisis over the sexual abuse of minors by priests and the cover-up of those crimes by bishops. Over 11,000 alleged victims have reported their experiences to the Church, and more than 4,700 priests since 1950 have been credibly accused of sexually victimizing minors. The Church has paid over one billion dollars to adults who claim to have been sexually abused by priests and there is no end in sight to these lawsuits.
Celibacy, homosexuality in the priesthood, the infiltration into the priesthood of secular moral relativism, too much liberalism in the Church since Vatican II, damaging rollback of Vatican II reforms by conservative prelates--all have been suggested as causes for the crisis. This book, however, begins with the premise that, because the pattern of abuse and cover-up was so similar across the world, there is something fundamentally awry with Church traditions and power structures in relationship to sexuality and sexual abuse.
Specifically, in chapters on suffering and sadomasochism, bodies and gender, desire and sexuality, celibacy and homosexuality, the author concludes that aspects of the Catholic theology of sexuality set the stage for the abuse of minors and its cover-up. Frawley-O'Dea also analyzes the American bishops' lack of pastoral care and tendency towards clerical narcissism--the belief that the needs of the hierarchy represent the needs of the wider Church--as central factors in the scandal. She balances this criticism with a discussion of the backgrounds of the bishops presiding over the crisis and the challenges they faced in their relationships with the Pope and Vatican officials.
Drawing on twenty years of clinical experience, she imagines the dynamics of sexual abuse both from the victim's point of view and from the priest's, and she probes why the Church hierarchy, fellow priests, and lay people were silent for so long. Finally, Frawley-O'Dea examines factors internal to the Church and outside of it that drew this scandal into the public square and kept it there.
- Vanderbilt Univ Pr
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- New Edition
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- 6.32(w) x 9.22(h) x 0.94(d)
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I just completed 'Sacrilege: Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church.' It was an often too vivid, but real account of crimes/abuse of Children by priests in the Catholic, and other, Churches too. The public should be aware of these crimes because they permeate our culture where ever children or vulnerable adults gather. Not just in churches. Now I must read Perversion of Power too. So sad that this occurred but the authors document WHY it happened. But most of the criminals went free and often live on monthly stipends from their church. And they live in the public. Public Beware- for the protection of children.
I have read most texts or books which discuss the sexual abuse of children either by clergy or educators. Some are helpful some are essential, this is the latter. The author writes in an interesting manner but it is obvious she is an academic, and her credentials bear this our. She makes the book relevant to these times because she is not afraid to use the language necessary to get a point across. Like other books written in this field it is painful at times to read what happened to many children and how the institutions responsible for their safety tried to either minimize the harm done, hide it, or even try to blame the children or their parents. This is necessary reading for teachers especially since they are the persons most in contact with these vulnerable individuals. It can also help those who are asked to attempt to provide justice to those harmed, such as lawyers, the courts and the politicians.