A GOSPEL OF SHAME by Elinor Burkett

A GOSPEL OF SHAME

Child Sexual Abuse and the Catholic Church

KIRKUS REVIEW

 A hard-hitting investigation of what the authors term ``the greatest public relations fiasco the Catholic Church has faced in recent memory''--the recent explosion of pedophilia trials and lawsuits involving Catholic clergy. There have been at least 200 priests brought to court during the past several years on charges of child sexual abuse. Burkett and Bruce (reporters for, respectively, the Miami Herald and The Detroit Free Press) argue that the Church's rigid hierarchical structure can't cope with a crisis ``that lingers at the intersection of sexuality, secrecy, patriarchy and blind obedience.'' They explain clearly such matters as how obedience to clergy prevented the laity from going public with accusations earlier; why cops, newspapers, and mental-health professionals haven't pursued priest-molesters as vigorously as other pedophiles; and the loss of faith felt by parishioners who have been reportedly lied to by the Church. The authors have done their homework, citing dozens of news accounts and interviewing victims of errant priests, 12 bishops, and even six clergymen who describe how they came to molest children. But some of their findings aren't used carefully (for example, they cite studies comparing pedophilia among Protestant and Catholic clergy without stressing that the studies derived from different surveys). Moreover, Burkett and Bruce should in fairness note that, in the general population, most pedophiles aren't single but married. Still, even orthodox Catholics are likely to be shocked by the incidents reported here (one ex-priest stands accused of charges brought by 68 alleged victims), as well as by some archbishops' abysmal stonewalling when confronted with evidence of these crimes--everything from denial that offenses could have occurred to refusal to provide investigators with salient documents. A disturbing report--and especially timely, with American bishops taking a higher profile to counteract abuse. (Photos--not seen)

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-670-84828-X
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Viking
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 1993




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