THE SILENCE WE KEEP by Karol Jackowski


A Nun’s View of the Catholic Priest Scandal
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No mere rap on the knuckles for the Catholic establishment, from a nun with 40 years in the sisterhood.

Initially disqualifying herself as a Catholic historian, Sister Karol (Ten Fun Things to Do Before You Die, not reviewed, etc.) goes right on to commingle her opinions with those of authoritative sources supporting her view that the prime aspect of the ongoing travails of the Church today is: Men did it. And they have been doing it, she opines, pretty much since the fifth century, when Saint Augustine got up one morning with an exaggerated, if not paranoid, dread of what “the intrinsic evil of sexual pleasure and the seductively subordinate nature of women” would do to his church. Augustine’s law of celibacy, the author believes, drawn directly from pagan religious practices and applied to a select all-male priesthood otherwise anointed with power and privilege, was a major derailment of what the preexisting populist “Jesus Movement” had intended. She also cites a firm economic basis for celibacy (no families to support or to inherit property) that was not lost on two millennia of popes and their accountants. Not that celibacy was ever observed all that much by the Church fathers and their brethren, she asserts, citing centuries of “rampant” sexual activity in monasteries, Venetian convents operated as upper-class brothels, and even a pope who died in an adulterous embrace—possibly bludgeoned by the offended husband. History recounted, her stance is: What did you expect? Forced celibacy is tantamount to abuse and creates abusers protected by a pervasive tradition of “infallibility, guarded by secrecy and silence.” Sexual straying in convents today? Maybe occasionally, the still-devout sister allows, but nothing like the priesthood and virtually no abuse of children or parishioners. Her final word? Only a “second Pentecost” can save Catholicism.

A stridently feminist plea for another fall of Rome, if that’s what it takes.

Pub Date: Feb. 17th, 2004
ISBN: 1-4000-5055-3
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Harmony
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1st, 2003


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