A Gospel of Shame: Children, Sexual Abuse, and the Catholic Church

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9780060522322: A Gospel of Shame: Children, Sexual Abuse, and the Catholic Church

The relentless crescendo of revelations of sexual abuse in the nation's Catholic churches has rocked the nation. Just how widespread is child sexual abuse by the Catholic clergy? And why hasn't the Catholic church done more to stop it?

In A Gospel of Shame, Pulitzer Prize-nominated journalists Elinor Burkett and Frank Bruni provide the answers to these questions and more. The answers, however, turn out to be infuriating and heartbreaking, difficult to accept but impossible to dismiss. The authors thoroughly document dozens of cases across the country and reveal how this heinous abuse of trust has been tacitly sanctioned by the Church's silence.

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About the Author:

Frank Bruni, a reporter in the Washington bureau of the New York Times, now writes full-time for the Times Sunday magazine. For his previous work on other subjects, he was named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for feature writing and a winner of the Polk Award for Metropolitan Reporting. He has appeared on ABC-TV's Nightline and other programs to talk about the Bush campaign and presidency.

Elinor Burkett has worked as a newspaper reporter, university professor, and magazine writer. A Pulitzer Prize—nominated journalist and the author of eight previous books, she divides her time between the Catskill Mountains of New York and Bulawayo, Zimbabwe.

From Kirkus Reviews:

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) -- Copyright 1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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