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Before Dallas: The U.s. Bishops' Response to Clergy Sexual Abuse of Children Hardcover – March 3, 2008

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 255 pages
  • Publisher: Paulist Pr (March 3, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0809105802
  • ISBN-13: 978-0809105809
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,241,282 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


Nick Cafardi explores the dark world of a sad era of American Catholicism when the clerical sexual abuse of children went unreported and hardly noticed except by a few insiders whose failure to adequately utilize church law is its own condemnation. -- Justice Anne M. Burke Illinois Supreme Court

The sex abuse crisis did not erupt full blown without warning--and Nick Cafardi tells us why. In this important book, Professor Cafardi traces the legal lapses of America's bishops that allowed the scandal to fester. Better yet, he offers thoughtful remedies so that the Church can heal and its victims find peace. -- BillChairman of the E.W. Scripps Company and of the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, DC

About the Author

Dean Cafardi is both a civil and canon lawyer. He served as dean of the Duquesne Law School from 1993-2005 and is now the dean emeritus and professor of law at Duquesne.

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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By James W. Garvey on March 15, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Nicholas P. Cafardi's book: "Before Dallas, The U. S. Bishops' Response to Clergy Sexual Abuse of Children," gives us a detailed look at the efforts made by Catholic bishops in the United States as they sought ways to deal with priests who had sexually abused children and teenagers. Cafardi offers an historical synopsis of the crime of sexual abuse as defined by the Church's canon law, and outlines the scope of the problem in the U.S.A. beginning in 1984 through 2002. He also explains why the bishops generally elected not to use canon law to involuntarily remove priests against whom there were substantial allegations of abuse. Cafardi lists the various treatment options open to the bishops in dealing with clergy who were accused of sexual abuse. Perhaps the most interesting chapter [at least for me] in Professor Cafardi's book points out the numerous major efforts of individual diocesan bishops to respond to accusations by victims against priests in active ministry, and to address the pathologies of clergy who abused children. The national body, the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, also made some efforts to respond forthrightly to these concerns. Alas, these efforts were mostly carried out behind closed doors and the public found out about them only in more recent years. In the final chapter, Cafardi offers a list of canonical lessons that might be learned from this terrible period in the history of the Catholic church in the U. S. This is a well researched and well written book. The sixty-six pages of footnotes which support and expand upon material in the text are very interesing, and in some cases more revealing than the text itself. The author translates Latin phrases within the text, however, some footnotes are not translated from the Latin.Read more ›
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Ronald J. Nuzzi on May 2, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This is an extremely useful and honest book. Cafardi has been involved in the legal and canonical issues surrounding clergy sexual abuse of minors for many years, and he has a sharp eye for interpreting the law, analyzing trends, and pointing out inconsistencies. In this book, his clear delineation of the differences between adminstrative and penal procedures in Canon Law illuminates the most difficult question of the day, namely, how could bishops repeatedly re-assign sexual offenders. Cafardi sheds light where others have generated only heat. More importantly, the entire text is devoted to the years before the crisis was in full swing, providing the context for understanding how we arrived to our current policies.

But be forewarned. This is a sad, troubling, and disconcerting book.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on April 3, 2008
Format: Hardcover
The American Catholic church faces its greatest challenges from the clergy sexual abuse scandal and its ongoing impact in modern times, even though it has long recognized the problem over its long history. Canon law has been devised to handle such cases, but modern Church leaders favor therapeutic solutions over such precedents - and BEFORE DALLAS: THE U.S. BISHOPS' RESPONSE TO CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE OF CHILDREN examines these solutions and their lasting effects on victims, social and spiritual mores alike.
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