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Pedophiles and Priests: Anatomy of a Contemporary Crisis Paperback – May 17, 2001


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; New Ed edition (May 17, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195145976
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195145977
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 0.7 x 6.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #204,095 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Since 1982, 400 Catholic clergy (out of a total of 50,000 American priests) have been accused of sexual misconduct with minors. In this in-depth study, Jenkins, professor of history and religious studies at Pennsylvania State University, examines the circumstances surrounding the molestation charges that peaked in the early 1990s. He looks at such prominent cases as those of Father Bruce Ritter, founder of Covenant House, who was forced to resign in disgrace in 1990; and the notorious Rev. James Porter, who may have molested more than 100 children before he was convicted and sentenced to prison. Jenkins probes scandals in other religions; looks at the traditional "anti-Catholic" feelings in the U.S.; documents the media's frenzied reactions to the charges; chronicles the feminist response to the allegations; and researches the financial drain on the Church caused by litigation (estimated to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars) as well as the debate surrounding recovered memory and repressed memory. Jenkins (Intimate Enemies) has written a thorough, academic study that convincingly challenges the popular estimate of the extent of pedophiles in the Church.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review


"A thorough, academic study that convincingly challenges the popular estimate of the extent of pedophiles in the Church."--Publishers Weekly


"Philip Jenkins...brings to the issue of clergy abuse an experienced eye. Pedophiles and Priests is a fine cautionary tale that should give all parties to the pedophile-priest crisis something to think about."--The New York Times Book Review


"For those who have been offended by the media coverage of the 'epidemic' of sexual abuse by Catholic priests, here at last is somewhere to turn for the facts."--National Review


"While he may overestimate the long-term consequences of the malfeasance he examines, Philip Jenkins' admirable study is without doubt the best account we have of clerical sexual scandal and the way it has been exploited by contending forces within contemporary religion and the media. The book is a model of scholarly and judicious treatment of a subject much sensationalized and therefore much misunderstood."--The Reverend Richard John Neuhaus, editor in chief of First Things



More About the Author

Philip Jenkins is the author of The Lost History of Christianity and has a joint appointment as the Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of the Humanities in history and religious studies at Penn State University and as Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Institute for Studies of Religion at Baylor University. He has published articles and op-ed pieces in The Wall Street Journal, The New Republic, The Atlantic Monthly, The Washington Post, and The Boston Globe and has been a guest on top national radio shows across the country.

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 40 people found the following review helpful By The Rev. Dr. Daniel J. G. G. Block on September 14, 2002
Format: Paperback
Professor Jenkins contributes immeasurably to the current discussion of clergy sexual abuse by doing what every social scientist should. Jenkins steadfastly refuses to add to the volume of this shrill and partisan debate by offering conjectures or personal opinions. Instead, he calmly presents the data in a detached manner, and then draws his conclusions based solely on the data.
Anyone with an interest in the current crisis would benefit from reading Professor Jenkins' sane, calm, and lucid analysis.
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47 of 57 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 25, 2002
Format: Paperback
Philip Jenkins has written a first-rate book, not just about the "moral panic" over "pedophile priests", but about our tendency as a society to seek simplistic answers for complex social problems. Jenkins argues persuasively, on the basis of extensive evidence, that the portrayal of the Catholic Church as a haven for pedophiles is just the latest version of the anti-Catholic stereotype which dates back at least as far as the Reformation. The scapegoating of the Catholic Church is also facilitated, as Jenkins points out, by the bureaucratic tradition of the Curia: keeping centralized records of abuse allegations makes a Catholic diocese an easy target for litigation, in a way which a dispersed Protestant denomination can never be.
Highly recommended. Very clear, accessible, and thoroughly researched.
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48 of 59 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 5, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Priests and pedophilia is a subject not easily discussed without arousing deep emotional reactions. Phillip Jenkins, however, has taken an objective scholastic approach that backs each assertion with stong quotations and clear logical arguements. He shows how a national history of anti-catholicism, a sensationalistic-hungry mass media, a changing legal environnment, new definitions of 'sex-abuse', and a factional struggle for change within the Roman Church, all set the stage for what inevitably became the 'clergy-abuse crisis'. He offers much new insight and a good bibliography. I think at times however, he overestimates the power of the laity, and democracy; and underscores the 'Divine' origin and mission of the Roman Church. The book also lacked what I had hoped for by way of statistics. I would still recommend this book for anyone interested in catholic apologetics, or anyone just looking for a more scholarly diagnosis of the 'pedophile/priest crisis'.
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29 of 37 people found the following review helpful By abc on April 28, 2002
Format: Paperback
Informative, balanced, scholarly, balanced, excellent, balanced, balanced, balanced (did I say balanced?). It puts to shame the absurd media hype cluttering newspapers and airwaves. Jenkins is realistic about the really real problem, because sexual abuse of minors is an undeniable social problem-at-large - but ridiculously and sensationalistically framed by the media these days with in a rather narrow setting as if that setting it the ONLY or the MAJOR place where sexual abuse of minors happens. Jenkins, a non-Catholic, does a service to the United States (which the media does not) to set the problem in the proper context of Western Society's near-collapse of sexual morality. Let this book be a wake-up call on this issue, and every "journalist" in America should be required - absolutely - to read it before ever again being allowed to print or utter on t-v or radio a single word on this topic. I'd like to buy ten million copies of this book and disperse them from airplanes coast to coast. Thank you, Professor Jenkins, for sorting out for us a proper understanding of what's-what .. . a positive contribution far outweighing all the negative journalism of our national press and networked t-v & radio.
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29 of 39 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 5, 2002
Format: Paperback
I tend to try not to think about things I find disgusting, so I more or less believed the headlines regarding this subject. You know, that there is a vast "network" of predatory priests, that everyone else in the Catholic Church was involved in a vast coverup, that celibacy was the root cause, and so on. Then I happened to read that the incidence of pedophilia in Catholic priests is less than, or the same as, other groups with access to children, such as other clergy, coaches, and teachers. That being the case, it was clear to me that this was yet another subject where the press has led me by the nose to an incorrect conclusion. This book was really informative on the subject. It served as an excellent case study on how the press comes to framing a story a certain way, as well as the roles of various interest groups in making certain that a story is framed in the way that is most advantageous to them. The objectivity and impartiality of the author is really refreshing in this era of polemics. If you want to learn something, by all means read this book. If you are simply looking for someone to validate your preconceived notions, you will not like it.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Peter S. Bradley on May 6, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Philip Jenkins "Pedophile and Priests" is the classic resource for anyone interested in obtaining an even-handed review of the contemporary clerical abuse scandal involving the Catholic Church in America. Jenkins has often been only sober voice in media discussions on the so-called pedophile priest scandal, such as when he points out that the rate of sexual misconduct is no higher for Catholic priests than it is for other clergy and occupations.

Jenkins is a historian, and in many ways, his book offers a historical retrospective of the causes and players in the creation of the public perception that there is a unique problem with "pedophile priests." Jenkins' book was that it was published in 1996, so that it traces the history of the scandal from the early 80s through to around 1993. Of course, we know that after 2000 - and particularly when the Boston Globe began reporting on the scandal in the Boston diocese in the early 2000s - the scandal really took off in the public mind. The surprising things about Jenkins' books are (a) how much was going on before the 2000 and (b) how the memes and tropes established in the 80s and 90s continued to play themselves out after 2000.

Jenkins develops his book around the idea that the "priest pedophile" scandal is a matter of "social construction." As he points out, it is one thing to have objective facts, another to construct those objective facts into a public perception that the objective facts hang together in a particular way that has particular meaning worthy of attention. The way that such a "social construction" is created is by "framing" the objective facts in a particular way that attracts attention, fits the presumptions of the public and invests the objective facts with meaning.
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