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

3.9 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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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


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 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: 14.7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,083,418 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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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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Format: Paperback
I ordered this book because the more I heard and read about "pedophile priests" the more I began to wonder if the Catholic Church deserved to be at the center of attention of those who care about protecting young children from sexual abuse. The terms "pedophile scandal" and "Catholic Church" just seemed to me to be an unnatural pairing. I am neither religious nor particularly spiritual. I was raised in a mainstream Protestant tradition and grew up mostly around Catholic families whose kids went to local parochial schools. The abuse stories I heard from them were entirely about how hard this or that nun had pounded their knuckles with rulers, twisted their ears, and/or made them sit in the corner with gum on their noses. Would not, prepubescent Catholic kids during the peak period of alleged abuse, roughly 1965 to 1995, have been vastly more likely to have contact with female nuns than males priests? Moreover, post-pubescent kids are more likely to have been cared for by priests as altar boys and high school students and improper sexual contact between adults and same sex early teens isn't pedophilia, it's homosexual sex abuse - a subset of hebephilia.
Yet over and over media reports refer to pedophilia within the Church. The thought struck me that we are experiencing a strange kind of double bind wherein both critics and supporters of the Church have been helping the story develop along the line that maximizes their political gains and minimizes their losses. Enemies of the Church harp on about pedophilia since the idea of sex with little children is so sickening that they could quickly get the attention of an otherwise indifferent public.
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