From Publishers Weekly
Inspired by an article the author was asked to write for Rosie magazine, this book is a first effort at a more serious work for Jackowski, whose previous books have been lighter in tone (Sister Karol's Book of Spells and Blessings and Ten Fun Things to Do Before You Die). Here, she presents some cogent ideas about why the Catholic Church faces a sex-abuse scandal of mammoth proportions, but unfortunately, her threads of truth get tangled up in the presentation. Jackowski's evidence to support her claims is often anecdotal, or based on anonymous or secondary sources. For example, she backs her claim that few priests practice celibacy by citing a study showing 30 percent of priests to be sexually active, adding, "Some critics and seminarians, and most sisters I asked, felt the numbers should be doubled." Although she sees celibacy as a culprit, Jackowski acknowledges its inherent value and long tradition in many religions. She suggests it should not be required, noting that even St. Paul did not impose it on the early church. Forced celibacy, she writes, has been especially oppressive to men, causing them to act out their sexuality inappropriately. By contrast, she paints female religious celibates bound by the same constraints as liberated. Thus, Jackowski sees an opening of the priesthood to women on the horizon along with a renewal of "sisterhood" and a "New Pentecost" for her church. Readers will sense her passion even if they do not agree with her conclusions or methodology.
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Although much has been recently written about the sexual abuse scandals that have plagued the contemporary Roman Catholic Church, one significant constituency has remained conspicuously mum. Breaking the code of silence that has been bred into nuns over the course of centuries, Sister Karol Jackowski speaks out, condemning the "culture of privilege and sexual permissiveness" that has culminated in such widespread clerical abuse. Tracing the historical roots of the spiritual hypocrisy that has paved the way for generations of self-serving priests, she also admonishes, in gentler terms, both the nuns and the laypersons whose unquestioning submissiveness to the "superior" male clergy contributed to the conspiracy of silence that initially shrouded and protected a large cadre of sexual predators. After tracing the evolution of both the priesthood and the sisterhood, she also makes a tremendous leap of faith by arguing that the overdue acknowledgment of these physical and spiritual crimes will eventually revitalize believers, foreshadowing a rebirth of Catholicism. Margaret FlanaganCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved