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Sacrilege: Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church Hardcover – November 8, 2008
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"Sacrilege is unique and invaluable.... There have been dozens of books written about clergy sex abuse, but this one is a `must-have.'" -- Thomas Doyle, coauthor of Sex, Priests, and Secret Codes
About the Author
Leon J. Podles worked for twenty years as a Federal investigator. He received a Catholic education, attended seminary for a time, and earned his Ph. D. from the University of Virginia. He is author of The Church Impotent: The Feminization of Christianity (Spence, 1999) and a Senior Editor of Touchstone: A Journal of Mare Christianity. His writing has appeared in America, The American Spectator, Crisis, and other publications. He serves on the board of BishopAccountability.org.
Top Customer Reviews
Podles had done his work well. Others who have written about the sexual abuse crisis, including Jason Berry and Gerald Renner, give us great detail about particular epicenters of the crisis and their own journeys as they covered the stories, but Podles' work stands out as a masterful portrayal of the big picture, linking the stories Berry and Renner reported with stories from other times and places. He paints with broad strokes in places, but gets into some very fine detail in others to help us to grasp the magnitude of some truly horrendous cases. Podles also gives us analysis of the abusers and the victims, and of how each was treated by bishops, and what went wrong.
The bishops are clearly the focal point of his anger. He asks pointed questions:
"Why hadn't bishops ever gotten angry at abusers? Why were abusers treated so gently, when men who left the priesthood to marry were treated so harshly? Why had bishops lied to parents? Why hadn't they disciplined their clergy, when they seemed so eager to micromanage everything else in America, from what married couples did in bed to what the government did about immigration?"(3)
But he goes further, seeing the crisis as about more than the bishops and the priests they coddled: Catholic culture is implicated; specifically a narcissistic clericalism in which the laity, including police and judges and prosecutors colluded.
Podles is highly critical of the Catholic Bishops in the United States because they tolerated a climate of clericalism in which he says sexual abuse could occur. He also faults certain Bishop for transferring accused priests from assignment to assignment. In effect, these transfers gave abusive clergy the opportunity to victimize other young people. In fairness, though, he also points out that sexual abuse is not confined to the Catholic Church, or to other churches. He states that all instituions who deal with children -- Scouts, schools, Big Brothers -- have to understand the conditons that set the sage for abuse so that they can prevent it.Read more ›
Because the smears and distortions perpetrated by the popular culture in connection to this issue has been so outrageous, in every discussion of the abuse scandal a loyal Catholic, or any fair minded person, almost feels obligated to provide some facts to correct popular misconceptions and put things in perspective:
First, Catholic priests as a whole are now generally smeared as child molesters while, in fact, only a small minority of priests- from 2% to 4%- in the decades of the scandal were abusers. The vast majority of our priests were and are true to their vows. In reality, the number of sex abuse victims has been even higher in Protestant churches, although the media ignores it, and will probably become even greater due to the decentralized structure and the low bar to leadership positions in so many churches.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Very graphic and disturbing material; well-researched and well-written. Can't say i "enjoyed" the book; just that i learned something about the people who ruined the... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Michael A Barry
I had of course heard of the sexual abuse scandal before but had not read about this in detail until seeing the 2015 movie 'Spotlight.' I found this book seeking a broad overview. Read morePublished 8 months ago by amitnais78
A neutral, truthful exposition of a persistent shameful failing of organized religion, the Roman Catholic hierarchy in particular. Read morePublished 16 months ago by Theodore D Fifer
A disturbing and confronting book with lots of clinical detail but to me there was not enough of an attempt in the conclusion chapter to find the underlying causes that allowed... Read morePublished 21 months ago by T E Fisk
I have read a number of books on sex abuse of boys in the Catholic church, the Boy Scouts, etc., and this is the most comprehensive (I am not a Catholic). Read morePublished on March 1, 2012 by othoniaboys
Podles is a must read for all Catholics, especially those with children. He lays out a long history of child sexual abuse with careful footnoting. Read morePublished on February 8, 2011 by FrivFort
While I do not agree with some of Mr. Podles' strong convictions (e.g., that homosexuality is a disorder), I must give his authorship five stars for this book's extraordinary... Read morePublished on January 9, 2011 by Emily Zimmerman
Leon Podles has written a comprehensive, tough overview of the sex abuse scandal in the Roman Catholic Church. Read morePublished on June 12, 2010 by Lee Penn
The author beats the reader to death with the same information, over and over. The only justification for this is support of the victims, and one can hardly argue with that. Read morePublished on April 29, 2010 by Charles A. Schuler