Saturday, 8 August 2009

FRAWLEY–O’DEA: Perversion of Power

Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church

"If one could have only one book on the sexual abuse crisis in the United States Catholic Church Frawley–O’Dea’sPerversion of Power would be the top choice. This book is a comprehensive summary and analysis of the data available at this time. She summarizes the John Jay Survey (2/27/04) commissioned by the United States bishops and used by them as the definitive word on clergy abuse and a justification for calling the disaster over. But O’Dea puts that claim and other clerical rationalizations, denials, and deceptions to the test.

She writes convincingly because she has a command of the facts plus the psychological and analytic skills to spotlight the vagaries of the complicated institutional and personal distortions and suffering at the heart of the catastrophic situation of clergy violating children and the vulnerable and the authorities in charge excusing, covering up, and participating in schemes that cheat believers and society of honest leadership and protection. As one reviewer summed up the book’s message, “there is no more hypocritical and perverse exploitation of power than the sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church.”

This book is of lasting value because it reports an epic crisis in context, makes it understandable, and challenges the fundamental misconceptions that produced the calamity in the first place and keep structures in place that will repeat another crisis if not adequately met with the insight and experience even now available. The author provides a vade mecum for those who want to understand abuse of the vulnerable and protect children from the domination and abuse of dangerously powerful forces"

- Richard Sipe

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