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Child Sexual Abuse and the Catholic Church


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Table of Contents

Introduction Part I. Sexual Abuse, the Catholic Church, Clerical Men: A Critical Review 1. Child Sexual Abuse by Roman Catholic Clergy: The Scale and History of the Problem 2. Organized Irresponsibility (I): The Organizational and Institutional Culture of the Catholic Church 3. The View from the Ground: Clerical Men Part II. Theorising Sexual Abuse 4. The Individual as the Unit of Analysis 5. A Social Approach for Understanding a Social Problem 6. Power and Gender Part III. The Irish Case: Its Context and Wider Implications 7. Sexuality and Masculinity 8. Organized Irresponsibility (II): Clerical Elites, Rules, Obedience, and Loneliness 9. The Handling of Abuse Complaints 10. Understanding and Explaining Child Sexual Abuse within the Catholic Church Conclusion: Prospects, Visions, Agendas Appendix Glossary References Index

About the Author

Marie Keenan, PhD, is a Researcher and Lecturer at the School of Applied Social Science, University College Dublin, and a member of the Advisory Board of the UCD Institute of Criminology. She is Chairperson of the Family Therapy Association of Ireland and a registered psychotherapist who has worked for over twenty years with survivors and perpetrators of sexual crime and their families, in community and forensic settings.


"Dr. Keenan is to be congratulated on this timely and scholarly study, conducted primarily through interviews with offender and non-offender clergy, which begins the crucial process of helping us to understand, but not forgive, such behavior. Her thesis that the behavior of abusive clergy can only be understood in the context of the responses of the hierarchy of the Church provides a sociological analysis that conveys important lessons for academics, policymakers, and therapeutic practitioners."-Nick Gould, PhD, Professor of Social Work, University of Bath "This book significantly raises the level of debate on these issues in Ireland and, indeed, throughout the world. Dr. Keenan's familiarity with the literature, her therapeutic work with victims and offenders, her dialogue with so many interested parties, and her acute sensitivity to the many personal, social, cultural, and organizational issues involved, make this book a must for all directly involved or seriously interested. I recommend it very highly."-Rev. Enda McDonagh, DD, DCL, Professor Emeritus of Moral Theology, St. Patrick's College, Maynooth "Child Sexual Abuse and the Catholic Church provides a superb analysis of the individual and systemic explanations of clergy abuse in Ireland and around the world. Marie Keenan's work as a treatment provider for child sexual abusers has led to a decade of in-depth research on the abusers and the sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church. This is a must-read for any academic studying the sexual abuse of children in Church or organizations where adults develop mentoring and nurturing relationships with children and adolescents."-Karen J. Terry, PhD, Professor, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York "The scope of Dr. Keenan's analysis is wide-ranging and her conclusions are startling but not surprising. Dr. Keenan has produced a balanced, scholarly, deeply humanistic, and thought-provoking book that is sure to make a major contribution to the problem of sexual abuse by the clergy, and more broadly, that occurring within large, hierarchical institutions. This is a beautifully written and wonderful book."-Tony Ward, PhD, Chair in Clinical Forensic Mental Health, Deakin University "Revelations of the magnitude of sexual abuse by Roman Catholic clergy has elicited shock, horror, and puzzlement throughout the world. Attempting to unravel the complexities of this issue in a way that is scholarly yet sensitive to the humanity of those involved can seem a daunting task. Yet, this is just what Marie Keenan has accomplished in this book, producing a study that brings a new level of understanding to this controversial issue and outlines possible ways toward a safer future."-Stanley L. Witkin, PhD, Professor of Social Work, University of Vermont "Readers will likely finish the book convinced or at least thoroughly compelled by the analysis Keenan so thoroughly outlines...Child Sexual Abuse and the Catholic Church offers a welcome addition to college libraries, therapy centers, and classroom discussions centered on organizations, gender, power, and the complex social construction of child sexual abuse."--Sociology of Religion "The stunning conclusion of this work is that for those who embraced the idealized model of perfect celibate clerical masculinity, seminary and priestly life were in themselves abusive contexts. Overly credulous or unsavvy, they accepted standards that led to "soul death." Eventually, children were the "sacrificial lambs" on the altar of this image of clerical perfection. Until recently, victims' silence allowed Catholics to ignore their complicity in the institutional secrecy and hypocrisy that helped these sacrifices continue... Only a "new model of the church" will do. Keenan's hard-nosed and sophisticated book is a step in that direction." -- John C. Seitz, Fordham University Associate Professor of Theology, National Catholic Reporter "This is a timely and scholarly book from a lecturer at the School of Applied Social Sciences at University College, Dublin, and Chair of the Family Therapy Association." -- Alan Billings, GoodBookStall Review "The topic of the scandal of child sexual abuse by Irish clergy may only have impinged lightly on your awareness, especially if you are neither Irish nor a child psychiatrist. However, this analysis by Marie Keenan, an academic in social work and a systemic therapist, brings unusual perspectives and a depth of experience to the issue of sexual abuse within institutions." -- Fiona Subotsky, British Journal of Psychiatry "For me, the first and final sections of the book are the most substantial and interesting. Keenan's point - that it is vital to listen to and try to comprehend the social world of the sexual abuser. This is important because it can potentially assist in the construction of more appropriate social policy responses. Child Sexual Abuse & the Catholic Church is significant therefore, in seeking to move beyond 'moral panics' and ill-formed notions about priestly abusers... the book is a valuable contribution to understanding child sexual abuse and the Catholic Church in Ireland." -- Paul Michael Garrett, Critical Social Policy "Bravery, scholarly rigour and compassion are all found in abundance in Marie Keenan's illuminating and compassionate new book. She brings together interviews with clergy who have abused children and young people with an examination of the institutional contexts in which these men were trained. She examines the clerical culture and the structures of leadership and governance in the Catholic Church, and addresses how these men abused their positions of trust and continued day after day to say Mass and fulfil their duties." -- Brid Featherstone, Open University "We, her Irish colleagues are extraordinarily lucky that Marie Keenan has not been all too easily silenced or overwhelmed by the inevitable hostility consequent on seeking to 'name' or working to identify alternative explanations and paths forward. I would urge everyone to become familiar with, and informed by, her work and the manner of her working which is surely a brave effort at walking the tightrope between challenging and conforming positions." -- Bernadette O'Sullivan, PhD "This book by Dr. Marie Keenan, Lecturer in the School of Applied Social Science in University College Dublin, represents a comprehensive, well researched and wellarticulated analysis of the issue of child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. Keenan is uniquely positioned to offer such an analysis: as a social worker and systemic psychotherapist, she brings a broad perspective to the issue, drawing on extensive experience working therapeutically with clerical sex offenders, involvement with the Catholic Church in Ireland in developing child protection measures, and doctoral research on the experiences of clerical offenders... The book is a gem, a carefully constructed piece of Irish social history that also offers precious insights for the global church." -- Rosaleen McElvaney, Dublic City University, Irish Journal of Applied Social Studies "Marie Keenan's psychiatric and therapeutic experience with those who have suffered abuse as children, and with adult abusers, both clerical and other, grounds Child Sexual Abuse and the Catholic Church, her very wise account of clerical masculinity as a pertinent dimension of the problem of clerical sexual abuse of children" -- Dublin Review of Books "An excellent book for church leaders and seminary formators and for anyone who wants to understand this crisis in order to bring about healing and reform in the Church." --Catholic Books Review

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