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Clergy Sexual Abuse

Social Science Perspectives

Claire M. Renzetti

Publication Year: 2013

This book brings together experts primarily from the fields of criminology, criminal justice, law, and social work, but also cultural anthropology and psychology, to analyze clergy sexual abuse from the perspective of their individual disciplines. Contributors examine the latest data and analyses on the scope and impact of clergy sexual abuse, frame the problem in terms of sociological and criminological theories of crime and deviance, explore the social and legal issues the problem raises for the personal and communal life of faith communities, and discuss possibilities for reform, reconciliation, and healing. Covering sexual abuse of both minors and adults, chapters not only focus on the Catholic Church, but also examine Christian faith traditions more generally. The editors' introductory chapter identifies points of agreement and divergence among the essays, develops a coherent overview of the problem, and presents viable solutions to it.

Published by: Northeastern University Press

Series: Northeastern Series on Gender, Crime, and Law

Front Cover

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p. 1-1

Title Page, Series Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. 2-7


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xii

The idea for this book developed from our work on an eighteen-month lecture series, “The Wounded Body of Christ: Sexual Abuse in the Church,” held at the University of Dayton beginning in 2003. We were members of an interdisciplinary committee tasked with identifying topics and speakers, and as we discussed and debated the issues with our fellow committee members, ...

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1. An Introduction to Social Science Perspectives on the Problem of Clergy Sexual Abuse

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pp. 1-17

The headlines are familiar: “Diocese Enters Plea in Sex Case” (Denver Post, November 21, 2003), “Catholic Church’s Costs Pass $1 Billion in Abuse Cases” (New York Times, June 12, 2005), “Philadelphia Church Official Sentenced to 3 to 6 Years for Covering Up Child Sex Abuse” (New York Times, July 24, 2012). ...

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2. Understanding the Response to Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests: A Criminal Justice Perspective

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pp. 18-36

Sexual victimization of children is a serious and pervasive issue in society, and it is particularly prevalent in institutions where adults form mentoring and nurturing relationships with children and adolescents. Such institutions include churches, schools, sporting organizations, and child-care settings. ...

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3. The Interplay of Psychological and Institutional Factors in Sexual Abuse by Roman Catholic Clergy

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pp. 37-59

Sexual exploitation by clergy is typically conceptualized as psychopathological behavior by the troubled clergyperson, which is an essentially idiopathic model. Although this approach captures some important features of abuse by clergy, it is insufficient and incomplete as an explanatory mechanism. ...

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4. Contingent Crimes: Exploring the Sexual Abuse of Children by Clerics from a Situational Crime Perspective

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pp. 60-89

Acts of child sexual abuse (CSA) committed by members of the clergy have been described as betrayals of trust (Nason-Clark 1998), “spiritual rape” (Barton 2012, 62), organizational failures (Rosetti 1997), and even “dumb mistakes” (Dorris 2011). They are also violations of state and federal criminal laws. ...

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5. The Priest and Catholic Culture as Symbolic System of Purity

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pp. 90-117

The priest remains an anomalous figure of spiritual authority even in a culture as religiously pluralist as US society and, perhaps surprising to some, even in his own Roman Catholic world. His lack of attachment to any particular household makes him available to every person and to the broader community. ...

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6. Don’t Call It an Affair: Understanding and Preventing Clergy Sexual Misconduct with Adults

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pp. 118-143

A social worker who is known and trusted in the community welcomes into her office Susan, a thirty-five-year-old first-time client and a member of the social worker’s church.1 Susan is obviously distraught.2 No, she tells the social worker, she has never been in counseling before. ...

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7. Clergyperson Sexual Misconduct with Congregants or Parishioners: Past Attempts to Impose Civil and Criminal Liabilities and a Proposed Criminal Law to Increase the Likelihood of Criminal Punishment of Perpetrators

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pp. 144-172

Recently, the media have made people cognizant of clergypersons who have allegedly committed sexual misconduct with children, with an intense focus on Catholic priests. Although less publicized, clergy sexual misconduct involving adults is also common. ...

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About the Contributors

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pp. 173-176

Diana Garland is the inaugural dean of the School of Social Work at Baylor University, where she has served on the faculty since 1997. Her newest book is Family Ministry: A Comprehensive Guide, a revised edition of her 1999 book that received the Book of the Year Award of the Academy of Parish Clergy at Princeton Seminary. ...


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pp. 177-188

E-ISBN-13: 9781555538118
E-ISBN-10: 1555538118
Print-ISBN-13: 9781555538101

Page Count: 216
Publication Year: 2013

Series Title: Northeastern Series on Gender, Crime, and Law