May 02, 2006

Sex, lies, secrecy and abuse



Since exposure of clerical sex abuse reached critical mass in 2002, Catholic leaders have sometimes defended their mishandling of the problem by claiming insufficient knowledge. Publicly, some bishops said they didn’t understand that pedophilia is incurable; thus the attempts to “rehabilitate” abusive clerics, then shift them from assignment to assignment.

Fr. Thomas Doyle, A.W. Richard Sipe and Patrick Wall have coauthored a book, Sex, Priests, and Secret Codes: The Catholic Church’s 2,000-Year Paper Trail of Sexual Abuse, that asks, “What did [the Catholic hierarchy] know, and when did they know it?” The answer, the authors emphatically proclaim, is “in a nutshell ... all about it and all along.”

The three authors approach the book as historians but also as advocates of church reform. Fr. Doyle, a canon lawyer, served at the Vatican’s U.S. embassy in the early ’80s. Along with psychiatrist and priest Michael Peterson and church attorney Ray Mouton, he authored a report that predicted the scope of the abuse scandal and recommended methods to meet the challenge. Mr. Wall, a former Benedictine monk and canon lawyer, works for a California law firm that advocates on behalf of alleged victims. Richard Sipe, also a former Benedictine monk, is a practicing therapist who has studied the sexuality of Catholic clergy for many years.

Posted by kshaw at May 2, 2006 05:23 PM