My Favorite Books

The Walking Drum
Ender's Game
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
The Curse of Chalion
The Name of the Wind
Chronicles of the Black Company
The Faded Sun Trilogy
The Tar-Aiym Krang

Sunday, March 6, 2022

Review: The Catholic Sexual Abuse Scandal: Primer from the Pew-Unpacking Psychological, Sociopolitical & Cultural

The Catholic Sexual Abuse Scandal: Primer from the Pew-Unpacking Psychological, Sociopolitical & Cultural The Catholic Sexual Abuse Scandal: Primer from the Pew-Unpacking Psychological, Sociopolitical & Cultural by Jerry J Paresa
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a difficult book to review; I am sure it was probably a difficult book to write as well. The impact on “The Catholic Sexual Abuse Scandal” has been significant for many Catholics, myself included; however, without a good understanding of what went wrong it is also difficult to move forward. This book makes a good attempt to fill in some of the details surrounding the Church’s lack of understanding, as well as its admitted inadequate response. Paresa begins with trying to establish the common terms and vocabulary needed to actually have a productive analysis and discussion. Then he moves into what he sees as the proximate, contextual and aggravating causes/factors … before jumping a little too soon into the break down in communications before returning what he sees as the causal factors that are common to society at large and aggravated by the size of the church bureaucracy. All relevant points that unfortunately give the start something of an apologetic/defensive tone. Added to this are some additional factors that are more unique to the catholic clergy … such as the “clericalism” and the nature of an organization with forgiveness as part the foundation. 

It is important to note here that while the author cites several statistics to support his conclusions, these numbers really just highlight correlations and not causation. This is especially true with his presumption that the higher ration of homosexual clergy and young male victims suggests an obvious solution where reducing one will reduce the other. While that may in fact be true the author doesn’t actually provide the underlying reason for that believe at it comes across a bit homophobic (especially when implying the failure of science to identify a specific genetic cause of homosexual orientation proved that such doesn’t exist … which should have been an obvious fallacy). The other factors seem to be spot on though … such as the shortage of priests (which increase pressure to keep what you have combined with inadequate supervision on junior and/or less mature clergy), the relative independence of the Bishops (and the idea of subsidiarity within the church), the cumbersome jurisprudence within the Church-State more focused on forgiveness and reform instead of justice.

Not satisfied with the Church’s response to date, the author then provides several [reasonable] recommendations on what the Church can and should do differently, most of which focuses on screening and formation along with a more open and cooperative relationship with civil authorities. Also examined is the impact of regulating celibacy on the priest shortage and what changing that could mean theologically (this was by far the most interesting part of the book for me). The author closes with a more in depth look at the due process and legal issues involved with prosecuting abuse within the Church as well as the ontological issues with removing a priest from the clerical state. Over all, this is a solid book that deals with the very human factors that went into making the abuse scandal a “wicked” problem for the faithful to deal with.

I was given this free advance review copy (ARC) ebook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

#TheCatholicSexualAbuseScandal #NetGalley

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My Ratings Explained ...

  • [ ***** ] Amazing Read - Perfect story, exciting, engrossing, well developed complex characters, solid plot with few to no holes, descriptive environments and place settings, great mystery elements, realistic dialogue, believable reactions and behaviors; a favorite that I can re-read many times.
  • [ **** ] Great Read - Highly entertaining and enjoyable, exciting storyline, well developed characters and settings, a few discrepancies but nothing that can’t be overlooked. Some aspect of the story was new/refreshing to me and/or intriguing. Recommended for everyone.
  • [ *** ] Good Read - Solid story with a 'good' ending, or has some other redeeming feature. Limited character development and/or over reliance on tropes. Noticeable discrepancies in world building and/or dialog/behavior that were distracting. I connected enough with the characters/world to read the entire series. Most of the books I read for fun are here. Recommended for fans of the genre.
  • [ ** ] Okay Read - Suitable for a brief, afternoon escape … flat or shallow characters with little to no development. Over the top character dialog and/or behavior. Poor world building with significant issues and/or mistakes indicating poor research. Excessive use of trivial detail, info dumps and/or pontification. Any issues with the story/characters are offset by some other aspect that I enjoyed. Not very memorable. May only appeal to a niche group of readers. Recommended for some (YMMV).
  • [ * ] Bad Read - Awkward and/or confusing writing style. Poor world building and/or unbelievable (or unlikeable) characters. Victimization, gaslighting, blatant abuse, unnecessary violence, child endangerment, or any other highly objectionable behaviors by Main characters. I didn't connect with the story at all; significant aspects of this story irritated me enough that I struggled to finished it. Series was abandoned. Not recommended.