Cover image for The clergy sexual abuse crisis : reform and renewal in the Catholic community
The clergy sexual abuse crisis : reform and renewal in the Catholic community
Dokecki, Paul R.
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Publication Information:
Washington, D.C. : Georgetown University Press, [2004]

Physical Description:
ix, 278 pages ; 23 cm
One clergy sexual abuser's story -- Clergy sexual abuse in the world -- Professional ethics and the clergy child sexual abuse system -- Human science perspectives on the clergy sexual abuse system -- Ecclesiological perspectives on the clergy sexual abuse system : the context of reform -- Toward reforms addressing and preventing clergy sexual abuse.
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BX1912.9 .D65 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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The story of sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests has sent shock waves around the nation and will not fade from consciousness or the news. We ask, "How could this happen?" And then we ask, "How could the Catholic Church let this continue for so long--in seeming silence and duplicity?" Paul R. Dokecki, a community psychologist at Vanderbilt University, an active Catholic, and a former board member of the National Catholic Education Association, investigates the crisis not only with the eye of an investigative reporter, but with the analytical skills and training of a psychologist as well. Moreover, he lays the foundation for reasonable and practical reform measures.

Through the scandal in the Archdiocese of Boston as well as the earlier, if less well known but momentous, case in the Diocese of Nashville, Dokecki reports on and analyzes what is ultimately an abuse of power--not only by the clergy but by church officials. As distasteful as these instances may be, they are compelling reading, enlightened by the author's abilities to contextualize these events through the lenses of professional ethics, the human sciences, and ecclesiology. According to Dokecki, these and other instances of clergy sexual abuse reveal a systemic deficiency in the structure and the nature of the church itself, one that has prevented the church from adequately dealing with its own worst sins.

Dokecki may shine a spotlight into the church's dark corners--but he does so in the service of enlightenment, calling the church back toward the vision of Vatican II and the spirit of Pope John XXIII--toward a greater transparency, a more open and participatory governance in the church, and for a greatly expanded role for the people of God who make up the church. It is in this way, Dokecki believes, the church will be better able to keep the innocent children of the church safe from harm.

Author Notes

Paul R. Dokecki is a former board member of the National Catholic Education Association, and professor of psychology in Vanderbilt University's Peabody College and graduate Department of Religion.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Dokecki's book may be differentiated from the spate of such volumes related to Catholic clergy abuse insofar as it provides the perspective of a lay, Catholic, community psychologist. Its style is journalistic and, in the main, both accessible and accurate. The two lead chapters synthesize news accounts but concentrate on the peculiar instances of a case of clergy abuse in Nashville (Dokecki's home town) and, for comparative purposes, in Boston. Church authorities do not rise to these challenges. From these accounts Dokecki (Vanderbilt) seeks to penetrate root causes. The centerpieces of the book involve the author's theoretical assertions for the creation of climates for ethical behavior among professionals, both internally for the clerical culture and externally in relation to the wider community. Ultimately, the author is reform-minded and states his argument in plain terms. Psychologists and theologians can profit from this work. ^BSumming Up: Recommended. Upper-level undergraduates and above. P. J. Hayes Marymount College of Fordham University

Table of Contents

Value Analytic Perspective
Plan of the Book
1 One Clergy Sexual Abuser's Story
The Diocesan Setting
The McKeown Story Begins
The Nature of McKeown's Sexual Abuse
The Church Responds
McKeown Leaves the Active Priesthood
McKeown is Finally Arrested
The McKeown Case Enters the Broader Social Domain
Victims' Parents File Multimillion Dollar Lawsuits
Blaming the Victim?
Further Legal Maneuvering
The Boston Scandal Enters the Public Consciousness
Questions and Issues Attendent to the McKeown Case
2 Clergy Sexual Abuse in the World
Moral Crisis or Moral Panic?
The Journalistic Shot Heard Around the World
Entering the Clergy Sexual Abuse System
A Comparative Look at the Clergy Sexual Abuse System in Nashville and Boston
3 Professional Ethics and Clergy Sexual Abuse System
The Ethics of Human Development and Community
The Use and Abuse of Power: Professionals Having Sex with Clients
The Third Position and the Community of Persons
Historical Perspectives on the Third Position Theory of Community
The Institutional Church's Management of Clergy Sexual Abuse
4 Human Science Perspectives on the Clergy Sexual Abuse System
The Organizational Culture of the Catholic Church
The Ideology of the Catholic Church
Authoritarianism or Authority?
The Structures of the Clergy Sexual Abuse System
Psychological Sense of Community in the Clergy Sexual Abuse System
Conclusions from Human Science Analysis of the Clergy Sexual Abuse System
5 Ecclesiological Perspectives on the Clergy Sexual Abuse System: The Context of Reform
The Church's 2002 Efforts to Reform the Clergy Sexual Abuse System: Processes and Outcomes
The Church's Understanding of Itself
6 Towards Reforms Addressing and Preventing Clergy Sexual Abuse
Rationale for Reforms addressing the Clergy Sexual Abuse System
Diversity, Justice, Equality, and Participative Decision Making in the Pursuit of Community
Granting Discretion to Church Officials
Toward the Restoration of Trust in the Church Through Democratic Reforms