|Sacrilege: Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church is released:
10-year project by author chronicles sex-abuse by clergy
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Sacrilege: Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church -- a new book chronicling the sex abuse scandal that has rocked the Catholic Church in the United States - was released on January 15 at a news conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.
The author, Leon J. Podles, a former federal investigator and a practicing Catholic, was a victim of abuse as a youth. His 675-page book with 16 chapters and 1,935 endnotes, took 10 years of extensive research. The book includes documents available to the public: Internet sources, court documents, affidavits of victims, and other public records. It also breaks ground in revealing some cases that have never been covered or barely mentioned by the press.
His chapter, "The Rectory Boys of El Paso," contains details of abuse that have been hushed up and covered up, even by the press, in El Paso, Texas. While the cases of clergy abuse continue to impact nearly all of the 194 dioceses in the United States, Podles' tome references 49 Catholic dioceses and archdioceses in 24 states and the District of Columbia.
Dr. Podles explained that he wrote the book to "help victims feel that their voice has at last been heard. Victims were long ignored and even today are too often regarded as whiners and money grubbers. I am the only one who has described exactly what the victims went through. I want sexual abuse by the clergy to become as rare and unacceptable as cannibalism."
Podles, whose last book was The Church Impotent: The Feminization of Christianity (Spence Publishing, 1999) - explains in Sacrilege that "toleration of abuse was not necessary. It was and is convenient. Those who complained were ignored or threatened, and the police refused to investigate crimes committed by the clergy. Those whose complicity enabled the abusers should see what their silence led the victims to suffer," he says.
Thomas Doyle, a priest, canon lawyer, and author of eight books, including Sex, Priests, and Secret Codes (Bonus Books, 2006), said at the news conference: "Sacrilege is unique and invaluable as a source of hard facts about clergy sex abuse. It provides highly insightful analyses into the most outrageous aspect of this never-ending tragedy - the ecclesiastical cover-up."
Doyle, who has had extensive experience in working with victims of clergy abuse since 1984, continued: "One cannot help but react to Leon Podles' book with a mixture of outrage, shock and, for Catholics at least, shame. The author's formidable investigative skills are brought to bear in his detailed accounts of several of the most outrageous Catholic clergy abuse cases."
"Those high-and-mighty self-righteous critics who refuse to look this horrible saga of clergy abuse straight in the eye fail to know the damage from clerical sexual abuse. The anger of the victims and their families is not primarily directed at the actual perpetrators -- they can be forgiven. The resentment is reserved for the hierarchy and the church system that not only failed to protect and respond to them, but also even rejected them. Those contemporary religious pundits, with their exalted theological-sounding gibberish, defend the indefensible," Doyle said.
Also speaking at the press conference was Terence McKiernan, a director of the website www.bishop-accountability.org. Mr. McKiernan said: "No other book on the crisis describes the experience of the victims in such specific detail. Podles rejected the euphemisms that abound alike in newspaper accounts and diocesan apologies."
McKiernan said that Sacrilege is unique because it is written "from an orthodox perspective. Conservative Catholics who have written about the crisis are often prevented by their fidelity to the bishops from confronting the bishops' complicity in the crisis."
Sacrilege blames bishops who routinely transferred priests accused of sexual misconduct to other parishes; the laity; and even the Vatican. The brunt of Podles' criticism is directed at the bishops who he says "cooly and deliberately ignored victims and constructed elaborate schemes to keep abusers in the priesthood, where they had the opportunity to abuse again."
Sacrilege is dedicated "to all the children who were abused by priests and then committed suicide."
Sacrilege: Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church was published by Crossland Press, a division of the Crossland Foundation (www.crosslandfoundation.org) of Baltimore, Maryland. It is available at Amazon.com and at some bookstores.
A press kit and review copy of the book are available for interested journalists, and Dr. Leon Podles is available for press and media interviews. Contact Fran Griffin at PR@griffnews.com or 703-255-2211 for more information.