Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Book gives new perspective on abuse crisis

Greg Erlandson decided to write a book on the clergy sex abuse crisis because the secular media kept raising questions about Pope Benedict XVI's handling of cases in their coverage of a new wave of clergy sex abuse in dioceses around the world.

For him, there was a "genuine curiosity about what's going on. ... It wasn't just a bishop in this diocese or a bishop in that diocese, but now it was about the pope and his credibility," said Erlandson, president and publisher of Our Sunday Visitor Publishing.

"As I dug into it, I felt there was a big chunk of the story that wasn't being reported and part of it was not getting the perspective" it deserved, he said.

Erlandson and Matthew Bunson co-wrote Pope Benedict XVI and the Sexual Abuse Crisis: Working for Reform and Renewal.

The authors review the pope's work as a priest and theologian, his years heading the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, and the "pivotal and personal role" he has played in the church's response to the abuse scandal.

They highlight the cases of some of the most notorious U.S. priest-abusers and cover the international scope of the scandal. They report on the pope's efforts "to help, heal and reconcile with those who have been hurt" through concrete measures, including his private meetings with victims, and spiritual ones, such as prayer and penance.

When a series of reports in The New York Times and other media criticized the pope for alleged inaction on sex abuse cases, Vatican authorities emphasized that it was the pope who, as Cardinal Ratzinger, pushed for harsher measures against abusers and made it easier for the church to defrock them.


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