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A Gospel of Shame: Children, Sexual Abuse, and the Catholic Church [Paperback]

By Frank Bruni (Author) & Elinor Burkett (Author)
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Item Number 161551  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   336
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 7.99" Width: 5.29" Height: 0.82"
Weight:   0.53 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Jun 30, 2002
Publisher   Harper Perennial
ISBN  0060522321  
EAN  9780060522322  
UPC  099455013956  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...

The relentless crescendo of revelations of sexual abuse in the nation's Catholic churches has rocked the nation. Just how widespread is child sexual abuse by the Catholic clergy? And why hasn't the Catholic church done more to stop it?

In A Gospel of Shame, Pulitzer Prize-nominated journalists Elinor Burkett and Frank Bruni provide the answers to these questions and more. The answers, however, turn out to be infuriating and heartbreaking, difficult to accept but impossible to dismiss. The authors thoroughly document dozens of cases across the country and reveal how this heinous abuse of trust has been tacitly sanctioned by the Church's silence.

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More About Frank Bruni & Elinor Burkett

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Frank Bruni is the author of three bestselling books and an op-ed columnist for the New York Times. Prior, he worked as the newspaper's chief restaurant critic, Rome bureau chief and White House correspondent.
Jennifer Steinhauer is a veteran New York Times correspondent, passionate home chef and the author of the bestselling cookbook Treat Yourself as well as the novel Beverly Hills Adjacent with Jessica Hendra.

Frank Bruni currently resides in Washington, in the state of District Of Columbia.

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Disturbing  Aug 13, 2003
Very well written. Very hard to read. The stories in this book are horrifying. Even more horrifying are the continuing efforts of the Church to protect these abusers, as witnessed by the latest round of revelations (2002). I also find it mystifying that Catholics in general want the abuse covered up, often persecuting parents who try to expose the abusers. I guess that is why they are still in the Church.
The word "gospel" means "good news" and there is little good news in this book about pedophile priests and the massive coverup by the hierarchy of the Catholic Church. It is a "must read" for all of those who, like me, were completely unaware of decades of sexual abuse of children by pedophile priests.

When I saw the movie in the 1980s about Father Gilbert Gauthe, a predatory priest in Louisiana whose story is told in this book, I thought it was an isolated incident by an evil priest. I knew nothing more about this appalling corruption in the Catholic Church until 2002 when terrible stories of thousands of abused children started being publicized in courageous newspapers, magazines, and books.

I classify this book as courageous also and commend the authors for all the dedicated research and unbiased reporting. The book was originally published in 1993, so the shock waves of scandal that erupted in the year 2002 are not contained therein except in the Introduction and Afterword.

The chapters of the book are divided into stories about the main players--the abusive priests, the victims and their parents, the uncaring hierarchy who wanted only to protect their priests and the image of the Catholic Church and cared nothing about the victims, and the unspoken covenant between the hierarchy and the court system, the mental health workers, the social workers, and the media, which kept these dark, ugly events shrouded in secrecy for decades.

The book details a possible path to redemption for the church, which I feel will be a road not taken by the hierarchy. They revere their power and control more than their desire to protect helpless children from evil priests.

The book ends by describing the group called VOCAL (Victims of Clergy Abuse Linkup), now renamed The Linkup. The victims, getting no help from the Catholic Church, started suing the abusers and the dioceses. The revolt has begun.

After reading this book, I understand more about why abusive priests prey on helpless children and why the church protects the priests by transferring them from parish to parish, thereby putting other innocent children in harm's way. I feel absolutely no empathy for the priests or bishops/cardinals.

When reading one horror story after another, I found myself thinking that abusive priests at least have an excuse. They are either sick or evil. However, there is no excuse for the hard-hearted bishops/cardinals who threatened the victims and concerned parents and lied with impunity.

I like to think that the bishops/cardinals were good men at one time. After all, they were priests themselves so that means they had a pastoral calling to shepherd their flock. This book made me question what happened on their climb to the top of the corporate ladder? The book describes them as clones of each other--pompous, arrogant, self-righteous liars. Their love for their own image and that of the medieval institutional church has eclipsed their love for the people in the church (including children) as the Body of Christ.

I asked myself, "Are there any good men left in the church?" This book gives me hope as it describes three heroic good men: Reverend Thomas Doyle, Dr. Richard McBrien, and Dr. Richard Sipe. They tried to be messengers of truth and warning, but the bishops, cardinals, and Rome did not care, did not listen, and did not act. They were complicit in their silence.

This book made me question whether or not I wanted to stay in a church that has proven to be so corrupt and uncaring. I had my own epiphany: "Yes. Stay in the church to which I have called you. The Spirit is moving through the church and great changes will be wrought. If you and other good people leave the church, the evildoers will have won." Peace came to my heart. I will stay with the Catholic Church that I love and watch as the Spirit cleanses the church from the contamination of evil that has invaded it.

It May be old, but it is still relevant today  Aug 30, 2002
I agree with the Detroit reader that it is important to remember that this book is 10 years old. With that said, I do not think that this book is irrelevant because of its age. Bruni and Burkett do an excellent job of documenting how this mess started and the culture and atmosphere that caused it. Great Book!
Lackof Integrity, Lack of Remorse, Catholicism in Trouble  Aug 21, 2002
Bruni and Burkett have written a decent, balanced book on the explosive subject of priests' and nuns' sexual abuse of children. What strikes the reader is that even though this book was written 9 years ago, little has changed in terms of the level of abuse and the ignorance, intransigence, insensitivity and immoral choices of Church officials in dealing with the burgeoning scandal. There is a preface and afterword to the 2002 edition that offer some new information and developments but one wishes for more updated information. Some of the accounts in the main body of the book are truly horrific: priests abusing 3 year olds, a child in traction in a hospital bed,violent rapes,etc.; a priest orchestrating a group of boys in a sick and blasphemous nude rendition of the stations of the Cross and Crucifixion, priests forcing prepubescent girls to defecate on them, etc. The authors do give us some psychological insights into priestly abusers, their stunted emotional growth and lack of sexual maturity and the lack of psychological insight of bishops who forgave the abusers and allowed them to continue their patterns of abuse. There is also a brief historical perspective tracing child abuse back to Roman and Medieval times. The expulsion of the Muslims from Spain was followed by a celebration in which Church authorities passed around liquor and small children to be used for sex. We are also told about the devastatingly adverse affects on the lives of more current victims. Bruni and Burkett also write compassionately about another group of victims, innocent priests who have had to bear the insults of bigots. Many priests have also suffered a loss of confidence about their calling and often feel there is an unspoken presumption of their guilt on the part of parishioners who are less friendly, less trusting. This is a good book, well worth reading, but one hopes for a more thoroughly updated account with a deeper probing of all aspects of the problem.
Catholischism  Jul 14, 2002
While not the most pleasant of topics, the disturbing news about sexual misdeeds by Catholic clergy is well-chronicled in "A Gospel of Shame," although keep in mind that this book was originally published in 1993, so recent goings-on are touched upon only briefly in the new introduction and afterword. Quite frankly, I was less interested in the subject matter than in what co-author Frank Bruni had to write about it (I really enjoyed his most recent book, "Ambling Into History," about George W. Bush). Overall, I'm mildly disappointed that this book was weighted far more toward storytelling than commentary and insight. Also, I would have preferred an updated edition with news from the last few years interspersed throughout.

The first two-thirds of the book chronicles dozens of cases of child abuse by priests; however, the overriding message becomes clear: sexual deviance among clergy is a big problem, but the bigger one is that the Catholic Church has tacitly sanctioned this misconduct through its failure to own up to it, treat these cases as crimes (as opposed to "sins"), and ultimately take steps to stop sexual abuse. Authors Bruni and Burkett portray (rightly so, sad to say) Church officials as ignorant, secretive, self-serving masters of denial who sought more often to protect their own image than the souls of their flock of worshippers. These are the ugliest examples of "the cover-up is worse than the crime," and it's not joyful reading.

The book doesn't really get rolling until the latter third, where more is said about what some of the Church's victims were doing to better understand the root cause of sexual misconduct among clergy, communicate with the Church, and ultimately work toward eradicating this demon in the system. It's a difficult proposition, but psychology, medicine, law, and even Christianity must all interact so that the Church can once again rightly serve its community of believers. I hope there won't be cause for a new edition of this book ten years from now.


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