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Before Dallas: The U.s. Bishops' Response to Clergy Sexual Abuse of Children [Hardcover]

By Nicholas P. Cafardi (Author)
Our Price $ 23.76  
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Item Number 95393  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   255
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.24" Width: 6.36" Height: 0.94"
Weight:   1.14 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Mar 1, 2008
Publisher   Paulist Press
ISBN  0809105802  
EAN  9780809105809  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
The clergy sex abuse scandal and its ongoing fallout have created the greatest crisis in the history of the American Catholic Church. Yet for well over a thousand years, the Church has recognized the problem of clerical abuse of children and has maintained strict canonical punishments for perpetrators, including expulsion from the clerical state. So why did Church leaders favor therapeutic solutions over the provisions of canon law in dealing with decades of abuse? This groundbreaking analysis of the Church's response to the abuse crisis addresses that very question and engages in a vigorous assessment of the Church's failures in the light of its own canon law. The author, a civil and canon lawyer, summarizes the history of clerical sexual abuse, from the New Testament era to modern times. He describes the major cases that brought the problem to the forefront in the United States. He goes on to explain why most bishops decided to take the "therapeutic option" when dealing with abusive priests, rather than subjecting abusers to proper canonical punishments that might have brought the cases to light and resulted in greater sensitivity to the victims themselves. Finally, the author explains what the Church must learn from the abuse crisis. Insightfully written and thoroughly annotated, Before Dallas will become the accepted reference work on the Church's legal response to clerical sexual abuse, and an indispensable guide for preventing the tragedy from happening again. It will be essential reading for church historians, canonists, clergy, and all those interested in the future welfare of the Church and her faithful.

Publishers Description
A Church-sensitive, well-documented description of the missed opportunities that the American bishops had, in the period 1985-1993, when the clergy child abuse crisis was first breaking, to take effective steps to stop the crisis dead in its tracks.

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Product Categories
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Reviews - What do our customers think?
From a priest's perspective  May 2, 2008
This is an extremely useful and honest book. Cafardi has been involved in the legal and canonical issues surrounding clergy sexual abuse of minors for many years, and he has a sharp eye for interpreting the law, analyzing trends, and pointing out inconsistencies. In this book, his clear delineation of the differences between adminstrative and penal procedures in Canon Law illuminates the most difficult question of the day, namely, how could bishops repeatedly re-assign sexual offenders. Cafardi sheds light where others have generated only heat. More importantly, the entire text is devoted to the years before the crisis was in full swing, providing the context for understanding how we arrived to our current policies.

But be forewarned. This is a sad, troubling, and disconcerting book.
The American Catholic church faces its greatest challenges  Apr 3, 2008
The American Catholic church faces its greatest challenges from the clergy sexual abuse scandal and its ongoing impact in modern times, even though it has long recognized the problem over its long history. Canon law has been devised to handle such cases, but modern Church leaders favor therapeutic solutions over such precedents - and BEFORE DALLAS: THE U.S. BISHOPS' RESPONSE TO CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE OF CHILDREN examines these solutions and their lasting effects on victims, social and spiritual mores alike.
Useful information about clergy abuse - USA  Mar 15, 2008
Nicholas P. Cafardi's book: "Before Dallas, The U. S. Bishops' Response to Clergy Sexual Abuse of Children," gives us a detailed look at the efforts made by Catholic bishops in the United States as they sought ways to deal with priests who had sexually abused children and teenagers. Cafardi offers an historical synopsis of the crime of sexual abuse as defined by the Church's canon law, and outlines the scope of the problem in the U.S.A. beginning in 1984 through 2002. He also explains why the bishops generally elected not to use canon law to involuntarily remove priests against whom there were substantial allegations of abuse. Cafardi lists the various treatment options open to the bishops in dealing with clergy who were accused of sexual abuse. Perhaps the most interesting chapter [at least for me] in Professor Cafardi's book points out the numerous major efforts of individual diocesan bishops to respond to accusations by victims against priests in active ministry, and to address the pathologies of clergy who abused children. The national body, the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, also made some efforts to respond forthrightly to these concerns. Alas, these efforts were mostly carried out behind closed doors and the public found out about them only in more recent years. In the final chapter, Cafardi offers a list of canonical lessons that might be learned from this terrible period in the history of the Catholic church in the U. S. This is a well researched and well written book. The sixty-six pages of footnotes which support and expand upon material in the text are very interesing, and in some cases more revealing than the text itself. The author translates Latin phrases within the text, however, some footnotes are not translated from the Latin. He also includes a useful time line running from 1917 which marks the promulgation of the Code of Canon Law, to 2002 when the Catholic bishops of this nation adopted strong measures (i.e. a zero tolerance policy) to deal with priests who sexually abuse children. This zero tolerance policy states that if a priest or deacon has committed even one substantiated act of abuse on a minor (even if not adjudicated in a court of law) he would be removed from active ministry and never again serve as a cleric in the Catholic church. There is a thorough and useful bibliography of sources.
"Before Dallas," is serious reading that makes a serious analysis of the Church's response to sexual abuse by priests in this country. I highly recommend this book and think it will find an audience among clergy, historians, those interested in canon law, and the reading public who continue to try to understand the history of clergy sexual abuse.
James W. Garvey March 2008

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