(DSM IV-TR, APA, 2000, pp. 807-813)

by Philip Jenkins, (Oxford University Press, 1996)
Chapter 10
“Meanings and Directions”, pp. 153-171.

THE construction of the clergy-abuse problem can be approached in a number of ways. The issue's origins can be traced to the interplay of various interest groups, who made effective use of opportunities arising from developments in the mass media and the legal environment. However, the whole affair also illustrates deeper structural changes in American society that have had a profound impact upon religious thought, and the effects are likely to continue in future years. Perceptions of a crisis over clergy abuse suggest how far the particular charges violated powerful new sensibilities and value systems. Public outcry reflects a fundamental shift away from traditional attitudes toward religious authority, in the direction of secular standards more in keeping with liberal and feminist beliefs. The specific instance of clergy abuse may thus foreshadow other problems and crises that will be experienced by American churches in the next decade or so. In terms of the Catholic church, the practical and ideological effects are likely to be devastating for traditional structures.

Constructing the Problem

SUCCESSIVE studies of social problems and moral panics have suggested a number of critical preconditions for the generation and acceptance of a given issue, for a problem to “succeed,” and clergy abuse exemplifies most of these. Ideally, a successful problem should be sufficiently familiar for the audience to be able to recognize its broad characteristics and potential for serious harm, which is why new issues are sometimes portrayed as subsets of existing topics. “As an acknowledged source for concern, a well established social problem becomes a resource, a foundation upon which other claims may be built.”' Once “child abuse” has been established as a menace, there is widespread public knowledge and acceptance of the stereotypical characteristics of the offense, and often of an accompanying terminology and body of [p. 154] assumptions (survivors, the statistical dark figure, the cycle of abuse, and so on). It then becomes easier for subsequent claims-makers to build their particular issues upon this narrative framework, so that “ritual abuse,” “elder abuse,” or “clergy abuse,” require less detailed explanation or construction.

            Also, the clergy affair illustrates yet again the significance of naming and contextualization in the creation of a problem, of declaring the appropriate limits of the issue's domain. This process determines the quest for solutions to the problem identified, for the policy consequences for “pedophile priests” would be utterly different if the issue were defined instead as merely clergy molestation or the feminist concept of clergy exploitation. The triumph of one particular view reflects the success of activism by the rival Catholic pressure groups, who from 1985 onward pioneered the exposes of the individual cases and were the first to offer a systematic explanation of the issue.

            However, the clergy-abuse story also suggests a number of points that are not often emphasized in the abundant literature on problem construction, above all the central significance of the legal dimension. Social problems are described in terms of the claims-making activity of interest groups and the role of the mass media, and these were major factors in the events described here. However, neither the media nor the activists would have had many cases on which to draw, any “raw material” for construction, were it not for the substantial changes in the character of litigation and the legal profession in the decade after 1975. The deleterious effects of the “litigation explosion” and the related liability revolution can be long debated, but no account of problem construction in the contemporary United States should ignore the impact of extended legal liability, whether one wishes to study issues of public health, education, medicine, or social policy. The powerful incentive to seek remedies through the courts reinforces and rewards what has been described as the “victim culture,” the tendency of groups and individuals to seek external culprits for disorders or difficulties that afflict them.' A threat or promise of large damage payments has become a powerful force motivating the reformulation of social issues.

            The example of legal change also points out the necessity of studying social problems in the broadest historical context. Though the first major cases of clergy abuse were not publicized until 1984-1985, we can discern a chain of historical causation that leads back at least into the 1960s. It was the civil rights movement that transformed attitudes toward the role of courts and law, and promoted the view that litigation might be a healthy and socially desirable means of redressing injustice. “Litigating for rights” was appropriate when cases were fought on behalf of classes of hitherto unrepresented victims opposing powerful corporations or institutions, and this concept justified the ethical and legal changes of the 1970s and early 1980s. The radical political ideas of the 1960s also left an inheritance in the feminist movement, which shared with civil rights activism concepts such as structural oppression and group victimization. There is a linear connection from the feminist movement to the surging concern with child sexual abuse that caused so comprehensive a revision of social attitudes during the 1980s. Also, the bitter factionalism of the Catholic church during the mid-1980s was a continuation of disputes that developed during the 1960s, especially during the watershed year of 1968. [p. 155]

            Though these different phenomena appear quite unrelated, all were necessary preconditions for the generation of the abuse problem. Without the requisite ideology, there would not have been the upsurge of child-abuse prosecutions, nor would anything have appeared amiss about the church's handling of its offending priests[:]

[1] Without the litigation explosion, attorneys would have lacked the ability to begin the investigation and prosecution of church authorities that so swiftly developed a cyclical and self-sustaining character.

[2] And had the Catholic church not been so divided, it would have been easier for the hierarchy to win credence for assertions that the charges were simply another chapter in the American pattern of hysterical anti-Catholic agitation.

[3] Finally, the critical news coverage of the abuse cases owed much to the revived muckraking traditions that had grown out of the Watergate affair and the antiwar protests, and that caused a general distrust of government and powerful institutions.

            Although it is improbable in the extreme that even the most perceptive observer in 1980 could have predicted the extent of the crisis that the Catholic church was about to undergo, there were already symptoms of impending trouble. To take one example from many, it was in 1981 that the conservative Catholic monsignor George Kelly wrote The Battle for the American Church, warning of the many signs of real and potential conflict within American Catholicism. He cited the growth of factionalism, the radical change in concepts of the priesthood, and the impact of feminism on women's religious orders. He also noted how the media had lost the respectful restraint traditionally shown toward churches and priests, especially in the Catholic context: “But lately news for news' sake is the compelling moral norm for revelations regardless of the consequences.... Magazines like Newsweek have a penchant for shocking audiences with stories about irregular priests.... 11 In a secularized culture, however, nothing is sacred, especially the sacred. Deflating or dethroning authority figures is fashionable.”' He was referring to stories that in retrospect seem remarkably mild, about priests engaged in dating and casual heterosexual liaisons, but it took little imagination to see how rival factions might use larger scandals for polemical purposes. Had Kelly also noted the changing legal atmosphere, he would have included all the major components of the impending crisis

            If for some reason the Gauthe case had not reached a public forum or had not achieved wide publicity, it is certain that one of the other instances would eventually have had a similar impact. Quite independent of events in Louisiana, there were by 1985 several separate legal actions involving clerical sexual misconduct. Between 1983 and 1985 countless news stories and articles emphasized that abuse could occur in any circumstance, and some observer sooner or later would cite a clergy lawsuit, making the point that “even a priest” was not immune. The McMartin affair made this danger acute. Once the incident was publicized, there were several groups with an interest in collating evidence about errant priests, in order to support an ideological point about the evil effects of “gay clericalism”; about the cynicism of the hierarchy; about the hypocrisy of a male institution that denounces abortion and homosexuality yet tolerates pedophiles. Given the political circumstances of the mid- 1980s, it was also probable that Catholic groups and factions would adopt the theme and focus attention on Catholic misdeeds. Once set in train, it was only a [p. 156] matter of time before the lawsuits and investigations now begun would bear full fruit in a major scandal involving a true predatory pedophile who could be used, however unfairly, as a symbol of all clergy sexually involved with minors. It is more likely than not that reactions to this case would tend to revive anti-Catholic stereotypes and speculation.

The Church and the World

            Inevitability is not a concept with which historians feel comfortable, but a clergyabuse problem was to say the least extremely likely to occur during the mid-1980s. There were also structural factors within the Roman Catholic church that greatly enhanced the likelihood of scandals' occurring at about this time, and these incidents would probably address a range of themes broadly similar to what was actually encountered in the abuse cases. Clergy abuse, in short, was inherently likely to be transformed into “priest pedophilia.”

            This study has emphasized the role of specifically Catholic disputes in encouraging the construction of the problem, but divisions must be seen as part of a longer-term conflict over the distinctive nature of the American Catholic church. In summary, this body was in the middle of a difficult process of transition from a “sect” into a “church,” and the transformation dangerously enhanced the risk of scandal and internal dissension. It may seem paradoxical to describe so large and powerful a movement as Catholicism as lacking true “church” status, but a sociologist of religion would draw a significant distinction between the two terms depending on the “degree of tension between religious organizations and their sociocultural environments.”' “To the degree that a religious body sustains beliefs and practices at variance with the surrounding environment, tension will exist between its members and outsiders.... When a religious body has no beliefs or practices setting it apart from its environment, no tension will exist.” The more accommodating latter bodies are churches: the former are sects, “religious bodies in a relatively high state of tension with their environments.” Other scholars would add different criteria to the distinction, for example, that sects require a significantly higher degree of commitment from their membership; they impose stricter discipline; and a higher proportion of members enter the group by voluntary choice rather than by birth and early socialization. Over time sects generally accommodate to the surrounding environment, and achieve the stability and conventionality that demonstrate their evolution into churches.

            Sects are often regarded as numerically small fringe groups, but in American history the Roman Catholic church has shared most elements of the definition of a sect and has consistently maintained a “relatively high state of tension” with the assumptions of the broader culture.` Since the 1960s reforms within the church have demonstrated all the classic symptoms that customarily mark the transformation of a sect into a church: the erosion of distinctions in ritual, theology, and religious practice: the reduction or elimination of “cultural markers and symbolic boundaries” such as Friday fasts and the Latin liturgy.'

            This process of assimilation has occurred in other bodies, and once begun it soon develops a powerful momentum. As activists or reformers begin to reduce traditional [p. 157] distinctiveness, they receive rewards and reinforcement from outside sources anxious to promote reform, including the existing churches and the media. Changes are encouraged as components of normalization or modernization: they may be described as “seeing the light.” “being brought into the twentieth century,” or achieving freedom from superstition. A movement to conventionality may also reduce historic tensions and conflicts with secular legal authorities over matters such as education or family structure. In fact, the pressures to assimilate become so strong that they are difficult to resist except perhaps by a thorough geographical separation. After a few years, a hypothetical sect is largely brought within the mainstream, except for diehard conservatives who might secede to form a new and still stricter exclusive body.

            Religious changes begun in the 1960s had an enormous impact on all sections of the American Catholic church, and naturally aroused expectations that progress would be pursued to its logical conclusion, in effect the elimination of obstacles to complete harmonization with the liberal Protestant churches. This would mean the end of distinctive institutions like mandatory celibacy, the all-male priesthood with all its attendant prestige, the extreme emphasis on hierarchy and the autocratic episcopate, and liturgical or disciplinary practices such as confession. Reforms won the wholehearted support of the secular media, for whom they represented a convergence with conventional ideological goals: ideas such as the expansion of democracy and representative institutions, the decline of a privileged priestly caste, and the ending of gender discrimination. What could be less American than “the Catholic church's history of monarchical rule, grounded in celibacy”?' There is a nationalist or patriotic agenda here, in that the Romanness and internationalism of the Catholic church represent one of the sharpest areas of conflict with social assumptions. The movement to assimilation is sometimes characterized in partisan and quite loaded terms, as when a writer attacking Catholic political power observed that “the next decade may decide whether the internal conflicts of Catholicism will turn an autocratic church into a people's church, in tune with both ecumenism and constitutional principles.”' The Roman Catholic church in America would thus become, in the fullest sense, the American Catholic church.

            However, the experience of American Catholicism has differed fundamentally from that of other sectarian communities because although the process of assimilation developed an impressive momentum, it soon encountered insurmountable obstacles. A “natural” or predictable process was thwarted because the American church is only one component of a much larger international structure. Final decisions about the extent of reform lie outside the nation's borders, in a Vatican that must take account of the 90 to 95 percent of Catholics who are not Americans. The papal decision on contraception in 1968 reasserted the gulf between the church and contemporary cultural assumptions and kept alive the basic conflict between American Catholicism and “the world.” High expectations raised in the 1960s were precipitously dashed, with severe consequences of disappointment and disillusion.

            The defeat of “normalization” was especially bitter for the clergy, whose traditional role had been undermined without a new concept's being properly formulated or understood. Confusion about expectations contributed to the hemorrhage [p. 158] of priests from the late 1960s, and the ensuing clergy shortage contributed significantly to the later abuse scandals. Conflicts over Catholic distinctiveness exacerbated tensions between the leaders and the led. Most of the hierarchy continued to affirm Roman orthodoxy, but the relative assimilation of the laity is suggested by indices such as the sharp decline in the practice of confession from the late 1960s onward and the rising use of contraceptives among married couples to rates little short of the Protestant norm.”

Sects and Scandals

            The American church of the past decade was vulnerable to scandal and conflict precisely because it lay somewhere between the sociological categories of sect and church. In seeking to abandon its sectarian status, the church also forfeited its protections against public hostility. In a church, belief and organizational structure are by definition unlikely to offend prevailing social attitudes and mores, so isolated crimes and scandals will not be denounced as reflective of grave structural flaws. External criticism of sects is likely to run much deeper, according on the degree of variance from accepted social norms.”' Sects perform a convenient integrative function by providing a common enemy, a “dangerous outsider,” against which the mainstream can unite and reassert its shared standards and beliefs. Depending on the legal and cultural environment of a given society, the tension between sects and the mainstream community might result in active persecution or it can take the form of ostracism and negative stereotyping.

            Hostile constructions of a movement or group are achieved by imaginative or prurient exaggerations of precisely those aspects of belief or practice that distinguish the sect: for example. its sexual unorthodoxy, charismatic leadership, or communal lifestyle. The anti-Catholic polemics of the nineteenth and early twentieth centur

            ies are indistinguishable in their emphases from the anticult literature of the past two decades.” Even modern controversies over deprogramming cult members were precisely foreshadowed in the efforts of nineteenth-century families to kidnap and reconvert daughters who had entered convents.

            The structure of sectarian organizations makes them vulnerable to scandals. In many groups, the leadership operates with a huge amount of discretionary authority over matters like finance and administration. The possession of power without responsibility offers temptations to corruption or sexual misdeeds, which are all the more serious because the leaders themselves fall short of the lofty or puritanical standards of behavior that ordinary members are expected to meet. As Bruce remarks of new religious movements, NRMS,

       Many religious innovators and NRMS deliberately draw attention to sexuality. NRMS often claim moral and ethical as well as spiritual superiority. They are often ascetic and present either explicit or implicit challenges to the rest of us about our laxity. If we feel indisposed to accept the NRMS' claims to ascetic superiority, we may throw the challenge back with the simple technique of inversion.”

            There is a potential for recurrent scandals of the most damning nature, based on obvious charges of hypocrisy. However, sects have internal mechanisms that tend to [p. 159] reduce both the likelihood and the severity of public scandals. Members prize the internal and informal resolution of disputes rather than resort to the procedures of a sinful outside world, so that disagreements or even crimes are less likely to come to light. Even if formal complaints or prosecutions do occur, members discount them as the inevitable product of popular prejudice. Vituperation from outsiders may even have a positive ideological effect on the group, reinforcing the members' sense of alienation and separateness from the social mainstream. The blame for scandal may thus fall on the person who denounced the crime rather than on the actual perpetrator. In these circumstances, the sect may heighten its resolution to remain a “peculiar people” or may even increase the degree of peculiarity. In the language of cognitive dissonance theory, “the more an individual suffers for something, the more positively he/she will evaluate it.”

            In the 1980s the American Catholic church was still sufficiently different to excite criticism, but its members no longer responded by “circling the wagons,” as they had so predictably in the past. As has been argued in chapter 6, the scandals actually offered a rich opportunity for reformers to pursue their goals. The derailed process of assimilation had produced a substantial corps of dissenters within the American church whose grievances emphasized the continuing areas of distinctiveness that caused the greatest offense or puzzlement to the religious mainstream. Their critique was undertaken by means of a rhetoric drawn from the dominant secular culture, with ideas of individual rights, formal legality, and gender equality, all within a national and patriotic framework that opposed Roman domination. Instead of a charismatic priesthood subject only to church law, reformers demanded the disciplinary standards of a modern secular profession (see, for example, Andrew Greeley's complaint: “The priesthood may be the only profession in this country that makes no attempt to police itself against unprofessional behavior”).” The clergy-abuse cases stigmatized exactly those aspects of Catholicism that had long been denounced and derided by outsiders, notably the “sectarian” tendency to resolve internal offenses quietly and informally. Despairing of achieving their goals within the organization, dissenters promoted reform (more daringly, “a reformation”) by resorting to the mechanisms available within the secular society, especially the courts and the mass media. The influence of these ideas is indicated by the willingness of laity and even clergy to sue the church; a less “sectarian” response would be difficult to imagine.

            The paradoxical expectations of the church hierarchy (the “official” church) explain the rhetorical response to the abuse cases. For example, dissidents demand that the church hierarchy observe formal legal/bureaucratic standards and norms in dealing with abuse cases, in effect that it act as a “normal” organization acts and claim no special privileges. On the other hand, when church authorities respond to charges with the conventional legal defenses appropriate to a comparable secular body, they are condemned for this failure to act consistently with their announced goals and aspirations. When church authorities are sufficiently accommodating to conventional standards as to admit or tolerate actively homosexual clergy, they open themselves to attack from both liberal and conservative factions for their failure to enforce announced policies. American Catholicism has forfeited the advantages of being a sect without gaining the “normal” status and respect appropriate to a church.

Values, Authority, and Religious Change

            For the Catholic church, the clergy-abuse issue provided a focus for underlying conflicts between the attitudes and assumptions of the wider culture and those of the ecclesiastical organization. However, the Catholic experience was by no means unique, the crisis exemplifies long-term cultural changes that have affected many aspects of American religion, regardless of denomination. The affair says much about values, in the sense of those things that are most prized in a given society and the extent to which these values are now in flux. As the values and the attitudes of the surrounding culture change, so all churches find themselves under pressure to conform to their environment, a process marked by external criticism and internal controversy. In the past decade debates over sexual abuse and exploitation have regularly provided a forum for the exploration and resolution of underlying conflicts over values and authority.

            The experience of the 1960s can again be cited to account for the sharp decline in all traditional models of authority, secular or religious, that challenged the position of the churches in general and the Catholic church in particular. Potential conflicts were for some years masked by the wholehearted commitment of the churches to political struggles on behalf of liberal concepts of rights, justice, and equality, especially in racial matters. However, the growing significance of issues of gender and sexual preference during the 1980s accentuated tensions between the traditional churches and the liberalism that prevailed in the mainstream society. In consequence, to use the seismic analogy suggested by Robert Wuthnow, the crucial fault lines in American religion now run within denominations rather than between different traditions and communities.

            The centrality of women's issues and concerns has been apparent in the life of most major churches during the past two decades. For most religious organizations, the central ideological conflicts concern the related core issues of authority, tradition, and gender relations. In the 1970s the crucial goal was the advancement of women within existing institutional and credal structures, but in recent years concern has shifted to more fundamental questions of theology and authority. In the feminist view, the whole system of religious belief and organization is evaluated on the basis of its relevance and contribution to women's social and intellectual experience, and ideally will be preserved or discarded on this basis. Recent debates on “Goddess worship” represent an extreme manifestation of a thorough reassessment of the bases of authority within the Christian churches.”

            Through most of the history of Christianity, models of authority have been found either in tradition or Scripture, mediated through an institutional church or clerical structure. In the feminist mold, such traditional warrants of authority are likely to be insufficient and also to be a significant part of the problems facing society. The churches are seen as bureaucratic institutions shaped by the social and economic interests of elite groups over successive centuries, and usually pursuing policies likely to align them with the government or groups holding social power. This is reflected in the common emphasis of religious bodies on issues of individual sin (rather than social or structural evil) and the support of family and patriarchal authority.

            The increased social status and assertiveness of women has made suspect any institution that explicitly asserts masculine and patriarchal authority, and (in the Catholic church) refuses to countenance even notional equality within its professional leadership. In terms of the ideologies generally accepted since the 1960s, such traditionally based policies are easily stigmatized as severe violations of social values, using words like discrimination, bias, sexism, misogyny. and prejudice. These disparaging terms are enhanced or escalated by association with pernicious historical references, concepts such as medievalism, the Inquisition, or other manifestations of religious persecution. Although patriarchal power can be lambasted in abstract terms, feminist arguments gain rhetorical force from the problem of clergy abuse and exploitation. This exemplifies both the harmful consequences of the conservative ideology and its enduring hypocrisy in sexual matters.

            The critique of patriarchal authority has also addressed the interests and rights of children, whom feminists regard as a traditionally neglected and exploited social group, and the influence of these ideas is indicated by the triumph of the child-abuse ideology between about 1978 and 1984. This had a transforming effect on many aspects of American culture: in law, the media, education, and religion. At least rhetorically, contemporary American culture has come to place a high premium on certain concepts of childhood, and these values must be protected even at the cost of sacrificing what were once considered centrally important religious beliefs, such as the sanctity of the priesthood, the secrecy of the confessional, and so on. The ease with which legislatures omitted clergy privilege from laws mandating the reporting of abuse is a striking manifestation of a new cultural environment. The rhetorical affirmation of children's interests has provided a versatile trump card that can be used to overwhelm older values such as the sacrosanctity of family discipline. During the Branch Davidian siege in Waco, Texas, in 1993, a decision to intervene militarily was justified on the basis of an alleged discovery that children within the compound were being abused.

            Issues of authority are inextricably bound up with the question of credibility, which is the heart of the matter in virtually all child-abuse allegations. In a conflict between two competing versions of a given situation, whom should one be predisposed to believe: the individual and family or the large institution; the layperson or the cleric; the child or the adult; the therapist or the cleric? In every instance the recent abuse cases demonstrate an overwhelming public tendency to lean toward the credibility of the lay individual against the cleric or church, the child rather than the adult, the woman not the man; throughout, the prestige of religious sanctions or justifications has been overwhelmed by the influence of secular ideologies.

            Changing values are reflected in the degree of discretion that can, according to social consensus, be safely granted to particular groups or institutions. In the past decade agencies affecting to defend children's interests have seen a vast enhancement of their resources and legal powers. This makes it far easier to remove children from homes and families believed to practice abuse, and without the legal formal ities and procedure hitherto required. Conversely, church-run children's institutions were assailed for alleged involvement in physical abuse and neglect in addition to the better-publicized sexual exploitation. Whereas once the religious institutions would have been thought worthy of enforcing internal standards of behavior and morality, the current trend is to seek external controls from the civil and criminal law, and to impose the value systems of nonreligious groups.

            The clergy-abuse scandals demonstrated a near-collapse of public confidence in the integrity of church institutions. In Chicago. for example, it was a political necessity that the investigative review board established by Cardinal Bernardin have a substantial lay majority. A relative decline of clerical status is reflected in the increased willingness of the mass media to investigate ecclesiastical misdeeds, especially involving women or children. In this sense, we can thoroughly agree with the remarks quoted earlier from Monsignor Kelly about changing social criteria for the groups and individuals who merit respect and reverence: “Deflating or dethroning [male, traditional] authority figures is fashionable.”

Therapeutic Values

            A crisis of belief in traditional authority was accompanied by questions about the standards by which behavior and morality could be judged. In this sense, the clergyabuse issue was a further engagement in the ongoing conflict between the different value systems represented by organized religion on the one hand and the orthodoxies of the therapeutic and behavioral-science professions on the other, and the impact that each had in the mainstream culture. Secular and religious responses to the abuse cases both indicate a dramatic decline in the influence and social acceptability of traditional religious ideologies. At every stage the debate shows how far contemporary religious consciousness has been transformed by the insights of psychology, despite the apparent contradiction with traditional Christian doctrinal assumptions such as the belief in the power of sin and the necessity of repentance.

            The changing concept of wrongdoing might be illustrated by imagining a priest known to have embezzled a substantial sum of money from a particular parish, but whose church superiors decide not to report the misdeed to civil authorities. Following a period of some years of retreat and self-discipline, the same individual is given a fresh start in a new parish. If known, such a decision would probably receive sympathy or even praise as a humane and generous measure, and one moreover that was closely in tune with the announced ideological goals of the church of encouraging forgiveness and redemption. It would also be justified by numerous scriptural passages commanding Christians both to forgive wrongs, “seventy times seven” if necessary, and wherever possible to avoid involving the civil authorities in internal church matters.” In fact, it is rather the decision to exclude the lapsed priest from future service that would be denounced as an act of hypocrisy and cruelty, given the religious and ideological framework of the organization.

            The question then arises how such a hypothetical case differs from the notorious decision of a given diocese to return to ministry a man implicated in the sexual molestation of minors. An obvious answer is that this behavior differs from theft in that it is now commonly believed to reflect a compulsive or addictive personality disorder, which cannot be cured or deterred by even the most determined act of will on the part of the offender. The near-universal acceptance of this compulsive model suggests the continuing expansion of medical and deterministic interpretations of wrongdoing and the consequent reduction or revision of the concept of individual sinfulness, especially in matters of sexuality. Sin necessarily implies free will; psychological and therapeutic models are deterministic in their analysis of how character and behavior are formed by family, upbringing, and social development.

            A fundamental change of value is also apparent from the response deemed proper to a particular act of wrongdoing. Historically, Christian ethical values emphasized the free responsibility of the individual both to make moral choices and to suffer the consequences of those decisions. In most churches the assumption was that a wrong act merited punishment and perhaps required penance but did not necessarily brand the culprit for life as having the stereotypical characteristics of an offender. A man who performed a sexual act with a boy had committed an act of sodomy or pederasty but did not thereby become a pederast who was inevitably likely to reoffend, any more than a man who visited a prostitute acquire the indelible label of “lecher.” Nor was an individual who became drunk necessarily an irredeemable drunkard; he or she could reform and repent. Basic to the Christian value system is a belief in the worth and potential of repentance as a decision of the individual. In the therapeutic assumption, however, an increasing number of offenses are pathologized, regarded as the outcome of circumstances determined by factors beyond the individual. As such, they require diagnosis or classification with a medical term such as alcoholic, pedophile, or ephebophile, followed by appropriate treatment procedures.

            During the 1970s and 1980s psychological values and assumptions had permeated the religious world no less than the secular culture, often through the vehicle of self-help and recovery movements.'° In Protestant churches, small groups proliferated so rapidly from the early 1980s onward that their total membership surpassed that of Sunday schools, and with ever-eroding boundaries between “religious” Bible-study groups and more general self-help units.' Among the expanding range of twelve-step recovery movements are “Fundamentalists Anonymous” and groups offering recovery from “religious abuse.” This condition is manifested by symptoms such as guilt, obsessive praying, hostility to sexuality, a preference for faith over inquiry, fasting, and attitudes of conflict toward the values of science and conventional education.”

            Therapeutic ideas found many points of contact and similarity with contemporary political movements, especially the feminist and radical ideas currently transforming religious consciousness. For example, suffering and injustice are not necessarily inherent to a divine or providential plan for the world but commonly result from human or social agency and can be changed, reformed, or abolished. Passive acceptance of the sufferings either of oneself or of others is by no means a virtue, and neither is any attempt merely to ameliorate the worst of these conditions through acts of benevolence. The theory demands active political involvement to achieve structural change in social arrangements. Bad conditions and human suffering are not necessarily or even probably the fault of oneself, and the blame lies rather in the hands of others. Guilt, penance, and the sense of individual sin are not only unnecessary but actively counterproductive in the promotion of essential social change.

            In the feminist context the locus of political change shifts to the personal arena and the realm of the family and domestic arrangements, and here too the sense of individual sin is questioned or refashioned. The response to personal problems and dysfunctions involves virtues such as empowerment, pride, assertiveness, and self-reliance, qualities that collectively made up a large part of what older Christian theology had customarily regarded as the fruits of sin. New ideas are reflected in the sweeping assault on the “abusive” implications of orthodox theology, Christology, and theodicy (see chapter 7).

            The rejection of sin and the sense of guilt in the society at large was also influential in the courts. In 1987 a California court found a Protestant church liable following the suicide of a young man, accepting his parents' contention that the church had exacerbated his “pre-existing feelings of guilt, anxiety and depression.” Legal writer Peter Huber aptly comments, “Perhaps it had. But the mission of many religions is to challenge heart and conscience, so as to promote a sense of contrition leading to absolution.”

            An intellectual chasm separates the operating assumptions of the Catholic church and other traditional religious bodies from those of mainstream therapy and psychology. The medicalization of wrongdoing radically circumscribes the areas in which clergy can appropriately exercise their professional jurisdiction, and this loss of acknowledged expertise to therapists and medical authorities both symbolizes and accelerates a substantial decline in professional status for priests and ministers. However, not only were the clergy-abuse scandals generally interpreted according to therapeutic views and policies but the churches themselves adopted at least the rhetoric of the therapists. The standard operating assumptions of secular therapy dominated the main church-run treatment center, Saint Luke's Institute, and the center's director included in an essay the “twelve steps of Sexaholics Anonymous.”“

            When an abuse crisis was acknowledged by the early 1990s, the Catholic church did not react with the devices that might have seemed appropriate decades earlier: religious responses such as local or national days of prayer and repentance. The vast majority of public statements by the Catholic hierarchy accepted the basic belief about the compulsive and essentially irredeemable nature of adult sexual activity with children and admitted the quite radical belief that priests so involved should never again be restored to parish ministry. They also accepted that child victims urgently required therapy, treatment that should be provided by secular psychologists and counselors, itself a rejection of the means of healing offered by the church. Official Catholic documents accepted with little challenge the expansive claims made by therapists and child-abuse advocates about the vast extent of sexual abuse and its devastating and lifelong consequences, all ideas that are in reality open to serious challenge.

            To take a minor but representative example of accommodation with therapeutic orthodoxy, when the cardinal's commission made its recommendations for reducing the future incidence of sexual misconduct by clergy of the Chicago archdiocese, it placed high emphasis on seminary training and the choice of proper individuals to be admitted and ordained. However, this reform was to be achieved not by a reassertion of any criteria drawn from any Catholic tradition but by the most advanced current methods of social and behavioral science. Seminaries were directed to maintain and refine their use of such psychological screening techniques as the MPD (Ministerial Potential Discerner), and where appropriate, sexual dysfunctions were to be diagnosed through the MMPI survey technique (the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory).21

            Again, the Catholic church is far from unique in this regard, and many churches responded to the perceived crisis with an explosion of seminars, workshops, retreats, and “consciousness-raising” events, all of which promulgated the insights of therapists and counselors dealing with sexual abuse and harassment. In the Seattle archdiocese, for example, Archbishop Raymond Hunthausen responded to recent abuse allegations by requiring all priests and staffers to attend a workshop by Marie Fortune. Other denominations organized events with titles such as “Women, Abuse and the Bible.”“ Resorting to therapeutic authorities implies respect for if not full acceptance of their underlying value system no less than their methodologies, and the response to the abuse issue increases still further the influence of these assumptions within the churches. It is difficult to imagine that trend will not have doctrinal consequences in the decades to come, in areas as significant as Christology and the Trinity.

The Rhetoric of Religious Problems

            The religious setting of the clergy-abuse issue sets it apart from other social problems involving themes such as drunk driving, illegal immigration, and drug abuse. Of course, religious problems cannot exist wholly independent of general secular fears and concerns, for (with a few extreme sectarian exceptions) both activists and potential audiences are inevitably influenced by the media and the social environment. However, the religious environment does presuppose a number of peculiar characteristics.

            Social problems are often identified when a group or individual makes claims with the ultimate goal of changing laws or social policy. The legal separation of church and state means that claims-makers in a religious environment are usually seeking to affect the policies not of a government but of a particular church or sectarian tradition. Activists must operate within the church's distinctive rhetorical and cultural traditions and its own political mechanisms, and they are unable to use such familiar publicity devices as hearings before congressional committees. In fact, religious problems can arise or be exacerbated by an improper crossover between church and state, as with the allegation that the Catholic church drew on its allies in law enforcement to cover up abuse scandals. Within the religious organizations themselves, change comes through means very different from those that might be expected from a democratic or commercial concern: there is no electorate in the usual sense, and there are no shareholders to influence. As conservative Catholics are fond of repeating, the church is not a democracy, and perhaps never will be. Pressure groups must therefore appeal to a dual audience, using conventional rhetoric and demands suitable for a general secular public but also framing problems in a way that will influence the internal structures of the church or religious organization.

            As it came to be constructed, the clergy-abuse problem carried a simple but powerful message about the urgent necessity for ecclesiastical reform. The effectiveness of this message is suggestive for the contemporary state of argument in religious matters, for the best means of making and establishing claims, and for the most reliable warrants to justify change. In all these areas there has been some convergence with secular concerns. The contrast with recent events might be illustrated by imagining the nature of religious debate in a previous century, in which the needs or interests of a particular group were in serious conflict with the policies of a dominant church. Usually, the dissident approach would be primarily historical. This might take several forms, including an assertion that the dissident group was basing itself on a superior or more authentic tradition, or a declaration that the group relied on Scriptures other than those emphasized by the church. All these strategies have been employed in recent engagements between the Catholic church and its feminist or liberationist foes, who have retrieved the Christian tradition of political protest and argue that women played a substantial if largely forgotten role in the early church. Assertions of gay rights can similarly employ the historical argument that modern hostility to homosexuality was not present in the early or medieval church.”

            What separates contemporary polemics from its predecessors is the absolute necessity to link historical or theological assertion with arguments that are pragmatic and utilitarian. In contrast to earlier centuries, it would be unsound today to base an argument solely on traditional religious criteria (“The Bible says    The Church has always believed . . . “), or indeed on traditional authority of any kind, whether scriptural or traditional. To state, however controversially, that the medieval church blessed same-sex “marriages” might be dismissed as talk of a historical curiosity. To argue that a particular doctrine is wrong because it causes actions that are recognized as immediately harmful is far more effective, and it is imperative that the harm be comprehensible in secular terms. Even the opponents of “Goddess worship” who use Scripture to denounce religious syncretism link their attacks to warnings of practical evils such as satanic cults and ritual abuse.

            In view of contemporary social ideologies and commonplaces, issues gain power if they can be linked either to defending and promoting the status of women or to any threat that can be postulated against children. This is by no means a new rhetorical development; it was ably pioneered in the early twentieth century by the temperance movement. Pornography is depicted as evil and worthy of prohibition not because it violates the biblical seventh commandment but because it leads to child pornography and to sexual violence against women. Consuming illegal drugs appears superficially to represent consensual victimless crime, but the offense leads to the innocent suffering of “crack babies,” “ice babies.” and the rest. A celibate clergy is wrong not because it is antiscriptural but because it creates a situation in which priests molest boys in the sacristy. Homosexuality is not wrong because the Bible (arguably) says so but because it is associated with pedophilia, and as long as sexual preference remains a contentious issue, pedophile charges are likely to be the weapon of choice in opposing homosexual aspirations in the churches or in society at large. The rhetoric of contemporary social problems thus illustrates the essential importance of placing the interests of women and children in the forefront of any feasible issue in order to take advantage of new sensibilities. In the case of clergy abuse, such a shift of emphasis has already permitted the undermining of what once appeared impregnable ideological positions.

“The Greatest Crisis”?

            The abuse crisis has had grave consequences for the Catholic church in North America, an impact that is perhaps disguised by the inflated claims made by some commentators. Activists calling attention to an issue make claims that appear extravagant, exaggerating the scale of the phenomenon or its impact on the community. It is not difficult to find examples of this rhetorical escalation in the area of priest pedophilia, described in phrases such as “perhaps the most serious crisis Catholicism has faced since the Reformation”'-' and “the greatest crisis the Catholic church has faced.”2' This is a familiar form of hyperbole, and it is not unprecedented. The theological liberalism of the 1890s was similarly said to have precipitated “The Great Crisis in American Catholic History,” though this is today remembered by few nonspecialists.='

           From a global perspective, the “greatest-crisis” language is fatuous. The contemporary abuse issue directly affects perhaps a few hundred priests on one continent, and it fades into insignificance beside such political conflicts as the spread of Islam and Protestantism in the early modern period, the rise of communism and fascism in the early twentieth century, and such intellectual crises as the Enlightenment and the growing hegemony of science and rationalism in the nineteenth century. Is this really a greater crisis for the whole church than, say, the year 1940, when Europe faced the imminent prospect of partition between Hitler and Stalin'? To take a contemporary example, many would argue that the gravest single danger facing world Catholicism today comes from the massive inroads of evangelical Protestantism in Latin America, the home of perhaps a third of all Catholics.

            The present problem might usefully be compared with the situation of the European church in the last quarter of the eighteenth century, when most major Catholic nations had dragooned into obedience the church structures on their own territories and secularized much church property. Major religious orders were dissolved at the behest of secular governments, and the prevailing intellectual tone of the era was profoundly hostile to any aspect of traditional or revealed religion such as Trinitarian belief. The revolutionary government in France was systematically executing hundreds of bishops, priests, and religious, and the same regime abducted and imprisoned two successive popes. When Rome fell to the French in 1798, it would have taken great optimism to believe that the Catholic church would survive into the nineteenth century. Only the most extreme hyperbole could suggest that the North American scandals of 1992 were somehow more threatening or damaging than the genuine crises of 1940, the 1790s, the 1520s, or of many other years when the Catholic church faced appalling perils.

            Though falling short of these other menaces past and present, the abuse problem has already had complex effects on North American Catholicism, and there may be serious long-term consequences. Catholic observers frequently note how easily outsiders are misled by the divisive and even vicious tone of controversies within the church; in reality these have little impact on “real” Catholic life, which revolves around the enduring verities of the parish and the Sacraments. In the abuse issue, however, lies a serious threat to exactly these core phenomena that have survived unscathed the decades of skirmishing over matters like contraception and women's ordination.

            It is barely a decade since the Gauthe trial revived the image of the pedophile priest, but in that short time the torrent of publicity has substantially changed popular attitudes toward the Roman Catholic church and its priesthood. One harrowing change is the revival of stereotypes that most observers believed long extinct. A Gospel of Shame accurately notes that the abuse issue has caused an outpouring of humor and folktales concerning priests and illustrates this by recounting a vulgar joke about a man who stands in for a priest at the confessional.” Hearing a confession from an admitted molester, the man struggles to find an appropriate penance, and then asks the altar boy what Father George gives for sex with a twelve-year-old boy. The boy replies, “Usually, I get a dollar bill and a candy bar.” Citing this story well illustrates public attitudes, but the authors are incorrect in suggesting that it was a novel outcome of recent events, “a joke making the rounds among many Catholics in 1992.” This tale is certainly decades old and, in different guises, may long predate this century. Although opposition might properly be termed anticlerical or antihierarchy rather than anti-Catholic, the pedophile issue has legitimized patterns of rhetoric and prejudice that would have been quite familiar in the era of the KnowNothings.

            There is a classic sociological account of how people come to determine the shape of reality, the “real” being defined as those things that exist independent of our volition, the inevitable things we take for granted. Berger and Luckman write that “the reality of everyday life maintains itself by being embodied in routines, which is the essence of institutionalization. Beyond this, however, the reality of everyday life is ongoingly reaffirmed in the individual's interaction with others. Just as reality is originally internalized by a social process, so it is maintained in consciousness by social processes.” In the past decade a sinister and unsavory vision of the Catholic church has come close to being a routine part of perceived reality in this culture, with the required institutional quality provided by recurrent reinforcement through newspaper headlines and television news stories, rumors, and jokes. Collectively, these symbolic actions draw upon and define social reality. Whether a news program introduces a story with visuals of a church or a mass, or a cartoon depicts a bishop, or a comedian begins a story about a priest, there is the same expectation that the likely and predictable outcome will involve scandal, improper sexuality, and exploitation, or at least misogyny. When the same message is repeatedly offered by all forms of media and confirmed by conversation with friends or associates, then it has been legitimized as social fact, for Catholics as well as non-Catholics.

            The savage anti-Catholicism of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries did not prevent the church from maintaining high popular prestige or indeed from recruiting large numbers of prospective priests. At that point, however, the dark picture of the church was only one competing reality, which was not shared by Catholics themselves. The environment of the 1990s is different in many ways, and the number of priestly vocations stood at a historic low even before the present crisis. That the situation will grow worse in the short term appears inevitable. Priestly prestige has been severely damaged, and even in traditionally loyal Catholic communities there is evidence of intense family opposition to boys' entering seminary or even becoming altar boys. The apparent need to restrict personal contacts between clergy and children sends a symbolic message that this is a dangerous or tainted profession, even where no specific allegation has been made. In the Los Angeles archdiocese, for example, stringent policies now forbid priests from engaging in such apparently innocent activities as “hugging, tickling and wrestling that involve physical contact with minors. The cases “have made it difficult for anyone who wears a clerical collar to so much as smile at a child, let alone stroll past playgrounds.”`° Anyone considering the priesthood must be aware of the greatly intensified risk that a career will be damaged, perhaps irreparably, by a scandal resulting from either false charges or misconstrued horseplay.

            The betrayal of children is all the more devastating for Catholics because of the emphasis that the church in the past half century had placed on children's interests and activities. In many parishes it is precisely the child-centered activities that attract the highest degree of lay commitment: the church school and the children's choir, in sports, scouting, and recreational events. These stand at the heart of parish life and traditionally supplied the cohesion and sense of community that overrode any factional or theological grievances. If priests are to be severely constrained in their dealings with children, they lose much of their raison d'etre, which is simultaneously undermined by the concession of their distinctive areas of expertise to therapists and medical professionals. Whereas celibacy once served as a token of charismatic power and status, it has today become for many a stigma warning of frustration and sexual impropriety. To use an economic analogy, the Catholic priesthood always offered both high costs and high rewards. Although it traditionally made intense demands on an individual, it offered commensurate rewards in terms of prestige and a lifelong career. The past decade has simultaneously slashed the potential rewards and escalated the costs to a level that many will find prohibitive.

            Vocations will assuredly decline, though this trend will not have its full effects until early in the next century, when an already predicted shortage of priests could become significantly worse than yet imagined.” By that point, if not sooner, there will probably be a dramatic rise in lay pressure for measures to increase the number of priests, certainly including an end to mandatory celibacy; the restoration of priests who left their positions in order to begin families; and probably the ordination of women. If the American church were autonomous, there is little doubt that these measures would be implemented, but because it is not, no prediction can be made about the eventual outcome. The choices appear limited: either a radically transformed and more “American” church or an increasingly stressed and conflict-ridden community with a sharply declining number of individuals authorized to perform essential rituals. In either case the result would be completely different from the most sweeping change envisioned only a decade ago. This grim scenario is not the consequence of the pedophilia controversy alone, which should be seen, rather, as a catalyst accelerating existing trends. As in other denominations, however, the problem of clergy abuse has developed a momentum that is unlikely to slow before the end of the decade.


Understanding Clergy Abuse:
Activism and Audience

            In the 1970s sociologists developed the concept of the “moral panic” in order to analyze social problems and fears.”- A panic is a sudden manifestation of exaggerated public fear and concern over an apparently novel threat:

            When the official reaction to a person, groups of persons or series of events is out of all proportion to the actual threat offered, when “experts” ... perceive the threat in all but [p. 170] identical terms ... when the media representations universally stress “sudden and dramatic” increases (in numbers involved or events) and “novelty”, above and beyond that which a sober, realistic appraisal could sustain, then we believe it is appropriate to speak of the beginnings of a moral panic.”

            The panic reaction occurs not because of any rational assessment of the scale of the particular menace but as a result of ill-defined fears that eventually find a dramatic and oversimplified focus in one incident or stereotype, which then provides a visible symbol for discussion and debate.” Panics are important because they reflect deep underlying social tensions over matters as diverse as ethnicity, social change, and a crisis in values and social attitudes.

            It is tempting to see a moral panic in the “sudden and dramatic” concern over the “novelty” of priest pedophilia, though the theory cannot be applied precisely and the concept has been subject to criticism. The very term panic is heavily value-laden and suggests that virtually any fears analyzed are ipso facto irrational and wildly overblown. To an even greater degree than “constructed,” to speak of “panic” implies dismissive skepticism. Although many statements and estimates about clergy sex abuse are distorted or exaggerated, the verifiable core of the phenomenon is still sufficient to justify a degree of public concern. Pederast priests and ministers do exist and can cause harm, though the elements of an appropriate policy response are not self-evident.

            Where the moral panic concept is useful is in its emphasis on the audience for a putative problem as much as on the claims-makers, and on the agendas that that audience brings to a particular issue or text. In this view, social reaction is the determining force in transforming individual crimes or abusive acts into general problems, which are interpreted according to preexisting public concerns and fears rather than by any intrinsic quality of the acts themselves. As in other historical periods in which there has been intense hostility to the church and its clergy, it is not necessary to suppose that the frequency or gravity of clerical misdeeds has increased significantly in recent years. What has changed is the moral perception of the public and, crucially, of the Catholic laity themselves, who now provide a hungrily receptive audience for claims of priestly atrocities. As the media and the various interest groups present new stories to feed the emerging market, so the attitudes and expectations of the audience become ever more skeptical of clerical virtue and authority.”

            The resulting cycle has no natural or inevitable resolution, but such anticlerical insurgency has historically portended periods of sweeping and often painful internal reform for the church, marked by growing intrusions from the secular state and its legal apparatus. Though not yet anything approaching a “greatest crisis,” the historical precedents are not comforting. The original Protestant Reformation owed less to any theological discovery and more to a tectonic shift in notions of the rights and status of the laity. As so often in the past, contemporary anticlericalism is the symbolic assertion of this new lay mood of self-confidence and self-awareness.

            Given the changing nature of public perceptions and expectations in recent years, it is quite possible to imagine an influential “clergy-abuse problem” arising from real phenomena far less numerous and damaging than those that actually have occurred. If the abuse crisis had not existed, then some other problem involving [p. 170] priestly deviance and sexuality would probably have developed, drawing on the same range of issues, and that problem would have had quite as substantial an impact on the churches. The clergy-abuse issue has attained the force it has because it epitomized the diverse interests and fears of a broad array of social constituencies at a time of dizzying transition in their expectations about matters as basic as gender relations and family structure.


            Footnotes: Chapter 10: Meanings and Directions

                1. Joel Best, Threatened Children (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1990), pp. 65-66.

            2. Charles J. Sykes, A Nation of Victims (New York: St Martin's Press, 1992); David Rieff, “Victims All: Recovery, Co-dependency and the Art of Blaming Somebody Else,” Harpers, October 1991, pp. 49-56.

            3. George A. Kelly, The Battle for the American Church (New York: Doubleday, Image, 1981), p. 315.

            4. Roger Finke and Rodney Stark The Churching of America, 1776-1990 (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1992), pp. 40-46.

            5. Ibid., pp. 255-74.

            6. Ibid., p. 264.

            7. Jason Berry, Lead Us Not into Temptation (New York: Doubleday, 1992), p. xxi.

            8. Lawrence Lader, Politics, Power and the Church: The Catholic Crisis and Its Chal

            lenge to American Pluralism (New York: Macmillan, 1987), p. 11.

            9. Berry, Lead Us Not into Temptation, pp. 191-92; Andrew Greeley, The Catholic Myth

            (New York: Collier, 1990).

            10. Steve Bruce, “Puritan Perverts: Notes on Accusation,” Sociological Review, n.s., 33 (1985): 47-63.

            11. Thomas Robbins, Cults, Converts and Charisma (Newbury Park, Calif.: Sage, 1991). 12. Bruce, “Puritan Perverts,” p. 56.

            13. Andrew Greeley, “Priestly Silence on Pedophilia,” New York Times, March 13, 1992, p. A3 1.

            14. Peter Steinfels, “Beliefs”, New York Times, June 25, 1994, p. A 12.

            15. Supported by texts such as Matt. 18:15-22; 1 Cor. 6:1-7.

            16. Robert Wuthnow, Sharing the Journey (New York: Free Press, 1994); Wade Clark

            Roof, A Generation of Seekers: The Spiritual Journeys of the Baby Boom Generation (San

            Francisco: Harper, 1993).

            17. Warren Bird, “The Great Small Group Takeover,” Christianity Today, February 7 1994, pp. 25-29.

            18. Roof, A Generation of Seekers, pp. 214-15.

            19. Peter W. Huber, Liability: The Legal Revolution and Its Consequences (New York: Basic Books, 1988), pp. 77, 183.

            20. Stephen J. Rossetti, ed., Slayer of the Soul: Child Sexual Abuse and the Catholic Church (Mystic, Conn.: Twenty-Third Publications, 1990), pp. 45-66.

            21. Julia Quinn Dempsey, John R. Groman, John P. Madden, and Alphonse P. Spilly, The Cardinal's Commission on Clerical Sexual Misconduct with Minors: Report to Joseph Cardinal Bernardin, Archbishop of Chicago (Chicago: The Commission, 1992), pp. 38-39.

            22. Jim Bowman, “Is Male Headship Linked to Spousal Abuse?” Christianity Today, June 20, 1994, p. 62.


            23. John Boswell, Christianity, Social Tolerance and Homosexuality (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1980); John Boswell, Same-Sex Unions in Pre-Modern Europe (New York: Villard Books, 1994).

            24. Andrew Greeley, in Berry, Lead Us Not into Temptation, p. xiii.

            25. Douglas Martin, “Feeling Slighted by Church Officials, New York Youth Sues over Abuse by His Priest,” New York Times, February 24, 1993, p. B4.

            26. Thomas T. McAvoy, The Great Crisis in American Catholic History, 1895-1900 (Chicago: Regnery, 1957); compare Robert D. Cross, The Emergence of Liberal Catholicism in America (Chicago: Quadrangle, 1968).

            27. Elinor Burkett and Frank Bruni A Gospel of Shame (New York: Viking, 1993), p. 219.

            28. Peter Berger and Thomas Luckman The Social Construction of Reality (New York:

            Doubleday, Anchor, 1967), p. 149.

            29. “Policy on Sexual Abuse by Priests: Los Angeles Archdiocese” Origins (Catholic News

            Service) 24 (5) (1994), p. 70.

            30. Reginald W. Bibby, Unknown Gods (Toronto: Stoddart, 1993), p. 208.

            31. Richard P. McBrien, “Celibacy, Priest Shortage, Plot May Thicken,” National Catholic Reporter July 30, 1993, p. 20.

            32. Erich Goode and Nachman Ben-Yehuda, Moral Panics (Oxford: Blackwells, 1994).

            33. Stuart Hall et al., Policing the Crisis ( London: Routledge, 1978); all emphases in the original.

            34. Stan Cohen, Folk Devils and Moral Panics: The Creation of the Mods and Rockers (Oxford: Blackwells, 1972), p. 28.

            35. The changing nature of audience receptivity is usefully discussed in James R. Andrews, The Practice of Rhetorical Criticism (New York: Macmillan, 1983).




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