Pathology in and outside the church. Perversion of Power: Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church by Mary Gail Frawley-O’Dea

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Book Review

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A clinical psychologist specializing in the treatment of sexual abuse victims, Mary Gall Frawley-O'Dea was the only mental health professional invited to address the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops at their now famous June 2002 Dallas meeting that focused on clergy sexual abuse. She was featured in last year's popular documentary film, "Deliver Us from Evil." She is a former Catholic, now Episcopalian. Ms. Frawley-O'Dea weighs in on the clergy sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic church with her new book, Perversion of Power: Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church. Much of it is dedicated to her view of the pathology within the church's teaching, theology and hierarchy. Chapters titled "Surviving Soul Murder," "Dominance, Submission and Sadomasochism" and "Clerical Narcissism" are presented in a compelling, articulate and gripping manner. She attacks the church for creating a climate over hundreds of years that set the stage for clergy sexual abuse to both occur and flourish. She has done a great deal of research to support her contentions and concludes with a pessimistic view in her epilogue.


National Catholic Reporter