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Anthropology of CatholicismA Reader$
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Kristin Norget, Valentina Napolitano, and Maya Mayblin

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780520288423

Published to California Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520288423.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CALIFORNIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.california.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of California Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CALSO for personal use.date: 26 June 2022

What Is Catholic about the Clergy Sex Abuse Crisis?

What Is Catholic about the Clergy Sex Abuse Crisis?

(p.282) 21 What Is Catholic about the Clergy Sex Abuse Crisis?
Anthropology of Catholicism

Robert A. Orsi

University of California Press

This chapter explores a question often asked about survivors of clerical sexual abuse: do they remain Catholic? Such a question, this chapter argues, fails to account for the complex reality. Survivors were abused as youngsters so they were usually unable to determine this for themselves. The insistence of adults that children and teenagers who were abused continue going to church was another way of denying the reality of the abuse. (“They drove me to my abuser,” one survivor said of his parents.) Many survivors remained faithful Catholics into adulthood. But most survivors describe a moment when being at Mass became physically and emotionally painful. For many the decision to stay or leave was not simple or final. Some survivors developed strategies for protecting themselves from further fear and harm as they continued attending Mass; others found ways of being both inside and outside the church; still others made different choices over time. The struggle of many survivors with the church in which they were religiously formed, encountered the sacred, and were abused—abuse that always had religious context and significance—offers a revealing perspective on Catholics and Catholicism in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries.

Keywords:   Clergy sexual abuse crisis, survivors of clerical sexual abuse, children, Catholic adolescents, the Eucharist, priests, Archdiocese of Chicago

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