A searching, balanced, and convincing look at the sexual abuse scandal in the American Catholic Church and its lessons for the future.
Church historian Joseph Chinnici served as provincial superior of the Franciscan Friars in California when the clergy sex abuse scandal touched his order, several years before it became a national issue. This book blends his own personal experience of trying to do the right thing in a fraught atmosphere, the best social-scientific and psychological research, and serious reflection by a follower of St. Francis on the way the churchs leaders can re-establish confidence and trust.
Chinnici analyzes the churchs relationship to our age and culture and the ways in which leaders misused their power to shore up an institutional vision that ultimately has little to do with the essence of Christianity. In the example of St. Francis of Assisi, Chinnici finds a path to a humble spirit of non-acquisitive ownership, evangelical freedom, and institutional transparency.
Joseph P. Chinnici, a Franciscan Friar, is professor of church history at the Franciscan School of Theology in the Graduate Theological Union of Berkeley, California. He is author of Living Stones: The History and Structure of Catholic Spiritual Life in the United States, and editor of the Franciscan Heritage Series.
If Catholics are to learn from this mess and set forth on the path of healing and renewal, they would do well to pay close attention to Father Chinnicis astute analysis and evaluation of the greatest challenge to Romanc Catholicism in decades, if not centuries:
- R. Scott Appleby, University of Notre Dame
"There is no better analysis of church leadership and the sexual abuse scandals.... Chinnicis [study] is theologically grounded, psychologically informed, and thoroughly pastoral:"
- Donald Cozzens, author, The Changing Face of the Priesthood
"No one is better qualified to draw enduring lessons from the clergy sexual abuse crisis than Joseph Chinnici. Priest, historian, and administrator, he offers his own knowledge and experience to help the Church restore the shattered bonds of trust. This book is an important contribution toward healing:
- James M. OToole, Boston College
"In my estimation, [this] is a great contribution to the Churchs reflection on sexual abuse scandals in the Church. The experience of Father Chinnici, as a Provincial Minister of the Franciscan Friars, and his reflections based on his Franciscan heritage are a most valuable insight into the challenges of leadership in these times."
- Most Reverend John F. Kinney, Bishop of St. Cloud