Clericalism: Enabler of Clergy Sexual Abuse


Sexual abuse by Catholic clergy and religious has become the greatest challenge facing Catholicism since the Reformation. Violations of clerical celibacy have occurred throughout history. The institutional church remains defensive while scholars in the behavioral and social sciences probe deeply into the nature of institutional Catholicism, searching for meaningful explanations for the dysfunctional sexual behavior. Clericalism which has traditionally led to deep-seated societal attitudes about the role of the clergy in religious and secular society, explains in part why widespread abuse has apparently been allowed. Clericalism has a profound emotional and psychological influence on victims, church leadership, and secular society. It has enabled the psychological duress experienced by victims which explains why many have remained silent for years. It has also inspired societal denial which has impeded many from accepting clergy sexual abuse as a serious and even horrific crime.

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Correspondence to Thomas P. Doyle.

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Thomas P. Doyle is a Canon Lawyer and Certified Addictions Specialist.

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Doyle, T.P. Clericalism: Enabler of Clergy Sexual Abuse. Pastoral Psychol 54, 189–213 (2006).

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  • clericalism
  • Roman Catholic Church
  • clergy sexual abuse
  • narcissism