'Them and Us': The Clerical Child Sexual Offender as 'Other'
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AbstractThis article investigates child sexual abuse by Catholic clergy in two jurisdictions, Ireland and the United States. These jurisdictions are selected because most of the research on this topic emanates from the United States and because my own research with Catholic clergy is situated in Ireland. The article begins by taking a critical look at the dominant discourses of child sexual abuse, as these discourses form part of the context in which sexual abuse by Catholic clergy is currently understood in Ireland. Drawing on sociological and psychological perspectives as well as my own research and clinical experience the article then examines what is reliably known about Catholic clergy who have sexually abused minors and about the role or otherwise of the institution of the Catholic Church in relation to these abuses. Whilst much of the literature from the United States provides the quantitative data on the nature and scope of the problem, my research provides the qualitative picture of the lived experiences of Catholic clergy who have sexually abused minors. The article concludes by arguing that if we truly want to help children and create a safer society for all men, women and children in Ireland, then we need to get beyond a blaming stance and towards more preventative and rehabilitative/restorative perspectives.