Journal for the Academic Study of Religion, Vol 30, No 3 (2017)

Clergy Sexual Misconduct Against Adults in the Roman Catholic Church: The Misuse of Professional and Spiritual Power in the Sexual Abuse of Adults

Stephen E. de Weger, Jodi Death
Issued Date: 31 May 2018

Abstract


This article describes and discusses the power–vulnerability intersect in thelives of 23 women and 6 men who experienced clergy sexual misconductagainst adults (CSMAA) within the everyday life of the Roman CatholicChurch. It argues that framing CSMAA around a ‘vulnerable victim’ ratherthan an ‘abusive cleric’ has led to the misinterpretation and continuation ofCSMAA, and an overall attitude of victim blaming. However, when victims/survivors of CSMAA are given the opportunity to tell their stories, a differentpicture emerges. The article concludes that CSMAA does not occur becausethere is a vulnerable adult but, rather, because there is a cleric willing tomisuse their powers to abuse adult vulnerabilities. This article also arguesthat the unique dynamics of CSMAA become more evident andunderstandable when those clergy powers and adult vulnerabilities areclearly delineated as being both positional and personal realities.

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DOI: 10.1558/jasr.32747

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