Rev. Thomas P. Doyle, O.P., J.C.D., co-author of Sex, Priests, and Secret Codes: The Catholic Church’s 2,000 Year Paper Trail of Sexual Abuse
Boys of the Cloth is invaluable for many reasons. It provides the clearest, most concise and most accurate analysis and explanation of the relationship between seminary formation and priests who sexually abuse minors that I have seen.
The standard response from the official Catholic Church to questions about the connection between sexual violation of minors and adults, and mandatory celibacy, is that there is none. Those who have probed deeply into the phenomenon and understand the nature of the clerical sub-culture know full well that there is a direct connection, but one that is not as black and white as would be expected: being celibate does not cause a man to be obsessed with sex with children or adolescents. The connection is in the culture that forms and nurtures clerics, and in the isolated environments where seminarians are trained to go forth and help heal human wounds and provide moral and spiritual guidance for married and single men and women of all ages. Ironically the preparation for this heroic challenge was total isolation from normal society. Vincent Miles presents a profoundly insightful analysis of the role that minor seminaries and the strange culture they created played in the sexual abuse phenomenon. He should know. He was in one and since has had the brilliance and courage to delve deeply into his life and the years of his seminary experience to look at it all with almost rare objectivity. The book is an absolute must for anyone struggling to understand the bizarre and destructive phenomenon of sexual violence by clergy, and the cover up and enabling by the bishops, cardinals and popes. In addition, Vincent Miles provides a brilliant critique of the recent John Jay College study of the sex abuse issue, ‘Causes and Context.’
There are hundreds of books published about the Catholic clergy abuse issue. Many are very good. Some are mediocre. A few try to defend the institution and project the bishops’ collective denial…and are a waste. Then there are a few that are foundational to understanding the length and breadth of this nightmare. This is one of them.
Sexual abuse by priests continues to be a black mark on the Catholic church. Boys of the Cloth: The Accidental Role of Church Reforms in Causing and Curbing Abuse by Priests analyzes the politics and policies of the Catholic Church over hundreds of years and how it is strong impacting in both directions the corruption of the church. Vincent Miles focuses on the 1960s, but takes notes on the modern situation as well as history to present a vivid picture of scandal and why it is happening. Boys of the Cloth is a strong addition to social issues and religious studies collections, highly recommended.
Midwest Book Review
David Finkelhor, author of Sourcebook on Child Sexual Abuse
A provocative contribution to the discussion about sexual abuse of children by priests, which raises many important points.
Based on careful research, and on what he calls his ‘strange semi-monastic existence…as a teenage Catholic seminarian during the 1960s,’ Vincent J. Miles has penned a clear, well-written analysis of the sexual abuse epidemic within the Catholic priesthood. Miles deconstructs the simplistic view that explains away the epidemic as merely ‘a product of the Swinging Sixties,’ and looks at deeper causes within the culture of the seminaries themselves. Boys of the Cloth is a valuable contribution to our understanding of the psychopathology of sexual abuse, written from an informed and humane perspective.
Ronald Pies MD, Professor of Psychiatry, author of Becoming a Mensch