Philip Jenkins has written a first-rate book, not just about the "moral panic" over "pedophile priests", but about our tendency as a society to seek simplistic answers for complex social problems. Jenkins argues persuasively, on the basis of extensive evidence, that the portrayal of the Catholic Church as a haven for pedophiles is just the latest version of the anti-Catholic stereotype which dates back at least as far as the Reformation. The scapegoating of the Catholic Church is also facilitated, as Jenkins points out, by the bureaucratic tradition of the Curia: keeping centralized records of abuse allegations makes a Catholic diocese an easy target for litigation, in a way which a dispersed Protestant denomination can never be.
Highly recommended. Very clear, accessible, and thoroughly researched.
Jenkins has written by far the most balanced analysis of sexual abuse by Catholic priests by placing the topic within its cultural and historical context. In so doing presents a devestating critique of the media's coverage of, and role in, constructing the "crisis" in the Church. This book is must reading for anyone trying to place the current crisis in a broader perspective based on actual data and sound balenced analysis. An eye opening book which reveals much about the current state of Catholicism and of our culture in general.