Confronting Power and Sex in the Catholic Church
Reclaiming the Spirit of Jesus
Bishop Geoffrey Robinson
Foreword by Donald Cozzens
Liturgical Press, $24.95, 320 pp.
Bishop Geoffrey Robinson’s new book represents a signal accomplishment in the genre of writings by disgruntled ex-something-or-others. Even as Robinson retired in order to write it, the Archdiocese of Sydney, Australia, where he had worked as auxiliary for some twenty years, was listing his retirement “for health reasons.” Well, to paraphrase the Psalmist, out of the mouths of babes—and diocesan curial officials—come the darndest things. In fact, the bishop, whose recent appearances in a whistle-stop lecture tour of the United States showed him to be a spry seventy-year-old in good shape, is more concerned with the health of the church. Like many others, he thinks it isn’t what it might be.
Confronting Power and Sex in the Catholic Church grows out of the years its author spent spearheading the Australian Catholic bishops’ efforts against clerical sexual abuse of minors. Robinson sees both the specific issue of sexual abuse and the general malaise of the church as products of three intertwined causes: unhealthy psychological states, unhealthy ideas about power and sex, and an unhealthy environment. Robinson’s views about what makes for a potential abuser, while well informed and helpfully expressed, are not especially original. When he confronts the larger picture of today’s church and its problems, however, he becomes a far more interesting and challenging critic. The emotional power of this book reflects the...