Drawing on his own experience in responding to abuse, Bishop Geoffrey Robinson in this explosive work methodically offers a critique of the church’s use and misuse of power, from the pope proclaiming infallibly down to the preacher claiming a divine authority for every word spoken from the pulpit. Going back to the Bible and, above all, to the teaching of Jesus, he presents an approach to sexual morality that is profound, compassionate, and people-centered. He stresses the priority of the hierarchy of holiness over the hierarchy of power.
He offers nothing less than a vision for a church of the third millennium—a church that wants to see in its members the responsibility appropriate to adults rather than the obedience appropriate to children and wants to help all people to grow to become all they are capable of being.
You will love or hate this book but not be able to remain neutral.
Through the story of sexual abuse and the church’s response, I came to the unshakeable belief that within the Catholic Church there absolutely must be profound and enduring change. In particular, there must be change on the two subjects of power and sex.
—From the Introduction
Bishop Geoffrey Robinson, who has degrees in philosophy, theology, and church law, was Auxiliary Bishop in the Archdiocese of Sydney from 1984 until his retirement in 2004. In 1994 he was elected by the Australian Bishops to the National Committee for professional Standards, coordinating the response of the Catholic Church in Australia to revelations of sexual abuse, and from 1997 until 2003 he was cochairman of this committee.
[T]he importance of Confronting Power and Sex in the Catholic Church lies in the fact that a bishop, an ecclesiastical `insider,' has had the courage to challenge the institution of which he was a part and invite serious conversation regarding a broad range of church issues that have too often been declared off-limits by church leadership. If Robinson's book opens the door to more open and responsible theological conversation by members of church leadership regarding the unique demands facing our church today, it will have fulfilled its purpose.
The introduction presents a comprehensive, forthright, and insightful picture of the complex nature of Catholic clergy abuse. . . . Confronting Power and Sex in the Catholic Church is a testament to the bravery and commitment to truth of its author.
We need to read and reread this book if we truly want to understand the scandal and to understand what we ought to be as church.
Bishop Robinson is a reformer, not a revolutionary, and his conclusions and proposals deserve our respect and consideration.
In this beautifully forceful proposal of change for the Catholic Church, Bishop Geoffrey Robinson engages the structures that have contributed to the disconnection between the hierarchy and its people. With the firm belief that the entire Church must be examined in order to respond to the recent crises of sexual abuse, Robinson begins with the largest of theological topics, such as God, Tradition, and the Bible, and carefully connects these to the pragmatic topics of structure, authority, and sexual ethics. . . . It is a much-needed insider's look at the structures of the Church and offers detailed change for growth and relevance. The bold willingness of a bishop to take on such a theologically careful exposé should be embraced as a long-overdue opportunity for faithful transformation.
Catholic Books Review
The scandals of pedophile Priests has done untold damage to the Catholic Church, and Confronting Power and Sex in the Catholic Church: Reclaiming the Spirit of Jesus seeks to address the issue directly. Criticizing the church's abuse of power and looking back to the Bible to offer a new approach to the church's stance on sexual morality, seeking to focus on the people and to be forgiving of their flaws. Seeking a gradual reformation for a better future of the Catholic church, Confronting Power and Sex in the Catholic Church: Reclaiming the Spirit of Jesus is deftly written and highly recommended for community library collections focusing on Catholicism.
Midwest Book Review
Confronting Power and Sex in the Catholic Church is at once . . . profound and . . . far-reaching. . . . His study will help us better understand the problem in question and will help us progress towards more effective remedies.
Parish Liturgy Magazine
At a time when many Catholics recognize the need for structural change within the Church, Bishop Robinson proposes changes that address the foundations that made sexual abuse within the Church almost inevitable. . . . Robinson does not leave these issues at the theoretical level but suggests structural changes that are practical and yet reach to the deepest levels of the underpinnings of the Catholic Church.
[T]his is a book by a good pastor who knows his sheep and accepts them as equals, as called to adult faith, and as called to be `healthy people in a healthy relationship with a healthy God' (the title of Chapter One). It is a down-to-earth book, straight-talking, colloquial in style, and profoundly in touch with where we actually live life day today. . . . This is a book for all reform-minded members of the church. Its fourteen chapters proceed from a description of a healthy relationship with a healthy God to a marvelous description of the relationship between and among what is contained in the Bible, tradition, and ordinary human experience-all three viewed in the mode of dynamic processes rather than as finished products or projects."
Conrad T. Gromada, PhD, Professor of Theology, Ursuline College, Pepper Pike, Ohio