Author to Sign Book on Sex-Abuse Crisis in Catholic Church

By Patricia Breakey
Oneonta Daily Star [Oneonta NY]
Downloaded March 6, 2004

Author David France will be at The Commons Building in Margaretville from 5 to 7 p.m. Saturday to sign his recently released book "Our Fathers: The Secret Life of the Catholic Church in an Age of Scandal."

France's book is a narrative history of the Roman Catholic Church's sexual abuse crisis in the United States.

"The book has been getting a lot of attention," France said. "The reviews are amazing. It's something authors dream about."

France said Friday that "Our Fathers" has been reviewed twice by the New York Times and both times was deemed

an editor's choice.

Mary Gordon of The New York Times said, "Masterly! 'Our Fathers' has a kind of compulsive readability. ... France is adept at making his characters real, breathing human beings, and his very lack of final judgment allows him a delicacy of tone that neutralizes the blood-in-the-water instinct that has been too closely associated with the pedophile scandal ... France succeeds marvelously."

Janet Maslin of The New York Times said, "No matter how thoroughly this material has been presented by other reporters, the effect of this cumulative retelling is devastating."

France said he was an investigative reporter for Newsweek when the Boston Globe broke the sex-abuse scandal in January 2002.

"I was the mayhem guy, and it looked like there was mayhem in Boston, so I flew up," France said.

As he covered the unfolding story, France said, it became obvious that sex abuse was systemic in the Catholic Church, and he decided to take a close look at the emotional issues.

"All the action was really interior," France said. "Trying to capture it as a journalist was difficult. It was a hard thing to report.

"It's unusual for an investigative reporter to turn their tools on an emotional story," he said.

France said he reported on the story two years ago and then began working on the book in earnest in January 2003. He said he finished the manuscript in October, and Random House moved fast to get the book published.

The book tells the stories of 150 people, France said.

"None of the stories are happy," he added. "But they are all stories of strength, fortitude and resilience."

France lives in New Kingston and New York City.

"This is the end of a long journey for me," France said. "It was a tremendously difficult story to tell, but the tranquillity of these mountains and the grounding power of my New Kingston family of friends gave me the strength to persevere."

He has been on tour nationwide talking about his book and has appeared on CBS's "Early Show" with Harry Smith, "Hardball" with Chris Matthews on MSNBC, NBC's "Nightly News" and ABC's "Nightline."

Dorothy Maffei, owner of Home Goods and Domenico Rana, owner of The Cafe on Main Street are playing host to the book signing, which is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served.


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