Psychologist provides analysis of Catholic church’s sex abuse scandal

Buffalo News

BY: Jay Tokasz

At the height of the clergy sex abuse scandal in 2002, Mary Gail Frawley-O’Dea urged the nation’s Catholic bishops to lead “the revitalization and restoration of souls” damaged by sexual abuse.

A decade later, Frawley-O’Dea painted a far less-hopeful portrait of the Catholic Church’s handling of sexual abuse during a 45-minute talk Thursday at Canisius College.

Frawley-O’Dea – a Charlotte, N.C., trauma psychologist and author of two books about the church’s sexual abuse crisis – spelled out how a culture of “clerical narcissism” resulted in a diminished capacity for empathy for sex abuse victims, particularly in church hierarchs more concerned with status and the accoutrements of their offices than with leadership and pastoralism.

“There’s a sense that morality comes with the status, rather the morality is something you’ve got to keep working at,” Frawley-O’Dea said during a 20-minute question-and-answer session that followed her talk.

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