Sexual Abuse by Priests Caused by Ancient Reform with Near-Opposite Intention, Argues New Book

Sacramento Bee

By Vincent J. Miles

Published: Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012

BOSTON, Nov. 29, 2012 — /PRNewswire/ — A new book about the sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church delivers a highly unusual verdict: that the surge in abuse by priests during the late twentieth century was caused by an ancient reform intended to eradicate rather than encourage clerical corruption. The book further concludes that the decline in abuse more recently is the fortuitous result of a modern reform with no obvious connection to sexual abuse. Entitled Boys of the Cloth: The Accidental Role of Church Reforms in Causing and Curbing Abuse by Priests, and published by Hamilton Books, the book is now available from online booksellers in the US, UK and other countries.

The book’s unusual verdict stems from the unique perspective of its author, Vincent J. Miles, who spent seven years in a Catholic minor seminary training for the priesthood before changing direction completely to become a scientist and business executive. “My original intention was simply to write a memoir documenting the lost way of life inside minor seminaries,” said Miles, “but I then discovered that these institutions had been blamed for predisposing priests to molest children. Having trained as a scientist I wanted to understand why they might have had this effect, and my research into that question ultimately led me to contrarian conclusions about the entire abuse crisis.”

The book combines a first-hand account of seminary life during the 1960s—a period that turns out to be crucial for understanding the crisis—with explorations of the history of the seminary system, current scientific knowledge about abusive behavior, and the Church’s own investigations into abuse by priests. Its conclusions differ considerably from those reached by other works on the subject, most notably those of the controversial “Causes and Context” report released last year by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops. Excerpts and further information may be found at

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