Marie Keenan
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Sexual abuse and the Catholic Church
in Are the Irish different?
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The sexual abuse of children by Catholic clergy has had a profound effect on Irish culture and society. This chapter argues that the abuse of children by Catholic clergy in Ireland and the responses of the Catholic hierarchy must be located within a historical and comparative context. It also argues that sexual abuse by Catholic clergy is best understood not as a problem of 'flawed' individuals but as a systemic problem that comprises individual, local organisational and global institutional dimensions. The chapter examines how cultural, theological, organisational and institutional Church influences were integrated and assimilated into and in turn influenced the Irish Church in creating a climate in which the abuse of children became possible. The interplay of power and powerlessness contributed to the genesis of the problem of sexual abuse for those clergy who became abuse perpetrators.

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