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Beyond Betrayal: The Priest Sex Abuse Crisis, the Voice of the Faithful, and the Process of Collective Identity
by Patricia Ewick and Marc W. Steinberg
University of Chicago Press, 2019
Paper: 978-0-226-64426-4 | eISBN: 978-0-226-64443-1 | Cloth: 978-0-226-64412-7
Library of Congress Classification BX1912.9.E95 2019
Dewey Decimal Classification 282.744

In 2002, the national spotlight fell on Boston’s archdiocese, where decades of rampant sexual misconduct from priests—and the church’s systematic cover-ups—were exposed by reporters from the Boston Globe. The sordid and tragic stories of abuse and secrecy led many to leave the church outright and others to rekindle their faith and deny any suggestions of institutional wrongdoing. But a number of Catholics vowed to find a middle ground between these two extremes: keeping their faith while simultaneously working to change the church for the better.

Beyond Betrayal charts a nationwide identity shift through the story of one chapter of Voice of the Faithful (VOTF), an organization founded in the scandal’s aftermath. VOTF had three goals: helping survivors of abuse; supporting priests who were either innocent or took risky public stands against the wrongdoers; and pursuing a broad set of structural changes in the church. Patricia Ewick and Marc W. Steinberg follow two years in the life of one of the longest-lived and most active chapters of VOTF, whose thwarted early efforts at ecclesiastical reform led them to realize that before they could change the Catholic Church, they had to change themselves. The shaping of their collective identity is at the heart of Beyond Betrayal, an ethnographic portrait of how one group reimagined their place within an institutional order and forged new ideas of faith in the wake of widespread distrust.

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