In the sexual abuse horrors of the past several years within the Church—well documented in many books, reports and news stories, but is best compiled in these four books: Vows of Silence: The Abuse of Power in the Papacy of John Paul II by Jason Berry & Gerald Renner (2004) The Rite of Sodomy: Homosexuality and the Roman Catholic Church, by Randy Engel (2006), The Faithful Departed: The Collapse of Boston’s Catholic Culture, by Philip F. Lawler (2008), and Sacrilege: Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church, by Leon J. Podles.

A fifth resource is the book, After Asceticism: Sex, Prayer and Deviant Priests, by the Linacre Institute, which is another crucial resource for understanding sexual abuse in the Church so as to be able to confidently address it when working in the field of criminal reformation.

This book fills in a missing piece of the issue by probing deeply into the movement of the priests of the Church—during the mid-twentieth century—away from the traditional asceticism practiced by its saints; an asceticism whose rewards were perhaps reflected most notably by Pope Pius XII, among the popes under which the Church has gone astray over the past 60 years, and a waywardness against which he fought so mightily, a battle slowly being revealed as his cause for sainthood moves forward.

Two excerpts from After Asceticism.

“The heart of the spiritual life is a spiritual union with God, and this union constitutes a type of friendship. In a theory of friendship, three factors require close attention: love, insight, and zeal. Philosophers such as Aristotle note that the foundation of true friendship is the mutual love between the two friends, which depends at a minimum upon the cardinal virtues of temperance, courage, justice and prudence. Once the friendship is established, the communication between the friends will nurture the relationship. Hence the psychology of the ascetic must be directed to enhancing communication between man and God and limiting those things that interfere with this communication.” (p. 157)

“We draw three important lessons from this doctrine. First, the aspiring ascetic who has not cultivated a friendship with the Lord has failed to achieve the primary benefit of the practices of self-denial. Without keeping their proper purpose in mind, the ascetical practices will result at best in a barren life, but more likely in self-deception or even the destruction of true religion in the person. This further suggests that the disintegration of asceticism may be signaled by ascetical abuse, or by its insidious dissolution. Either way, persons with no zeal for maintaining their friendship with god will not long persevere in the practice of self-denial without doing harm to themselves or to others. Of course, we would suggest that the dissolution of ascetical discipline may not occur all at once, and in most cases, is probably gradual and insidious. In fact, the complete surrender of one’s chastity may be the final moment of a process that began many months or years previously. (This observation would be consistent with the finding that most abusive priests were many years past their seminary training when the first abuse incident occurred.) (p. 160)