ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- A bishop, medical and legal experts, an adult who was victimized as a child and a priest convicted of the offense have contributed chapters to a book about the sexual abuse of children in the Catholic Church.
The book, "Slayer of the Soul: Child Sexual Abuse and the Catholic Church," was edited by the Rev. Stephen J. Rossetti, a priest-therapist in the Diocese of Syracuse (N.Y.).
Bishop Matthew H. Clark of the Diocese of Rochester said he found it difficult to write the chapter he contributed, which contains a pastoral response to sexual abuse of children. "I experienced negative feelings because the theme bespeaks pain and destruction in all who are in any way involved," he wrote in the introduction to his chapter.
Allegations of sexual abuse of a child must be directly and honestly confronted, with care for the abused child "first and foremost" in the mind of church authorities, Clark wrote.
The bishop, the former spiritual director of the North American College in Rome, approached the priest-abuser not as a sinner, but as an afflicted person unable to see the great damage he is doing.
"I have heard of some who express regret 'for any inconvenience they have caused,' " Clark wrote.
In recent years, according to Rossetti, there have been 73 legal cases of child molestation against U.S. priests and religious brothers, of which there are about 50,000.
"While others may have settled out of court, it is clear that the percentage of church ministers involved in child molestation is very low," he wrote. A father molesting his daughter, the more likely case, is not news, but the rare parish priest who does it makes headlines, he wrote.
According to Sister Mollie Brown, a nun-therapist who directs a therapeutic community in Rochester for women religious, half of the women religious entering for treatment in recent years were victims of sexual abuse as children.
In a chapter written with L.M. Lothstein, director of psychology at the Institute of Living in Hartford and professor at the nearby University of Connecticut, Rossetti debunked myths surrounding child sexual abuse, including the widespread belief that all child molesters are homosexual.
Nor are most priestly or religious child abusers pedophiles, he wrote.
The more common problem is not pedophilia, a syndrome of recurring sexual urges and fantasies centered on a child up to the age of about 13, Rossetti said, but ephebophilia, a similar sexual focus on a post-pubescent child (age 14 to 17) by an adult.