Philip Lawler's stunning book is a fresh look at the causes and consequences of the Catholic clerical sex-abuse scandal.
Ground zero was Boston. Lawler tells the story of the Church's role in advancing a culture of morality and excellence within the 19th-century immigrant community. But all of that good crashes into a mid-20th century wall of indifference, amorality, and hostility to orthodoxy and "the power of Faith."
The same story holds true throughout much of the country. Depressing repetition meets depressing repetition.
Faithful Departed traces the rise and fall of the Catholic Church in Boston, showing how the Massachusetts experience set a pattern that echoed throughout the United States as religious institutions lost influence in the face of rising secularization. The collapse of Catholicism in Boston became apparent with the explosion of the sex-abuse crisis. Lawler shows that the sex-abuse scandal was neither the cause nor the beginning of Catholicism's decline in Boston.