Priests: A Calling in Crisis
Andrew M. Greeley. University of Chicago Press, $19 (156pp) ISBN 978-0-226-30644-5
Greeley, a professor of social science at two universities (Chicago and Arizona), draws upon the tools of his trade to challenge some stereotypes of the priesthood today, particularly in the wake of the sexual abuse crisis of 2002, which he acerbically calls""The Year of the Pedophile."" He utilizes various sociological and psychological studies to demonstrate that priests are no less emotionally mature than other American males in their age groups--and that, in fact, they may enjoy more supportive and varied friendships than other men. He challenges the widespread stereotype that the priesthood is rife with homosexuals, noting that in a landmark Los Angeles Times survey of priests, only 16% identified themselves as homosexual. (Sociologists and statisticians may wonder at the reliability of data that is entirely self-reported but, as Greeley notes, these figures are the best we have.) Greeley also counters the stereotype of priests as unfulfilled""emotional wrecks"" with evidence that they are actually more likely to report themselves as happy than are other males (and, interestingly enough, than Protestant clergy). With helpful tables, graphs and charts, this slim but opinionated volume should be required reading for students and reporters who are willing to look past sensational headlines to the more complex and nuanced picture beyond.
Reviewed on: 03/08/2004