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    Religious institutions and sexual scandals: A comparative study of Catholicism in Ireland, South Africa, and the United States


    Conway, Brian (2014) Religious institutions and sexual scandals: A comparative study of Catholicism in Ireland, South Africa, and the United States. International Journal of Comparative Sociology, 55 (4). pp. 318-341. ISSN 0020-7152

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    Abstract

    Using a comparative-historical framework, this article examines how religious organizational responses to a shared stigmatizing scandal, arising from the sexual abuse of children by church personnel, differ across diverse locales – Ireland, South Africa, and the United States – of a single religious tradition, in this case the Roman Catholic Church. Drawing on previous literature, I identify three perspectives related to responses to sexual scandal in organized religious institutions: strategic self-presentation, lay activism, and church–media relations. Focusing on the Catholic episcopal conferences in the three settings and relying on an analysis of national-level bishops’ discourses and practices in the 1988–2013 time span, I find that Catholic legitimations predominate, but appeals to Catholic discourses are more frequent in South Africa than in Ireland and the United States; lay mobilization exerts a partial influence on scandal responses even in contexts providing sociopolitical space for activism from below; and external accountability is influenced by media organizations, but differently so, in all three contexts. Implications for religion and society in general are discussed.

    Item Type: Article
    Additional Information: This is the postprint version of the original article published at Conway, Brian; Religious institutions and sexual scandals: A comparative study of Catholicism in Ireland, South Africa, and the United States; in International Journal of Comparative Sociology August 2014 vol. 55 no. 4 318-341 DOI: 10.1177/0020715214551472
    Keywords: Bishops; Catholicism; comparative; episcopal conferences; sexual scandals;
    Academic Unit: Faculty of Social Sciences > Sociology
    Item ID: 5699
    Identification Number: https://doi.org/10.1177/0020715214551472
    Depositing User: Brian Conway
    Date Deposited: 20 Jan 2015 14:46
    Journal or Publication Title: International Journal of Comparative Sociology
    Publisher: Sage
    Refereed: No
    URI:

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