By Hilary White

BOSTON, September 25, 2008 ( – A book chronicling the mishandling by the US bishops of the sex abuse crisis is being banned from Catholic bookshops, its author says. Philip Lawler, a Catholic journalist and author of “The Faithful Departed: The Collapse of Boston’s Catholic Culture,” has said his book signings at Catholic bookshops have been cancelled and suspects that the reason is complaints from Church officials offended by the book.

The book has been selling well, he says, but people have to buy it at Barnes and Noble or on Amazon. “It’s not readily available in Catholic bookstores,” his blog informs potential readers.

Lawler’s wife, Leila, wrote on the blog, “It seems to me that the establishment—particularly here in the Boston area—is more concerned with protecting their turf than with this perennial project of bringing Christ, the way and the truth, to every human endeavor.”

Lawler himself asked readers, “Has anyone found The Faithful Departed in a Catholic bookstore? Please let me know. I’m curious to learn how far the informal ‘boycott’ stretches.”

Msgr. Walter Rossi, rector of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, told Washington Times religion reporter Julia Duin yesterday that Lawler’s book was removed from the shrine bookstore because it is “time to move on” from focusing on the sex abuse scandals. During his April visit to the US, the rector said, “[Pope] Benedict over and over again said it’s time to move on.”

“Diogenes”, the popular pseudonymous blogger and commentator at Catholic Culture, formerly Catholic World Report, responded, “If the Pope said this ‘over and over again,’ it’s funny that the message does not appear in the transcripts of his public remarks. It’s funny that nobody else heard him say it. Maybe Msgr. Rossi had a front-row seat, and could hear things that the Pope whispered.”

Diogenes points to Benedict’s remarks during his recent visit to the US: “Yes, Pope Benedict said that it is time for healing and reconciliation. But he also said that he was ‘deeply ashamed’ by the scandal, and that it had been ‘sometimes very badly handled’.”

Asked why Lawler’s scheduled book-signing had been cancelled, Msgr. Rossi indicated it should never have been approved. “That fell through the cracks,” he said. “That should have been vetted.”

The book is a chronicle of episcopal mismanagement, sexual misbehaviour by clergy and the infiltration of the Boston archdiocese over decades by homosexuals and their enablers. As such it places the blame for the sex abuse crisis squarely in the corner of the bishops and archdiocesan officials who first allowed active homosexuals into the priesthood.

Diogenes points out that the sex abuse scandal in which dozens of homosexual priests molested teenage boys over a period of decades, is of particular embarrassment to the US Catholic hierarchy. The US hierarchy, he said, “is uncomfortable with any further discussion of the issue.” The insistence that “it’s time to move on” has become “something like a mantra,” for bishops who have assured the Catholic faithful in the US that the crisis is over.

Duin noted that she had heard the “moving on” mantra before “from top church officials.” “Basically, it’s that the bishops have dealt with the crisis and have it under control. End of discussion.”

Lawler, who has been Director of Studies for the Heritage Foundation (a conservative think-tank based in Washington), a member of two presidential inaugural committees, and a candidate for the U.S. Senate, said that the abuse scandal is not over: “My argument is they haven’t dealt with it.”

George Weigel, noted US Catholic author, said of The Faithful Departed, “Lawler’s account of the unholy trinity that brought Boston Catholicism to its present, unhappy state – clerical sexual misbehaviour, episcopal irresponsibility, and homosexuality – is right on the mark. Many Catholics understandably want to put the Long Lent of 2002 behind us. No one should do so without reading The Faithful Departed.”

Read an excerpt from Faithful Departed:

To order Lawler’s book:


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