- The Washington Times - Monday, July 29, 2002

Headlines about the Catholic Church and sex abuse have generated a small book war as secular and religious publishers pour new and old titles into the marketplace.
Leading the pack, according to Internet sales in recent days, is journalist and papal critic Gary Wills' "Why I Am a Catholic."
It appears to be followed in sales by "Betrayal," a recap of the Boston Globe staff's reporting on the Boston sex abuse scandal, and then by a conservative book "Goodbye, Good Men" on the decline of vocations, which author Michael S. Rose blames partly on open homosexuality in the priesthood.
The publishing industry, according to trade journals, has been careful not to exploit the church scandals. But the topic has gained publishing wings, with at least 10 books focusing on the Catholic Church that are new, reissued or picking up sales on Amazon.com.
Greg Erlandson, publisher of Our Sunday Visitor (OSV), one of top independent Catholic publishers, said the scandals require walking a fine line between profit and edification.
"If publishers are simply rushing to make money on the headlines, it's not the highest motive," he said. "But it is a significant crisis in the history of the U.S. church, and it needs more that a 500-word column or news article."
A month ago, OSV put out "From Scandal to Hope" by a popular Catholic writer, the Rev. Benedict J. Groeschel.
The short paperback is reassuring to believers, taking a traditional stance and urging the church to reject the flood of secular values that weaken faith and morals. And he said the media highlights Catholic failings of Catholics more than those of other groups.
"The Boston Globe has probably the longest history of anti-Catholicism of any newspaper in the United States," Father Groeschel writes.
Globe Editor Martin Baron, whose paper started the flood in January by breaking the story about the Archdiocese of Boston covering up for pedophiles and accused child rapists, rejects the characterization.
"It's absolutely nonsense; I don't think there is any evidence of that," Mr. Baron said in an interview.
"What we have done is not anti-Catholic, but in fact pro-Catholic," he said, citing comments by Boston Cardinal Bernard Law and other top church officials that thank the media and say sex abuse is not a "media-driven" problem. "In the end it will help the church."
The royalties for the eight Globe reporters and editors on the "Betrayal" book, put together in two months by publisher Little Brown to be out for the mid-June Dallas meeting of the U.S. bishops, will go to charity.
The book by Mr. Wills, which is a sequel to his criticism of the papacy, "Papal Sins," was rushed into print by Houghton Mifflin without time to add the sex abuse topic to the manuscript.
Reviewers say Mr. Wills, a former Jesuit seminarian, is like a Protestant who is willing to accept the papacy only as a symbol of Christian continuity.
From the opposite pole, Mr. Rose's "Goodbye, Good Men" argues that liberal infidelity to church teachings on sexuality and other matters at seminaries since the 1960s produced a crisis in doctrine, a dearth of men entering the priesthood and a disproportionate number of homosexuals among those who are ordained.
First released by Aquinas Publishing Ltd., a small conservative Catholic press directed by Mr. Rose, the book was swooped up for reissue by Regnery Publishing Inc., which specializes in conservative best sellers.
A similar assessment of the crisis will come from papal biographer George Weigel in September when Basic Books issues his short "The Courage to Be Catholic," which expands on a series of columns he wrote on the crisis for Catholic newspapers.
Terry Wessels, executive director of the Catholic Book Publishers Association (CBPA), said the sex abuse scandal has not hurt Catholic-themed books or otherwise altered traditional patterns at summer book-industry conventions.
"Given the headlines, there's not been any negative impact," she said. "In fact, people want to read more about their faith."
The 82 members of the CBPA, which includes religion divisions of secular publishers, such as Penguin, Putnam and Doubleday, release about 500 new titles each year with sales of more than $80 million.
Father Groeschel, in fact, is a best selling author for Doubleday's religion division. Doubleday in 1990 published journalist Jason Barry's groundbreaking book about sexual abuse in the church, "Lead Us Not Into Temptation," but sales were modest.
It was re-released two years ago by the University of Illinois Press and shows renewed sales on Amazon.com.
Random House, which owns Doubleday, soon will publish a book under its Crown division by columnist Jimmy Breslin, a liberal Catholic who has excoriated Rome and the bishops since January.
Owen McGovern, executive director of the Catholic Press Association, said Catholics already are saturated with all the information they need.
"The stories are all over the place, and that includes diocesan newspapers and Catholic journals," Mr. McGovern said. "I don't know what else a book can say, except if someone wants a compilation."
Some, he said, call the Globe book a "souvenir edition."


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