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Mortal Sins: Sex, Crime, and the Era of Catholic Scandal

4.1 of 5 stars 4.10  ·  rating details  ·  149 ratings  ·  41 reviews
A Publishers Weekly Best Nonfiction Book of 2013

A Kirkus Reviews Best Book of 2013

AnEdgar Award for Best Fact Crime Nominee

An explosive, sweeping account of the scandal that has sent the Catholic Church into a tailspin -- and the brave few who fought for justiceIn the mid-1980s a dynamic young monsignor assigned to the Vatican’s embassy in Washington set out to investigate
Paperback, 416 pages
Published February 25th 2014 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published April 9th 2013)
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Tiffany Reisz
I read this book to better understand the "clerical culture" as it's referred to in the book. Anyone who has read my Original Sinners series will know why. I thought I knew the scope of the abuse of children and the cover up in the Catholic Church before reading this. I was, quite frankly, shocked by how worldwide, pervasive, and epidemic the problem is. My ultimate conclusion after reading the book is that celibacy is a failed experiment. The priests with healthy sexualities will find appropria ...more
Carah Helwig
Brilliantly written and well-documented, this is by far a chilling account of the coverups that existed during the greatest scandal ever to occur in the Catholic Church. I'll be honest - if I didn't have a core group of friends who are committed to progressive Catholicism, whom I know I can depend on for spiritual support, I might be tempted to leave the Church. A must read regardless of your politics or your views of religion and power.
I could not put this book down. Mesmerizing.
Christopher Fox
A worthy recipient of the Pulitzer Prize this solid, extensive reportorial investigation of the on-going sex abuse scandal in the Catholic Church reads like a detective story, populated with very human characters on all sides. It pulls the reader along inexorably with its captivating, richly coloured narrative. D'Antonio explores all aspects of this complicated problem: ecclesiastical, social, legal, psychological, historic, theological, philosophical, political, economic and moral. Many of the ...more
I had to take this book in sections because I was so bothered by the response by law enforcement and the church. I was raised as a Catholic, went to an all girls Catholic high school and dropped away from the church once I graduated high school. As a 5th grader I was slapped out of my seat by a nun for supposedly talking when we were told to be quiet; the reality was that the boy next to me was trying to get me to talk and be in trouble and all I was doing was shaking my head trying to get him t ...more
Michael D'Antonio certainly did his research. This book is a comprehensive account of the sexual abuse scandal that rocked the Roman Catholic church starting in the mid-1980s and continuining in conversation even today. As of 2012, the worldwide church had paid $3 billion to settle civil lawsuits, and yet many more claims went unresolved. The accusations, denials, cover-ups and lawsuits rocked the church to its core. As a lifelong Catholic myself, I knew about the scandal and the many victims, b ...more
Jeffrey Cavanaugh

Being an atheist nonbeliever from a young age, I'm neither a fan of the Catholic Church nor religion in general. Moreover, I've been aware of the pedophile priest problem for some time. Yet, to see the whole thing laid out from the beginning of the scandal in the 1980s in one volume that discusses it from both a national and international perspective is still breathtaking. There is absolutely no doubt: none, that the Church for decades, if not longer, systematically and knowingly covered up the
Aaron Baker
Very well-researched book that reads like a courtroom drama. Unfortunately it's non-fiction. It should be required reading in every Catholic church worldwide, but then if it was, there might not be very many of them left.
Don't read this if you have high blood pressure. It could cause a stroke. The arrogant and cruel treatment by the Roman Catholic Church towards so many young innocents is truly heartbreaking..
Our book club read Mortal Sins this month, and while the book was a fantastic conversation starter, the book itself doesn't have much to offer. Using the angle of the lawyers and church insiders who have been advocates for the victims of the church's pedophilia scandal, D'Antonio's book reads like a laundry list of cases against the church (focusing on the American cases) but sheds little new insight into the tragedy. He touches on questions of faith, homosexuality, and the church structure, but ...more
John Purcell
Full disclosure: I was adopted into and raised by a Catholic family. I'm what I call a "recovering Catholic" having rejected Catholicism when I was a teenager. I was never abused by a priest; never having any hint of abusive priests, so I have no personal axe to grind.

This book is about the Catholic Church, more than it is about abusive priests. What I came away with, in terms of horror, and disgust, and condemnation, is not so much that grown men were raping children, as bad as that is on a per
Ok, the reason this one got 3 stars and not two is because I feel like I learned a lot about this topic. And, much like other big stories that happened in 2002, I missed a lot of it. I mean, I vaguely remember something on CNN about the Boston Diocese, but this goes back and lays out how the whole thing just started building and building on itself.

One thing that really baffled me is that most of the priests didn't think that there was anything wrong with this. Literally. They would do it so ofte
Michele Weiner
A very comprehensive look at the sex abuse scandals of the Catholic Church. D'Antonio describes the behavior broadly - he does not dwell overly much on specific sex acts except when necessary to illustrate the extreme depravity of the pedophile priests and the awful damage done to the children victimized. There are extensive character studies of the lawyers who pursued the cases, the volunteer activists and experts, the worst of the serial predator priest-monsters, and the most egregiously negli ...more
Uwe Hook
A truly compelling read. The first comprehensive, gut wrenchingly honest and authentic work chronicling the clergy abuse crisis. D'Antonio puts faces and human stories to the crisis, and it is in these intimate portraits that we learn how these individuals, the survivors and survivors' advocates, the lawyer, the church insider, slowly but surely exposed the ugly truths to the nation and the world. The real people who worked to expose the cover up, concealment and conspiracy within the Catholic C ...more
Todd Wilhelm
I first heard of this book when Boz Tchividjian mentioned it while being interviewed by Janet Mefferd. He mentioned that the similarities between the Catholic church sex abuse scandal and the Sovereign Grace Ministries sex abuse scandal are erie. As someone who has closely followed the Sovereign Grace Ministries scandal this piqued my interest. After reading the book I concur with Mr. Tchividjian's opinion. If you would like to listen to his interview it can be found at the link below and starts ...more
I had heard of pedophile priests at some point in the last couple decades, who hasn't? But I had no idea the scope of the problem. I thought it was comparable to the occasional Protestant minister who has an affair with the organist - which happens, but most don't and those who are do are exposed quickly and forced to resign.

I had no idea that at any given time 45-50% of the priesthood is not celibate. And that priests count themselves as celibate if they have a sexual experience a couple times/
David Bird
D'Antonio's account seems to cover the ground fairly. He takes great pains to humanize those who have striven for the rights of the victims. He engages vivid writing about personal failings for them rather than the clergy. If the hierarchy appears cold, remote, and self-absorbed, that is hardly the author's fault, but an accurate portrait from life.

The author has the sense not to spend too much effort on his own outrage, or in repeated descriptions of what the victims suffered. As is noted, the
The sexual abuse of children by clergy in the catholic church is a world wide scandal. MORTAL SINS tells the story of the courageous fighters who exposed this corruption. A church canon lawyer and priest who exposes the corruption to the church is turned away and takes the fight to protect children outside the church. A lawyer who takes on the largest organization in the world and wins. Newspaper reporters who dig into the scandal and the corruption of not only priest child molesters but bishops ...more
Jennifer Rikkers
First, I have a very personal connection to this book as my uncle is Jeff Anderson, one of the primary lawyers who for years has fought for victims and who offers his story both personally and professionally as a major part of Mortal Sins. With that being said, from my perspective this book is powerfully honest account of a tragicly painful situation. The author, Michael D'Antonio has really done a fantastic job of sharing all the many, many complexities & "the truths" uncovered throughout t ...more
Robert Davidson
Devastating indictment of the utter failure of the Catholic Church to protect children from Priests on a Worldwide basis. The Author leads us through the various Court cases mainly in the United States and i am sure everyone who reads this book cannot believe how common child abuse was and is. The Catholic Church is just another Multinational Corporation whose only interest is Money, Power and Control. This is very compelling read.
Brian Mahoney
Balanced, comprehensive, but let Pope JP II off easy, especially on his endorsement of Degolado. Presents Catholic hierarchy as, perhaps, too broke to fix.
Karen Christensen
After reading all the bits and pieces of the Catholic sex scandal over the years, it's nice to have a comprehensive picture laid is the case with this book. I was concerned that the author would dwell too much on the details of the actual abuse, making it too repulsive to read, but he doesn't. D'Antionio treats it with a good balance, giving enough information to appreciate the horrific nature of what these men were (are?) doing, while not crossing that line. The author also spends some ...more
Hate to give it the rating "I really liked it" because it actually made me sick to read about all of the lying, cover-ups, etc. - shameful! It reinforces my long-standing opinion that the Pope is infallible and I have no respect for him and those down the line. They are human men, just as capable as being destructive as anyone else. But in their case it is even more evil because they are in the position of authority and misplaced adoration. No more!
Catholic Church and Pedophile Priests. This book breaks down 30 years of litigation against the church by victims of the church's boys club in the US. The damage is horrendous to those who put their trust in the church and how they were maligned at every step. The church needs to get its priorities straight; their boys club and dollars is not the church

Have they learned anything? Probably not

A well researched and document. It will break your heart
Grazyna Nawrocka
It was revealing information about recent events in the history of Catholic Church. This lecture is really emotionally hard to get through, although the language and style are smooth. I liked very warm and personal approach to the subjects. The book is indispensable to understand what happened to social status of the church in North America. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to know what is going on in the world around us.
This was a terribly depressing book that probably needs to be read. It details the sexual abuse scandals in the Catholic church that have been unfolding for nearly 30 years, and the terrible toll they have taken on victims, the church and society's faith in general. It is also a powerful argument against clerical celibacy. Read it, but don't expect to have fun. Some of it will turn your stomach.
Rick Edwards
D'antonio gives a good account of nearly four decades of the sex abuse scandal. There were early warnings that, if heeded, would have prevented many young persons from suffering the abuse they suffered, and well might have prevented the church from the embarrassment, scandal, and financial losses that have plagued it over especially the last twenty years.
This book covered so many trials in so many places with so many names, I could barely keep up. And while I understand that was the point, it was hard to keep track. Some people were referred to throughout the book, while others got just a mention. So it was hard for me to keep track of some of the players in the scandal. Not an easy subject.
Joseph Raffetto
Mortals Sins is well researched and well written. In the biggest crisis since the reformation, this book shows how corrupt the Catholic Church can be. If you're interested in this subject it's all documented here. I got sick of it and had to skim the last half; it was the same cover up and disgusting characters from beginning to end. Yuck!
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