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Organizational control & the Catholic Church: a case study

By Craig R. Littler and Julian Randall


This paper presents an analysis of the problem of child-abusing priests in the Catholic Church using data from the USA, UK and Ireland. The apparent scale of this issue raises crucial theoretical as well as policy issues. This paper explores various organizational explanations, linking it to traditional methods of ‘confessional control’ of organizational members. This is a novel concept which brings the issue into a wider organizational lens. Confessional control creates a series of guilt-laden identities that serve to maintain hierarchical control as well as social inclusion. Thus the process of recycling priests was part of a long-persisting pattern applied to child abuse cases. The theoretical implications of this are explored. The data consists of a series of cases across the three countries, partly drawn from a data-base of 4,000 alleged cases

Topics: organizational control, confession, church organization
Year: 2007
OAI identifier:

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