Author: Stephen Boerer
Publisher: Oceanview Publishing
ISBN: 13: 978-1-933515-24-3

Stephen Boerer, author of The Purple Culture is a former ordained priest and holds a doctorate in theology. According to his bio posted on his web site, "he gives a studied voice to those who care about the abuse of clerical power: who want to see the church leadership return to its original servant character."

In the form of a fictional criminal trial, Boerer exposes the unique culture of the higher echelons of the Catholic Church or as he terms it, the purple culture.Three bishops are accused of conspiring to protect and tolerate priests guilty of preying upon youngsters. Initially, their plea is not guilty, however, realizing that they would probably be found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, their attorney, James G. Kobs has them change their plea to guilty by reason of insanity. It should be mentioned that the bishops were not exactly thrilled about changing their plea, as they were quite convinced that they are perfectly sane and they never committed a crime. There was no doubt in their minds that they would ultimately be exonerated. As for the presiding judge and the prosecuting attorney, who were both baffled by the changing pleas, Kobs explains that from the time he took on the defense of the three bishops, he was troubled by his inability to come up with a motive for their tragic inappropriate behavior and the pattern of episcopal toleration. However, after some research into the workings of the church and its culture, he believed that their actions were a result of their insanity and he would prove this to the jury. As the defense attorney points out to the jury in his closing arguments: "As a general rule, the law understands insanity to mean that the defendants at the time of the crime were unable to distinguish right from wrong, or that a mental disease made them unable to control their actions even though they knew their actions were wrong."

Attorney Kobs spins a very convincing defense of insanity by first explaining to the jury some of the workings of
the Catholic Church and its mystique of power, control and blind obedience where bishops are taught that they do not question the Holy Father or the Holy See. He also points out the obligatory taking of the Oath of Fidelity that forces the bishops to swear absolute loyalty to the Holy Father. This includes loyalty to his appointed members of the Holy See, the Curia and the absolute obedience to approved Church teaching and law. Moreover, even though they may plead humility and poverty, evidence is to the contrary. Behavioral elements as narcissistic qualities as well as addiction are likewise presented in order to reinforce the defense's arguments. And further strengthening his case, Kobs call to the witness stand experts who elaborate on these behavioral patterns, illustrating how they lead to denial, perfectionism, and personal exemptions from the normal standards of morality that is visible in their conduct. Topping it off, Kob draws a parallel between the episcopal culture and that of a cult, and how the centering on a single figure, the pope, defines the culture. "They claim infallibility through the papacy, but their own history drives that claim to question."

As we listen to the arguments of the plaintiff and the defendants, we also hear the voices of some of the spectators at the trial who were abused by some Catholic priests. Through them we learn of the hideous crimes that were committed and the ramifications  it had on  their lives.

The Purple Culture is intense, introspective, and an ending that may cause some anger, however, upon further reflection this feeling is dissipated. Boerer has written a compelling and provocative novel that is sure to ruffle a few feathers among some members of the Catholic clergy. In an interview appearing on his web site, Boerer states that "The Purple Culture behaviors are apparent throughout history if we look for them, and I believe this novel can lend understanding to them." To this I say amen. Nonetheless, I have no doubt that there will be some members of the Catholic Church who believe that this book is akin to heresy and Boerer should rot in hell. Oh well, you can't please everyone.

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