Boys of the Cloth
A Unique Perspective on Sexual Abuse by Priests
The Book

“There are hundreds of books published about the Catholic clergy abuse issue. Many are very good. Some are mediocre. A few try to defend the institution and project the bishops’ collective denial...and are a waste. Then there are a few that are foundational to understanding the length and breadth of this nightmare. This is one of them.”

Rev. Thomas P. Doyle, leading expert on sexual abuse by priests and a prominent voice for its victims.

Why did so many Catholic priests molest children?

This is the key question addressed in the book Boys of the Cloth: The Accidental Role of Church Reforms in Causing and Curbing Abuse by Priests. Investigations commissioned by the Church have blamed priests’ abusive tendencies on their training, concluding that seminaries failed to “form” priests adequately for the challenges of celibacy. Boys of the Cloth takes this rather general conclusion much further, explaining exactly why the seminary environment predisposed certain priests to commit abuse. To do so the book draws heavily on the author’s unique background, which includes seven years in a minor seminary during the 1960s followed by forty years as a scientist and business executive. By analyzing his seminary experience using the skills acquired in his subsequent career, he identifies specific aspects of seminary training that correspond to known causes of abusive behavior. The result is a book that Fr. Doyle further describes as “the clearest, most concise and most accurate analysis and explanation of the relationship between seminary formation and priests who sexually abuse minors that I have seen.” (For Fr. Doyle's full comments and additional reviews, click here).

To learn more, refer to "The Book" page.

To view a guided tour of Upholland College, the Catholic seminary that features prominently in the book, click here. A significantly longer video edited from the same original footage is also available, here.

The striking images of the College that appear on other pages of this website are the work of renowned photographer Michael Kenna, and reproduced with his permission. Like the author of Boys of the Cloth, Michael spent a good part of his youth at Upholland during the 1960s. The images reproduced here are from his photographic essay about their alma mater, Boarding School. To see many more examples of his stunning work, visit