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Reviewed by Brenda Daniels for Readers' Favorite
In Every Saint a Sinner, an audiobook by Pearl Solas, Veronica Matthews suffers the unthinkable. Her son Shaun is abused by a Catholic priest, Father Paul Peña, who is subsequently arrested and imprisoned. Not satisfied that justice has been fully served, Veronica, herself a lawyer, takes on the Catholic Church and experiences its obfuscation, self-justification, and lack of real change firsthand. In prison, Paul not only meets one of his victims but another priest, Father Frank Muncy, who was convicted of pedophilia. What follows is miraculous - a divine intervention that ultimately leads to true repentance, reconciliation, and, unbelievably, a proposal of canonization.
Every Saint a Sinner moves expertly through a range of areas. Legal arguments used by the Catholic Church, psychological differences between hebephilia, ephebophilia, pedophilia, and paraphilia, and the Christian theology of empathic reconciliation. Although Pearl Solas spends more time on the perpetrators than she does on the victims, she in no way undermines the terrible consequences brought to bear on sufferers of abuse. Her text is balanced. Credibly, Solas shows how the media portray child sex offenders as the lowest form of criminal, beyond correction, how God can forgive and restore these criminals, how a meeting of victim and perpetrator can lead to true healing and forgiveness, and what a Catholic Church’s genuine apology could look like. Although it is likely to be contentious, this is one of the best books I have read. It is brave, bold, and brilliantly written. I highly recommend it.
I listened to the audio version of Every Saint a Sinner. Like the writing, the narration by Pearl Solas is clear and careful. It contains just the right amount of expression in a voice that in no way calls attention to itself. I was able to listen without distraction. An excellent experience.