Book Review by Jim Post
Luke 17:2, by Michael Emerton and Patrick Emerton (Portsmouth, NH: Stone Cellar Publishing, 2013)
Michael Emerton’s account of clergy sexual abuse is a sad, but powerful story. Mike’s public relations skills were invaluable to Voice of the Faithful’s crusade for accountability in the Catholic Church. His story is shocking, surprising, and hopeful, all at the same time.
Luke 17:2 is the biblical passage that reminds us that “It were better for him that a millstone were hanged around his neck … than that he should offend one of these little ones.” The book is actually two stories: One is the story of a young man’s abuse at the hands of a Catholic priest; the other is the story of a survivor who wrestled with his demons and found an outlet in the crusade for accountability in the Archdiocese of Boston. Truth is a powerful weapon and Mike Emerton’s story explains how he faced the ugliness of sexual abuse head-on, and helped others voice that truth to the world.
It is an inspiring story, all the more so because I know Mike Emerton. I lived the VOTF (Voice of the Faithful®) story in 2002 as one of the co-founders. With friends, neighbors, and fellow Catholics, I too became part of the effort to hold Cardinal Bernard Law accountable for covering up the crimes of Rev. John Geoghan and shielding other predator priests. We could not have been successful without the efforts of Mike Emerton and hundreds of other Catholic men and women.
But it was a mismatch – we were David against the Catholic Goliath. Cardinal Law had the full resources of the archdiocese to draw upon; we had good intentions and a courageous voice. We lost the early skirmishes, but gained some positive press. We grew in numbers, but were still outgunned by the diocesan press machine. Then Mike Emerton arrived. It was a day we remember and for which we remain thankful.
The second half of Luke 17:2 describes some of the exciting skirmishes between VOTF members and the clerical hierarchy. Mike was at the center of those events, and he shares them in a colorful and readable manner. Mike Emerton is one of VOTF’s heroes – we simply would not have become the “voice” of the faithful without his skills and personal courage.
James E. Post is John F. Smith, Jr., Professor of Management at Boston University and a Voice of the Faithful® founder and its first president.