Berry, Jason 1949-
BERRY, Jason 1949-
PERSONAL: Born February 20, 1949, in New Orleans, LA; married; children: two daughters. Education: Georgetown University, B.A. (cum laude), 1971. Religion: Roman Catholic.
CAREER: Investigative journalist and freelance writer.
AWARDS, HONORS: Catholic Press Association Award, 1986, for coverage of Louisiana clergy sex-abuse scandals in National Catholic Reporter; New Orleans Press Club Award for feature writing, 1992; Alicia Patterson fellowship, 1992; Wilbur Award, Religious Public Relations Council, and Catholic Press Association Book Award, both 1993, both for Lead Us Not into Temptation: Catholic Priests and the Sexual Abuse of Children.
Amazing Grace: With Charles Evers in Mississippi, Saturday Review Press (New York, NY), 1973.
The Spirit of Black Hawk: A Mystery of Africans and Indians, University Press of Mississippi (Jackson, MS), 1995.
Louisiana Faces: Images from a Renaissance, photographs by Philip Gould, Louisiana State University Press (Baton Rouge, LA), 2000.
(With Gerald Renner) Vows of Silence: The Abuse of Power in the Papacy of John Paul II, Free Press (New York, NY), 2004.
Contributor to Tools of Her Ministry: The Art of Sister Gertrude Morgan, by William A. Fagaly, American Folk Art Museum (New York, NY), 2004.
WORK IN PROGRESS: Last of the Red Hot Poppas.
SIDELIGHTS: Although journalist and writer Jason Berry has written on many subjects, he is best known for his investigations of the sexual-abuse scandals that plagued the Roman Catholic Church beginning in the 1980s. In 1985 Berry wrote an award-winning series of articles for the National Catholic Reporter about a sex abuse scandal in Louisiana, and he has since published two books on the topic, Lead Us Not into Temptation: Catholic Priests and the Sexual Abuse of Children and, with Gerald Renner, Vows of Silence: The Abuse of Power in the Papacy of John Paul II.
Lead Us Not into Temptation opens with the story of Father Gilbert Gauthe, a priest from Vermilion Parish, Louisiana, who in 1985 was found guilty of molesting over thirty-five boys. In a 170-page account that Commonweal contributor Peter Steinfels termed "nearly mesmerizing," Berry assembles much of what he learned about Gauthe's past from his extensive journalistic work covering the case. Then the author moves on to discuss, in less detail, the cases of other notorious U.S. pedophiles, and delves into the general issues raised by these sexual-abuse scandals. Writing in the Nation, Thomas M. Disch wrote that "it is the second half of the book that will shiver Church timbers most violently, for in these chapters Berry moves beyond the parish of Lafayette (whose scandals might charitably be construed as an anomaly) and describes pedophile scandals in [every] part of the country." The overall result is "a shocking, graphic expose," noted a Publishers Weekly contributor.
Vows of Silence "is a must-read because it pulls together, as is only possible in a reported book of this length, the clear evidence of how deeply ingrained is the culture of clerical secrecy that allowed the scandal to flourish," Tom Roberts wrote in the National Catholic Reporter. Berry and fellow journalist Renner spent six years researching and writing the book. They detail the lives of two men on opposite sides of the sexual-abuse scandals: Father Marcial Maciel Degollado, a Mexican priest who was accused by at least eight men of abusing them and who, to date, had yet to be seriously investigated, presumably because of his many connections within the Mexican church and the Vatican; and Father Thomas Doyle, a Dominican who was shunned by the church hierarchy for his work on behalf of victims of clerical sexual abuse. Vows of Silence "stands as a well-reasoned indictment of contemporary Church policy," concluded a Kirkus Reviews critic.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
America, October 17, 1992, review of Lead Us Not into Temptation: Catholic Priests and the Sexual Abuse of Children, pp. 267-268; April 19, 2004, Thomas H. Stahel, review of Vows of Silence: The Abuse of Power in the Papacy of John Paul II, p. 33.
American Historical Review, April, 1988, Ronald M. Radano, review of Up from the Cradle of Jazz: New Orleans Music since World War II, p. 526.
Black Enterprise, August, 1987, David Lionel Smith, review of Up from the Cradle of Jazz, p. 37.
Black Issues Book Review, May-July, 2004, Clarence V. Reynolds, review of Tools of Her Ministry: The Art of Sister Gertrude Morgan, p. 33.
Booklist, March 1, 2004, Steven Schroeder, review of Vows of Silence, p. 1113.
Choice, July-August, 2004, M. R. Vendryes, review of Tools of Her Ministry, pp. 2031-2032.
Commonweal, March 12, 1993, Peter Steinfels, review of Lead Us Not into Temptation, pp. 16-18; March 12, 2004, Maurice Timothy Reidy, review of Vows of Silence, pp. 25-26.
Down Beat, March, 1993, David Whiteis, review of Up from the Cradle of Jazz, p. 54.
Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, March, 1994, Anson Shupe, review of Lead Us Not into Temptation, pp. 93-94.
Kirkus Reviews, December 15, 2003, review of Vows of Silence, p. 1432.
Library Journal, September 15, 1986, William Brockman, review of Up from the Cradle of Jazz, p. 89; February 1, 2004, Anna M. Donnelly, review of Vows of Silence, p. 93.
Nation, February 28, 1987, Peter Watrous, review of Up from the Cradle of Jazz, p. 267; November 2, 1992, Thomas M. Disch, review of Lead Us Not into Temptation, pp. 514-516.
National Catholic Reporter, February 27, 1987, Thomas C. Fox, "Jason Berry," p. 2; July 2, 1993, "Moving beyond Denial, Sex Abuse Examination Begins," p. 24; August 10, 2001, Raymond A. Schroth, review of Louisiana Faces: Images from the Renaissance, p. 16; February 6, 2004, Tom Roberts, review of Vows of Silence, pp. 1-3.
New Orleans, April, 1992, Teresa Wilhelm Askew, review of Up from the Cradle of Jazz, p. 33.
New York Review of Books, April 8, 2004, Garry Wills, review of Vows of Silence, pp. 68-74.
New York Times Book Review, December 14, 1986, Howard Mandel, review of Up from the Cradle of Jazz, p. 24; February 28, 1993, Jay P. Dolan, review of Lead Us Not into Temptation, p. 20; July 14, 1996, Alexandra Hall, review of The Spirit of Black Hawk, p. 17; May 2, 2004, Christopher Caldwell, review of Vows of Silence, p. 8.
Publishers Weekly, October 24, 1986, John Mutter, review of Up from the Cradle of Jazz, p. 68; August 24, 1992, review of Lead Us Not into Temptation, p. 68.
School Library Journal, May, 1987, Rebecca Holt, review of Up from the Cradle of Jazz, p. 121.
Southern Living, November, 1987, review of Up from the Cradle of Jazz, p. 178.
U.S. Catholic, March, 1993, Gerald M. Costello, review of Lead Us Not into Temptation, pp. 48-51.
University of Illinois Press Web site, http://www.press.uillinois.edu/. (August 27, 2004), "Jason Berry."