Newspaper review of Dr. Langen''s recently released novel, The Pastor''s Inferno.
Batavia author releases “Inferno”
By Kristen Katz
When Joseph Langen wrote The Pastor’s Inferno, he wanted to take a different look at the sexual abuse scandal that took place in the Catholic Church during the late ‘90s and early 2000s. Rather than attacking the accused priests, Langen’s novel offers an understanding and hope for the redemption of these men.
The Pastor’s Inferno is a fictional account of a priest, Father John Spador, who seeks redemption after abusing a young male parishioner at his parish. The novel follows Spador as he faces the victim, his own relatives, God, the court and ultimately himself.
Langen, a 65 year old Batavia resident, was in the seminary for nine years and was at several different monasteries before he left in 1965 to pursue a college education. He graduated in 1971 from the University of Illinois with a doctorate in psychology. He retired from the field in 2005 and now works full time as a writer. The Pastor’s Inferno is Langen’s third book and took him about nine months to write. He also writes a biweekly column for The Daily News.
Langen wrote this novel because he had always wondered about what caused the priests to break their vows.
“These were people committed to celibacy, but that didn’t stop them from abusing people.” he said. “It was something that made me wonder for a long time.”
Originally Langen wanted to write a non-fiction book that included interviews with priests who had been convicted of sexual abuse. This task proved to be too difficult, so he decided to write The Pastor’s Inferno. Langen based the novel on what he knew about the process of being ordained from his nine years in the seminary. He was in the seminary about the time many of the priests who were later accused of sexual abuse during the scandal.
Langen said one possible reason for the sexual abuse scandal is that the men in the seminary are isolated from others in the community, so they do not have a typical social life. He also added that priests often have a feeling of superiority because of the elevated position they have in the community.
“They were pretty elevated.” he said. “People had this sense they could do no wrong.”
As a psychologist, Langen said he believes you have to understand the person before you can help them change. This is a major theme in The Pastor’s Inferno. Langen said he hopes the novel will give people a better understanding of what might have led these men to commit sexual abuse.
“It’s trying to understand someone.” he said. “It’s not an attack.”
Langen said people who do not think these men can be helped with counseling or do not want to try and understand them should not read his novel. Those interested in purchasing a copy of The Pastor’s Inferno can do so at http://www.booklocker.com.
Reprinted by permission of The Daily News, Batavia, NY