The Catholic Church is in the midst of a crisis as great as any since the Protestant Reformation. About this there seems to be widespread agreement. However, when it comes to diagnosing that crisis, analyses differ considerably. Is this a crisis of sexual ethics, a failure of episcopal leadership, an abuse of power, or all of the above? This lecture will present a broad analysis of the various issues in play and conclude with a proposed agenda for substantive ecclesial reform.
Dr. Richard R. Gaillardetz is the Joseph Professor of Catholic Systematic Theology at Boston College and is currently the chair of the theology department. Prof. Gaillardetz received his Ph.D. in systematic theology from the University of Notre Dame. He has published over 140 articles and authored or edited 14 books. Most recently he published a newly revised and expanded edition of his popular book, By What Authority? Foundations for Understanding Authority in the Church (Liturgical Press, 2018). In 2000 he received the Sophia Award from the Washington Theological Union for theological excellence in service of ministry and in 2018 he received the Yves Congar Award for theological excellence from Barry University. Dr. Gaillardetz served as president of the Catholic Theological Society of America in 2013-14. He and his wife Diana are the parents of four adult sons.
SAVE THE DATE: Dr. Tricia Bruce, sociologist and researcher, discusses institutional contraints to Catholic Church reform - Tuesday, May 14 at 7pm
On Thursday, November 15, faculty and staff gathered for an initial discussion regarding how SU can respond to the sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church. Fr. Pat Howell, SJ, interim director for the ICTC, began with these opening remarks:
A Context for Our Discussion
As we begin this important conversation, let us remember and hold in our hearts all those who through the years have been sexually abused. And recall that a key focus of our efforts must be the protection of minors and vulnerable adults.
As a Jesuit institution we are also called to be centers and prophets of reconciliation—how can we bring healing to the wounded and abused? And how can our Jesuit Catholic universities provide the intellectual heft and diligent research to aid the Church and larger society in addressing this crucial issue?
Let us also recall the words of Father Ron Rolheiser from the talk he gave here at Seattle University in 2002 on this same topic, entitled “Carrying a Scandal Biblically.” He said that some in the church think that we just need to get through this crisis so that we can get on with our mission of preaching the Gospel. On the contrary, Father Rolheiser said, “This is our mission.” Our mission is to reverence the truth, to bind up and bringing healing to those who are wounded and hurting. He compared this moment in the Catholic Church to the “dark night of the soul,” a spiritual journey which is purgative and painful and often shrouded in darkness. Like every dark night, we need to go through it and not seek escapism or subterfuge or manipulation. We also need to be confident that all this is the work of the Spirit. God is working and laboring in the midst of this pain and anguish to bring about peace, joy, and love—even though it seems, for the moment, like just the opposite.
So with that preface, let’s now turn to the timeline in what we know about the unfolding sexual abuse crisis over the last 30 years.
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