The Catholic clergy sexual abuse crisis is an ongoing wound that has caused immense anguish and pain for abuse survivors and their families and friends, as well as the entire Catholic community. Church leaders have taken steps to respond, but much more remains to be done to change the culture of clericalism that allows abuse and its cover-up to occur, and to increase accountability and transparency so that such grave crimes do not occur again.
Too often conversations about the abuse crisis neglect the voices of those within Native, Latino, and Black communities, even as members of those communities suffer disproportionately from abuse. The perspectives of Native, Latino, and Black Catholics can strengthen our understanding of how clergy abuse and its cover-up happens, and how we can work together more effectively to strengthen protections for vulnerable people and communities and take steps towards justice and healing.
The Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life at Georgetown University brought together five remarkable leaders to explore questions such as:
What are the impacts—human, spiritual, moral, and institutional—of clergy sex abuse in Native, Latino, and Black communities?
Why has clergy sex abuse in these communities drawn less attention and less of a response?
Why do members of marginalized communities suffer particularly from those who abuse children and vulnerable adults, and those who cover up such abuse?
What institutional, cultural, and personal failures led Church leaders to perpetrate and cover up sexual abuse, particularly in these communities? How can we understand, confront, and overcome our history here?
What can the broader Catholic Church learn from survivors of clergy sexual abuse in marginalized communities, and how can Church leaders raise up such voices?
What lessons and future directions can lay Catholics and others take away from efforts to confront the clergy sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church? Bishops? The Vatican?
How can we work together to overcome clericalism and assure greater transparency, accountability, renewal, and reform in the Catholic Church?
Kim Daniels, co-director of the Initiative, member of the Vatican Dicastery for Communication, and former spokesperson for the president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, moderated the conversation.
View a list of articles, videos, and other resources for this dialogue.
This dialogue was the twelfth gathering on the clergy sexual abuse crisis organized by the Initiative. Other gatherings are available online. This dialogue was part of and supported by the Taking Responsibility Initiative coordinated by Fordham University.
Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons/Frozemint