Sexual Abuse, the Catholic Church, and the Challenge of Transparency

Tuesday, May 7th 2019, 7:00pm
Loyola, Jesuit School of Theology of SCU, 1735 LeRoy Avenue Berkeley, CA 94709

The sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church has entered a new phase of transparency – whether volunteered or demanded. At this event, two leading national figures on the abuse crisis, journalist Peter Steinfels and canon lawyer Jennifer Haselberger, will address the challenge of this new moment.

The Gospel of John says that “the truth shall set you free,” and few people credibly think that the Church should not come clean on abuse. Indeed, throughout the country, the Church itself has begun releasing lists of priests who have been credibly accused or convicted of abuse. Moreover, state attorneys general have become more determined in demanding access to Church files and in releasing information to the public in the form of grand jury reports or indictments. A report in summer 2018 by a grand jury working with Pennsylvania State Attorney General Joel Shapiro shocked the Church throughout the world.

There is little doubt that such volunteered or demanded revelations will continue in the next years. But are there ways of making sense of such processes of transparency beyond the importance of transparency itself? In a major article in Commonweal magazine, Steinfels examined in detail the Pennsylvania grand jury report and criticized aspects of it including key information that it left out and a crucial lack of historical perspective. Haselberger was a whistleblower in the Minneapolis-St. Paul Archdiocese who revealed cover-ups of sexual abuse and a general culture of blaming the victim. The different insights of Steinfels and Haselberger offer the promise of a rich trove of ways to assist in responding to the often shocking and disorienting and necessary challenge of transparency.

Co-sponsored by the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics and
the Ignatian Center for Jesuit Education

About the Speakers

*Peter Steinfels, former co-director of the Fordham University Center on Religion and Culture, is a university professor at Fordham. He was religion columnist for The New York Times and editor of Commonweal. He is the author of A People Adrift: The Crisis of the Roman Catholic Church in America
(Simon & Schuster, 2003). He lives in New York City.

*Jennifer Haselberger is a canon lawyer who received her licentiate degree in canon law from the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium, in 2004. She also has a Doctorate in Philosophy from the University of London, England, She is a member of the Canon Law Society of America and served as Chair and as a member of the Resolutions Committee of that Society. She has practiced as a canon lawyer in the United States and internationally.