The Centre for Child Protection, housed in the Gregorian University in Rome, and Catholic Theological Ethics in the World Church, an international network of moral theologians, will be hosting a theological “laboratory” focusing on understanding and responding to the current crisis of clerical sexual abuse in the Catholic Church.
The organisers, including Prof James Keenan SJ from Boston College and Prof Hans Zollner SJ from the Centre, have invited over seventy ecclesiologists and ethicists from around the world to the three-day workshop, to be held 11-14 March.
The meeting has been called a “laboratory” to emphasise active engagement of all participants in advancing theological thought, reflection and leadership in response to the crisis, with a view to supporting the global Church in its response. The laboratory will consider five areas for discussion:
- Sin and crimes: punishment and reconciliation: Doing justice for victims, perpetrators, and the entire church
- The image of the church that conveys and betrays Jesus: Rediscovering Jesus in ecclesiology
- Priesthood – ministry of service vs. clericalism: Rethinking the sacrament of orders
- Sexuality and vulnerability: Re-examining sexual ethics and inhibiting abuse
- Church and world: The Church’s mission as guiding our reform.
Leading theologians and ethicists will be coming from around the world for the laboratory with participants from various European, African, Asian and Latin American countries as well as strong representation from North America.
Australian theologians will be well represented at the gathering with four delegates: Fr Richard Lennan (currently in Boston College); Fr James McEvoy (Australian Catholic University, Adelaide), Dr Dan Fleming (St Vincent’s Health Australia); and Dr Neil Ormerod (Sydney College of Divinity).
Three of these theologians, Lennan, McEvoy and Ormerod have already contributed essays on the topic of abuse in special issues of the prestigious Catholic journal, Theological Studies: Lennan on the ecclesiological impact of the scandal; McEvoy on the theology of the child; and Ormerod on the impact of the Australian Royal Commission on the church.
Dan Fleming and James F. Keenan will be working together to publish the outcomes of the process, with a view to providing a theological resource for the Church as it responds to this crisis around the world.