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Villanova University to Host Theologians and Church Scholars from Around the World for Event Series Examining the Abuse Crisis in the Catholic Church

Hans Zollner, SJ, PhD, of Rome’s Pontifical Gregorian University is the keynote speaker at the Jan. 29 event.

VILLANOVA, Pa. – This academic year, Villanova University will host leading theologians and Catholic Church experts from across the world for a series of public events on the state of the Catholic Church—designed to encourage dialogue and expand awareness about the research, scholarship and thought leadership that is building in response to the sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church.

The series brings together some of today’s most respected scholars to engage in open dialogue about the crisis’ impact on the Church’s ability to invest in its mission, and Pope Francis’ and the Vatican’s ongoing efforts to introduce new reforms that address sex abuse and bishop accountability.

Massimo Faggioli, PhD, professor of Theology and Religious Studies in Villanova University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, is a lead organizer of the events. An expert in papacy, Vatican II, liturgical reform, new Catholic movements and Catholicism and global politics, Dr. Faggioli is frequently featured in national and international media, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, National Public Radio and La Croix International.

“The Catholic sex abuse crisis is a multilayered crisis: cultural, theological and geopolitical,” Dr. Faggioli says. “This gathering of global Church scholars to discuss the topic is designed to get all of us thinking theologically about what the crisis tells us and what it calls us to think about.”

The series was developed by members of the Villanova University Task Force on the Sexual Abuse Crisis in the Catholic Church, including Faggioli, Philosophy professor and chair Sally Scholz, PhD and University professor of Law and Religion Michael Moreland, PhD. The task force was created at the University in 2018 to encourage, support and coordinate research, pastoral initiatives and advocacy activities at Villanova University.

On Wednesday, Jan. 29, the University will host an event titled "Global Perspectives on the Sex Abuse Crisis. The event begins at 7 p.m., in the Driscoll Hall Auditorium. The keynote speaker for the event is  Hans Zollner, SJ, PhD, professor of Psychology and president of the Center for Child Protection, Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome. To register for the Jan. 29 event, click here.

“The Task Force was organized because we recognized the important role that Catholic institutions of higher education have in responding to the sexual abuse in the Church,” says Scholz.

Dr. Scholz is a lead organizer for “The Church Today” conference on March 21, 2020—bringing together the many Villanova faculty and staff experts to share information, discuss ideas and facilitate networking and conversations on the difficult issues facing the Church. “We hope that people—lay and religious alike—from around the region will take advantage of the opportunity to participate in this important dialogue,” she adds.

All events are free and open to the public. For the full schedule, list of event sponsors and other details about the series, click here.

Event Series: Sexual Abuse Crisis in the Catholic Church

“Seeking the right side of history: Theology and the sex abuse crisis”

Friday, Nov. 1, 2019, 6 p.m. — Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law, Room 101

  • Keynote speaker Richard Lennan, ThD (professor of Systematic Theology and Professor OrdinariusBoston College)

“A Light for a Church in Crisis: Vatican II in the time of Pope Francis”

Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019, 7 p.m. — Bartley Hall, Room 1011

Sponsored in part by Raskob Foundation and GHR Foundation


  • Catherine Clifford, PhD (professor of Systematic and Historical Theology, St. Paul University, Canada)
  • Richard Lennan, ThD (professor of Systematic Theology and Professor Ordinarius, Boston College)
  • The Rev. Ormond Rush, STD, MEd (associate professor, Australian Catholic University)
  • Moderator: Massimo Faggioli, PhD (professor of Theology and Religious Studies, Villanova University)

“Global Perspectives on the Sex Abuse Crisis”

Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2020, 7 p.m. — Driscoll Hall Auditorium

***To register for the Jan. 29 event, click here.

  • Keynote speaker Hans Zollner, SJ, PhD (professor of Psychology and president of the Center for Child Protection, Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome) - introduced by Kerry Robinson (Leadership Roundtable)

“The Church Today” Conference

Saturday, March 21, 2020, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. — Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law

  • This is a daylong, multi-session seminar, concluding with as mass dedicated to the victims of church sexual abuse at 5 p.m.

About Villanova University's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences: Since its founding in 1842, Villanova University's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences has cultivated knowledge, understanding and intellectual courage for a purposeful life in a challenging and changing world. With more than 40 majors across the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences, it is the oldest and largest of Villanova's colleges, serving more than 4,500 undergraduate and graduate students each year. The College is committed to a teacher-scholar model, offering outstanding undergraduate and graduate research opportunities and a rigorous core curriculum that prepares students to become critical thinkers, strong communicators and ethical leaders with a truly global perspective.

About Villanova University: Since 1842, Villanova University’s Augustinian Catholic intellectual tradition has been the cornerstone of an academic community in which students learn to think critically, act compassionately and succeed while serving others. There are more than 10,000 undergraduate, graduate and law students in the University's six colleges—the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Villanova School of Business, the College of Engineering, the M. Louise Fitzpatrick College of Nursing, the College of Professional Studies and the Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law. Ranked among the nation’s top universities, Villanova supports its students’ intellectual growth and prepares them to become ethical leaders who create positive change everywhere life takes them. For more, visit