Please check back for Fall 2023 lecture dates and topics in September.
Presented by Massimo Faggioli, Ph.D. From the first revelations in the 1980s to the latest phases of the abuse scandal in the Catholic Church in the 2020s, our understanding of the nature of the crisis has evolved, also thanks to major cultural and theological shifts: sexual abuse and different kinds of abuse; a theology of childhood; the concept of vulnerability; and the colonial factor.
The sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church has been framed as a legal issue that requires internal structural and canonical reform. Scant attention has been paid, however, to the way in which the discipline of theology has unwittingly fostered a climate of adultism and the marginalization of children. Sandra Hassink, M.D., a longtime advocate for children, past president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, and current Ph.D. student in the Theology and Religious Studies Department at Villanova University believes that the only way to achieve genuine, effective reform in the Church is to consciously develop a theology of the child, which puts the welfare of children front and center on the Church’s radar screen.
Dr. Donna Freitas’ personal story of being abused, which is recounted in Consent: A Memoir of Unwanted Attention (Little, Brown and Company, 2019), occurred at a Catholic university when she was enrolled as a graduate theology student, which left her feeling abandoned by the Catholic theological community precisely when she needed its support the most. Dr. Freitas will use her story of abuse to identify structural issues within the theological community that need sustained attention, as well as suggest various reforms that will help the theological community recognize, support, and be a compassionate presence to its members suffering from abuse.
Dr. Kathleen Holscher recently launched a new website, Desolate Country (https://www.desolatecountry.com), which maps Catholic sexual abuse in Native America. In her webinar she will explore clusters of sexual abuse and why they occurred in specific locations, what these clusters suggest about the causes and character of the abuse that occurred, and what the Catholic Church needs to do in order to prevent these abuses from occurring in the future.
Brian J. Clites, Ph.D., Associate Director, Baker-Nord Center for the Humanities
Senior Instructor, Case Western Reserve University, Department of Religious Studies
Catholic survivors place a special emphasis on speaking and listening, and adult survivors often describe feeling “revictimized" when we don’t act upon the information they have told us. This dynamic dates back half a century, when the first American Catholic survivors who spoke out were bullied and ignored. This lecture provides that historical context and explains practical strategies for listening with our whole hearts and minds when a survivor chooses to share their experiences of abuse.
During the last three years, the Notre Dame Folk Choir, in collaboration with artists and theologians, has collectively created an original ritualization of the Passion based on Scripture, tradition, and the lived experiences of the students and professionals involved. This project seeks to enable young people, within a ministerial environment, to contemplate the difficult questions that they’re longing to ask and talk about, most especially issues surrounding clergy sexual abuse, care for our common home, and social justice. This webinar will feature Dr. J.J. Wright, Director of the ND Folk Choir; Tristan Cooley, poet and librettist; and students from the Folk Choir. The discussion will center around the Passion, the creative process, and its intersection with communal grief and healing in the wake of the Clergy Sexual Abuse Crisis. The Passion performance will premiere during a tour of the East Coast in March, including a performance at St. Thomas of Villanova Parish on Tuesday, March 8 at 7pm.
Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law, Room 101
Richard Lennan, Th.D., Professor of Systematic Theology and Professor Ordinarius, Boston College.