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Clergy Sexual Abuse

Friday, Jun. 8, 2012
Center Executive Director Kirk O. Hanson addresses the conference
Center Executive Director Kirk O. Hanson addresses the conference

Ten years after the scandal of child sexual abuse by priests rocked the U.S. Catholic Church to its core, has enough been done to protect  children, prevent recurrence, and strengthen institutional accountability and transparency?

The mixed-bag answer to that question was the subject of the conferece "Clergy Sexual Abuse Ten Years Later," held May 11, 2012, at Santa Clara University.  The Ethics Center was a sponsor of the event.

Supporters of reform take heart that most U.S. dioceses have a “zero tolerance” policy for priests facing credible allegations – even if they are un-adjudicated. They note that allegations have dropped drastically from the peak of the epidemic after the 1970s, and new allegations now number fewer than a dozen a year nationwide. But critics and reformers alike continue to find problems with the lack of oversight or consequence for rogue bishops who refuse to comply with best practices established by the so-called Dallas Charter. And the legacy of clericalism and spotty accountability has been hard to erase.

The panelists included Karen Terry, Ph.D., the principal investigator for two nationally acclaimed John Jay College of Criminal Justice studies on the nature, scope, and causes of the abuse scandals; Barbara Blaine, who in 1988 founded the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP); Kathleen McChesney, Ph.D., former FBI  executive who was the first executive director of the Office of Child and Youth Protection of the United States Conference of Bishops; and SCU Professor Thomas Plante, a consultant on priest sexual abuse who also helps screen seminarians for sexual-abuse proclivities as vice chair of the National Review Board for the U.S.  Bishops’  Protection of Children and Youth office.

Tags: clergy sexual abuse