RS Conversation: Victor, Victim, Survivor
On Thursday, October 11th, 2018, eleven students and seven faculty/staff gathered to discuss clergy sex abuse and strategies for claiming agency amid the challenges of clericalism and the culture of silence that surrounds sexual abuse in the church. Students raised provocative questions about why sexual abuse happens, and all discussed the challenges associated with discerning whether to remain in the church amid reports of abuse. Many spoke of how they have separated the hope they find in the gospels and the Catholic tradition from the sin of the institutional church.
Comparisons with liberation theology revealed how parallels between the death of Jesus and sexual abuse might render the abuse crisis a contemporary instantiation of the 'crucifixion' of innocent victims. Others questioned how a God who brings life out of death might respond to abuse. Would such a God call Christians to actively resist violence? What is the significance of God's will to life for the relationship of Catholics to the institutional church and the tradition? Does the abuse crisis warrant acts of protest?
After discussing these issues, the conversation turned to the meaning of clericalism, and participants discussed at some length the relationship between celibacy, chastity, and the church's stance on human sexuality as a possible starting point for transforming the structures that enable the culture of silence surrounding clergy sexual abuse.
The conversation was moderated by Paul Schutz and Karen Peterson-Iyer.