PAPERS Resources

AAR Annual Meeting
San Diego, CA
November 23-26, 2019

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  • Presidential Theme: Scholarly Workers in Public Spaces
Ecclesiological Investigations Unit
Theme: Doing Public Theology: Theologians and Theological Academic Institutions in Public Spaces
Miriam Perkins, Emmanuel Christian Seminary, Presiding
Saturday - 1:00 PM-3:00 PM
Hilton Bayfront-Aqua F (Third Level)

In this session, we explore the role of Christian theology and the institutions where it is developed in contributing to public theology. These papers look at the nature of the theologian as a public intellectual within the church, at the nature of "public theology" in the contexts of South Africa and of a digital world, and at the potential contributions of a Catholic eco-theology.

Stephen Okey, Saint Leo University
Public Theology Goes Digital: Diffuse, Discarnate, Distracted, but Desirable

If theology is a public discipline, how has it fared in the digital world? The internet has eased access to theological conversation, but this brought with it devaluations of expertise, trolling, and a multitude of distractions. In order to better understand what it means for theology to be public today, this paper places David Tracy’s public theology in conversation with media theorist Stig Hjarvard and psychology Sherry Turkle in order to evaluate the theological significance of the digital realm. While digital, public, theological conversation is often shaped more by Hjarvard’s “logic of the media” and undermined by what Turkle calls a “flight from conversation,” a theological reading of the digital as public calls for developing digitally appropriate virtues of charity, solidarity, and justice in order to both resist and transform dominant aspects of digital culture.

Rosemary P. Carbine, Whittier College
Rival Powers: Toward a Catholic Eco-Public Theology

Effective ecofeminist public theology, as this paper contends, articulates the failures of global technocratic powers and prophetically edges us toward biocratic social and ecojustice. Ever-increasing eco-crises reveal and amplify religio-political divides between technocratic and biocratic powers. US conservative Catholic reactionary backlash to Pope Francis’s Laudato Si’ exemplifies the technocratic paradigm: modern individualist consumerism, global corporate capitalist commodification of people and nature, un/de-regulated rapid technological progress, and American exceptionalist policies that together threaten ecocide, the de-creation of peoples and ecosystems. By contrast, the biocratic paradigm re-places all life in an evolutionary, ecological, and holistic context which stresses inextricable interconnectedness in co/re-creation of the common good. Drawing on liberation, ecofeminist, and eco-public theologians, this paper tackles technocracy by proposing an eschatological eco-imaginary that promotes lived biocratic practices of hope, based on the intrinsic sacrality and intersectional interdependence of all life in social and ecological solidarity. A biocratic eco-imaginary entails a new theological anthropology that interlinks the personal, the political, and the planetary, even unto the cosmic, in co/re-creative ways.

Andrew Suderman, Eastern Mennonite University
Which Space Counts as “Public”? South African Public Theology and Black (or Prophetic) Theology’s Response

Public Theology emerged in the South African context in the mid’2000s. It emerged as an outcropping of the larger “reconstruction” or “nation-building” discourse that has been prevalent in South African theology since 1994. An optimistic view suggests that the South African church wants to explore the role it can play in a (newly) democratic, liberal, pluralist society. On the other hand, one may think that the South African church at home with a Christendom based logic is trying to find news avenues through which it can influence South African society and maintain its privileged voice.

Either way, however, South African Public Theology continues to assume that its primary social responsibility is to engage the powers that be – political, economic, and cultural powers – in the “market square” at the center of society. This, it assumes, is the primary locus for theological discourse. This paper will suggest that such a focus on the center not only prioritizes the voice of the powerful, which is still largely white, but also disenfranchises the voice of those on the margins, those who do not have access to the center. This paper will highlight the arguments brought forth through Black (or Prophetic) Theology calling into question such disenfranchisement that only perpetuates apartheid’s logic as to which space counts as the real public.

Deepan Rajaratnam, Saint Louis University
The Spirit Has Called Me, The Church Should Install Me: The Theologian as an Ecclesially Respositioned Public Intellectual

This paper explores the role of the academic intellectual who must navigate the insularities of the institutional church. In the Catholic Church, a juridical understanding of the theological vocation by church officials that narrowly emphasizes the theologian-bishop relationship has led to the controversial implementation of the mandatum. To address this issue, I work within an ecclesiology of communion and draw on the work of Richard Gaillardetz and Ormand Rush to develop the theologian’s unique participation in ecclesial mission and her particular relationship to the sensus fidelium. I argue that the Catholic theologian is an ecclesially repositioned minister within a local church who systematizes insights from the local sensus fidelium and assists the bishop in assessing the local sensus fidelium. As part of this process of ecclesial repositioning, authorization is contextualized as the penultimate stage preceding a necessary public, liturgical recognition that could parallel the Church’s recognition of lay ecclesial ministers.

Business Meeting:
Brian Flanagan, Marymount University
Vladimir Latinovic, University of Tübingen
Roman Catholic Studies Unit
Theme: Catholicism, Clericalism, and Sexual Abuse
B. Kevin Brown, Gonzaga University, Presiding
Saturday - 1:00 PM-3:00 PM
Convention Center-24A (Upper Level East)

The sexual abuse crisis of the Roman Catholic Church requires serious consideration of the culture of the priesthood and the trauma of victims. These papers address the historical, social, and theological contours of clericalism, while also inviting audience members to bring their own scholarly perspectives to this important issue.

Mary Kate Holman, Fordham University
Clerics without Clericalism? Catholic Structural Reform in Light of the Sexual Abuse Crisis and the French Worker-Priest Movement (1943-1954)

This paper identifies the contemporary sexual abuse crisis as a tragic symptom of the deeper problem of clericalism in the Catholic Church. The image of priest as “set apart” is an obstacle that has historically hindered ecclesial engagement with contemporary realities. While “clericalism” has become a rhetorical punching bag for Catholics horrified by clergy sexual abuse, it is often discussed as an unhealthy attitude that we can merely shrug off, rather than a reality embedded in the very structures of ecclesial leadership and ministry. Taking seriously the structural roots of clericalism, this paper elevates the example of the French worker priests, who radically rejected traditional notions of clerical distinction, immersing themselves in working class communities. The movement’s non-traditional formation, rejection of the chasm between clergy/laity and sacred/secular, and perpetual conflict with Vatican authority gesture towards a pressing contemporary question: can the Roman Catholic priesthood exist without clericalism?

Daniel Cosacchi, Fairfield University
Is Forgiveness Possible? Clerical Sex Abuse and a New Creation

Is it possible for survivors of clerical sexual abuse to forgive the church? Although hardly ever asked, this question is central in producing a robust response to the scandal that is once again rocking the Catholic church throughout the world. This paper does not argue or insist that individual survivors should forgive the church; rather, it examines the church’s own rich tradition of forgiveness and reconciliation, which is even manifested in a sacramental way. By tapping into this tradition, the church may put forth a more effective model of responding to the current crisis. One of the most obvious differences of this approach is that it begins with the survivors themselves, as opposed to the clergy, to formulate an appropriate ecclesial response. The paper will advocate for a new model of drafting magisterial documents regarding clerical sexual abuse, whereby sexual abuse survivors help to draft the church’s teaching, with forgiveness and reconciliation as one of the models.

Annie Selak, Boston College
The Wounded Church: An Ecclesiological Analysis of the Sex Abuse Crisis in the Catholic Church through the Lens of Trauma Theory

The sex abuse crisis in the Roman Catholic church has wounded the church. This paper considers the woundedness of the church through the lens of contemporary trauma theory. The overarching theme of trauma theory is woundedness, for the term “trauma” derives from the Greek term for wound. An originating trauma or wound continues to become known to the victim in the present and future, unable to be relegated to the past. The sex abuse crisis is significant, for it not only wounded individuals but also wounded the church as a whole. This paper argues that the church cannot fully be church if does not adequately attend to its own woundedness. In order for the church to embody its mission, it must attend to these significant wounds.

Megan McCabe, Gonzaga University
Vatican II Studies Unit
Theme: Reconsidering Vatican I: Challenges and Opportunities after 150 Years
Richard Gaillardetz, Boston College, Presiding
Saturday - 3:30 PM-5:00 PM
Convention Center-15B (Mezzanine Level)

2019 marks the 150th anniversary of the opening of the First Vatican Council, whose teachings present significant ecclesiological and ecumenical challenges. This session will revisit the council’s definition of papal primacy, exploring pathways to ecclesial reform and ecumenical advance in the present context. Vatican I's approach to faith and reason represents an initial effort to reflect on the relationship of faith and modern science - a reflection of the dialectical rapport between church and world that would be taken up at the Second Vatican Council. These reflections are particularly timely given the present struggle, identified by Pope Francis, to move beyond a highly-centralized exercise of the primacy to a form of church governance which is more “decentralized,” and a church actively engaged with the world. Papers will examine Vatican I retrospectively and prospectively in order to advance critical questions of that council’s reception by Vatican II, its ongoing interpretation, and impact.

John Slattery, American Association for the Advancement of Science
Before Gaudium et Spes, Fides et Ratio, or Laudato Si: The Importance of Vatican I’s Dei Filius in Contemporary Conversations of Theology and Science

While we live in the shadow of the Second Vatican Council, modern Catholic teaching on the relationship between theology and science is grounded in the 1869 document of the First Vatican Council, "Dei Filius." This might seem ironic given the late-19th century censures involving pro-evolution scholars. This presentation will show that while the Neo-Scholastic stance against Darwinian evolutionary theory was permitted through the bounds of Dei Filius, Humani Generis, Gaudium et Spes, the explicitly pro-science stance of the last three pontificates are rooted in the overarching themes of philosophical openness to science found in the 1869 document. We will outline the major themes of the document, their relevance for modern Catholic theological positions on science, and argue that on nearly questions relating to faith and science, the First Vatican Council is os greater importance than the Second.

Peter De Mey, University of Leuven
The Difficult Search for an Adequate Biblical Basis of Episcopal Collegiality at Vatican II: The Clash between Astute Defenders of Vatican I and Advocates for a Better Balance between Pope and Bishops

This paper will present the redaction history of two parallel lines in "Lumen Gentium" and "Unitatis Redintegratio," both of which contend that the college of bishops can be considered the successor to the “college” of the apostles (LG 19, UR 2). This study reveals how the architects of conciliar renewal during the first session were looking for ways to defend the notion of episcopal collegiality and were unhappy with the draft schema's simple repetition of centralizing ecclesiology of Vatican I. Reacting to these new proposals, however, conservative Council fathers, Pope Paul VI, and even the ecumenical observers wondered whether continuity with Vatican I would be sufficiently safeguarded. As a result of this debate, the final versions of LG 19 and UR 2 reflect a rather inchoate theology of episcopal collegiality.

DUNG TRANG, Villanova University
Primacy and Synodality: From Vatican II to Pope Francis' Vision of Ecclesial Renewal in "Evangelii Gaudium"

This paper explores the meaning of primacy and synodality in their relationship to the ecclesial renewal of Pope Francis’ Evangelii Gaudium and in light of the 150th anniversary of Vatican I. While recent studies have focussed on the historical context of the two councils, leading many to describe them in relation to the themes of primacy and synodality, scant attention has been given to the interdependence of primacy and synodality. Inspired by Paul McPartlan’s statement concerning the achievement of recent Catholic-Orthodox dialogue - namely, that “synodality needs primacy in order to function, and that primacy likewise needs synodality at all levels of the Church’s life, local, regional, and universal” - this paper argues that Pope Francis’ approach in Evangelii Gaudium is an effort to renew the Church from the inside out, drawing from both Vatican I and Vatican II.

Kristin Colberg, St. John's University/College of St. Benedict
Business Meeting:
Catherine E. Clifford, Saint Paul University
  • New Program Unit
Contextualizing the Catholic Sexual Abuse Crisis Seminar
Theme: Setting the Agenda: Contextualizing Clergy Sexual Abuse
Brian Clites, Case Western Reserve University, Presiding
Saturday - 5:30 PM-7:00 PM
Hilton Bayfront-Aqua C (Third Level)

This first year of the seminar is organized around two complementary panels. The panel “Setting the Agenda” considers methodological and theoretical issues related to how scholars contextualize clergy sexual abuse. The panel “Centering Survivors” explores comparative and ethical approaches, including theologies of abuse and survivorhood. At both sessions, each panelist will present a concise “instigation” (6-8 minutes). These crisp, provocative presentations are meant to orient our discussion around key analytical problems. The final 45 minutes of each panel will be reserved for conversation and Q&A with the audience. The audience-driven discussions will help shape our topic clusters for future seminar meetings.

Heidi Ann Campbell, Texas A&M University
Emily Pfender, Villanova University
Studying the Victim Narratives of the Catholic Abuse Scandal through Internet Memes

One area where public perceptions of the church abuse scandal played out is through Internet memes. We argue memes, as digital images mixed with “humorous” texts, presents us with interesting and important insight into both insider and outsider perceptions about the Church in a time of scandal and uncertainty. By approaching memes a storytelling devices, we can study them in ways that help illuminate popular culture and media narratives not only about these events, but how the Church is viewed as whole now in American culture. This paper showcases the dominant narratives revealed from a close reading of 100 frequently circulate Internet memes associated with the Church child abuse scandal. We believe more attention needs to be paid to digital media discourses in order to more fully understanding the cultural impact of these events on the faith and perceptions of the Church during such a time of controversy and confusion.

Massimo Faggioli, Villanova University
The Catholic Sex Abuse Crisis and the Relations between Church and State

The Catholic abuse crisis has opened a new phase in the history of the relationship between Catholicism and political modernity: the 19th-century clash between the Catholic Church and the rise of nationalisms had found a settlement in the century between Vatican I and Vatican II thanks to a series of political-theological events: the declaration of papal primacy in 1870; the solution of the “Roman question” and the creation of the Vatican State in 1929; the age of concordats in the 20th century; the acceptance of the constitutional state and of democracy at Vatican II. The development of the Catholic abuse crisis, both at the national level and at the global level, puts back into question the political, theological, and socio-cultural sustainability of that settlement. This opens new questions for the investigation of the political and theological roots and long-term consequences of the Catholic abuse crisis.

Amy Carr, Western Illinois University
Sacramental Desecration: The Spiritual Heart of the Matter

Much public attention in the US to clergy sexual abuse focuses on prevention, accountability, and the impact on the church’s future size and credibility. Often absent is attention to the spiritual dimensions of enduring sexual abuse at the hands of one who represents Christ in Christian liturgy. If we theologically explore survivor experiences of sacramental desecration, asking how such experiences might (or might not) be revelatory of ways that God relates to the sinned against, we might better frame theologically the sacramentally-affected dimensions of clergy sexual abuse. Some approaches regard experiences of sacramental desecration as illusions spun by trauma, or by the demonic or blasphemous. Another sees such experiences as communicating something of God’s own providential presence to victims, bearing insights regarding the corporate nature of the church, sin, and salvation, and the relationship of sacramental liturgy to the cross as a site juxtaposing radical defilement/desecration and inviolable purity.

Unregistered Participant
A Lay Spring? Examining Grassroots Practices of Resistance to Clericalism

Clericalism has been widely acknowledged as a root cause of the sexual abuse crisis. The corollary to this recognition is an equally vital yet under-examined question: how has the abuse crisis transformed the ways in which U.S. Catholics understand what it means to be a layperson in the church? This paper takes up this question, drawing on fieldwork among first-time lay organizers in Atlanta-area parishes to argue that in a U.S. context, the abuse crisis and its aftereffects are marking a decisive turning point in lay Catholic self-understanding and agency. Analyzing lay-led practices of lament and resistance suggests that the “lay spring” quietly unfolding in the church can be understood as a moment in which laity are embracing their baptismal calls, beckoning the church to a fundamentally relational vision of holiness. In so doing, the paper makes a case for the value of ecclesiological-ethnographic methods in the study of the crisis.

Ecclesiological Investigations Unit
Theme: Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification: Impact and Reception
Miriam Haar, Lutheran World Federation, Presiding
Saturday - 5:30 PM-7:00 PM
Hilton Bayfront-Indigo 204B (Second Level)

2019 marks the 20th anniversary of the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification (JDDJ) by the Lutheran World Federation and the Roman Catholic Church. With the World Methodist Council, the World Communion of Reformed Churches, and the Anglican Communion affirming the JDDJ, this bilateral agreement has now developed into a multilateral document. The JDDJ opened new ecumenical horizons, but has not led to visible structural Unity. It has also raised objections among some Lutheran theologians. In this session, we will consider the impact and the reception of the JDDJ in theological, magisterial, practical, and other terms.

Jakob Rinderknecht, University of the Incarnate Word
Receiving the Joint Declaration: A Test-Case in Bilateral and Multilateral Engagement

In the twenty years since the signing of the JDDJ, three other world communions have affirmed the agreement that was reached between Lutherans and Catholics on Justification. These affiliations, however are not easily explained in the terms of the Declaration itself. Because the JDDJ is written in the form of a differentiated consensus, these receptions are necessarily of a different kind than the original agreement. This paper will examine the affiliation statements and their relationship to the JDDJ. It will then consider their claims in light of both the ecumenical literature on differentiated consensus and that regarding reception, to suggest how they should be understood vis-à-vis the Declaration itself. It will end by considering how such statements function as a kind of reception and what new questions about the relationship between bilateral and multilateral engagement they propose.

Peter Folan, Boston College
Getting on the Same Page: The Biblical Hermeneutic Operative in the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification

The celebration of the twentieth anniversary of the signing of the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification (JDDJ) makes for the ideal opportunity to attend to an aspect of the document that is often overlooked: the biblical hermeneutic that helped produce, and is operative in, the JDDJ’s forty-four paragraphs. Contrary to the sixteenth century, when conflicting biblical hermeneutics contributed to a division in the Catholic Church over the doctrine of justification, the late twentieth century saw a biblical hermeneutic shared by Lutherans and Catholics help bring about a significant healing of that division. This paper, by examining the genesis and characteristics of this shared biblical hermeneutic, adds to the existing understanding of the methodology used in the JDDJ. Moreover, by outlining how the shared hermeneutic could function in another contemporary ecumenical conversation, the paper shows that the import of the JDDJ extends well beyond questions of justification alone.

Veli-Matti Karkkainen, Fuller Theological Seminary
The Contribution to JDDJ of the New Interpretation of Luther's Theology and Its Potential for an Ecumenical Advancement

This presentation argues first, that a significant theological contribution to the JDDJ came from the New Finnish Interpretation of Martin Luther's theology of justification by the so-called Mannermaa School (University of Helsinki) and that, second, this new interpretation has the potential capacity to facilitate further ecumenical advancements not only between the Roman Catholic Church and various Protestant and Anglican communities but also between the Christian East and West. The Mannermaa School contends that the apparent impasse between the Catholic and traditional Lutheran doctrine of justification can be overcome with Martin Luther's own interpretation in which, thanks to Christ's "real presence" in the believer through the Spirit, the believer is both declared and made righteous. Similarly, the New Finnish Interpretation claims to have found a bridge between the Orthodox concept of "theosis" (deification, divinization) and Christian West's doctrine of justification. If so, the prospects for ecumenical advancement are significant.

William G. Rusch
Ecclesiological Investigations Unit and Vatican II Studies Unit
Theme: Crisis in the Church: Patterns of Abuse as Challenge and Opportunity for Reform
Catherine E. Clifford, Saint Paul University, Presiding
Sunday - 3:30 PM-5:00 PM
Convention Center-17B (Mezzanine Level)

The sexual abuse of minors and vulnerable adults, both past and present, and related patterns of abuse of power by church leaders who valued the protection of the institution over the needs of victims in country after country point to a systemic failure of church leadership, structures, and practices. Efforts to cover-up the full extent of abuse and misconduct perpetrated by the ministers of the church have given rise to an unprecedented crisis of confidence and sense of betrayal by Christians world-wide, and have profoundly damaged the church’s credibility as a witness to the gospel in the world. These papers explore the intersection of ecclesiology and the history of the Catholic Church after the Second Vatican Council, and focus upon the sexual abuse crisis in relation to the parish, to the ecclesiology of the Second Vatcian Council, and to the ministry of Pope Francis.

Hendrik Pieter de Roest, Protestant Theological University
Sexual Abuse in Pastoral Relationships and the Relational Dynamics in the Parish in the Aftermath

Christiane van den Berg-Seifert (researcher) and Henk de Roest (supervisor) conducted a four-year research project on the consequences of sexual abuse in pastoral relationships. We focused on how the primary victims related to the parish in which they were members. In the last decade, churches have been dealing better with abuse, by having protocols and specialized advisors, but this does not mean that people who have experienced sexual boundary transgression in a pastoral relationship are now able to keep their place in the parish. In order to better understand the processes in the parish and also to improve the response of the parish and develop strategies for action after extensive literature analysis, we asked primary victims of clergy sexual misconduct about how they experienced their relationship to their parish through time. Did they receive support and, if so, how? Had they been enabled to raise their voice? Did they retain their position in the congregation? In this paper we describe the relational dynamics from the victims’ perspective and evaluate its implications for parish life.

Massimo Faggioli, Villanova University
Apparent Victory, Actual Defeat? Vatican II Ecclesiology of the Episcopate and the Catholic Sexual Abuse Crisis

In light of the sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church, it is necessary to re-examine some ecclesiological accomplishments of Vatican II that were at the basis of the major institutional reforms as well as of the failed reforms of Vatican II. The history of the clerical sex abuse is institutionally a crisis of the Tridentine Church as much as of the Vatican II Catholicism, even though the Church in which the clerical sexual abuse took place is institutionally more Tridentine than Vatican II. There are indeed also limits in the ecclesiology of Vatican II and in the institutional reforms it produced and failed to produce. One of the roots of the institutional failure of the Catholic Church in dealing with abuse crisis was paradoxically in one of the major accomplishments of Vatican II: new forms of relationship between papal primacy and episcopacy in a strengthening of papal power and of episcopal power. This reflection is necessary to understand the ecclesiological roots of the systemic problem of the responsibility of the Catholic episcopate – included of the bishop of Rome – in the Catholic sex abuse crisis.

Gerard Mannion, Georgetown University
From Social Sin and Institutional Malaise to a Culture of Truthfulness, Accountability and Co-Responsibility: Steps to Move beyond Ecclesial Crisis Mode

Pope Francis set out to make tackling the abuse crisis one of his foremost priorities upon election in 2013, significantly breaking with his two immediate predecessors. And yet something went wrong. As his commission’s work unfolded, it met roadblocks from within the Vatican itself. There are clearly still deep-seated institutional malaises at the church’s core, of which the abuse crisis is but sadly an acute symptom. Those potentially infected by a morally malignant institutional culture are not best suited to investigate the same failings elsewhere. The church itself has a term for this, it is “social sin.” The February 2019 summit of global bishops and other church leaders that Pope Francis gathered in Rome was a welcome step in the right direction also. Yet the proof will be in the substance and range of implementation of the eventual motu proprio that Francis issues in its aftermath. The response to the summit in its immediate aftermath was underwhelming. Drawing on lessons from Vatican II and earlier periods of church history, this paper will explore the structural institutional ecclesial failings and conclude with a series of suggestions concerning the wide-reaching reforms in the institutional culture and organization of the church that are now necessary (and long overdue) if the church is to develop a culture of truthfulness, accountability and co-responsibility and, finally, to begin to move beyond this all too lengthy dark night of its soul.

  • New Program Unit
Contextualizing the Catholic Sexual Abuse Crisis Seminar
Theme: Centering Survivors: Contextualizing Clergy Sexual Abuse
Megan McCabe, Gonzaga University, Presiding
Sunday - 5:30 PM-7:00 PM
Hilton Bayfront-Aqua 300A (Third Level)

This first year of the seminar is organized around two complementary panels. The panel “Setting the Agenda” considers methodological and theoretical issues related to how scholars contextualize clergy sexual abuse. The panel “Centering Survivors” explores comparative and ethical approaches, including theologies of abuse and survivorhood. At both sessions, each panelist will present a concise “instigation” (6-8 minutes). These crisp, provocative presentations are meant to orient our discussion around key analytical problems. The final 45 minutes of each panel will be reserved for conversation and Q&A with the audience. The audience-driven discussions will help shape our topic clusters for future seminar meetings.

Cristina L. H. Traina, Northwestern University
Fantasizing Equality: Theology of the Body as a Spirituality of Abuse

Peace theologian John Howard Yoder’s largely successful efforts use his own theories of peacebuilding to thwart and even reshape Mennonite disciplinary systems has led scholars to analyze those theories in search of their fatal flaws, trace their tributaries and their deltas of influence, and propose remedies. Catholics should do the same with three elements of their own moral tradition: its tendency to view sexual transgression mainly as a violation of the virtue of personal temperance, and only very secondarily as a matter of injustice and harm; its tradition of seeing seven as the age of reason and accountability; and its tendency to see sex as a matter of mutual self-gift between ontological equals, ignoring contexts and power difference. These flaws in the moral tradition “infect” Catholic thinking about sexual abuse and require different kinds of remedies.

Beena Poulose Kallely, Graduate Theological Union
A Restorative Justice Response to the Catholic Sexual Abuse Crisis in India

Patriarchal culture with its dualistic tendencies has plagued both the Church and society in India. Sexual abuse of minors, especially girls, and vulnerable adults occurs in the contexts of both Church and society. This grave tragedy calls forth an analysis of power relations in the Church, the conversion of patriarchal clerical Church structures that unfortunately favor cover-up of abuse, and an alternative way of being Church. I propose a restorative justice approach that includes a theo-ethical inquiry of the systems, practices, and attitudes which lead to these abuses to respond to the sexual abuse crisis in society and the Church in particular. Restorative justice practices involve the inclusion of all parties including their community for healing of victims and re-envisioning of the Church. The feminist vision of disciples of equals provides an alternative image of Church: inclusive, participatory, and a non-hierarchical community recognizing the common priesthood of all believers.

Jennifer Beste, College of St. Benedict
The Missing Piece: Children’s Justice as the Focus for Responding to the Clergy Abuse Crisis

A major oversight in the Church’s response to the clergy abuse crisis is its failure to examine how Catholicism’s assumptions about children have contributed to child sexual abuse and bishops’ systematic cover-up. An adequate response must include new practices based on a revised account of what constitutes justice for children. In this paper, I develop an account of justice drawing on four sources: 1) Margaret Farley’s account of justice, which entails the ethical principle that “persons and groups of persons ought to be affirmed according to their concrete reality, actual and potential”; 2) findings from my ethnographic study observing and interviewing Catholic second graders about their experiences of First Reconciliation; 3) the interdisciplinary field of childhood studies; and 4) core convictions of the Catholic tradition. Embracing this account of justice would enable Church leaders to express sincere repentance and do everything possible to prevent future clergy sexual abuse.

Ana Lourdes Suarez, Universidad Católica Argentina
The #MeToo Movement in Latin American Nuns and Ex-Nuns

The apparent preponderance of sex religious abuses in Africa and India led members of the Church to attribute this misconduct to cultural differences. However, the problem has been taking place in all the regions, evidencing the patriarchal and clerical culture of the Church. A culture that leads to assume that priests have higher authority than women. This paper addresses several cases of sex abuse in Latin America where women religious were the victims. It is based on some testimonies that are now public, and in interviews undertaken during the last two years to 4 nuns and 4 ex-nuns that have suffered sex abuse. The paper also addresses how the network of those abused by members of the Catholic Church is organizing and working with the Latin American cases.

Kaya Oakes, University of California, Berkeley
Forgiveness Redefined in Clergy Sexual Abuse

Although many responses to the Catholic sex abuse crisis have been written, few have focused on the topic of forgiveness, and what the impact is on abuse victims who are expected to be forgiving of their abusers. As a journalist who’s reported on the sex abuse crisis, in talking to those victims who have stayed in the church, one thing that has stood out has been the sense of guilt they feel about the expectation that they are “bad” Catholics if they have struggled to forgive their abusers. When tasked with writing an essay about this question, I discovered very few resources on this within Catholic theological scholarship, which led me to turn to Protestant scholarship instead, where I discovered that feminist Protestant clergy have advocated for a different definition of forgiveness, one in which forgiveness is granted not by the abuser, but by God. Similarly, in Judaism, the notion of atonement is one that is largely not practiced or discussed by abusive clergy, even those sentenced to what’s often an ill-defined period of “prayer and penance.” In turning away from its Judaic roots on this topic, the Catholic church has instead insisted on a kind of blanket, automated expectation of forgiveness that leaves little room for wrestling with questions of how and when it should be granted by the victims when the abusers offer little, if any atonement in exchange. This paper will investigate, from both a journalistic, feminist and scholarly perspective, why the notion of forgiveness needs to be interrogated and potentially even redefined in cases of clergy abuse.

Business Meeting:
Brian Clites, Case Western Reserve University
Megan McCabe, Gonzaga University
  • Presidential Theme: Scholarly Workers in Public Spaces
Ecclesiological Investigations Unit
Theme: Public Theologies and Pope Francis: Economics, Technology, and Bodies
Matthew Eaton, King's College, Presiding
Monday - 5:30 PM-7:00 PM
Hilton Bayfront-Sapphire 411B (Fourth Level)

“Public Theologies and Pope Francis: Economics, Technology, and Bodies” is a dialogue on Francis’ revolutionary contributions to public discourse with a special interest in capitalist economics and technological development. Each of the panelists begins from Francis’ call for “ecological conversion” but explores what this might mean concretely for a public enmeshed in a fascination with technological progress and exploitative free-market economies, both of which embrace a logic of colonial domination over others—human or otherwise. We assume that while the vision of Francis is clear, it does not explore the many concrete responses required to address the systemic causes of the ecological crisis and their consequent logics of domination—a task that we advance in this panel. Thus, the panelists address both immediate behavioral changes needed, but also the systemic changes required if human communities are to live justly within Earth’s integral ecology.

Laura Stivers, Dominican University of California
Brianne Jacobs, Fordham University
Timothy Harvie, St. Mary's University, Alberta, Canada