The Clergy Abuse and Cover up Crisis

The Grand Jury Report on sexual abuse by clergy in six Pennsylvania dioceses profiled horrific acts against victims and shameful inaction by Church leadership. It has also reopened a national conversation on the persistent crisis of clergy abuse and cover-up in the Catholic Church. As a center committed to the pastoral and theological formation of Church leadership, the Center for Religion & Spirituality (CRS) will sponsor and cosponsor a number of public discussions on this continuing crisis. Events and resources will be posted as they are developed.

Upcoming Discussions + Events

Jan 19-Mar 23
Art Exhibit: Confess: An Installation by Trina McKillen

Feb 7
Lecture: "Secrets, Scandal, and Shame: What We Know about Sex Abuse in the Catholic Church” by Dr. Kathleen McChesney

Feb 9
Community Conversation

Mar 7
Community Conversation

Apr 2
Panel: "The Catholic Church: Why Stay?"


Analysis + Commentary

Regarding the January Commonweal Article
Peter Steinfels, the former religion writer for the New York Times, has written an essay that analyzes the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report, "The PA Grand-Jury Report: Not What It Seems". According to Steinfels, the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report made two principal claims:

  1. Horrific crimes were perpetrated by priests on children and under-age young people, and the report documents many cases.  Steinfels says the report is essentially correct on this claim.
  2. Church leadership did nothing to stop these crimes, was unconcerned about victims, and intervened only to cover-up and protect the reputation of the church and the clergy.  Steinfels says the report, by painting more than 70 years of church life with a broad brush, get this point very wrong; he argues that this is especially so in regard to actions taken since 2002, but the case can also be made that in some Pennsylvania dioceses since the 1980s a series of measures were taken by church leadership to address the needs of victims and to correct the problem.  Steinfels also argues that people have understood the grand jury report as definitive, when in fact it is just an investigation (not the product of a trial).

Christopher R. Altieri, writing in The Catholic World Report, disagrees with Steinfels—he claims Steinfels ignores the proper role of a grand jury and so falsely claims that the grand jury report has convicted church leadership. Read his response here.


Institutional Responses