Seminar Aims for Answers in Clergy Sexual Abuse

By Jane Najour
Mercury News [California]
Downloaded May 1, 2004

Hoping to shed some light on the problem of clergy sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Church, panelists from around the country will share what they have learned during the crisis in a one-day conference May 14 sponsored by Santa Clara University's Bannan Center for Jesuit Education.

Speakers representing the laity, the church and the legal, law enforcement, mental health and academic fields will discuss subjects from ethics and church governance to sexuality and treatment of offenders and victims. They include Kathleen McChesney, former top FBI official and now chair of the U.S. Conference of Bishops committee on child sexual abuse by clergy; Michael Rezendes, the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who broke the story of clergy abuse in Boston in 2002; David Clohessy, executive director of SNAP, a national clergy-abuse victims' group, JA Loftus, a Jesuit psychologist who has written an empirical study of clergy sexual abuse; and Adele Bihn, chair of the San Jose Diocese's Pastoral Outreach Committee to victims.

The forum, called "Sin Against the Innocents," the name of a book released this month (Praeger, $39.95) and edited by Thomas Plante, professor of psychology at Santa Clara University and adjunct clinical associate professor of psychiatry at Stanford University.

The panelists hope to bring thoughtful, data-driven discourse to a scandal that has rent the church. The book brings together journalists, theologians, canon and civil lawyers, ethicists, victim advocates and mental health professionals from the United States and abroad to better understand the challenges of clergy sexual abuse in the wake of ongoing revelations, reforms and self-examination in Roman Catholic churches in the United States.

Plante is editor of a previous book, "Bless Me Father for I Have Sinned: Perspectives on Sexual Abuse Committed by Roman Catholic Priests." It draws upon leading mental-health professionals in the United States and Canada for an understanding of priests who abuse and the impact on their victims.

Admission tof the forum is $10 each for morning and afternoon panels and $15 for lunch, or a total of $35. To register, call (408) 551-1951


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.