Task Force on Church Abuse Will Continue

By Sarah Hofius Hall
Citizens' Voice
September 3, 2019

Still seeking healing, the University of Scranton this school year will continue discussions on abuse in the Catholic Church.

After the release of last year’s grand jury report that accused 301 priests statewide of sexually abusing children, including 59 clergy in the Scranton diocese, university President the Rev. Scott R. Pilarz, S.J., created the Task Force on Healing, Reconciliation and Hope.

“Personally, I think our role is putting people in touch with the facts of the abuse crisis and giving people a chance, in various ways, to enter into a discussion,” said Christian Krokus, Ph.D., associate professor and chairman of theology/religious studies department, who heads the task force with Patricia Tetreault, vice president for human resources. “This is such a delicate but also a messy and confusing issue, and I think we on the task force, we’re finding our way through it. People just don’t know what to do or how to respond or what to think. People are glad we’ve taken on the task.”

After seeking feedback from the campus community, the task force decided to address the following themes and topics:

n The effects of sexual trauma on survivors.

n Church policies and responses to sexual abuse at the diocesan and universal levels.

n Clericalism as a contributing theological and cultural factor.

n The spiritual and moral authority of the church in the wake of the grand jury report.

n Justice for survivors of sexual abuse and the possibility of reconciliation.

In the past year, the university has hosted a prayer service and lecture and plans more events for the fall and spring semesters.

“There is an overwhelming positivity about the fact we’re pursuing a conversation, thinking about victims, trying to connect,” Tetreault said. “It’s important for us to continue, even if there is a small number of people who are participating. It’s who we are and it’s important that we carry through what we set out to do.”

The task force will solicit reflections from members of the university community and plans to schedule a film and discussion series and a prayer service.

Lectures this fall include:

Massimo Faggioli, Ph.D., and Rita Ferrone, M.Div., will present Insights from History and Theology from 7-9 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 16, in Leahy Hall, Room 235.

Michael Vanderburgh, executive director of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul in Dayton, Ohio, and the Rev. Thomas Berg, vice rector and professor of moral theology at St. Joseph’s Seminary, will present Prevention, Healing and Reconciliation from 7-9 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 3, in Leahy Hall, Room 235.

“We’re going to really be able to carry out the charge given to us,” Tetreault said. “We are creating awareness and providing education. That’s what a university should do.”

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