3/2019 English Summary – Abuse

Marek Drábek OPraem
Child sexual abuse

The text presents the issue of child sexual abuse (CSA) and briefly and intelligibly touches the most common issues, errors and inaccuracies related to it. It underlines the Church’s official position that the victim must always come first; it defines child sexual abuse and its effects on a person’s psychological and spriritual life; it considers causes and prevention; it considers the person of the aggressor and the failure of the system. The author pays more extensive attention to the victim’s reaction and his seemingly illogical behaviour (concealment, denial, suppression, downplay…).

Massimo Faggioli
The Catholic Sexual Abuse Crisis as a Theological Crisis
Emerging Issues

The sexual abuse crisis has long-term consequences: not only on the victims and survivors of abuse, but also on the theological standing and balance of the Catholic Church throughout the world. It is necessary to rethink theology from the perspective of the abuse crisis, not only trhourg the lens of those who have suffered, but also through the lens of the changes this global crisis has caused in the history of the whole Catholic community. The article examines the consequences of the abuse crisis on different theological disciplines, with particular attention to the history of the Catholic Church, liturgy, ecclesiology of reform, and church-state relationships.

Gilles Berceville OP
Manipulated faith

When considering the tragedy of abuse, it is necessary to avoid self-advocating of the Church, institutional and teaching system that has failed so seriously. At the same time, it is not enough to eliminate distortions and misunderstanding regarding abuse that can facilitate it. It is necessary to focus on one question: how it is possible that faith, the most authentic thing in the Catholic Church in the lens of a believer and a theologian, can lend itself to the worst perversions. According to the author, there is a specifically Catholic way to commit abuse or to create conditions for it. The author bases this claim on four basic principles, found in the documents of the Second Vatican Council, that are manipulated by abusers in the specific context of Catholic communities. These are: the supernatural nature of faith, the unity of the Church, the universal vocation to holiness, and the presence of Christ in his servants. The author suggests ways to reimagine these principles and bring it into a balance.

Slávka Karkošková
Why do we learn about numerous cases of sexual abuse only after a long time?

The study encourages readers to think more deeply about the context behind so-called late reporting of sexual abuse cases. It represents child sexual abuse as cunning evil that is difficult to rec­og­nise and confront both for the victims and for social workers working it this area. The texts shifts the question from why victims do not speak sooner to whether we are prepared to listen to them.

Martin Vaňáč
Chronology of sexual scandals in the Catholic Church

The study briefly shows the main cases connected to sexual scandals in the Catholic Church which happened around the world from 1985 (American case of priest Gilbert Gauthe) to 2010 (German case of Canisius-Kolleg in Berlin). It focuses on for example the affair of Austrian Cardinal Hans Hermann Groër, the third wave of scandals in America started by The Boston Globe journalists or the case of Marcial Maciel Degollado and the Legionaries of Christ.

Marek Drábek OPraem
Offenders of sexual abuse among priests and their spiritual accompaniment

The study is based on the belief that the Church’s job in the face of abuse is not only to take care of victims in the first place, but also to provide the possibility of spiritual accompaniment to offenders to lead them towards admitting their guilt and possible forgiveness. The priest and therapist Drábek analyses interviews with more than a dozen aggressors among them priests, religious and even a bishop, and discusses their attitudes towards the causes of their behaviour, guilt, their relationship with God and their spiritual life. On this basis, he outlines the areas in which spiritual acompaniment should be provided in a team with a therapist. These areas are shame (related to promoting a sense of dignity in the offender), the offender’s proper self-defence strategies (rationalization, denial, manipulation…), or the need for education and personal growth.

In spite of the failure and sinfulness to preach the Gospel
An interview with the apostolic nuncio Charles D. Balvo

In the interview for Salve Monsignore Charles D. Balvo comments on the issue of sexual abuse in the Church. He ponders on the causes of this phenomenon, on its impact on the life of the Church and its credibility and he suggests possible solutions to this crisis. He emphasises the necessity of respect for the victims, the need to accompany, not only the victims, but also the whole community where the abuse took place, and the need for open, truthful access instead of covering up and half-way solutions.

Christoph Schönborn OP
Responsibility of the Church
Lecture at the Catholic Theological College of the University of Vienna

In his lecture, the Archbishop of Vienna describes his experiences of abuse in the Church, which he gained primarily when accompanying victims. At the same time, he presents his point of view on how the crisis of abuse in the Church should be addressed. Explaining why abuse victims find it so hard to talk about their traumas, he describes the phenomenon of silencing victims and passing the blame on to them. He emphasises the need for trust and admission of guilt: What is not expressed has not become a reality, cannot be processed and recovered. He addresses also the causes of abuse in the Church and outlines several factors that facilitate it (the principle of withdrawn, the sexual revolution, the formation of new movements in the Church). Finally, he suggests that while the abuse crisis is undoubtedly one of the largest the Church has experienced, it is also an opportunity for cleansing. This, of course, can only be done through the path of truth that liberates us.

Doris Reisinger Wagner
About a burden of being a victim
or else the impossibility of forgiveness

The author, who herself has experienced abuse in the Church, ponders the issue of forgiveness. This is often asked of victims without its basic condition being met, that the offender and those who covered up his action admit their guilt and ask for forgiveness. At the same time, it usually is presented as the only way to redress and redemption. Forgiveness assumes the acknowledgement of personal guilt and victims cannot be held accountable for redemption of the guilty. Salvation can only come from God who has the power to touch the hardened hearts of the offenders.

Martina Vintrová
Canonical provisions on the sexual abuse of underage in the history of the Latin Church

The study summarises Church canonical provisions on child abuse, ranging from the Elvira Assembly (after 300) to the proprio motu of Pope Francis, Vos estis lux mundi, and the most recent decree on the topic of 17 December 2019.

Various Church arrangements for the protection of children

The article presents various Church initiatives and arrangements addressing the issue of sexual abuse and victim protection, particularly children and adolescent. It describes the activities of the Centre for the Protection of Children, which was founded in Mnichov and is now located in Rome, Centre for Protection of Children in Poland, Centre for Protection of Underaged in Slovakia, and arragements drawn up and applied by the German Bishops’ Conference and the Austrian Catholic Church.

Jiří Zajíc
Question marks over Catholic education

The article highlights some of the typical difficulties of traditional Catholic education in terms of its approach to children: Suppression of rationality in the field of faith; an overemphasis on knowledge to the detriment of the development of necessary skills and attitudes; education to obedience rather than education to freedom; a distorted approach to sexuality; pressure to maintain the Church’s “good reputation” and an unrealistic image of spiritual persons; lack of competence to solve conflicts efficiently and to provide feedback. These create a particularly dangerous breeding ground for victims, as well as for sexual abuse offenders.