Searching for a theological approach to crisis

Dan Fleming (Supplied)

An Australian ethicist believes the Church has a long way to go in resolving the child sexual abuse crisis – and he’s hoping a high-level workshop in Rome will strengthen a theological approach to the issue. Source: The Catholic Leader.

By Mark Bowling, The Catholic Leader

“We’re only on the cusp of responding to this crisis,” Dan Fleming, a moral theologian working for St Vincent’s Health Australia, said.

Dr Fleming is one of four Australian theologians picked to attend a three-day workshop at Rome’s Gregorian University in March, focusing on understanding and responding to the crisis.

“I see good and hopeful work in some places, the distance between rhetoric and action in others, and an eerie silence and unacceptable lack of resolve in others still,” he said.

“I hope that the theological work undertaken in Rome will support a more comprehensive response.

“I hope the gathering will address a huge gap in analysis and response to this crisis, and contribute constructively to ensuring that the Church is a safe place which upholds and demonstrates its commitments to the dignity of all people, and its special concern for the most vulnerable.”

Another Australian attending the Rome workshop, Sydney College of Divinity executive officer Neil Ormerod, said the Church’s sexual abuse crisis represented “a failure of mission”.

Dr Ormerod will present a paper on how the Church’s mission should be guiding “the reform that we need to undertake”.

“We either suffer the pain of ongoing scandal, or we suffer the pain of transforming the Church in the way it needs to go, towards greater accountability, changing cultures and power,” he said.

“It’s a choice – one of those paths is redemptive and the other will just be repetition.

“My focus is how the institution and cultural problems we are experiencing represent a failure in the Church to attend to its mission.

“Institutionally, a lack of transparency and accountability; at a cultural level we can look at issues of clericalism, that Pope Francis has spoken so much about, and at the personal, moral level … well, that is a very profound mystery about the relationship between sin and grace and freedom.

“It’s an issue of how are our people formed morally and spiritually.”


Ethicist hoping workshop in Rome will pave a theological response to abuse crisis (The Catholic Leader)

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