• James F. Keenan Boston College
Keywords: Clericalism, Domination, Hierarchicalism, Precarity, Sexual Abuse, Vulnerability


This essay moves through the different stages of the sexual abuse crisis as a call to conversion, looking first at the sinful spectre of sexual abuse, by not only priests and their culture of clericalism, but also by bishops and their very distinctive, formative culture of hierarchicalism that teaches many to be dominant, and non-accountable. Investigating notions of vulnerability that are not about weakness but rather about the capacity to respond as Jesus did, the essay highlights the effectiveness of a richer understanding of vulnerability to counter the vices that produced the sexual abuse crises around the world. 

Author Biography

James F. Keenan, Boston College

James F. Keenan SJ is the Canisius Chair and Director of the Jesuit Institute at Boston College. As the founder of Catholic Theological Ethics in the World Church (CTEWC), he chaired the international conferences in Padua (2006), Trento (2010) and Sarajevo (2018). Recently he wrote University Ethics: How Colleges Can Build and Benefit from a Culture of Ethics and has just published two edited books, Building Bridges in Sarajevo: The Plenary Papers of Sarajevo 2018 and Street Homelessness and Catholic Theological Ethics.


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How to Cite
Keenan, J. F. (2020). VULNERABILITY AND HIERARCHICALISM. Asian Horizons, 14(2), 319-332. Retrieved from

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