BEYOND THE ABUSE OF POWER AND THE ABUSE OF CONSCIENCE
Charting a Course for Theological Ethics in Response to the Sexual Abuse Crisis in the Australian Catholic Church
This article has a modest, but important, goal. It seeks to chart a course in a hitherto underdeveloped area of theological ethics: responding to the crisis of sexual abuse in the Church. Drawing on the Catholic theology of conscience in dialogue with the philosophy of Emmanuel Levinas, it argues that the crisis can be understood as a failure of conscience to attend to the ethical call, resulting from a form of moral blindness created by implicit belief systems within the Church. A response is suggested which is framed around Christina A. Astorga’s threefold process of lament, resistance and kinship.
Andrew Tallon, “Levinas’s Ethical Horizon, Affective Neuroscience, and Social Field Theory,” Levinas Studies 4 (2009) 47-67.
Andrew Tallon, “Nonintentional Affectivity, Affective Intentionality, and the Ethical in Levinas’s Philosophy,” in Ethics as First Philosophy: The Significance of Emmanuel Levinas for Philosophy, Literature and Religion, ed. Adriaan T. Peperzak, New York: Routledge, 1995, 107–121.
Bryan N. Massingale, “Conscience Formation and the Challenge of Unconscious Racial Bias,” in David E. DeCosse & Kristin E. Heyer, ed., Conscience & Catholicism: Rights, Responsibilities & Institutional Responses, New York: Orbis Books, 2015, 55.
Christina A. Astorga, “The Triple Cries of Poor, Women, and the Earth: Interlocking Oppressions in the Christian Context,” in Yiu Sing Lúcás Chan, James F. Keenan, Shaji George Kochuthara, ed., Doing Asian Theological Ethics: In a Cross-Cultural and an Interreligious Context, Bengaluru, Dharmaram Publications: 2016.
Cornel West, The Cornel West Reader, New York: Basic Civitas Books, 1999.
Daniel J. Fleming “From Theory to Praxis: Challenging and Insights for Conscience Formation Today,” in Doing Asian Theological Ethics in a Cross-Cultural and an Interreligious Context, ed. Yiu Sing Lúcás Chan, James F. Keenan and Shaji George Kochuthara, Bengaluru: Dharmaram Publications, 2016, 291–304.
Daniel J. Fleming and Thomas Ryan, “Witness, The Pedagogy of Grace and Moral Development,” Australasian Catholic Record 95, 3 (2018) 262-265.
Daniel J. Fleming, “Primordial Moral Awareness: Levinas, Conscience and the Unavoidable Call to Responsibility,” Heythrop Journal 56, 4 (2015) 604-618.
Daniel J. Fleming, Attentiveness to Vulnerability: A Dialogue Between Emmanuel Levinas, Jean Porter, and the Virtue of Solidarity, Eugene: Pickwick, 2019, 41-45.
Emmanuel Levinas, “Ethics as First Philosophy,” in The Levinas Reader, ed. Sean Hand, Oxford: Blackwell, 1989, 75-87.
Emmanuel Levinas, “Useless Suffering,” in The Provocation of Levinas, ed. Robert Bernasconi & David Wood, London: Routledge, 1988.
Faye’s Story, Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse https://www.childabuseroyalcommission.gov.au/narratives/ fayes- story?category=52&field_private_session_gender_value=All&field_state_value= All& field_decade_value=All&field_government_value=0&field_atsi_value=All&next=1
Fergus Kerr, After Aquinas: Versions of Thomism, Oxford: Blackwell, 2002.
Gustavo Gutierrez, A Theology of Liberation, Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 1973.
James F. Keenan, Moral Wisdom: Lessons and Texts from the Catholic Tradition, Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishing, 2016.
Kathleen McPhillips, “Silence, Secrecy and Power: Understanding the Royal Commission Findings in the Failure of Religious Organisations to Protect Children,” Journal of the Academic Study of Religion 31, 3 (2018) 116-142.
Lisa Fullam, “Joan of Arc, Holy Resistance and Conscience Formation,” in David E. DeCosse & Kristin E. Heyer, ed., Conscience & Catholicism: Rights, Responsibilities & Institutional Responses, New York: Orbis Books, 2015.
Lisa Sowle Cahill, Theological Bioethics: Participation, Justice, Change, Washington: Georgetown University Press, 2005.
Margaret Farley, Just Love: A Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics, New York: Continuum, 2008.
Marie Keenan, Child Sexual Abuse & The Catholic Church: Gender, Power and Organizational Culture, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011.
Peter M. Senge, The Fifth Discipline: The Art & Practice of the Learning Organization, New York: Double Day, 2006.
Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium (2013).
Pope Francis, Letter of His Holiness Pope Francis to the People of God (20th August, 2018) http://www.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/letters/2018/documents/ papa-francesco_20180820_lettera-popolo-didio.html
Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, Final Report—Religious Institutions: Volume 16, Book 2.
Shaji George Kochuthara, “The Sexual Abuse Scandal and a New Ethical Horizon: A Perspective from India,” Theological Studies 80, 4 (December 2019) 931–49.
Slavoj Zizek, The Sublime Object of Ideology, London: Verso, 2008, 1-56.
Stephanie C. Edwards & Kimberly Humphrey, “Haunted Salvation: The Generational Consequences of Ecclesial Sex Abuse and the Conditions for Conversion,” Journal of Moral Theology 9, 1 (2019) 51-74.
The First, January 2020, available at https://catholicethics.com/resources/newsletters/.
Theological Studies no. 3 (September 2019) and Theological Studies 80, no. 4 (December 2019).
Thomas Ryan, “Conscience as Primordial Moral Awareness in Gaudium et spes and Veritatis splendour,” Australian eJournal of Theology 18, 1 (2011) 83–96.
Timothy E. O’Connell, Principles for a Catholic Morality, New York: Harper One, 1990.
Timothy W. Jones, “Royal Commission Recommends Sweeping Reforms for Catholic Church to End Child Abuse,” The Conversation, December 15th 2017, http://theconversation.com/royal-commission-recommends-sweeping-reforms-for-catholic-church-to-end-child-abuse-89141.
Totality and Infinity: An Essay on Exteriority, Translated by Alphonso Lingis, Pittsburgh: Duquesne University Press, 1969.
Vatican II, Gaudium et spes.