Charting a Course for Theological Ethics in Response to the Sexual Abuse Crisis in the Australian Catholic Church

  • Daniel J. Fleming St Vincent’s Health Australia
Keywords: Australian Church, Conscience, Levinas, Sexual Abuse Crisis, Theological Ethics, Vulnerability, Vulnerability Ethics


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.

Author Biography

Daniel J. Fleming, St Vincent’s Health Australia

Daniel J. Fleming is Group Manager—Ethics and Formation for St Vincent’s Health Australia. He is also a Fellow in the Law, Health and Justice Research Centre in the Faculty of Law at the University of Technology Sydney, a Senior Lecturer in Theology and Ethics with the Sydney College of Divinity, and an Adjunct Lecturer for the Institute of Ethics and Society at the University of Notre Dame, Australia. Fleming holds a PhD in moral philosophy and theology, and is the author of over 40 publications in the areas of moral philosophy, theological ethics, moral education, religious education and theology. He is currently co-leading a project through Catholic Theological Ethics in the World Church, with James F. Keenan, SJ, which is seeking to respond to the crisis of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church through the discipline of theological ethics.


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How to Cite
Fleming, D. J. (2020). BEYOND THE ABUSE OF POWER AND THE ABUSE OF CONSCIENCE. Asian Horizons, 14(2), 333-346. Retrieved from