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Boston College Expert: Tribunal for Bishops in Sex Abuse Cases

Thomas Groome


(617) 875-5325 (cell);

Thomas Groome, a professor of religious education and pastoral ministry in the School of Theology and Ministry at Boston College, is the incoming director of BC's Church in the 21st Century Center. His areas of expertise include religious education, the Catholic Church, the papacy, pastoral ministry and spiritual practices. He is the author of numerous books including Catholic Spiritual Practices; Will There Be Faith?What Makes Us Catholic: Eight Gifts for Life, and Educating for Life, A Spiritual Vision for Every Teacher and Parent, among others. Groome is also the primary author of various religious education curricula which are widely used in Catholic schools and parishes.




“I think setting up a tribunal is a major development and a very welcome one. It shows the church truly is taking very seriously its responsibility for accountability. There are procedures in place for trying, reviewing, and dismissing priests who have committed egregious crimes against children, but there was no such process for holding their bishops accountable. Bishops could handle the situation according to their own preferences but now there is the real possibility that if they’re negligent in their duty, if they’re not being accountable for crimes committed by priests for whom they are responsible, that there is the possibility they will be dismissed.

“It should certainly send a signal to the bishops of the world that they are going to have to be accountable.

“We can always complain about how long it took to set up this tribunal but the Church is dealing with the whole world. The Catholic Church is universal. Here in the U.S., we have our systems in place for reporting and investigations that they have in other parts of the world. The Church has to try and legislate and make policies that are appropriate and effective for every context and for every culture, not just for our American situation. There are parts of the world that are behind in taking seriously the horror of child sex abuse. 

”Rather than complaining how long it has taken, I think we should be rejoicing and supportive of this development.

“As Boston Catholics, I think we should take pride in Cardinal Sean O’Malley and the leadership that he has shown in helping put this tribunal in place.”



Media Note: For assistance or to request a source on another topic, please contact Sean Hennessey, BC Office of News & Public Affairs: 617-552-3630 (o); (617) 943-4323 (c)

Contact information for additional Boston College faculty sources on a range of subjects is available at: /offices/pubaf/journalist/experts.html


Sean Hennessey

Associate Director

Office of News and Public Affairs

Boston College

(617) 552-3630 (office)

(617) 943-4323 (cell)