'Seventy Times Seven': Abuse, Exclusion, and Forgiving the Church
Nearly 20 years after the publication of The Boston Globe's groundbreaking Spotlight report on the clergy sex abuse cover up, the Catholic Church continues to pay out large settlements, survivors continue to struggle toward healing, and claims of abuse, clericalism, and sexism continue to be leveled at the church. With sins so heinous and numerous, can Christians heed the command of Jesus to forgive the church not just seven times, but "seventy times seven"? If forgiveness is possible, what are its criteria? If it is not, what are the barriers? Join Fr. James Bretzke, S.J. (John Carroll University), James Carroll (author and former priest), Jeannine Hill Fletcher (Fordham University), and Laurel Marshall Potter (Boston College) for an insightful, if difficult, discussion of institutional challenges, proposed changes, and the possibility--or not--of forgiving the Catholic Church.
Bretzke, James. “Conscience and Veritatis splendor in the Church Today.” Studia Moralia 55, no. 2 (2017): 271-295.
__________. “Responsum ad Dubia: Harmonizing Veritatis splendor and Amoris laetitia through a Conscience-Informed Casuistry.” Journal of Catholic Social Thought 15, no. 1 (Winter 2018): 211-222.
Carroll, James. “Abolish the Priesthood.” The Atlantic (June 2019). https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2019/06/to-save-the-church-dismantle-the-priesthood/588073/.
__________. Christ Actually: The Son of God for the Secular Age. New York: Viking, 2014.
__________. The Truth at the Heart of the Lie: How the Catholic Church Lost its Soul. New York: Random House, 2021.
__________. Toward a New Catholic Church: The Promise of Reform. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 2002.
Hill Fletcher, Jeannine. The Sin of White Supremacy: Christianity, Racism and Religious Diversity in America. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 2017.
“Warrants for Reconstruction: Christian Hegemony, White Supremacy.” Journal of Ecumenical Studies 51, no. 1 (Winter 2016): 54-79.
Potter, Laurel Marshall. “Building a Church of the Poor.” NACLA Report on the Americas 52, no. 4 (2020): 362-366. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10714839.2020.1840154.
In the News
In her recent column in the Globe, Joan Vennachi says that she's of the opinion that the Catholic Church, under its present leadership, will not be able to put the sex abuse scandal behind it. And although the former cardinal-archbishop of Washington, D.C., Theodore McCarrick was defrocked and is frequently gestured toward as the face of the new wave of accountability, she cites BishopAccountability.org codirector Anne Barrett Doyle, who points to the other 45 accused bishops who haven't been. For her, McCarrick "is an outlier."