Symposium: "Gender, Sex, and Power: Towards a History of Clergy Sex Abuse in the U.S. Catholic Church"

(part of a series)

Location: 215 McKenna Hall

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In late 2019, Cushwa Center director Kathleen Sprows Cummings received a grant within the University of Notre Dame’s Church Sexual Abuse Crisis Research Grant Program for the project “Gender, Sex, and Power: Towards a History of Clergy Sex Abuse in the U.S. Catholic Church.” The project’s leaders formed a working group including 11 outside scholars. They also partnered with to facilitate access to previously unavailable sources. By fostering cross-disciplinary collaboration and supporting participants’ individual studies, the project seeks to advance new research on the crisis and its causes as well as to illuminate new understandings of modern Catholicism. The project concludes with this symposium.

Panels on Sunday and Monday are free and open to the public. Panels will not be live-streamed for virtual attendance, but recordings of most presentations will be made available at Cushwa's YouTube channel following the event. 

Learn more about the project and its research team


Sunday, March 27

7 – 8:30 p.m.  |  Panel 1

Chair: Robert Orsi, Northwestern University

“‘We All Carry This Story’: Girls Abused by the Church”
R. Marie Griffith, Washington University in St. Louis

“Secret Sin: Confession and Clergy Abuse”
Terence McKiernan,

“Broken Records, Broken Trust: Gender and Hierarchy in the Catholic Clergy Sex Abuse Scandal”
Kathleen Sprows Cummings, University of Notre Dame



Monday, March 28

9 – 10:45 a.m.  |  Panel 2

Chair: Kathleen Sprows Cummings, University of Notre Dame

“Siding with a Priest-Perpetrator Over Sexual Abuse Victims: The Role of Catholics’ Lived Theology”
Jennifer Beste, College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University

“From Good Priest to Abuser: Father Louis Miller and Clergy Abuse in the Archdiocese of Louisville, 1956–2017”
Peter Cajka, University of Notre Dame

“‘There’s No Way You Can Have the Baby’: Pregnancies and Reproductive Coercion in the Context of Clergy Sexual Abuse”
Doris Reisinger, Goethe University


11:15 a.m. – 12:45 p.m.  |  Panel 3

Chair: Peter Cajka, University of Notre Dame

“The Heretic Jim Poole: Asceticism and Abuse in the Alaskan Missions”
Jack Downey, University of Rochester

“Priest Abuse after the Boarding School: Spiritual Dialogue, Sexual Exploitation, and the Limits of Native Recognition at Vatican II Era Catholic Missions”
Kathleen Holscher, University of New Mexico

“‘He Talks to Me’: Exposure and Knowledge in Jesuit Sexual Abuse”
John Seitz, Fordham University


2:30 – 4:30 p.m.  |  Panel 4

Chair: Robert Orsi, Northwestern University

“A Flawed Jewel: Celibacy and the Catholic Sexual Abuse Crisis”
Kara French, Salisbury University

“On Expectations: Clergy Sexual Abuse and the Discipline of Theology”
Christiaan Jacobs-Vandegeer, Australian Catholic University

“‘I Confided in My Mother and She Called the Archdiocese’: Parents and Clergy Sex Abuse”
Colleen McDannell, University of Utah

“Clericalism and Sexual Abuse: The Boston Case”
James O’Toole, Boston College


Originally published at