ND Forum: A Church crisis that resonates

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Forum 2019-20

Forum 2019-20

On Wednesday evening (Sept. 25) at the University of Notre Dame’s DeBartolo Performing Arts Center, a select group of expert panelists will launch the 2019-20 Notre Dame Forum, “‘Rebuild My Church’: Crisis and Response,” with a discussion on “The Church Crisis: Where Are We Now?”

As Notre Dame begins the forum, the University was reminded again that its own community is not immune from the Church crisis.

The late Raphael Wilson, a former Congregation of Holy Cross brother in the former Southwest Province who left the order to become a diocesan priest, was identified in the Pennsylvania grand jury report last year as having sexually abused two minors. He acknowledged one. No complaint against Wilson was found when he was a microbiology professor at Notre Dame from 1959 to 1969, having also served as admissions director from 1965 to 1969. However, an alumnus from that period recently confided that after he graduated he was the subject of unwanted sexual contact by Wilson.

How the Church has responded to the grand jury report, the crisis generally, and the path forward will be examined tomorrow by the panelists:

  • Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori, who was appointed by Pope Francis to investigate allegations of sexual harassment and financial impropriety by the former bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston.
  • Kathleen McChesney, a former FBI executive assistant director, who was recruited by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to help the Church investigate victim allegations and to establish its “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.”
  • Juan Carlos Cruz, a survivors’ advocate from Chile whose complaints were initially dismissed by Pope Francis. During a week of meetings at the Vatican, the pope subsequently apologized to Cruz during a three-hour, one-on-one meeting.
  • Peter Steinfels, a Chicago native with a doctoral degree from Columbia University, is a lifelong journalist and educator who has written for Commonweal since 1964, wrote the “Beliefs” column for The New York Times from 1990 to 2010 and wrote a lengthy review of the Pennsylvania attorney general’s report on Church misconduct.
  • John Allen, the editor of Crux, who will serve as moderator, and who published this column on the Notre Dame Forum.