By Liz Sullivan
Amid the backdrop of the Berkeley Hills, a panel of religious scholars gathered on February 19 at Santa Clara University’s Jesuit School of Theology to talk about Clergy Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church.
The four-person panel consisted of: Diocese of San Jose Coadjutor Bishop Oscar Cantú, Sister Breena Kallely, MSJ, Vivian Nabuule and Father Paul Crowley, S.J. Both Sister Kallely and Nabuule are graduates of the Jesuit School of Theology and Father Crowley is a professor of Systematic Theology at Santa Clara and editor of Theological Studies. Jesuit School of Theology Professor Julie Rubio, PhD served as the moderator.
“A Catholic university is where the Church does its thinking,” said Jesuit School of Theology Dean Father Kevin O’Brien, S.J.
Bishop Cantú was asked to speak from the vantage point of his ministerial experiences in Latinx communities in California, New Mexico where he served as the Bishop of Las Cruces and his home state of Texas, where he served as Auxiliary Bishop in the Archdiocese of San Antonio.
“It is safe to say that last summer was a summer of shame for the Church,” said the Bishop, “for my fellow bishops and brother priests. I speak as a member of the Hispanic community.”
Bishop Cantú was named Coadjutor Bishop in San Jose in July and was formally welcomed to the Diocese in late September.
“In my observations of the Diocese and the South Bay; one thing that has delighted me is cultural diversity. It reminds me of my hometown of Houston. However, the Mexican community is a silent community. That is a pastoral concern of mine for lay and ordained ministry. Generally, there is a reluctance to step forward when something happens as many families are of mixed status and the biggest priority is survival. Any abuse should be reported regardless of their (immigration) status and that is where it becomes a challenge.”
This event took place just a couple of days before the Vatican Summit on Clergy Abuse convened in Rome.
“The challenge is that this is just not happening in the U.S. or Europe, it is happening in Africa and Asia,” said Bishop Cantú. “I pray that the better angels will prevail.”
Sister Kallely speaking about the Church in India said: “what we need is a more inclusive conversation and the Church needs to be more collaborative. Also, respect for all is the key.”
A native of Uganda, now working at the University of San Francisco, Nabuule touched on the scandal and how it is being handled in Africa.
“In Africa we don’t openly talk about sex,” she said. “You need permission to speak about it. To me, abuse is power translated wrongly. I envision a Church that is accountable for its actions.”
Finally, Father Crowley spoke about the clergy sexual abuse scandal from a theological point of view.
“We all are a Church in need of healing,” said Crowley. “History shows us the absence of forgiveness is evidence of further tragedy. I ask how our faith in Jesus Christ might help us in the present moment.”
The event was co-sponsored by the Jesuit School of Theology, Santa Clara’s Markkula Center for Applied Ethics and the Ignatian Center.