Lecture on Catholic Clergy Abuse Crisis Feb. 25

Portrait of Dr. Jennifer Beste
Jennifer Beste, Ph.D.

February 12, 2020
Gonzaga News Service

The Flannery Lecture

SPOKANE, Wash. — Jennifer Beste, Ph.D., Koch Chair in Catholic Thought and Culture and professor of theology at College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University, will present “Envisioning a Just Response to the Catholic Clergy Abuse Crisis” at Gonzaga University’s Flannery Lecture at 5:30 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 25.

The event, which is free and open to all, will be held in the third-floor Hemmingson Center Ballroom.

In this lecture, Beste will present an argument that Catholic communities seeking justice and healing must prioritize action on three overlooked issues.

“First, as a body of Christ, we have not yet fully understood and acknowledged the severe traumatic effects of clergy sexual abuse on youths’ sense of self, their capacity for freedom, and their capacity to relate constructively to God, others, and themselves,” Beste notes.

The second overlooked issue that must be prioritized, she says, is a recognition of the ways that survivors continue to suffer from trauma. “We need to forge an authentic way of being in solidarity with clergy sexual abuse survivors and supporting them in their pursuit of justice and healing,” Beste says.

The third issue that must be prioritized, she notes, is an examination of how Catholic assumptions about children and norms requiring children’s passivity and obedience contributed to the phenomenon of clergy sexual abuse.

“We need to develop a revised account of what constitutes justice for children,” Professor Beste notes.

Beste earned a master’s degree in divinity from Vanderbilt Divinity School and a Ph.D. in religious ethics from Yale University. Her research interests include trauma theory and Christian theology; ethnography and Christian ethics; sexual ethics; feminist ethics; and children, justice, and Catholicism. She is the author of “College Hookup Culture and Christian Ethics: The Lives and Longings of Emerging Adults” (2018) and “God and the Victim: Traumatic Intrusions on Grace and Freedom” (2007).

The endowed Flannery Chair of Roman Catholic Theology is made possible through a gift of the late Maud and Milo Flannery of Spokane to further the excellence of theological study and teaching at Gonzaga. Twice a year, Gonzaga invites an outstanding theologian to deliver the Flannery Lecture.

For more information, please contact Gonzaga’s religious studies department at (509) 313-6782 or www.gonzaga.edu/religious-studies.