The Sexual Abuse of Minors in the Church: Reform through the Practice of Lament

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The Final Report of the Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse concluded that there were “catastrophic failures of leadership of Catholic Church authorities.” This article contends that only if the church recovers the biblical practice of lament will true healing for survivors and effective reform of the church take place. Lament witnesses to the survivors’ struggle with God and our striving with God, as well as God’s suffering due to the sinfulness of his people. The compassion that church authorities speak fails to uphold the divine pathos manifested in Jesus’ vicarious dying. Prayers of lament affirm the Christian life as a bearing in our bodies the pathos of God. We must be prepared to suffer “with” the survivors and their families, “because” of the sins of priests and religious, and “for” the offenders by bearing their sins. In this way hope is constantly reborn, yet the worship that accompanies lament does not come cheaply.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)222-240
Number of pages19
Publication statusPublished - May 2018


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