November 2, 2021

12:00-1:30 p.m. Eastern Time

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In June 2021, Pope Francis announced a major reform of the portions of canon law that deal with sexual abuse and other crimes committed by clergy and lay ministers. The revisions to Book VI of canon law, the church’s penal code, have been under study since 2007, impelled by then-Pope Benedict. The new code incorporates a broader understanding of sexual abuse, in particular by recognizing that victim-survivors can be adults as well as minors and by criminalizing “grooming” behaviors. A panel of distinguished canon lawyers and theologians will explore the implications of these reforms for the ongoing response to sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Church.


Fr. John Beal, J.C.D., is a presbyter of the Diocese of Erie.  He received his doctorate in canon law from the Catholic University of America in 1985.  After serving as judicial vicar in Erie for eight years, he joined the faculty of canon law at the Catholic University.  He is now an ordinary professor and the Stephan Kuttner Distinguished Professor of Canon Law.  He was a co-editor of and a contributor to A New Commentary on the Code of Canon Law published in 2000.  He has published in numerous canonical journals in this country and in Europe.

Sr. Helen Costigane, Ph.D., J.C.D., is Programme Director for the MA in Theology at St. Mary’s University-London. A member of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus, she has studied at the universities of Glasgow, London, and Leuven (Belgium). After 22 years at Heythrop College, University of London, she joined St Mary’s in February 2017. Dr Costigane’s research and teaching interests are wide-ranging and include Christian Ethics, Canon Law, Pastoral Theology, History, and Ecclesiology. As a canon lawyer, Dr Costigane provides advice to solicitors, dioceses, clergy, Religious (individuals and congregations), and lay people on canonical issues.

Jennifer Haselberger, Ph.D., J.C.L., has practiced as a canon lawyer in the United States and internationally. Dr. Haselberger has been Judge on the Metropolitan Tribunal of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, Director of the Tribunal of the Diocese of Crookston, as well as Director of the Diocesan Safe Environment Program. After serving as the Bishop’s Delegate for Canonical Affairs in the Diocese of Fargo, Dr. Haselberger returned to the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis to serve as Chancellor for Canonical Affairs, a position she held until resigning in April of 2013 in protest of the Archdiocese’s handling of accusations of clergy sexual abuse. In 2013 she established Canonical Consultation and Services, LLC.  She can also be found on twitter @jmhaselberger.

Patrick Hornbeck, Ph.D., is professor and former chair of theology at Fordham University, where he is also Special Faculty Advisor to the Provost for Strategic Planning and a J.D. student in Fordham Law School. Trained at Oxford as an historian of religion, Hornbeck’s current work sits at the intersection of law and religion in the contemporary U.S. He has written for academic and popular publications about issues including religious freedom and antidiscrimination law, clergy sexual misconduct and tort law, and the finances and taxation of religious organizations and clergymembers. The former Vatican analyst for the Al Jazeera America television network is regularly quoted and interviewed in the national and international media. He is the author or editor of eight scholarly books, and can be found on twitter @patrickhornbeck.