Creating a Tool for Measuring and Responding to Moral Injury Caused by Clergy Sexual Abuse

Xavier University Cincinnati

Xavier University (Cincinnati)

Project Description

This project will develop a tool to measure moral injury in survivors of clergy sexual abuse, their families and friends, and other members of the community adversely impacted by an abusive clergy member. Using quantitative and qualitative methodologies, the project will use that instrument to measure moral injury in a sample population of survivors of sexual abuse, students at Jesuit institutions, and diocesan employees. It will offer an instrument that other communities can use to make strides in identifying, remediating and preventing further moral injury in the surviving church.

This project aims to create resources desperately needed for church communities to move toward reconciliation. We are motivated by the belief that what pastoral care, restorative justice, and healing look like for the church should be shaped by a deeper understanding of the morally injurious effects of the sexual abuse crisis on the church as a whole.

Project Staff

Principal Investigators

Marcus Mescher is associate professor of Christian ethics, specializing in Catholic social teaching. He earned MTS and PhD degrees at Boston College after his undergraduate studies at Marquette University and working for several years as a youth minister. He is the author of a dozen academic articles and book chapters on topics including the ethics of marriage and family life, the moral impact of digital devices, and the primacy of mercy. His book, The Ethics of Encounter: Christian Neighbor Love as a Practice of Solidarity (Orbis, 2020), proposes how to apply Pope Francis’ vision for the “culture of encounter” in order to build a more inclusive and equitable “culture of belonging.”

Kandi Stinson completed a PhD in Sociology at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill. At Xavier since 1988, she currently serves as Program Director of Sociology and as Faculty Director of the Center for Teaching Excellence. Her areas of interest include gender, the sociology of health, and the sociology of religion. She has expertise in both quantitative and qualitative research methods.

 

Project Team

Anne Fuller is an assistant professor in the School of Psychology at Xavier University. She earned her Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Loyola University Chicago in 2017. Dr. Fuller’s research interests include community-based prevention and intervention programs as well as risk and resilience factors that influence children and adolescents’ mental health. She has also conducted research and received clinical training related to experiences of trauma among youth.

 

Ashley Theuring is assistant professor in theology, specializing in constructive and practical theologies. She completed her doctorate at the Boston University School of Theology in the Practical Theology program. Her theological research is informed by her past work at a rape, crisis, and abuse center, Women Helping Women of Hamilton County, where she was as an advocate and educator. Her research continues to be informed by contemporary communities of trauma survivors and focuses on exploring religious practices, meaning making, and survival in response to trauma.

Colleen Ryan Mayrand is the assistant director of retreats and Catholic student outreach in Xavier University’s Dorothy Day Center for Faith and Justice. She has been working with undergraduates in various capacities for the last eleven years, including six years as director of the Service for Social Action Center at Wheeling Jesuit University in West Virginia.

 

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