Loyola University Maryland
This project investigates how and under what conditions spiritual struggles are experienced by Catholics and former Catholics as a direct and/or indirect consequence of sexual abuse within the Roman Catholic Church. Spiritual struggles manifest differently, but all spiritual struggles result when individuals encounter situations or experiences that harm or thwart their spiritual journeys. They represent a type of collateral damage inflicted by the clergy sexual abuse crisis as not only are they experienced by victim survivors, but by Catholics, former Catholics, and those defecting-in-place. The project is a contextual study grounded in the Baltimore area, and will give particular emphasis to understanding how Black Catholics, a marginalized population with a distinctive history in the Baltimore area including enslavement by the Society of Jesus, are experiencing the clergy sexual abuse crisis. Research and anecdotal accounts evidence the prevalence of spiritual struggles among victim-survivors of clergy-perpetrated sexual abuse.Yet little is known regarding the “collateral damage” the crisis has caused and how sexual abuse within the Roman Catholic Church may be contributing to different types of spiritual struggles including struggles with the institutional Church. Particularly relevant to clergy-perpetrated sexual abuse are perceptions of sacred loss (loss of the sacred) and desecration (violation of the sacred). The psychological literature suggests unique forms of spiritual struggles may emerge when individuals experience sacred loss or desecration. More research in this area is clearly needed, particularly as more victim-survivors speak out and the Church works toward greater transparency regarding the complicity of top-ranking authorities. This project aims to uncover the experiences of all Catholics (current and former, White and Black), but is designed to intentionally move the Black Catholic experience from the margins to the center of examination.
Seeking Research Participants
If you are a Catholic or former Catholic in the Baltimore area, 18 years of age or older, and are willing to provide information about your religious and spiritual beliefs, practices, and experiences, particularly considering the clergy sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church please click on the link below:
Participation requires you to complete a series of questionnaires online that takes approximately 30 minutes. You will be asked to complete the questionnaires only one time. This is an anonymous survey and no identifying information will be requested on the survey itself.
Thank you in advance and please feel free to share this opportunity with other Catholics and former Catholics in the Baltimore region who may be interested in participating.
Please contact Gina Magyar-Russell with any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.