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October 3, 2011

MONTREAL — While the protocols and programs dioceses have adopted to combat clerical sexual abuse are necessary, they only treat the symptoms of a systemic problem, says Sister Nuala Kenny.

Kenny said there has never been "a Church-wide, deep conversation" about the meaning of the sexual abuse crisis and the widespread harm it has caused and the transformation "where the Lord is calling us."

Trauma and Transformation: the Catholic Church and the Sexual Abuse Crisis, a conference Oct. 14-15 at McGill University that Kenny has helped organize is bringing in some of the top researchers and thinkers from across North America to have that conversation.

Kenny, a retired pediatrician and professor emeritus of bioethics, said she is disappointed the registered attendees are not as widely representative of a wide cross-section of the Church as she had hoped.

While lay Catholics and men and women's religious groups have been the largest number of registrants, few dioceses have registered representatives so far, she said.


"We have this paradox of people saying, nobody in my diocese wants to hear about this anymore, or I don't want to hear about it," she said.

The problem is that people "desperately need to hear about it" - not about repeating the horrible problems but examining how the Church responded to the crisis and what that response says about the life of the Church today.

"This is not some kind of beating to death the issue of pain and suffering, but about what has been learned, about how we model healing, compassion, Jesus Christ in the world today," she said.

"We cannot participate in being shining beacons for the world when we have all this baggage and sin and failure that we have to deal with," she said.

More information on the conference can be found at