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Jenkins announces progress on efforts to combat sexual assault in the Catholic Church

| Thursday, February 20, 2020

After announcing plans for Notre Dame to address the sex abuse scandal in the Catholic Church, University President Fr. John Jenkins provided an update on the University’s efforts in an email to the campus community early Thursday morning. 

In the email, Jenkins listed the recommendations of the two task forces he appointed last year in regards to working against sexual abuse in the Catholic Church.

His first recommendation was to “initiate prominent, public events to educate and stimulate discussion.”

In March 2019, Jenkins announced that the Church crisis would be the subject of the 2019-2020 forum, entitled “Rebuild My Church.” In 2019, the University hosted two events as part of the forum— one of them a panel which dissected various aspects of the Church crisis. One of the panelists, Archbishop William Lori, had a controversial past, as he allegedly led efforts to block transparency in the Catholic Church’s response to the crisis.

Jenkins announced in the email that on March 4-6, the McGrath Institute will host a panel titled “Called and Co-Responsible: Exploring Co-Responsibility for the Mission of the Catholic Church.” The panel will “bring together distinguished lay and clerical leaders to explore the responsibility lay people and clergy share for the Church and its mission,” Jenkins said in the email.

Jenkins also said the University offered Presidential research grants which have funded 11 proposals in different fields to help address the crisis.

The University is working to “to create a culture of accountability and transparency on Notre Dame’s campus” by implementing a staff leadership training program entitled “Living Notre Dame’s Values: Strengthening a Culture of Candor, Integrity and Respect.” This program seeks to encourage faculty and staff to speak up about ways to improve discourse on campus and voice their concerns, Jenkins said in the email.

In addition, Jenkins said the Master in Divinity program will continue to train leaders in techniques to prevent and respond to sexual abuse.

“For the Church institutionally, but perhaps for all of us in some way, there is the possibility for greater humility, greater solidarity with all who suffer, greater transparency, greater honesty about our failings and a deeper commitment to repentance and reform,” Jenkins said in the email.

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