Some churches have had a poor record in dealing with cases of child sexual abuse in the past. Numerous cases of child sexual abuse in church settings have been reported in the media, with the great majority of victims being pre-teen or teenage boys. Most of the cases seem to involve Catholic priests and male members of religious Orders, although there have certainly been cases of abuse by ministers of religion in other churches and faith communities.
It is difficult to know whether the level of abuse by ministers of religion is any different to professionals such as teachers and sports coaches in secular contexts, but what has added to the sense of outrage against the Church is that church leaders who have known about the abuse have not treated these cases as the serious criminal offences that they are.
It is reasonable to ask two questions. First, why did this happen? Second, what assurances can be given that this will not happen again? This lecture will endeavour to answer these questions.