Mediating God's Grace Within the Context of Trauma: Implications for a Christian Response to Clergy Sexual Abuse

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In a previous article, I drew on insights from trauma studies to argue that interpersonal relationships have the power both to debilitate and foster our ability to realize our human freedom and relate with trust and love to ourselves, others, and God. Insight into the power of interpersonal relationships carries profound ethical implications, reconfiguring our understanding of the mediation of divine grace and transforming our perceptions of what it means to love our neighbor. This article seeks to apply these insights as it evaluates the Catholic Church’s efforts to support its own clergy sexual abuse survivors. At stake is whether both clergy and laity can fulfill the Church’s ecclesial mission to mediate grace to all of Christ’s brothers and sisters. This article explores the steps the Church needs to take to restore trust and safety, pursue justice, and facilitate authentic healing and reconciliation among the Church and its survivors.