Past Events

Church Reform, A Historical Perspective: Reforms to Address the Crisis & Shape the Future Church

Fr. Pat Howell, SJ, Interim Director of the Institute for Catholic Thought and Culture
12pm, Wednesday, April 3, Casey Commons
Please RSVP for the lunch to

As we face the current moment in the Catholic Church, we are reminded that the Church has faced times of great crisis and reform in the past.

  • What major reforms in the history of the Church can shine light on our current crisis?
  • What lessons from the past can help us today?
  • Most reforms in the past have been led by religious orders; the current reform will require major lay leadership

Presentation Handout - Crisis in the Church

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A Church in Crisis: How Did We Get Here? How Do We Move Forward?

Featuring Dr. Richard R. Gaillardetz
7pm, Monday, April 8, 2019
LeRoux Room, Student Center 160

Church in Crisis - Rick Gaillardetz from SeattleU ICTC on Vimeo.

The Catholic Church is in the midst of a crisis as great as any since the Protestant Reformation. About this there seems to be widespread agreement. However, when it comes to diagnosing that crisis, analyses differ considerably. Is this a crisis of sexual ethics, a failure of episcopal leadership, an abuse of power, or all of the above? This lecture will present a broad analysis of the various issues in play and conclude with a proposed agenda for substantive ecclesial reform. 

Dr. Richard R. Gaillardetz is the Joseph Professor of Catholic Systematic Theology at Boston College and is currently the chair of the theology department. Prof. Gaillardetz received his Ph.D. in systematic theology from the University of Notre Dame. He has published over 140 articles and authored or edited 14 books.  Most recently he published a newly revised and expanded edition of his popular book, By What Authority? Foundations for Understanding Authority in the Church (Liturgical Press, 2018).  In 2000 he received the Sophia Award from the Washington Theological Union for theological excellence in service of ministry and in 2018 he received the Yves Congar Award for theological excellence from Barry University.  Dr. Gaillardetz served as president of the Catholic Theological Society of America in 2013-14.  He and his wife Diana are the parents of four adult sons.

Scandal, Structure, & Renewal: Sociological Perspectives on Change in the Catholic Church

Featuring Tricia C. Bruce, Ph.D.
7pm, Tuesday, May 14
LeRoux Room, Student Center 160

Scandal, Structure and Renewal with Tricia Bruce from SeattleU ICTC on Vimeo.

The crisis of abuse in the Catholic Church underscores (1) the role of institutions in shaping the lived experience of faith and (2) the limits of grassroots actors to effect meaningful structural change. Organizations – the “containers” of religion – enable what happens therein. How do top-down and bottom-up efforts at renewal in a crisis-ridden Church bolster or contradict each other, or make any difference at all? This lecture offers sociological perspectives on institutions, power, local culture, and personal agency in reforming Catholicism today and into the future.

Tricia C. Bruce, Ph.D. is a sociologist of religion and award-winning author/editor of four books, including Parish and Place: Making Room for Diversity in the American Catholic Church (Oxford University Press, 2017) and Faithful Revolution: How Voice of the Faithful Is Changing the Church (Oxford University Press, 2011/2014). She holds a PhD from the University of California Santa Barbara and is an affiliated scholar of the University of Notre Dame’s Center for the Study of Religion and Society. She has led research projects for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and is a frequent media commentator on social issues. She resides with her spouse and two children in Knoxville, Tennessee. Follow her on Twitter @triciacbruce.

The Winter 2019 series includes three seminar sessions on the topic of "Spirituality and Crisis Today.The schedule for the three sessions on Christian, Buddhist, and other forms of spirituality and crisis will be as follows:

Winter Alumni Seminar Series

  • Tuesday, February 19, 2019, 7:00 p.m.
    Seminar I: Christian Spirituality and Crisis, led by Peter Ely, SJ, PhD
  • Tuesday, March 5, 2019, 7:00 p.m.
    Seminar II: Buddhist Spirituality and Crisis, led by Jason Wirth, PhD
  • Tuesday, March 12, 2019, 7:00 p.m.
    Seminar III: Spirituality & Crisis in American Literature led by David Leigh, SJ, PhD

All three seminar sessions will take place in Pigott 107 on the Seattle University campus. The cost of the seminars, plus materials, is $150.

For more information, contact Allie Wood at


Speakers Panel for Winter 2019 Alumni Seminars

     (L to R): Richard Gaillardetz, PhD , Peter Ely, S. J., PhD, Jason Wirth, PhD, and David Leigh, PhD

Debate the issues.
Discover meaning.
Discuss new ideas.

Past Events:

On Thursday, November 15, faculty and staff gathered for an initial discussion regarding how SU can respond to the sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church. Fr. Pat Howell, SJ, interim director for the ICTC, began with these opening remarks:

A Context for Our Discussion

As we begin this important conversation, let us remember and hold in our hearts all those who through the years have been sexually abused. And recall that a key focus of our efforts must be the protection of minors and vulnerable adults.

As a Jesuit institution we are also called to be centers and prophets of reconciliation—how can we bring healing to the wounded and abused? And how can our Jesuit Catholic universities provide the intellectual heft and diligent research to aid the Church and larger society in addressing this crucial issue?

Let us also recall the words of Father Ron Rolheiser from the talk he gave here at Seattle University in 2002 on this same topic, entitled “Carrying a Scandal Biblically.” He said that some in the church think that we just need to get through this crisis so that we can get on with our mission of preaching the Gospel. On the contrary, Father Rolheiser said, “This is our mission.” Our mission is to reverence the truth, to bind up and bringing healing to those who are wounded and hurting. He compared this moment in the Catholic Church to the “dark night of the soul,” a spiritual journey which is purgative and painful and often shrouded in darkness. Like every dark night, we need to go through it and not seek escapism or subterfuge or manipulation. We also need to be confident that all this is the work of the Spirit. God is working and laboring in the midst of this pain and anguish to bring about peace, joy, and love—even though it seems, for the moment, like just the opposite.

So with that preface, let’s now turn to the timeline in what we know about the unfolding sexual abuse crisis over the last 30 years.

Timeline for Sexual Abuse Crisis

Preface and Notes from 11/15 faculty and staff forum

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