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International experts meet at Santa Clara University May 30-31 to write book on sexual abuse by priests

SANTA CLARA, Calif.-- May 21, 2003 -- Leading experts in the area of clergy sexual abuse from across the United States, Canada, and Rome will meet at Santa Clara University this month to compile a new book, Sins Against the Innocent: Sexual abuse by priests and the role of the Catholic Church.

Priests, psychologists, lawyers, theologians, journalists, and the leader of a national victims’ group will be submitting and discussing their book chapters on May 30-31 at the University.

“The conference represents an effort to get past the headlines and the frenzy—to thoughtfully understand the problem so patterns of abuse can be stopped ,” said conference organizer and book editor Thomas Plante, a Santa Clara University psychology professor and clinical psychologist who has counseled church officials, priests, and victims of priest abuse.

The group’s working sessions won’t be open to the public, but some of the contributors will discuss the book at a press conference at 11:15 a.m., May 30, at the SCU Arts and Sciences Building.

Plante said papers presented and discussed at the conference will result in a “scholarly, multidisciplinary book on the topic of priestly sexual abuse and the Roman Catholic Church,” with chapters from the perspectives of psychology, sociology, history, religious studies, law, ethics, journalism, and abuse victims.

Some of the contributors are:

  • Michael Rezendes, reporter who was a member of the Boston Globe team that broke the story of clergy abuse in Boston
  • David Clohessy, executive director of SNAP, a national clergy abuse victims group
  • John Allen Jr., Vatican correspondent for the National Catholic Reporter
  • Thomas Plante, professor of psychology at Santa Clara University and editor of Bless Me Father for I Have Sinned: Perspectives on Sexual Abuse Committed by Roman Catholic Priests (1999)
  • Gerry Coleman,   priest and president and rector of St. Patrick's Seminary in Menlo Park
  • Kirk O. Hanson, executive director of the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at SCU
  • William Spohn, director of the University's Bannan Center for Jesuit Education and professor of Christian ethics at SCU
  • Nanette deFuentes, Los Angeles-area psychologist and member of Roman Catholic Church commissions and review boards
  • W. Richard Sipe, former monk and Vatican employee and author of Sex, Priests and Power
  • John A. Loftus S.J., president of Regis College, University of Toronto, and author of the largest empirical study on clergy sexual abuse

The new book is to be released in early 2004. A similar conference held at Santa Clara University in 1998 produced the groundbreaking book entitled, "Bless Me Father, For I Have Sinned: Perspectives on Sexual Abuse Committed by Roman Catholic Priests"  published in 1999 by Greenwood Press.

The conference is co-sponsored by the Bannan Center for Jesuit Education, the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, the College of Arts and Sciences, and the President's Office. For more information about the press conference, or to schedule interviews, call Santa Clara University Media Relations, 408-554-5125, or email

About Santa Clara University

Santa Clara University, a comprehensive Jesuit, Catholic university located in California's Silicon Valley, offers its 8,060 students' rigorous undergraduate curricula in arts and sciences, business, and engineering, plus master's and law degrees. Distinguished nationally by the third-highest graduation rate among all U.S. masters' universities, California's oldest higher-education institution demonstrates faith-inspired values of ethics and social justice. More information is online at







<p>Kirk O. Hanson, director of the SCU Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, will write chapter in new book on sexual abuse by priests.</p>

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