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Webinar | Broken Promises: Power, Trust and the Abuse Crisis in the Catholic Church

June 3, 2024

12 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. EST (UTC-5)

The seminar is offered online and in English only.

In its analysis of the abuses, the Church has primarily emphasized the abuse of power. It is generally agreed that the asymmetry in power between a priest, bishop or religious and a child or a vulnerable person facilitates abuse. The victim is unable to resist because she is somehow dependent on the person who abuses her. It is often overlooked that any form of abuse is also an abuse of trust. Reflection on abuse of trust in the Church is scarce. So, let’s ask the question: what is trust about and what does it mean when it gets abused by those whom we trusted?

In this webinar we want to shed some light on the concept of trust.  Some theoretical insights and the results of more than 40 interviews on trust in all continents will help us to understand what is at stake. Your presence and participation in the discussion will be greatly appreciated.


Prof. Em. Karlijn Demasure

Karlijn Demasure PhD holds a doctorate in practical theology at the KU Leuven (Belgium) (2003). She was the president of the Interdiocesan Service for Pastoral Care in Belgium (2003 -2007). In 2008 she became a professor at the Faculty of Theology at Saint Paul University in Ottawa, Canada. She held the Chair Sisters-of-Our-Lady-of the-Cross in Christian Family Studies from 2008-2014 and was appointed as the dean of the Faculties of Human Sciences and Philosophy (2010-2014).  From 2012 till 2014 she was the president of the “Société Internationale de théologie pratique”. She was a professor at the Gregorian University in Rome (Italy) and the Executive Director of the Center for Child Protection at the same university (2014-2019). In 2019 she founded the Centre for Safeguarding Minors and Vulnerable Persons at Saint Paul University, Ottawa, Canada. Now a professor emeritus, she works with a research team on the international project: Towards a Trustworthy Church. Her area of research is sexual and spiritual abuse and abuse of trust, trauma, and pastoral care for victims/survivors. Demasure has been accompanying survivors of abuse for more than 25 years.


Prof. Valère Nkouaya Mbandji

Valère Nkouaya Mbandji, PhD, is an Associate Professor of Canon Law at Saint Paul University in Ottawa. He holds a doctorate in Canon Law and a bachelor’s degree in civil law (LL. B). He is also a graduate of the Canadian Institute for Conflict Resolution (Ottawa 2017). He is the Director of Studies and Vice-Dean of the Faculty of Canon Law. His field of research focuses on the protection of minors and vulnerable adults in canon law. He has a particular interest in the interaction between canon penal law and the various “secular” criminal laws. He is the author of several articles on the penal law of the Church. He currently works with a research team on the international project: Towards a Trustworthy Church.

To contact us: CPCS@ustpaul.ca

Saint Paul University

223 rue Main Street Ottawa,
Ontario Canada K1S 1C4
+1 613 236-1393

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