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CPCS Conference - Vulnerability to Sexual, Emotional and Spiritual Abuse and the Catholic Church

International Conference May 25-28, 2022

On campus and online

(7 Conferences: 50$. Students: Free)
*All registered participants will have exclusive access to the conference recording*


Pope Frances published on 7 May 2019 the Motu Proprio Vos Estis Lux Mundi (VELM). In this document, he defined “Vulnerable Persons” in the context of sexual abuse as “any person in a state of infirmity, physical or mental deficiency, or deprivation of personal liberty which, in fact, even occasionally, limits their ability to understand or to want or otherwise resist the offence.”

Many appreciate the broadness of this definition since it seems to include a completely new category of possible victims of abuse, including seminarians and religious sisters.

Others deem the definition much too broad. They argue that, according to this definition, everyone seems to be vulnerable, since the concept of “deprivation of personal liberty” is too vague to exclude people from the status of victim.

Situated in this ongoing discussion, we would like to formulate a two-fold aim for the conference:

  1. To discuss and clarify our understanding of the term “vulnerable persons” within the context of abuse in the Catholic Church;
  2. To discuss how, in practice and in which situations, one could become a vulnerable person in the Catholic Church, and how to address and prevent those persons from abuse.

While the text of Pope Francis is formulated within the context of sexual abuse, as a delict against the sixth commandment of the Decalogue, we would like to broaden the context to include physical, emotional and spiritual abuse. Indeed, we know that sexual abuse seldom occurs as the only form of abuse and that other forms of abuse precede or follow sexual abuse.

Our Internationally Recognized Speakers

Wednesday, May 25th

Richard Feist

Khrystyna Shabat

11:00am - 12:00pm (EDT)

Sexual Violence in Ukraine.
What does Childhood Experience tell us?

Ludovic Lado

14:00pm - 3:00pm (EDT)

Stories of Vulnerability in Cameroon

Thursday, May 26th

Robert Oliver

14:00pm - 15:00pm (EDT)

Vulnerable Persons and Vulnerability in
Church Law and Practice

Stephen Edward de Weger

15:30pm - 16:30pm (EDT)

A Survivor-based Perspective of Vulnerability
in Clergy Sexual Misconduct against Adults

Friday, May 27th


Hazel D'Lima and Noella de Souza

9:30am - 10:30am (EDT)

The Vulnerability of Women Religious in
India to Situations of Abuse in the Church
and the Search for an Effective Response

Ann J. Cahill

11:00am - 12:00pm (EDT)

The Shimmering Moment of Disclosure:
Vulnerability and Sharing Experiences of
Sexual Violence 

 Saturday, May 28th

  Marièle Wulf

11:00am- 12:00pm (EDT)

Vulnerability by Relationships

Conference Organizers

The conference is organized by the Centre for Safeguarding Minors and Vulnerable Persons, Saint Paul University. The mission of the Centre is to help eliminate the threat and trauma of sexual abuse in society and in the Church by:

  • Promoting prevention through formation
  • Offering healing assistance to victims/survivors, their families, and their communities
  • Striving for justice
  • Contributing to reconciliation.

For more information, please send an email to CPCS@ustpaul.ca.

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