The work of The Catholic Project runs the gamut: from conferences, research, and educational resources on the causes of the crisis, to bringing attention to the needs and perspectives of survivors, to promoting principles and best practices for preventing future crises, and much more. Everything we do will serve one or more of our three primary objectives: Prevention, Remediation, and Understanding.


The work of The Catholic Project will serve one or more of our three primary objectives: Prevention, Remediation, and Understanding.

Our Objectives

The Project has three objectives: prevention, remediation, and understanding.

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Our Team

The Catholic Project seeks to incorporate expertise from a variety of academic and professional areas.

Meet The Team

Our Projects

The projects we undertake will be as varied as the challenges facing the Church.

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Eliminate sexual abuse from the Church, the nation, and the world

  • These efforts will be centered in the National Catholic School of Social Services and in our Department of Sociology. The primary aim is to serve as a hub for resources, training, and research.
  • There are three areas of focus: a resource portal, training services, and research on the prevention and treatment of sexual abuse.
  • A first project will be the creation of a new interdisciplinary academic certificate in child protection.

Reduce factors leading to clergy abuse, promote factors leading to healthy priests

  • A main area of focus will be to consolidate and grow the body of research on the risk factors that could lead to sexual abuse by clergy.
  • A necessary correlation will be a large-scale survey on the priesthood with this goal: identify those internal and external factors that lead to happy, healthy priests.

Address leadership and management failures of the Church

This effort will be centered in the Busch School of Business, which currently runs a certificate program entitled Management as Ministry. Its goal is to provide seminarians and newly ordained priests with a foundational understanding of business best practices.

  • Last year the school launched a Master of Science in Ecclesial Administration and Management. This is a professional degree that prepares clergy for effective and efficient parish and diocesan leadership.
  • An executive course was offered in 2018 for nearly two dozen newly ordained bishops.
  • Our intention is to expand our offerings in this area, and offer these courses, workshops, and degree programs to female religious and to deacons and lay leaders in parishes and dioceses..


Address the needs of survivors; make sure we never forget

  • In partnership with Spirit Fire, we seek to provide training to bishops and victims assistance coordinators in how to properly receive and respond to accusations of clergy sexual abuse.
  • We will share the general principles of how to respond to disclosures of clergy sexual abuse with the public.
  • In an effort to never forget the tragedy of clergy sexual abuse, the project will document survivor testimony.

Create proposals for Canon Law reforms

  • An expansion of the zero tolerance policy to include sexual activity or misconduct by bishops.
  • Propose Canon Law reforms to create standards of conduct for bishops and lay review boards.

Safeguard against more injustice

  • While valid lawsuits against the Church are just, others seek to punish the Church. Dioceses and other institutions will need legal counsel on the risks and benefits of responding to grand jury investigations, and initiating internal review to assess exposure.
  • Policy papers on the threat of demands for confidential personnel records, and challenges to the seal of confession.
  • The desire to punish old offenses has led to the extension or repeal of statutes of limitations. Punishing civil judgments carry the threat of bankruptcy, and the attendant oversight of dioceses by trustees.

Make room for lay Catholics to participate in the Church

  • The recent reorganization of Catholic University is one example of how a Catholic institution can reorganize itself to make room for more lay participation in the Church.
  • These changes are motivated and influenced by several reasons -- the desire to take greater advantage of lay contributions, the desire to maintain close connections to the Church and the episcopacy, a concern about financial exposure resulting from interlocking relations.
  • Thinking through these changes will entail the assistance of civil and canon lawyers.


The Church crisis

Before all else, it is important to give the faithful the tools they need to understand the sex abuse crisis within the context of the entire history of the Church, identify what’s at stake, and what they can do to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

The lay vocation

If this is the moment for the laity to participate more fully in the Church, we need to explore and give further attention generally, to Lumen Gentium, Evangelii Gaudium, Christifideles Laici, Apostolicam Actuositatem, and other documents that address these issues.



Relationship between clergy and laity

The sexual abuse crisis has moved many Catholics to ask other questions about the place of the laity and the understanding of the priesthood. Why does the Roman Catholic Church not have married priests? (And why are there different rules for Maronite Catholics, and former Episcopalians?) Why can’t there be a role for the laity in the selection of bishops?

What makes us Catholic

If lay Catholics are to play a more important role in the Church, we need to assure that they do their work with the proper spiritual and practical formation. At the most basic level they need to understand the theology that makes our Church Catholic. What can and can’t be changed in the current place marked out for the laity in the Church?

Featured Project

The Master of Science in Ecclesial Administration and Management is a professional degree that prepares clergy for effective and efficient parish and diocesan leadership. The 30-credit Master of Science in Ecclesial Administration and Management (MEAM) degree consists of a one-week on-campus intensive immersion session and the balance of the coursework online.

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