by Kyle Burgess ’21
In an email addressed to the Providence College family back in August, the College’s Acting President Father Kenneth Sicard, O.P., along with Vice President Father James Cuddy, O.P., brought up the growing turmoil within the Roman Catholic Church regarding instances of abuse towards minors and young adults by clergymen, along with their various cover-ups.
These cases have sparked a widespread sense of indignation for the lack of justice for victims and their families, with many Catholics actively questioning the credibility of the Church and its moral authority as it seemingly turns a blind eye to the issue.
This resentment echoed across campus here at PC with many community members expressing their anger and sense of betrayal at those who are in charge of their spiritual nurturing, so much so that the College’s Catholic and Dominican identities have been called into question.
In an effort to reach a common ground on this complex issue as well as identify how to resolve it here on campus, Fr. Sicard and Fr. Cuddy urged the entire community, including Dominicans, faculty, staff, alumni, and students, “to work together toward rebuilding a Church which, in many ways, has been deeply wounded.”
On Nov. 19, Fr. Sicard and Fr. Cuddy provided the school with an update to their original note, detailing the measures that have been incorporated by the community to address this traumatic experience within the Church.
In the months that have followed that first letter, the Office of Mission and Ministry held various meetings regarding the steps which could be taken to provide an adequate response to the recent scandals.
These “brainstorming sessions,” spearheaded by Mr. Bob Pfunder, associate vice president for mission and ministry, along with Dr. Aurelie Hagstrom, Christie chair in Catholic and Dominican studies, united faculty and staff members in sharing their own experiences regarding the scandal and how it should be addressed by the College.
One solution put forward by the committee was the institution of three listening sessions within the next few weeks encouraging the participation of all members of the PC community.
Additionally, lectures and discussions will be held next semester with the intentions of “contemplating the scourge of abuse in the Church so as to work together to rebuild our wounded Church.”
There will even be a scheduled lunchtime Advent retreat series called Waiting on God, which is designed to reiterate the coming of Jesus Christ, in a time of darkness and uncertainty within the Catholic and PC communities.
The email concluded by re-emphasizing the Dominican commitment to appropriately address allegations of sexual misconduct experienced by members of the PC community and providing resources for victims of such behavior, including Title IX Coordinator Dr. James Campbell (email@example.com; 401-865-2676), or the Victims’ Assistance Coordinator for the Dominican Province of St. Joseph, Ms. Theresa Rodriguez (firstname.lastname@example.org; 518-573-8254).