This is a multi-year, international, research and policy project looking at the potential of restorative justice with clergy child sexual abuse cases that occurred within the Catholic Church and other faith institutions. Through qualitative research, policy development and campaigning, the project aims to explore alternative ways that can genuinely help address the harm that these cases have caused to victim-survivors, communities and the involved faith institutions.
In 2005, Gavrielides and Coker published " Restoring Faith: Resolving the Catholic Church's Sexual Scandals Through Restorative Justice", 8:4 Contemporary Justice Review The paper was based on a multi-year “research and implementation project” that was carried out by IARS to explore the potential of restorative justice (RJ) to help resolve sexual offending cases involving children and young people. One aspect of this project was the use of RJ with sexual offending cases that occurred within the Catholic Church. The paper reported on the main findings of the first stage of the project. This centered on desk research that looked into existing and past international projects. The paper also provided a critical overview of the RJ programmes and research projects that have been implemented to test RJ's application with clergy sexual offending cases. The results of these programmes were contrasted with notorious clergy sexual abuse cases that have been processed through the traditional criminal justice system.
Following the 2005 publication, Gavrielides is now conducting secondary and primary qualitative research. A new publication is now scheduled as Gavrielides, T. (2012). " Clergy Child Sexual Abuse & the Restorative Justice Dialogue", Journal of Church and State. The new publication argues the following:
Much has been written about clergy child sexual abuse within the Catholic Church. This paper aims to challenge this debate by making three new arguments. Firstly, these cases extend beyond the breach of state laws. They have multiple psychological and existential implications and constitute a violation of victims’ faith, identity and basic human right to dignity, as well as the sacramental culture of Catholicism. Secondly, due to this additional dimension, the impact of clergy child sexual abuse cases on all parties involved can best be mitigated through user-led reconciliation processes such as “dialogue”. Thirdly, one form of such a dialogue could be restorative justice. Its potential as an alternative model to traditional litigation and station action are examined. Critical analysis of the extant literature and a selection of case studies are attempted in an effort to identify next steps for researchers and policy makers in this grey area of practice.
"Restorative Justice is an ethos with practical goals, among which is to restore harm by including affected parties in a (direct or indirect) encounter and a process of understanding through voluntary and honest dialogue.
Restorative justice adopts a fresh approach to conflicts and their control, retaining at the same time certain rehabilitative goals" (Gavrielides 2007: 139)
Through evidence-based arguments, research and networking, the project aims to:
- increase public awareness of restorative justice and encourage a public debate about its potential for resolving sexual abuse cases such as those that occurred within the Catholic Church;
- publish its findings through peer review journals, academic books and articles so as to enrich an under-developed research area. Forthcoming publications include: Gavrielides, T. (2012). " Clergy Child Sexual Abuse & the Restorative Justice Dialogue", Journal of Church and State. Gavrielides, T (2012) "Clergy sexual abuse: the restorative justice option" in K.V Wormer & L. Walker Restorative Justice Today: Applications of Restorative Interventions, Sage: California;
- influence national and international policy (e.g. with Lisa Rea in the US);
- inform and influence practices and encourage faith institutions, such as the Catholic Church, to consider alternative options, such as restorative justice, in the long lasting resolution of the sexual scandals that occured within their body.
The project is not funded but carried out voluntarily by Gavrielides. For more information and how to support it or get involved contact Dr. Theo Gavrielides,