Graceful remedies

understanding grace in the Catholic Church's treatment of clerical child sexual abuse

Kate Gleeson, Aleardo Zanghellini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This article examines advocacy of Catholic restorative justice for clerical child sexual abuse from the standpoint of feminist criminological critiques of the use of restorative mediation in sexual offence cases. In particular, it questions the Catholic invocation of grace and forgiveness of survivors of abuse in light of critical feminist concerns about the exploitation of emotions in restorative practices, especially in regard to sexual and other gender-based offences. In the context of sexual abuse, the Catholic appeal to grace has the potential for turning into an extraordinary demand made of victims not only to rehabilitate offenders and the Church in the eyes of the community, but also to work towards the spiritual absolution of the abuser. This unique feature of Catholic-oriented restorative justice raises important concerns in terms of feminist critiques of the risk of abuses of power within mediation, and is also incompatible with orthodox restorative justice theory, which, although it advocates a 'spiritual' response to crime, is concerned foremost with the rights, needs and experiences of victims.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)219-235
Number of pages17
JournalAustralian Feminist Law Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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