On Monday night, about 200 people gathered in the Oak Room to discuss one of the most intense issues – the sex abuse scandal in the Catholic Church.

The recent outbreak of accusations of sexual assault performed by priests in the Roman Catholic Church is not a local issue within the church, but part of a worldwide health problem, according to treatment provider Ken Cullen.

“One in every four females, and one in every six males are sexually abused in this country before the age of 18,” Cullen said.

Cullen was one of six panelists in the Fairfield Community Forum “Crisis in the Church.” Other speakers called for change within the church.

“What we are dealing with is a crime, a felony, and to keep it swept under the rug is a problem,” said Fr. Tom Regan, S.J., associate dean of the College of Arts ‘ Sciences. “There is a very real legal problem here, and no one is above the law. Priests included.”

Dr. Nancy Dallavalle, a professor in the religious studies department, stressed reform from within the church. “What we need is a solid, sensible policy for dealing with sexual abuse by priests,” she said.

“The church can be a great place to find the truth in, and a place to find love,” said Fr. James Mayzik, S.J., director of the campus Media Center. “It worries me, what has happened here. I hope that it is not a mortal wound for our family in the church.”

“If a revolution comes from this situation, I hope it’s a revolution of the spirit,” he said.

The panel of guests at the Community Forum consisted of Fr. Paul Carrier, S.J. as moderator; Dr. Ken Cullen; Fr. Tom Regan, S.J.; Dr. Nancy Dallavalle; Fr. Jim Mayzik, S.J.; and student Alison Hillenbrand ’05.

This event was co-sponsored by Campus Ministry ‘ Counseling Services. The event was covered by local media, including the Connecticut Post and Cablevision’s Channel 12.

After each of the panelists gave their opening remarks on the subject, questions were fielded from the audience. The questions ranged from the nature of pedophilia to the likelihood of radical change in the church.

“I thought it was very good,” said Fredrick Miller ’60 who was in attendance. “There is a problem with pedophilia in the church. I was glad we could at least discuss the issue,” he said. “In times like this, everything should be on the table to be discussed.”

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