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Approach and Output

Those who have been sexually abused experience devastating and lifelong effects. The voices of victim-survivors, along with secondary victims, are essential to our study; they serve as a catalyst for addressing the issues and their testimonies directly inform the research.

The research involves the following: 

  • Qualitative studies with victim-survivors, secondary victims and further relevant voices in order to explore whether there are any specific aspects of Catholicism which led to sexual abuse taking place within the Church. 
  • A wide-scale review of existing literature around sexual abuse in the Catholic Church and relevant comparative literature across various organisational contexts, with attention to whether there are any specific factors relating to the Catholic Church that may have contributed to or enabled sexual abuse.
  • Theological analysis of the data. 
  • Working with a Project Stakeholder Group to ensure voices from a range of stakeholders, including victim-survivors, are heard and taken on board. 


Boundary Breaking is a project of the Centre for Catholic Studies (CCS) within the Department of Theology and Religion at Durham University. 

  • The project will deliver a set of theologically-informed reflections and recommendations on safeguarding and culture within the Catholic Church. These recommendations will be intended to help the Catholic Church respond proactively to the sexual abuse crisis it has faced. 
  • As part of the project we will host an international conference to present our research findings and recommendations, and generate further discussion and action. 
  • The project team will also write up the findings of our research for publication.