Second Workshop: Never Forget

Votive Candles

Photo credit: “Votive Candles” by Garry Knight is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

August 1-3, 2022 

Two decades have passed since the Sept. 11 terror attacks and Catholic Archdiocese of Boston sex abuse scandal. In both cases news-media publicized ongoing revelations about these events that would have profound effects on religious life in both the United States and around the world. From then on, religious violence itself could no longer go ignored in either policy agendas or classroom syllabi, and religion itself was often blamed as the source of the problem. Ardent and continual reporting ensured that the public would “never forget,” and media, academic, and religious institutions developed new standards and practices to better remember the lessons that were learned. 

What were those lessons from twenty years ago? How do we preach, teach, or challenge them today? What exactly were we supposed to “never forget”? 

For our summer 2022 workshop we solicited commentary and reflection on devastating legacies of 9/11 and clerical sexual abuse, and we seek to convene academic, media, and religious professionals to speak to their broader historical and trans-regional contexts. For instance, the Sept. 11 attacks, the War on Terror, and The Boston Globe’s reporting on abusive priests were decades in the making. These headline events intertwined and resonated with other events and contexts around the planet, not just on the US East Coast, Afghanistan, and Iraq. They can be related both to earlier world-historic traumas that members of the public are regularly enjoined to recollect (the genocide of indigenous peoples and the Holocaust to name two), as well as to contemporary social movements like #MeToo mobilizing through and against religious institutions (not to mention academic and media ones). 

Finally, professionals who work with religion know that it is also a source and site of significant repair: these anniversaries do not just mark twenty years of critical coverage framing religion as a problem, but also twenty years of religious communities confronting suffering, drawing lessons from it, and working to reform institutions for the good of all.

In other words, behind the big stories lie a multitude of alternate, less well-known stories, including those that are currently happening and still being reported on. What should we ensure the public continue reflecting upon, and what ought they consider anew?

About the Series

This workshop is part of a larger series supported thanks to a generous grant from the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations and presented in partnership with the University of Notre Dame’s John W. Gallivan Program in Journalism, Ethics, and Democracy. 

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