Identity, Forgiveness and Power in the Management of Child Sexual Abuse by Personnel in Christian Institutions

  • Queensland University of Technology, School of Justice


The ongoing crises of child sexual abuse by Christian institutions leaders across the Anglophone world continue to attract public attention and public inquiries. The pervasiveness of this issue lends credence to the argument that the prevailing ethos functioning within some Christian Institutions is one which exercises influence to repeatedly mismanage allegations of child sexual abuse by Church leaders. This work draws on semi-structured interviews conducted with 15 Personnel in Christian Institutions (PICIs) in Australia who were identified as being pro-active in their approach to addressing child sexual abuse by PICIs. From these data, themes of power and forgiveness are explored through a Foucaultian conceptualising of pastoral power and ‘truth’ construction. Forgiveness is viewed as a discourse which can have the power effect of either silencing or empowering victim/survivors. The study concludes that individual PICIs’ understandings of the role of power in their praxis influences outcomes from the deployment of forgiveness.

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Except where otherwise noted, content in this journal is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Published: 2013-04-30
Pages:82 to 97
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How to Cite
Death, J. (2013) “Identity, Forgiveness and Power in the Management of Child Sexual Abuse by Personnel in Christian Institutions”, International Journal for Crime, Justice and Social Democracy, 2(1), pp. 82-97. doi: 10.5204/ijcjsd.v2i1.92.

Author Biography

Queensland University of Technology, School of Justice

Prior to commencing with QUT, Jodi worked for the Department of Community Services NSW (DoCS), as a child protection caseworker. Jodi has also previously worked as a sexual assault crisis response counsellor in Central West NSW and has a background in involvement with social welfare development in rural NSW. Jodi’s PhD examined the role of forgiveness in ways that churches are responding to child sexual abuse by church leaders. Jod's ongoing work continues to explore gendered and sexual violence including Church abuse.

Queensland University of Technology

School of Justice, Lecturer