'We All Knew': A Historical, Empirical-Theological Study of Bystandership in Cases of Transgressive Behavior Towards Minors Within Flemish Church Contexts
More than 10 years after the strong awareness of sexual abuse in the Belgian Catholic Church and the continued publication of disconcerting research reports, sensitivity to the prevention and awareness of transgressive behaviour in a broad church context is still limited. This doctoral research wants to investigate how people have thought, and think, about forms of transgressive behaviour that have happened to others. Through oral history, including semi-structured interviews, it seeks to understand the possible (theological) motivations of individuals who, as bystanders, witnessed transgressive behaviour within Catholic Flemish contexts in the past (1960-1970). The research results from the historical study will be compared with the vision and experiences of persons who are active within the Belgian Catholic Church today. By focusing on bystandership, this study aims at a holistic approach of transgressive behaviour that is not only a matter between perpetrator and victim, but where bystanders play an equally important role.