Dr. Claudia Koblenz-Sulkov, clinical pyschologist in our OSP, addressed the assembly about the on-going Praesidium program for dealing with the clergy child abuse crisis.
She pointed out that the past two years have shown the crisis is not limited to the United States. The good news is that since they began collecting data in 2004 there have been NO new accusations of abuse against minors by clergy in the United States. The number of offenders and the cost have also decreased.
She then gave various statistics of outcomes of allegations, removal or return to ministry after investigation, and the amount spent on all theses cases.
Abuse victims and families are now getting compassionate and financial support.
What have we learned? The injury to the victims is greater than we had ever imagined. Easy answers are not valid. Catholics have been hurt by the moral failings of their priest but more outraged by the inaction or mishandling by the bishops. We need to stop circling the wagons in defense of the indefensible. We've learned a lot about the denial and self-deception by abusers who expressed a deep concern for the welfare of the children they abused. We, the Church, continue to suffer the effects of this betrayal of trust.
Fr. John Moran then gave the bad news. The media have given extensive coverage of the worldwide problem of abuse and by mishandling by even Cardinal Ratzinger. The problem is pervasive.
In Dublin, sexual abuse was reported by half of the witnesses: rape, voyeurism and other violations. These people reported abuse by clergy, teachers, lay volunteers and many who had isolated access to children on camping trips, sports events etc.
The hypocrisy of bishops who preach so forcefully against other sins of a sexual nature but who remained shamefully silent in the face of systemic clergy abuse remains the gaping wound of our Church.
John paraphrased the pope's statement at Fatima that the greatest suffering and persecutions come from sin within the Church. John told us to brace ourselves to a new wave of criticism here in the Stares as a movie is erased chronicling the way the seculars media (Washington Post and Boston Globe) exposed this ugly secret and forced the bishops and Church in the U.S. to acknowledge and address this issue.
They then showed us a DVD of heart-wrenching testimony by victims and witnesses, both men and women whose faith, not just in the Church but in God, was shaken or destroyed.
John asked what do we, as Maryknollers whose mission is conversion--of institutions no less than individuals--do to address this pressing issue in our Society, Church, nation and world.
Clericalism, privilege and entitlement foster this unhealthy environment in our Church.
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