Sharing stories of sexual abuse ‘helps to heal the hurt’ / National Catholic Reporter

“I believe this is one of the keys to understanding and healing the sexual abuse wounds in the church. It isn’t that people are just looking to bash the church, or that they want to wallow in victimhood. They desperately need to be heard so that the hurt can be healed in God’s way. When I experienced this phenomenon recently (at a Voice of the Faithful Healing Circle), Dot’s almost hokey way of describing our primal human need came back to me.”

‘Having the horror heard helps to heal the hurt. My stepmother, Dot, shared her wonderfully alliterative mantra with me years ago as we pondered the benefits of a person going to a counselor when stuck in pain. In her wise and eye-twinkling way, Dot — whose husband had been struck by a car and killed many years before, leaving her with 12 children to raise — was telling me how she had survived.

“After my mother died suddenly from brain cancer at 64, my father, Tom, was traumatized with grief and seemed to be on his way ‘out of the picture,’ as he used to say of others who had died. One of my nine sisters, Kate, challenged him to get up and start living again. ‘Because at least you had a life before Mama, but we never did,’ she reminded him. My father not only started to live again, five years later he married Dot. Between the two of them — Dot with her 12 kids, and Tom with his 14 — they had 26 mostly grown children. Talk about having the horror heard!

“Dot’s mantra shows how she understands people getting over the pains of life. They need to be heard. If someone is willing to listen to the horrors that befall us, it feels like we are not alone. We can bear it and even find meaning in it. As St. Paul wrote to the Galatians, ‘Bear one another’s burdens and so you will fulfill the law of Christ.’

“I believe this is one of the keys to understanding and healing the sexual abuse wounds in the church. It isn’t that people are just looking to bash the church, or that they want to wallow in victimhood. They desperately need to be heard so that the hurt can be healed in God’s way. When I experienced this phenomenon recently, Dot’s almost hokey way of describing our primal human need came back to me.”

By Paul F. Morrissey, National Catholic Reporter — Click here to read the rest of this column. Augustinian Fr. Paul F. Morrissey is the author of “The Black Wall of Silence.”

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Deacons, women and the call to serve / America: The National Catholic Review

This special web round-table discussion is sponsored by America Media and the Fordham Center on Religion and Culture. Two in this series of three round-table discussions on the potential of a Catholic women’s diaconate have been published.
The current Vatican commission exploring the possibility of women deacons has raised a number of questions about their role in the church. As ordained ministers who are neither priests nor lay people, the actual role of deacons in the parishes where they minister remains unclear to many Catholics. What are deacons, and how has their role changed over history?
Could women deacons revolutionize pastoral ministry and transform the church? How can the diaconate better meet the changing needs of the faithful today? Join us for a roundtable discussion sponsored by the Fordham Center on Religion and Culture and America Media featuring:
  • Nancy Dallavalle, theologian and vice president for mission and identity at Fairfield University
  • Deacon Greg Kandra, blogger at Aleteia’s “The Deacon’s Bench,” multimedia editor at Catholic Near East Welfare Association.
  • Rita Ferrone, contributing editor at Commonweal and blogger at “Pray Tell Blog”
  • George Demacopoulos, theologian and founding co-director of the Orthodox Christian Studies Center at Fordham University
  • James Martin, S.J.,  moderator, author and editor-at-large for America Media

By The Editors at America: The National Catholic Review — Click here to read the rest of this article and access links to videos and transcripts of the roundtable discussions.

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Vatican launches website after child sex abuse scandals / CNN

“The website includes a template for local churches around the world to use in establishing their own norms for protecting minors from clerical sex abuse.”

The Vatican has launched a new website detailing its efforts to protect children from sexual abuse by clergy.

“It’s the first time the Vatican is publishing the documents and resources in one place, including an email and phone number to contact its commission for the protection of minors.

“The commission was established in 2013 and is headed by Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley.

“‘It is very important to the Commission that we are as transparent as possible,’ project coordinator Emer McCarthy told CNN Tuesday (Dec. 6). ‘Our members want people to know that they are doing their level best to carry out the commission of the Holy Father.'”

By Delia Gallagher, CNN — Click here to read the rest of this story. Also, “Vatican commission launches child protection website” from Catholic News Service.

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Catholic bishops create $500,000 fund for sex abuse victims / Agence France-Press

“A serious sin has been revealed during our time at the Church… This sin committed by some was made possible by certain structures and certain ways of behaving and thinking,” Monseigneur Charles Morerod said in his prayer, quoted in the statement.

Catholic bishops in Switzerland have created a fund to help people sexually abused by clergy members in cases where the statute of limitations has passed, they said Monday (Dec. 5).

“The Swiss Bishops Conference (SBK) said it had created a reparations fund worth 500,000 Swiss francs ($495,000, 462,000 euros) to be used to pay sex abuse victims who no longer have the right to seek redress in court.

“‘The responsible clergy believe that sex abuse victims in cases where the public statute of limitations has passed and where the Church has long turned a blind eye and provided no reparations, are in a particularly difficult situation,’ SBK said in a statement.

By Agence France-Press on Today.ng — Click here to read the rest of this story.

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Dolan program opens gates to dozens of clergy abuse claims / Associated Press

“Yet victims’ advocates are wary, noting that the archdiocese hasn’t given any estimate of the payouts or the total it will spend. Some activists see the program as a church tactic to shield information about the handling of problem priests and counter pressure to let decades-old child sexual abuse cases go to court.”

“It took 30 years for a former student to be ready to report he’d been sexually abused by a respected Roman Catholic priest on high school trips. But it didn’t take long to realize the priest wouldn’t be held accountable in court.

“Though the church said investigators found the allegations credible, the accuser couldn’t sue or press criminal charges, mainly because of the passage of time.

“Instead, he’s looking to a new compensation process set up by the Archdiocese of New York, potentially the most extensive effort of its kind to date. Some 46 people have filed claims in under two months, and the total could at least triple.

“The program lets people take claims, often too old for court, to a noted outside mediator while keeping painful details private.

“Yet victims’ advocates are wary, noting that the archdiocese hasn’t given any estimate of the payouts or the total it will spend. Some activists see the program as a church tactic to shield information about the handling of problem priests and counter pressure to let decades-old child sexual abuse cases go to court.”

By Associated Press on Cruxnow. com — Click here to read the rest of this story.

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Frank Brennan (Australian Jesuit priest): Breaking confessional seal won’t stop abuse / CathNews.com

“The clericalist mindset of a celibate male clergy compounded the vulnerability of children preyed on by Church personnel.” (Fr. Frank Brennan)

‘”With the seal of confession intact, a pedophile may find a listening ear to assist with the decision to turn himself in. If a law is introduced to say that a priest should reveal a confession, I will disobey the law,’ writes Fr Frank Brennan, SJ.

“‘Like most Australians, I have been appalled and distressed by the revelations before the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

“‘I hope this five-year royal commission is able to provide solutions so that institutions are made safe places for children. I am one of those Catholics who has been rocked by the disproportionate number of victims whose assailants have been members of my Church in positions of trust.

“‘Of course, the Church ran more schools and orphanages than most other organisations. But that provides no excuse or justification for what went on. Nor does it provide a complete explanation for the horrific statistics.'”

By Fr. Frank Brennan, S.J., human rights lawyer and academic, on CathNews.com — Click here to read the rest of this commentary.

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Irish priest warns of depression among overworked clerics / National Catholic Reporter

“That the bishops and the nuncio don’t want to engage in a structured way with the ACP (Association of Catholic Priests) is symbolic of a church adrift, a church stuck, a church in denial, a church with 26 kingdoms, an Irish church on a parallel path to that which Pope Francis speaks about, an Irish church attached and addicted to an ecclesial vision that is at variance to what Pope Francis is trying to build.” (Redemptorist Fr. Gerry O’Connor)

Irish priests’ ever-increasing workload is threatening to turn this aging, demoralized and declining group into ‘sacrament-dispensing machines’ who find pastoral work less and less satisfying, a co-founder of Ireland’s Association of Catholic Priests has warned.

“In his address to the association’s annual general meeting in Athlone Nov. 16, Fr. Brendan Hoban highlighted how suicide is on the rise among Irish priests, a group he said was also increasingly prone to depression.

“With the vast majority of Irish priests now age 70 or over, elderly diocesan priests are living increasingly isolated and lonely lives and are constantly ‘reminded that we no longer really matter, that at best we’re now little more than a ceremonial presence on the sidelines of life,’ he said.”

By Sarah Mac Donald, National Catholic Reporter — Click here to read the rest of this story.

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