As I said I would do I responded to the cardinal’s response. Pray, pray, pray!!!
“The ministry of seeking these lost sheep and reconciling them with the Church should be the number one, most important thing that we do as a Church at this time in history. In the gospels Jesus seeks out the lost sheep. He heals them as our loving, compassionate, merciful brother and God. That is the outreach work that is mandated by love. That is the outreach work that is mandated by the example we have in Christ. Abandoning lost sheep is anathema to Jesus.”
This is one of the paragraphs I included in my last letter to you about the issues surrounding sexual abuse victims. Thank you for taking the time to respond. I do have some ideas about how the Church can help. Alas they are not my original ideas but are born of the gospel.
I believe that help must be offered over and over again to the victims that have come forward. Offering help once and then walking away if a victim is not receptive is not an option. The hierarchy must be persistent. Offering help once and then it being rejected does not signify that we have done all that we could to help. It is a false notion to hide behind the façade of respecting the wishes/desires/privacy of a victim. It is a cop out on the part of the Church. These are the lost sheep of the Body of Christ. They are human beings. That seems to be forgotten.
You must remember that many of the victims were rejected over and over again by the hierarchy, by other members of the body of Christ and in a lot of cases even by their own families. The pain and the anger of these men and women are almost unfathomable. As a Church we cannot walk away from that, not just because we caused the pain in the first place, but because in a very real way we represent God and God would not abandon any of his people.
I think that healing being offered to victims needs to be couched differently than just, “spiritual”. The healing must be holistic and must be offered as holistic. The only ministry that I am aware of that is working toward holistic healing that envelops spiritual healing is, Grief to Grace, (www.grieftograce.org). It is not a magic bullet but an experience that gets participants out of the circle of lies that they truly believe about themselves and about the world/Church. These lies rule victims’ lives and influence their decision-making ability in a truly diabolical way, being removed from that cycle allows healing with a competent mental health professional to commence.
I prayerfully suggest that a new outreach be started by every diocese. An outreach that acts as a sort of hound of heaven for victims who have come forward already and actively seeks out those who have not come forward. (Remember, an initial rejection of the offer of help does not give permission for the Church to abandon a victim.) I would also prayerfully submit that non-clergy members be the ones to do the interacting and initial outreach with victims and their families, at least until they request clergy interaction. The healing purpose of this outreach is not served if those who need it are distrustful, angry, hostile, and have been hurt by the entity offering help.
As a powerful voice in the Church today you can lead the way. Please don’t hide your light under a bushel.
In Our Merciful Savior,