victim assistance not enough

Letter to Pittsburg and Washington D.C. responding to their letters back to me.

I am sorry, I must not have been clear in my previous letter.  A new ministry must be established in the Church.  The various and sundry victim assistance offices, although great in helping prevent further abuse, do not do enough to aid the existing victims.  Most of our concern should be the victims who hate God and/or hate the Church.

May I ask how many personal, individual letters have been sent out to known victims?  Not sterile form letters on diocesan stationary but letters addressing individual victims?  The only reason that victims are lumped together now is that nothing was done for them then when they came forward as individuals.  Since the victims of clergy sexual abuse are individuals, (individuals forced to band together and bring lawsuits so that they would be heard by the very people who ignored them individually), they need to be treated as individuals.  It is a further assault to them and a further sin on our part to treat them en masse.  We are our own people each with a soul as personal and unique as our exquisite creator deigned.

I am aware that I am one of the exceptions to the rule.  There are some of us who haven’t left the loving mantle of the Church.  That does not imply that we are unaffected.  We are children of God and it is very frustrating and angering that the people in authority are giving themselves a pass on this issue. At least that is the perception of the situation.

An inherent problem with diocesan victims’ assistance units is that victims do not trust readily.  You, (the collective you), did that.  Now you, (the collective you), have to fix it.  This mistrust makes the job of helping more difficult but not impossible.   When striving to rectify this horror that was imposed on so many it is of the utmost importance that the Church be persistent in her outreach.  Individual victims must be engaged by the Church.  If it takes 1000 attempts to make contact then it takes 1000 attempts.  That is not up for debate, it just needs to happen.

That is why a new ministry has to be established.  One dedicated to not stopping until positive contact is made, (or a restraining order is issued).  An answer of, “no”, from a victim is not enough for us to throw up our hands and claim we have done all that we can.  WE MUST KEEP TRYING!  A rejection of help is made out of anger.  That anger is born of sorrow.  As a Church we need to keep offering our loving support for healing and reconciliation with God and the Church.

God, the potter, made all of us.  We are all damaged on our journey through this life, the result of sin, (our own as well as others).  Sexual abuse victims have been shattered.  It is going to be a lot of time-consuming work gathering up all of those shattered fragments of clay and putting them back together.  The Church needs to step up.  Our wounds will always remind us of the brutality of our own passion.  But like the resurrected Christ we keep those wounds so that others may believe in the goodness of our God and Church.

On a personal note; my abuse took place in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.  I was able to meet with Justin Cardinal Rigali.  During our meeting he did apologize for the evil I suffered at the hands if a priest of the archdiocese.  It was nice and I thanked him.  I also told him that he really isn’t the one who needs to apologize to me.  The priest who abused me and the archbishop at that time and his successor needed to apologize to me.  That’s not going to happen.  I do encourage you to apologize also but don’t be surprised when it’s not enough.

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About follow1in3

I am a Roman Catholic priest ordained for the Diocese of Wilmington, DE who is also a victim of clergy sexual abuse. I am often angered by the insensitiviy and hostility of other clergy, the hierarchy and the so-called people-of-God. If clergy, bishops included, really and truly understood abuse, (any kind of abuse), I would not feel the need to blog on occasion. It is very frustraing.
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