Sex scandal effecting lawyers too. A letter to a lawyer handling a number of law suits in the diocese.
I read with great interest the article in the paper that was not only about the struggle of victims of clergy sexual abuse but about struggles that some of the lawyers of victims have. As we both know money is not the panacea that some believe it to be and it takes more than cash settlements to bring about healing for the victims. I for one do not begrudge clergy sexual abuse victims’ monetary compensation. No amount of money can replace what has been ripped away from us. Yes I too am a victim of a priest, (laicized on 03/29/2007), in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. I am also a priest.
My vocation or calling happened to me when I was a seven-year old. Unlike so many of the victims of this abhorrent crime I never blamed God, I never lost my faith, and my vocation stayed intact. Don’t get me wrong I did suffer greatly because of the molestation but that is a very, very long story. In 2005 I did intense out-patient therapy and met weekly with my spiritual director during a leave of absence I took from ministry as a priest. After all I still needed healing. An opportunity to attend a four-day spiritual and psychological retreat presented itself. The healing experience is Grief to Grace. I took this directly from www.griftograce.org
A Brief Explanation of What Grief to Grace Hopes to Accomplish
“When we pray the Lord’s Prayer we ask God to “forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” When we forgive one another we are set free of the past, we are born again into the possibilities for the present moment; we are released from the endless struggles, repetitions, and reenactments of the old stories that have dominated our lives. Forgiveness is eventually required because it is forgiveness that sets us free from the bondage of the past. Forgiveness enables us to grow in heart and spirit – it enables our soul to move beyond the pain. The deeper the hurt and the more dominant the injustice, the more we are invited to grieve, to descend into our pain, and to surrender and let go into forgiveness. We were created to love, because we are created in the image and likeness of God. Once healing has occurred, we are not afraid to face truth or proclaim it because we have been freed by it. In recovery, the wounds that bind us in captivity and isolation are opened, cleansed and redeemed as Christ invites us to find meaning and transformation in the victory of His resurrection. Indeed, we need a savior. We need a redeemer who can handle the dirty sad secrets conceived by a sinful and fallen humanity. Christ is the Light. We are invited to receive love and comfort from someone who has suffered everything we have suffered. Jesus is The Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world.” (John 1:29) He has already carried the passion and hurt of each and every vicious sin ever conceived in the heart of man. He is familiar with abuse, with persecution, with violence, and betrayal. He has also been victimized by those who tried desperately to abort his mission of love. Who else could we possibly trust to embrace the depth of our pain? Who else can we trust to understand the tears of grief that drown our weary souls? Who else can we dare to approach to unshackled the chains that have kept us in prisons of despair? Who else can possibly understand our feelings of abandonment – the sunken feeling that God has forgotten us and that our strivings have been in vain? Who else but Christ can model for us the extraordinary and courageous grace of forgiveness? Jesus taught that in this world we would have great tribulation – but he also promised us the gift of his Peace, a peace the world cannot take away. From Grief to Grace helps participants to experience how the works of God might be manifest through the painful events in their own lives. The process will help them recognize in their own stories of death and destruction that Jesus has truly come to bring us new life. Even in the midst of our pain is a place of grace, a moment of spiritual promise and healing – a resurrection. This retreat is a journey into the heart of suffering. It is a passage of surrender into the cross of our own afflictions. It is a voyage directly into the outstretched arms of God himself. Jesus has removed the barrier that has separated us from the almighty “I AM.” The curtain has been torn and there is no longer any divide between God and his chosen people. He invites us to learn who we really are. He welcomes us. He longs to comfort us. He encourages us to come close to him, and thereby discover our own true selves. His mission is a cry for justice, until all forms of violence are conquered through the power of Love. He invites us to new life!”
If you go to the web site you can research it yourself. Grief to Grace is an option for any abuse victim. It is not an easy retreat; it’s more like a boot camp for healing. But a participant can take great comfort in knowing that the other participants are all victims too. I believe that is instrumental in helping all of the retreatants. One last thing; the rumor that is going around the diocese now is that there will be a diocesan wide fund-raising campaign after the bankruptcy settlements are finalized.