We find ourselves again rocked by scandal in the Catholic Church. On Aug. 14, a Pennsylvania grand jury released its report on an 18-month investigation into seven decades of clerical sexual abuse allegations in six Pennsylvania dioceses. The details are sickening and devastating.
I’ve been thinking about and praying about it ever since (although I would have much preferred to avoid it). As a mother, as a Catholic, as a person with a platform, how do I respond to . . . this?
I spent time talking with other moms, other writers, other Catholics. We all wanted to stop feeling so helpless. We all wanted to channel our outrage. We all wanted to make this better in some way.
Others, including Bishop Barron, Bishop Morlino, and the USCCB have made concrete suggestions for how the magisterium will address the issue of suxual abuse and cover-up. That is good and necessary. My husband wrote an email to the USCCB, voicing his concerns and offering his assistance, and received a prompt and personal reply. I talked to our children about sexual abuse. But now, we want to suggest something else. Something real and important beyond letter-writing that WE can do.
Based on the words of Daniel 9:3: “I turned to the Lord God, to seek help, in prayer and petition, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes,” and the longstanding Catholic concept of making Acts of Reparation, my friend Bonnie Engstrom and I have written this statement . . .
“We are Catholic, faithful to the Magisterium and disgusted by the abuse and cover-ups that have plagued the Roman Catholic Church in the United States. We are heartsick over the 1000+ victims of abuse in the state of Pennsylvania and all the other boys and girls, men and women who have been sexually abused by priests and further victimized by the bishops who covered up these crimes. We pray for justice for the victims and their families and communities. We believe in the Catholic Church, founded by Christ and sustained by the Eucharist. We are one body in Christ. As such, we invite you to join us in observing a forty day period of prayer and fasting as an act of reparation to God for these sins. From the feast of the Queenship of Mary on August 22, through the month of September, we will join our sorrow with Our Lady of Sorrows, and make daily sacrifices appropriate to our own circumstances for this intention.”
We decided to champion a campaign of Acts of Reparation by the faithful. We decided that we would personally pledge to observe a period of prayer and fasting, and we would invite other Catholics to join us. The response has been humbling and heartening. Catholic bloggers, artists, podcasters, reporters, and social media content creators all immediately wanted in.
We hope you will join us as well. In consultation with a spiritual director if that’s possible, you decide on a plan of prayer and penance that works for you, and observe it from August 22 through the month of September. You can publicly pledge to join us by commenting here or on social media, or by sharing this post or any or all of these images on your own blog, social media account, or chain letter. You can print the images and put them on the fridge. Whatever you want. You can share your own words and/or images using the hashtag #sackclothandashes You can also participate privately, if you prefer.
Here are some more details.
What Acts of Reparation are:
By voluntary submission to His Passion and Death on the Cross, Jesus Christ atoned for our disobedience and sin. He thus made reparation to the offended majesty of God for the outrages which the Creator so constantly suffers at the hands of His creatures. We are restored to grace through the merits of Christ’s Death, and that grace enables us to add our prayers, labours, and trials to those of Our Lord “and fill up those things that are wanting of the sufferings of Christ” (Colossians 1:24). We can thus make some sort of reparation to the justice of God for our own offences against Him, and by virtue of the Communion of the Saints, the oneness and solidarity of the mystical Body of Christ, we can also make satisfaction and reparation for the sins of others. (Catholic Encyclopedia)
(meant to be prayed on ordinary rosary beads)
Incline (+) unto my aid, O God; O Lord, make haste to help me. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit; As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
Alleluia. (DURING LENT: Praise be to Thee, O Lord, King of eternal glory.)
ON THE OUR FATHER BEADS: Eternal Father, I offer Thee the Precious Blood of Thy Beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lamb without blemish or spot, in reparation for my sins and for the sins of all Thy priests.
ON THE HAIL MARY BEADS: By Thy Precious Blood, O Jesus, purify and sanctify Thy priests.
FOLLOWING EACH DECADE: O Father, from whom all fatherhood in heaven and earth is named, have mercy on all Thy priests, and wash them in the Blood of the Lamb.
Thank you for organizing this. Planning to participte and share with my local moms group.
Thank you, Jennifer.
Thank you for posting this. I’m joining you.
Thank you, Maryann.
How do you bring up priest abuse with your children?
Good question. Tough question. Should probably be a whole blog post. I do have this post, on the subject in general: TOUCHY SUBJECTS AND KIDS: HOW WE TALK ABOUT THE STUFF WE'D RATHER NOT TALK ABOUT.
This specific topic feels even more complicated than usual. We were all together in an almost empty Jack in the Box on the day after it came out, and I decided to bring it up there and explain that there had been a report published that said that many priests had hurt many children over many years, and that we needed to pray for everyone who had been hurt by all of this, and how we could make sacrifices that would help show God how sorry we are that this happened.
I also reminded them that they should always trust their guts and GET OUT and TELL SOMEONE if *anyone* tries to do something to them that makes them feel uncomfortable. We've discussed before that almost everyone is good. Almost all authority figures deserve our obedience, by virtue of their position. But a few people are bad, and those people should be disobeyed and reported. I kept it short and vague like that for the little ones, and then once they weren't paying attention, went into more detail with my older kids.
Thank you for organizing this:) i'm joining you…
Thank you, I'm so glad!
I’ve been doing a social media fast at least one day a week, and I’m in for this too. Have to pray about the what.
Thank you, Amanda.
There’s also an effort to get Catholic men to pray in front of diocesan chanceries on the feast of the Seven Sorrows.
Thank you so much for this. I plan to join and will let others know as well.
Thank you for organizing this and designing the graphics! Lord, hear our prayer!
Thank you for this, Kendra. I will join in, too.
Thank you! My family will join in!
Planning on doing this. I'm part of a group of Catholic Moms, and I'm pitching this to them too.
Will join this one. I have been really praying hard for our Church in this time of need.
I’ll be joining in the fast and prayer. Thank you and Bonnie for organizing this.
Thanks Kendra for helping us do something concrete about this, I think it’s pretty easy to feel helpless as laity in times like these. I’ll be joining you from Australia (unfortunately, we too have had our own share of sexual abuse scandal within the Church). I’m praying that the laity around the world will be united through prayer and action to support the victims of abuse, and the clergy who have been disgraced by the actions of their sinful peers and superiors, and that by our prayers and actions those responsible for inflicting and allowing this abuse will be held to full account by the Church and civil society.
Yes! Thank you for your prayers. I know Australia understands what we are going through, unfortunately. St. Mary Mackillop, pray for us.
A very specific and appropriate prayer, Laura! Thank you, I am following that template.
Thank you for sharing this! I will be joining you and have discussed this on Real Mama Joy
Thanks for sharing. Include me in
Thank you! Joining.
Thank you for organizing this. I’m in.
Thank you. I will be joining.
Thank you. Joining here in South Africa and spreading the word!
Thank you! It's so heartening to hear that people all over the world are joining us!
I’m from New Zealand. I will be praying and Fasting for yo all tomorrow that this will bear a lot of fruit.
My family will be joining in this fine endeavor. "Lord, save us! We are perishing!"
Thank you for listening to the promptings of the Holy Spirit and acting upon them with courage. This is incredible, and it is an answer for many of us who feel helpless but keep asking ourselves, "What can I do?" I am certainly joining you! I just wrote a blog post with some of my own thoughts and an invitation to join this movement. I will post this to Instagram, too.
Thank you, Sarah. This has been a wonderful thing to be a part of, so many good people came together with the Holy Spirit to start this movement.
Definitely joining in on this and just shared with my Walking With Purpose group.
Thank you for posting this and calling us all to action. May I suggest one small change to your wording? I know that some people who have suffered abuse prefer to call themselves "survivors" rather than "victims." I think you could change the first time you use the word "victim" to "we are heartsick over the 1000+ cases of abuse" (I don't love that "cases" is less personal than "victims" but I think it avoids making you choose between the words victim or survivor.)
The second time, you could say "harmed" or "wounded" instead of "victimized."
I know the image has already been shared widely, but I think it's worth updating the original. Otherwise, I think at least some of the people directly impacted by the scandal will be angered by the fact that they are described as victims rather than survivors.
Thank you, Jessica. I appreciate you reaching out. There are so many people who have publicly signed their names to this version. To change the wording now would mean I’d need to update the permissions I have to share their handles along with the pledge. But I will be more mindful of this in the future. And you and others who share the pledge are welcome to change the wording on their end.
I am an American Catholic living in Taiwan. Many intentions have been weighing on my heart this month, and news of the scandal has broken my heart, but resolved me to persist in prayer for those intentions and all of the Church. I plan to continue praying a daily rosary, and while I feel called to many small sacrifices, I'll stick to posting this one: foregoing Starbucks and giving the money I'd spend when it tempts me to my parish. God bless you, Kendra, for helping so many find a voice and action in this trying time.
Or perhaps that money will go to a charitable organization… That part, I still need to determine.
Hi. I'm in my first trimester, would I be able to fast? Or perhaps a different form of penance? I don't have social media or tv so perhaps small acts as in St. Therese.
Yes, small acts is a great idea. When I’m not able to fast, I focus on adding prayer and accepting passive mortifications cheerfully, and making a point of drinking enough water each day!
Thank you. I'm 42 and my youngest is 16 years old. This is a strange time and yet a blessed time for me. I don't know any mothers my age and feel I'm in for a long struggle, especially since I work full time. But all these sufferings and joys are just temporary, and before I know it I'll be 60 and my youngest in college. 🙂 God bless you beautiful family.
Thank you for sharing this! I’ll be joining and I’ve passed it on to my Regnum Christi team.
I'm with you, Kendra! This whole thing breaks my heart. I love your analogy to the mugging. I pray for healing for all of those affected. I will be doing a Facebook fast and fasting on Fridays. I will also be doing one of the chaplets daily. Thank you for organizing this!
Been praying about fasting on this matter and this is great…more powerful in numbers! Joining you in this for sure. Thank you for organizing!
Prayer of St. John Vianney
I love You, O my God, and my only desire is to love You until the last breath of my life.
I love You, O my infinitely lovable God, and I would rather die loving You, than live without loving You.
I love You, Lord and the only grace I ask is to love You eternally…
My God, if my tongue cannot say in every moment that I love You, I want my heart to repeat it to You as often as I draw breath.
Just recently discovered this prayer, and I love it!
Catching Foxes is on board with this!
I am joining!
I am joining in this prayer and fasting. And doing what I can to be available for, hear the stories of and support victims.
Thank you for organizing this action. We have all sinned, and will be forgiven through repentance.I will be joining also.
I'm in! I'm part of other prayers/novenas for reparation, too. THIS is what will help us win the battle against Satan and the other evil spirits.
What kind of sacrifices are your kids making? I have a six year old and a 3 year old.
For kids younger than first communion age, I focus on adding things, like a Morning Offering and/or Guardian Angel Prayer every morning, and perhaps skipping desserts as a family.
Thank you so much for putting this effort together. I will join you: sackcloth and ashes in my heart.
Thank you so much for this effort. In this particular crime there was a lot of cover up from the top levels of the church. I believe in addition to prayer and fasting there should be open and honest talk from the top levels of the church.
This crimes happened over 40 years ago and they are still happening today partly because we don't talk about it with the elders of the church.
If these priests were laymen they would be in jail. We cannot only pray, we have to take actions or else 40 years from today these crimes are going to continue.
The crimes we're not just the pedophile but the cover up. Are we praying for the victims, the criminals or the leaders who continue to cover up the crimes?
Yes, it's all very tragic. I sincerely hope that the culture of lies and cover ups can not longer stand. The specific focus of this effort is Acts of Reparation. While we of course also pray for healing for those who were abused and their families and communities, Acts of Reparation are intended as a gift to God, to console him for these sins and our own sins.
What a beautiful idea! Would you consider making this a yearly posting? Since this abuse and deception has gone on for years and is likely happening today, it will empower those who are victims and possibly those who are silently complicit to act. We cannot forget these atrocities and we must protect our children and each other from people who abuse their power.
Joining you all in the 40 days. Promoting on facebook. Thank you.
Myself and my brother will be participating in this. I have a few friends as well. Thank you for being a light in this darkness. May God Bless you and your ministry.
I know I am a day late. But I have been praying for abused victims for a long time. So I will just add these prayers to the ones I am already saying.
First of all congratulations on this beautiful initiative you're doing. It really shows how much you care and your strong faith and love to God and others. We join our prayers to those who have suffered this horrific abuse and to God for forgiveness for these acts.
My wife sent me the link of this entry, she is a big fan of your blog and I guess she sent it because she is concern about me. I was very hesitant to write as I don't use social media and this is my very first time writing something on a blog or public internet space ever. I guess I just don't want to offend or have a misunderstanding with someone who I don't even know on the web and I've seen this happens often.
However, this time I'm doing it because if my wife being the most beautiful intelligent person I know, admires your blog and your faith, then I feel safe here. After reading your piece and replies, I wanted to ask to true faithful Catholics for your thoughts.
I am very, very sad, because my trust in the Catholic church has been broken way too many times. I'm from Mexico and we had our many cases as well, particularly the case of the monster Marciel Maciel who was the founder of the Legion of Christ, I live now in Australia, my wife is Australian, they have Archbishop Philip Wilson, Father Albert Davis, Father Charles Barnett and more recently Cardinal George Pell. In Chile Pope Francis admited that they committed grave mistakes in handling of Chile sex abuse scandals. John Paul II, Benedict XVI and now Francis they all knew and yes, they asked for forgiveness but my problem is that they did nothing until the truth was brought to the media and became a scandal.
I must clarify, my faith in God has never been challenged with this, I enjoy going to church and share communion with the community, I LOVE my religion, I love God and I've been praying days and nights for years about this. How can I keep believing in the Institution, leaders and priests of this religion, how can I keep giving my money, trusting their advise in holy confession, during their homily, when in the backstage some of them are these monsters. I do not dare to imagine my little 2 yrs son being asked by a priest or nun to touch him/her, or being touched by them. Just the thought hurts my heart and makes me feel hopeless, disgusted, afraid, angry, powerless, disappointed. Yet God asks me to forgive and pray especially for those who are enemies.
Sorry, I have written way to much. How about that for my first public internet comment? I sincerely apologize if I have offended anyone here. We pray for those in pain. I just don't know how to keep going a church knowing how corrupted it is. Keep doing this beautiful work that inspires so many. God bless you all and have a lovely weekend.
First, I want to thank you for your post. You have put into words what so many people are thinking and feeling. If we walk away from the Catholic Church where would we go? Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Light. We have the privilege of receiving Him into our sinful bodies daily/weekly. How would we get fed if we left, how would we have the strength to fight the evil in our world? And that is the bottom line evil exists in our world as we see in this horrible crisis. And the devil would love to have us all leave the church but we have to stand firm no matter how angry, discouraged, or fearful we are. We need to turn these emotions to making us better prayer warriors and saints. We all need to remember the cornerstone of the church is Jesus Christ. He is who we go and receive the sacraments from – the priest is the one He uses. If the priest is in mortal sin Jesus still comes to live in us, forgive us, etc. The words the priest says at Mass are Jesus words. This has not and will never change. Yes it is scary but know that it is coming to light we can be more aware and if you think something is happening talk to law enforcement agencies or the archdiocese in your area. Continue to pray for all priests, bishops, and our Pope that they stay faithful to their calling. If you have a holy priest thank him. If your priest is struggling support him. Ask him if there is anything you can do to help him. We need to tell our priests and deacons that we are praying for them. I always just thought they knew that so I was surprised when I said this to my priest and he looked shocked. We need to remember that they are human also and they carry a heavy weight. So we need to tell them again and again how much we appreciate them. This is how you keep going to a church knowing how corrupt/sinful it is – by each breath you take ask God to heal His church. Unfortunitately evil exist in the world and prayers especially the Rosay. will help fight it. Pray to Mary and all the saints to help us. Don't give up that will make the devil happy and we don't want that!
I also hope I did not offend anyone. That was not my intend. I am not saying that what the priest did and those who covered it up was okay. It WAS NOT OKAY! They need to repent. Pray for the victims they have a hard road to walk down. This will effect them the rest of their lives I know because I was sexually abused as a child not by a priest but by my father. And this one is really hard but pray for the abuser and those who covered up this scandal.. One last thing remember all priest (like all fathers) are not corrupt. There are many holy priests, bishops, and popes. And yes some make horrible mistakes but abuse is not talked about you don't want to face it (which is great for the abusers not so much for the victims) it is something ugly so we shove it "under the rug" or deep in file cabinets. Put it in the darkest where evil exists. This is not happening just in the churches but also in homes, on the streets, etc. Pray continually. Hope this helps. May God bless and guide you all as we try to heal from this horrible mess. Because it effects everyone of us.
Thank you Jan,
I truly appreciate the time and thought you spent to reply to my comment. I wonder what Kendra thinks? I agree in many points you say and believe me I have engaged into these conversations with my priests and my Montseñor to who I admire and I'm friends with. However to know that all three last Popes knew and covered it? To admire and to follow my two favourite Popes John Paul II who I got the blessing to see him twice and Francis who I though was a "breath of fresh air" all three covered these cases along many of the people in the Vatican and the achideosesis where these acts were committed and only reacted and asked for forgiveness once the plot and the lie was uncovered? Thats what broke my heart and is making me feel lost and confused. Again I am not saying this to offend or criticize only my Catholic church as it happens in every Christian denomination and in other non religious institutions, I often speak with brothers and sisters from other Christian denominations and they go through same situations only because their churches are smaller they don't get as targeted by the media as the Catholics being the largest of the Christian churches. My church is what keeps me happy in my heart and now that bond of trust is lost. God is what keeps me happy in spirit but I don't know how I can trust that my church is going in the right direction, truly following God's Will, when is being led and ruled by pedophile protectors. I know they are human and we are all flawed very challenged by evil every day. But these monsters who touched boys and girls and asked them to touch them back in some occassions "because God says so" and our Popes covering them to avoid a scandal over justice and truth. That is what gets me. Sorry I'm repeating myself I should stop. Thank you very, very much Jan you are a kind soul and I will pray for you to keep being a champion of God. Your word meant something. I wish you well and blessings to all of you in this blog. May God walks with you always.
Forgot to say my name is Rodrigo. I don't have a profile on the page.
Thank you, Rodrigo. You have a point the Popes should have done something about it. And it is sad they didn't. Saint John Paul II can't but I am sure he is praying for all of us. Where we need to place our trust is in God. This does not mean that horrible things can't happen. It does every day in our world. But Jesus overcame the world and we will also if we remain faithful. Praying that God fills you and your family with His peace. Ask Mary to help you to trust again. Say the rosary daily with your family. This is a great way to teach your son his prayers. Do a scriptural rosary. Since your son is so young I would check and see if they have scriptural rosaries for children. Get him his own rosary. This way he can follow along. One thing I started awhile back is I say the rosary before I go to bed. It relaxes me. Just a suggestion you could get him ready for bed do your normal routine and once he is in bed say a rosary in his room. P.S. The devil HATES the rosary. Pray the rosary for the world. Thanks again for your kind words, Rodrigo.
Thank you Rodrigo (and thanks Jan!) I'm glad you reached out. First and foremost, there is no excusing these acts. Not the abuse, certainly. One can argue that fifty years ago, perhaps, there was a lack of understanding on how to treat people with disordered sexual desires, and that bishops were acting in the way that they thought best. But that wasn't the case ten and twenty years ago, and we are seeing that the cover-ups continued. It's not okay. It is a great and grave failure of individuals and the Church hierarchy. I haven't personally seen evidence that recent popes were themselves involved in abuse cover-ups. If you have, I'd be interested to see it.
At the same time, it would not be right to believe that any of this is new. Priests have proven themselves just as capable of failure as anyone else since the very first moment it was possible. Jesus instituted the sacramental priesthood at the Last Supper, and the table wasn’t even cleared before one of the priests had become a traitor, unworthy of his post. Sexual abuse is, unfortunately, not a rare tragedy. We can see the rotten fruits of the sexual revolution throughout our current culture.
As devastating as it feels, as devastating as it IS, I take solace in two aspects of this. The first, is that it is a good thing that we are shining a light on this and other sexual scandals. We do not want evil hiding in the shadows. As painful as this process is, it’s worth it to begin the process of healing for the individuals, families, and communities who have been affected, and to protect future generations of children and adults from suffering the same abuse. Secondly, as backwards as it sounds, I am comforted by the fact that the Catholic Church has been scandal-ridden for . . . ever. We’ve had bad priests, and bad bishops, and bad popes, and bad regular folks in the pews throughout the last two thousand years. And the gates of hell have not prevailed against us.
As Cardinal Ercole Consalvi is reported to have asked Napoleon Bonaparte, when the French emperor threatened to crush the Church, "If in 1,800 years we clergy have failed to destroy the Church, do you really think that you'll be able to do it?"
If we believe that the Catholic Church is the One True Church, that the Eucharist is the True Presence, we are stuck with it. “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life."
As a practical matter, we the faithful can and should protect our children around priests the same way we would around any other people. We need to avoid the clericalism that helped get us into this mess. Priests deserve to be treated with respect by virtue of their consecrated office, but that doesn't mean blind trust. We get to know priests before our kids are alone with them. We teach our kids to trust their guts and to ALWAYS come to us if the ever feel uncomfortable and to RUN AWAY if necessary.
As for donations to the Church, you have to make your own decision there. If we don't give, Catholic schools and parishes will close. Bad ones, perhaps, but good ones too. I'm intrigued by the idea of a tiny underground Church, meeting in dusty catacombs and secretly in people's houses like in the early days of the Church. The Church would survive like that if necessary. But it would break my heart to see our buildings sold off and put to other uses. It would break my heart to see good pastors lose their parishes and their flocks. So, we continue to give. I believe that our archdiocese has implemented good policies to help prevent abuse and coverups. With that, we don't feel the need to hold our donations back.
Your faith in the face of these repeated tragedies is a gift from the Holy Spirit. Please let me know if there's anything else I can address for you!
Thanks Kendra! You said it much better than I was saying it. In a strange way I am glad this has come to a head again. It is making us stop and realize we need to pray more, be more aware of what is going on not only in our churches but also in our schools, neighborhoods, cities, states, countries, and world. We need to pray daily for our pastors, bishops, Pope, and world leaders. God bless each of you
Good morning on that side of the world, Kendra and Jen.
Thank you very much Kendra for your kind and encouraging words. You have too much reason and you are correct. I am praying as hard as I can to live to see our church restored and clean of these filth. I hope I do. I have faith in God that He will listen to all of us His church. I truly thank you for taking the time to answer with such kindness and thoughtfulness.
As per the proof about Pope Francis knowing, perhaps you have see it on the media by now but if not this is the link of today's CBS news which already reached Australian newspapers as well https://www.cbsnews.com/news/pope-francis-knew-of-abusive-priest-claims-former-vatican-official-carlo-maria-vigano/
I wish you a happy Sunday and may God bless you a keep using you as a vessel of His will to communicate His Love and Grace through you. Thank you very, very much.
Yes. I just saw it last night. It's a real gut punch. Thank you for your kind words.
Thank you for the link, Rodrigo. And I agree with Kendra thank you for your kind words.
My question is if he said that he told the Pope in 2013 and since he said the pope didn't do any thing why didn't he go to the papers then? Why wait 5 years to say anything? I also would love to know how he told him. Was it via mail, email, phone call, etc. Did he tell the pope or give the message to someone to tell the pope? I am just very confused about the whole thing. So I am praying that hat God will shine His light on this mess. Thanks for listening to me. I know we don't have any answers but it does bother me that he waited 5 years before saying something. What not turn the file over to the authorities immediately?
I have been thinking about this and I am wondering if this is what happened. Pope Francis was elected Pope in March of 2013. I wonder if he was hit with so many things that year he really did not hear what the archbishop was saying? Which of course makes you wonder did the archbishop just say it once or more than once. Guess that just gives me more questions. Sorry about that.
Joining from Italy!
I have joined.
Not sure how to officially "Join" but I want to.
You just did! Now you choose your acts of reparation and your forty days and just do it!
I have joined it. Thank you Kendra for encourage us the path to pray more, sacrifice more, and heal more. Acts of reparations … with interior life…
St Josemaria Escriva, in The way #301 says: …these world crises are crises of saints…
God wants a handful of men 'of his own' in every human activity. And then… 'pax Christi in regno Christi — the peace of Christ in the kingdom of Christ'
I wish I'd found this earlier! Thank you for doing this. I will join in for the last few days.
I’m glad to hear it! Welcome! And lots of folks started at different times and will end at different times. It works well as a DIY.
This is very educational content and written well for a change. It's nice to see that some people still understand how to write a quality post! Training room rental in Singapore
Please take great care in how you write about people that have experienced sexual abuse. As a person who experienced sexual abuse by a paedophile ring decades ago I can tell you that the abuse continues throughout your life. In that moment, that life defining moment – you are not broken or damaged or enraged to seek justice. You are in a perfect state of innocence. An innocence that stays with you forever – a blessing. The challenge becomes our place in the world whilst living in that perfect blessing of innocence. The world wants to right itself, to forgive itself for abuse, to punish itself for the abuse that continues to happen as I type these words. No person that experienced sexual abuse thinks for a moment that they can stop these abuses from happening. However, we take comfort in knowing that whilst we will experience great challenges in our lives we have received the blessing of innocence. To know that we will have a special place in heaven. The world in its nature will continue to harbour and protect perpetrators of sexual abuse; the predators will find Machiavellian ways to carry out the abuse no matter what safeguards are put in place. I do not ask anyone to prostrate themselves or punish themselves for what the perpetrators did and continue to do . I would only pray that people that have experienced sexual abuse whether as a child or as an adult – or in my case both – are treated with fairness, gentleness and compassion. A world where we do not have to hide what has happened to us for fear of being treated differently would alleviate much of the challenges that we face. We are not broken, we do not need to find peace – we have an insight into innocence, care, love, forgiveness that actually makes us exceptional people to know. Sadly not many people get to know us as we need to hide ourselves for fear of how people respond to us. Perhaps a more appropriate way forward would be for the church to become the welcoming refuge for people that have experienced sexual abuse. Not wasting money on compensation or cash hungry psychologists or counsellors but just an open and welcome invitation. Hold masses specifically, and perhaps exclusively for people that have experienced sexual abuse. Stop treating us as victims. We have a life experience that is certainly criminal, but rarely results in conviction. Many do not even report the crime as it is a waste of time and in conflict to our knowledge or innocence, love, caring and forgiveness. Welcome us as people that have had an experience – we are not complicit in what happened to us. We are not responsible for the world’s inaction that led to and continues to lead to more occurrences. That experience of innocence has so many beautiful reflections of out religious beliefs. A warm welcome to the church would be the best gift you can provide – focus on the good – and people who have experienced sexual abuse will be drawn to you. Focus on the crime and the act and people who have experienced sexual abuse will hide from you. People who have experienced sexual abuse have a purity of innocence in our understanding of love, forgiveness, compassion. Do not reach out to us with revenge, justice, sack cloths – just reach out with friendship, with Christian love.
es to lead to more occurrences. That experience of innocence has so many beautiful reflections of out religious beliefs. A warm welcome to the church would be the best gift you can provide – focus on the good – and people who have experienced sexual abuse will be drawn to you. Focus on the crime and the act and people who have experienced sexual abuse will hide from you. People who have experienced sexual abuse have a purity of innocence in our understanding of love, forgiveness, compassion. Do not reach out to us with revenge, justice, sack cloths – just reach out with friendship, with Christian lov