Even as recently as a month ago, I still hadn’t discussed the clergy sex abuse issue with my children. Both attend Catholic school and my oldest is an altar server.
We had the “good touch/bad touch” talk when they were little and over the years I’ve encouraged them to always trust their instincts. Child predators can exist anywhere and I hope I’ve prepared them for that reality. But clergy sex abuse adds a whole new more challenging element to the discussion. It’s difficult enough for adults to distinguish between faith in God and faith in the people who represent Him.
I spoke with my children. I’m glad I did. It seems kids know more than we think they do and it’s important to put that knowledge in context. I hoped to encourage their respect for priests. But I explained that, like any human, they are capable of good or evil.
What was far harder to explain was why Church leaders didn’t stop the abuse and still aren’t doing all that they should. The legal intricacies – both civil and canon – are meaningless to children who have been taught what Jesus would do.
Have you spoken to your kids about clergy sex abuse? If so, how did you handle it? If not, why not? Please comment.
Please help us create a discussion resource list. Send us any links and books you have found helpful. One of my favorite books is “Protecting the Gift: Keeping Children and Teenagers Safe,” by Gavin De Becker.