One of the more promising developments over the past year has been parish-based forums on clergy child sex abuse. We need more to do so. Some have held healing services, but I prefer “information forum” for several reasons. While healing is most certainly needed on all fronts, it seems that would come more easily after all other appropriate steps. There is little trust that the entire hierarchy is taking all those steps. In the meantime, information is critical. Bringing the issue into the light will enable the faithful to enforce efforts.
At a recent parish council meeting on whether or not to hold a forum, someone said this issue is best dealt with in private. What? Child sex abuse happens in private. Cover ups happen in private. The solution will be found out in the open. We must shine a light on this issue. Hasn’t Penn State, the Boy Scouts, the Catholic Church and many other organizations proven that fact? The staggering statistics compel us to deal with this issue. This is not another person’s problem. This is our responsibility as human beings. We owe it to our children, our community and our God.
Kathy and I ask every pastor, every pastoral council, every parishioner to make holding a parish-based information forum a priority. I invite those who have held forums, survivors and advocates to contribute your thoughts on what worked and what didn’t in previous forums below in the comments. This will serve as an invaluable planning resource.