Archdiocese of Philadelphia to Hold Healing Mass for Clergy Abuse Victims


In a recent announcement, Archbishop Chaput encourages the clergy and faithful of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia to gather on Saturday, March 22, 2014 during the regular 5:15 service at the Cathedral of SS. Peter and Paul for a Healing Mass for Victims of Clergy Sex Abuse.  Archbishop Chaput will be the main celebrant and homilist. Recommended wording for bulletins went out to parishes as well as personal invitations to victims of clergy sex abuse. One sentence read, “as we continue to pray for the survivors of clergy sexual abuse, the healing of the church, and for all those who have been affected by clergy sexual abuse.”

Kathy and I would like to hear everyone’s thoughts on this. What specific actions would you like the Archdiocese to undertake on behalf of victims?

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85 Responses to “Archdiocese of Philadelphia to Hold Healing Mass for Clergy Abuse Victims”

  1. Nancy Mortimer O'Brien Reply February 15, 2014 at 6:18 pm

    I don’t know where to begin. Besides meeting with victims and their families, start meeting with representatives of organizations such as Voice of the Faithful, Call to Action; Church Accountability and Justice4PAKids etc.

    • WONDER IF THE VSTMENTS WILL BE ” SACKCLOTH AND ASHES??”

      • Hi Kathy

        If you could do me a favor and add an initial of some kind to your name when you comment..we have had a few Kathy’s over the years..I always post under Kathy Kane so there is no confusion..the other Kathy’s added an initial (Kathy Z. Kathy W.) so we all could keep it clear who we were. Welcome aboard.

      • Was thinking the same thing.

      • Memo from Sister Maureen Paul Turlish regarding the Philadelphia Archdiocese’s Mass on Saturday, 03/22/2014.

        Please send this around to everyone you know who realizes the need for better statutes regarding the sexual abuse of children:

        Prayer alone will not bring healing. Acknowledgment of the crimes committed against innocent children, acknowledgment of the institutional cover-up by church hierarchy and justice are necessary.

        These are crimes and mortal sins committed against the very humanity of children and they cry out to heaven for justice
        About the Mass scheduled by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia for Saturday, March 22nd, 2014 at 5:15 p.m. to which so many victims/survivors of clergy sexual abuse have received invitations —

        I will be somewhere out in front of the Basilica Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul with a sign urging support for all victims and survivors of childhood sexual abuse, past, present and future – BY ANYONE by supporting PA legislator Mark Rozzi’s recently proposed legislation covering the sexual abuse of children.

        Legislation similar to HB 2067 has been previously proposed but the chairman of the judiciary committee has blocked any discussion on those bills. Strong efforts by the Insurance Lobby, the PA Catholic Conference and others helped in that effort.

        Bill numbers may change. Therefore suggestions for signs include the following:

        Support Rozzi SOL Reforms
        Protect Children
        CSA Predators Don’t Stop
        DO the Right Thing
        CSA = Epidemic
        CSA = $1.5 Billion to PA Taxpayers
        Where’s the Outrage?
        Justice Denied for Thousands
        Stop Perps – Pass Reform Bills
        When is enough – ENOUGH!
        Hold CSA Predators Accountable
        Legislators – DO something Now!
        Could you tell when you were 10?
        Don’t Protect immoral, godless acts
        Allow victims to expose criminals
        Forget the Powerbrokers…help the People
        Stop Endangering Children

        There will be a film crew asking passersby whether they believe legislation like HB 2067 is necessary in Pennsylvania.

        If you support victims of childhood sexual abuse, past, present and future, join me. Bring your own signs and don’t forget to call your Representatives in Harrisburg urging the Support Rozzi SOL Reforms.

        Going to the Mass ITSELF on the 22nd?

        I would never, ever recommend attendance on the part of survivors or their families. That would be something each would have to decide individually. The survivors and/or families that I have heard from, directly or indirectly, are outraged at having received the archdiocese’s invitation. Remember the public relations disaster that was Remember the Sorrow created by Justin Rigali? Would you believe it is still available in its entirety on the AOP website?

        Well, it is.

        Other concerned individuals including advocates, etc., well that’s another story.

        The only way I would consider going in would be before the service began, empty handed, sitting some place in the front third of the pews, by myself just inside the pew to the right or left of the center aisle to say my own prayer to the Lord. Sometime after the service began and at an appropriate moment I would simply get up, by myself, and exit by way of the center aisle, slowly walking back the way I came in. If anyone would care to perform a similar action, you are welcome.

        Please forward this to anyone you think would be interested in supporting such legislation and I’ll see you on the 22nd in front of the Cathedral. I plan to be there between 4 and 4:30 p.m.

        Sister Maureen

  2. I recommend a truth and reconciliation commission, a la Bishop Desmond Tutu, with a 3-member panel chosen by the AB, e.g. SNAP, and some neutral but distinguished judge.

  3. Instead of simply having a healing Mass for victims and families, why not request the Archbishop to ask all the parishes of the Archdiocese to have petitions at all the masses that weekend and every week praying for all the victims. Many of the parishes pray for the “unborn aborted” and for victims of other crimes why not make this prayer for all victims of sexual abuse especially here in this Archdiocese. May be that would be a real door opener for the beginning of reconciliation. Parishes should be part of this whole process. Priests and people should be fully aware that this continues to be a significant wound in the lives of so many victims and their families.

  4. Sorry, but a follow up of my previous comment. I had written Cardinal Dolan of NY last year as he prepared to have a similar Mass. I also requested that all their parishes should have petitions at each Eucharist that weekend and regularly for each Sunday. Interestingly, I never received any follow up from his office. My only presumption was that my request never made it beyond the “shred” box.

  5. The archdiocese needs to make public what it is willing to do to help the victims of abuse. Colin Powell created what he called “The Pottery Barn Rule” – You break it you own it, The archdiocese has a responsibility to do what it can to repair these broken lives. Once they have produced a program they need to fund the program while simultaneously turning the administration over to an outside body to administer the program. This would demonstrate their acknowledgment and intention to atone for what the institution has allowed to occur. If it impoverishes the archdiocese financially, which is unlikely, it will enrich it spiritually. This is the whole point after all, isn’t it?

  6. The letter/invitation sent by chaput and signed by director leslie j. davila is a self serving letter designed to give the impression that the rcc/chaput/pope/vatican/hierarchy ‘care’ about the Survivors of Sexual Abuse VICTIMIZED by the clergy and enabled by the hierarchy, I personally find this invitation insulting as it makes no mention of the VICTIMS WHO DID NOT SURVIVE but it focuses on the ‘healing of the church which is the SOURCE of the problem. Well chaput as a result of your interference in Harrisburg via the catholic conference of bishops along with some politicians you carry in your pocket like coins, neither the church or the VICIMS will heal. Until the playing field is leveled and the SOL is eliminated and Window Legislation enacted the VICTIMS will never heal. You chaput may continue to delay the changes in the Laws but eventually they will be changed in order to give VICTIMS the opportunity for Justice. If the archdiocese did nothing wrong they have nothing to fear but I believe you chaput will do what you can for as long as you can to delay the TRUTH from being exposed !

    chaput : “Three things can not be hidden : the sun, the moon and the “truth” . Buddha

    • When I recall all the healings masses held in Australia…..while the abuse was still rampant, confidentialitiy clauses were required before financial restitution and denial was an ongoing saga……it wouldn’t convince me I’m afraid.

  7. I did not receive my invitation ! But to be fair that can because the Archdiocese, Father Judge, and St. Jeromes are under order NEVER to send me mailings. I will have to check with my attorney and see if he has received anything.

    If anyone has received such invitation could you be as so kind to share the context.

    I as a victim will only look at this as a polite gesture, and that is the only way I will look at it. I do not trust the archdiocese and I do not trust Chaput.

    The hairs are standing up on the back of my neck because I think Chaput has some type of underlying goal. Maybe how he is perceived in the media, or something to do with September 2015 visit of the Pope.

    I hope every survivor goes invitation or no invitation but please do not get caught up in the hype. The work and responsibility of the archdiocese of Philadelphia is far from being over.

    • Dennis, while it is likely not the only motivation, some of which I suspect are genuinely based on concern for victims, Sept 2015 is undoubtedly a factor. Your assessment resonates with me. Some might say this as a cynical interpretation but given a decades old pattern of decisions driven first and always by self-interest, it is an inescapable conclusion.

      The sad thing is that institutional Church leaders still don’t understand what everyone else does. Everything they do starts with preservation and promotion of the institution; they believe that is their first obligation. In doing so, they defy the Gospel message. They would accuse the Good Shepherd of organizational negligence. Why concern yourself with one who is lost when you have an obligation to keep the 99 flocked together following the leader? The logic of love is lost on them.

      Charles Chaput could change this. Here is a sermon suggestion. Stand up, say you and the AD support lifting the statute of limitations, and then say nothing else.

      Martin

  8. Chuput you paid Lynn’s bail….shows who side your on!

  9. We recently had a similar mass held in the archdiocese of Milwaukee only it was referred to as a “mass of atonement”. As a survivor of clergy sexual abuse I wanted to experience first hand what this event was all about. The church was virtually empty, no one showed up except the archbishop and his priest friends. Why? Because it is entirely disingenuous. If the church and it’s leaders continue to lie to me as a survivor of clergy abuse why would I want to gather in prayer with them? Why would Catholics want to partake in something that is not authentic? The church knows full well that healing does not take place in the midst of lies and deception, the Gospel tells us that.

  10. We recently had a similar event in the archdiocese of Milwaukee although it was referred to as a “mass of atonement”. As a survivor of clergy sexual assault I decided to attend to see first hand what it was all about. Not surprisingly the church was virtually empty. The majority of those in attendance were the archbishop and his priest friends. Why? Because it is entirely disingenuous. Why would I want to gather in prayer with church leaders who continually lie to me and my fellow survivors? Why would Catholics want to attend a church service that they know is not authentic. The church knows that healing does not come through lies and deception, the Gospel tells us that.

  11. I have attended healing masses and prayer services in the Diocese of Arlington , VA. As a victim I felt that they were more a PR move than a true effort to help victim heal. During the homily the bishop said those that abuse are sinners and those that don’t forgive their abusers are sinning too. I was appalled to be called a sinner at a mass that was supposed to be healing.
    If every church had victims come to tell their stories and what they need to heal it would be both educational for the Catholics in the pews as well as healing for the victims. It would need to be open to all victims not to those especially picked by church officials.

  12. I have been very angry at the church leadership for not having so much as an outdoor 10 minute prayer service for victims. The fact that they are celebrating a Mass lessens my anger but does not increase my trust. This is the right thing to do and I have thought so for a very long time.

    When the students of PSU gathered for a prayer service for victims a day after the abuse was made public, it validated the need many humans have for God to help and guide. When I think about it maybe having Jesus in the middle between those who have been violated and those who are responsible will help someone. I think it will take great courage for Archbishop Chaput to put together a homily for victims that is from the heart. Maybe this will help! Maybe not the victims, but maybe a victim’s mother, sister or child.

    I heard Bishop Desmond Tutu speak a few years ago at Villanova about the hearings for reconciliation and how it helped the healing in South Africa. I strongly agree with Charles about a similar commission.

  13. This is an extremely small step on the part of the Archbishop of Philadelphia. Like Dennis, I didn’t receive my personal invitation yet, nor do I expect to ever receive one. The truth of the matter is that even if such an invitation were sent, I would politely decline. You see when I go into a church, any church, I suffer from flashbacks that take weeks for me to recover. The effects from childhood sexual abuse will not be erased or even slightly altered by a Mass. I believe that the survivors of clergy abuse are collateral damage, much like those killed from bombs dropped from thirty five thousand feet. Nobody in the Hierarchy really gives a damn. And also like Dennis, I don’t trust Chaput. Trust is something that must be earned and he hasn’t earned it. . ..

    • JIm I have been thinking about you and Vicky and a few other of our survivors and I was thinking the same thing……..how many would not or couldn’t attend because of flashbacks etc. Maybe some kind of outside service would be more compassionate……

      • The answer for the archdiocese is service and not a service. I can have a mass said for the victims in my parish for a $15 donation. Not such a big deal. The time for apologies is past it is time for the archdiocese to take action. Until they do that they have done nothing.

      • Beth,

        I describe what our attackers gave to us besides harming us is the gift that keeps on giving. Flashbacks, nightmares, increased heart rate.

        I don’t know about anyone else here but for decades I HAVE BEEN TRYING TO GIVE THE GIFT BACK.

      • Beth: thank you for your concerns for myself and all victims. Can you imagine Jerry Sandusky inviting all of his victims back to the showers at Penn State to pray with them? The Hierarchy of the Church just does not get it. Many of us were permanently scarred for life by what happened to us in Church buildings. Syd talks about truth. Unless and until the hierarchy of the Catholic Church owns the truth of what happened to victims of clergy abuse, healing will be impossible. Unless and until the Hierarchy of the Church takes responsibility for its’ role in covering up the abuse, healing will be impossible. On a lighter note ,if the Archbishop would like to invite me for dinner across the street at the Four Seasons, I would be happy to attend. I prefer my filet mignon medium rare.

        • jIM, U R NOAT ALONE AND EVERYONE OF US THAT WAS EVER VIOLATED BY ANYOONE IS SHARING THE SAME MEMORIES AND STIGMA BROUGHT ON BY THE PERPETRATORS, BUT WROSE THAN THIS IS THE DENIAL OF THE RCC AND OF LAY CATHOLICS WH HAVE TOLD ME TO GET OVVER IT, AND THEY DONT BELIEVE ALL ATESE LIES AND THAT ALL OF U ARE ONLY AFTER THE $$$. MAY GOD FORGIVE THEM. AND THE BIGGEST TURNOFF FOR ME OF THE RCC WAS WHEN I TRIED TO ADDRESS IT IN CONFESSION SOME 50 UEARS AFTER AND ASKED HOW I COULD WORK OUT FORGIVENESS FOR THE PERPETRATOR, THE CONFESSOR TURNED ON ME AND ACCUSED ME OF HAVING CONFESSED IT BEFORE, AND TAT I WAS THE ONE WHO DID IT TO SOMEONE ELSE AND THEN LATER ON BEING TOLD THAT THE INNOCENT PE3OPLE WHO SUFFERED THIS DEFILEMENT BECAAME
          PERPETRATORS WHEN THEY GREW UP. EVERYONE OF US KNEW AT A YOUNG AGE THAT WE COULD NOT ADDRESS THIS VIOLATION WITH ANYONE IN AUTHORITY, BECAUSE IT WOULD BRING DISGRACE ON OUR FAMILY AS IF WE WERE THE CULPRITS.
          THE CLERGY IS SO OUT OF TOUCH WITH REALITY AND WE SHOULD HAVE A MARRIED CLERGY WHO WILL KNOW WHAT IT IS TO RAISE A CHAILD AND PROTECT IT FROM ALL HARM, KNOW WHAT IT IS TO STRUGGLE TO LIVE A CHRISTAIN LIFE IN THE MAINSTREAM AND FOLLOW CHHRIST’S MESSAGES. THEY ARE SO FAR OFF BASE AND THINK THEY ARE SO SUPERIOR WITH THEIR HHIERARCHIAL\COMPLACENCY AND LIES AND DNIALS.
          WHJAT A COMPLETE TURNABOUT FROM JESUS MESSAGE TO HIS FOUNDING CHURCH. OW MUCH THEY HAVE BENT THIS MESSAAGE TO THEIR OWN GREEDY AND SELFISH AND POWER SIEZING DISTORTIONS.
          I TURLY WONDER HHOW THE RCC HAS SURVIVED, THEY HAVE ALWAYS BEEN READY TO TOSS THE SAINTS TO THE LIONS, SO TO SPECAK: JOHN OF THE CROSS, ST. TERESA OF AVILA, ST. BERNADETTE, ST CATHERINE OF SIENA AND OF COURSE THEY TOSSED MARTIN LUTHER OUT THE DOOR FAST WHEN HE WENT TO ROME TO HAVE THEM TOSS OUT THE PURCHASEING OF INDULGNECES.
          THEY MAY GO INTO THE SEMINARY OR RELIGIOUS LIFE WITH A FEELING OF FOLLOWING CHRIST BUT THEY ARE MORE INTUNED TO GETTING INTO THE POLITICAL ARENA WITH THE HHIERARCHY AND TRYING TO WORK THEIR WAY UP THE LADDER AMD O M EACH RUNG STEPPING ON THE INNOCENT AND CHRIST’S MESSAGE AND ONLY LISTIENING AND OBEYING BLINDLY THE DISTORTIONS FROM ABOVE.
          CHRIST HAS A SIMPLE MESSAGE AS EVIDENCED THRUOUT THE BIBLE, ONE ALL COULD UNDERSTAND, BUT THEY BENT IT SO OUT OF SHAPE, NOT ENHANCED IT AND MADE SO MANY RULES AND REGSAND AS MY SAINTED MOM USED TO SAY: THEY ARE MANMADE LAWS NOT GOD’S~IT TOOK ME AMNY YEARS TO APPRECIATE HER WORDS OF WISDOM.
          SO NOW WHERE DO WE GO FROM H ERE? CAN QWE TRUST AN INSTITUTION THAT HAS HARMED SO MANY PEOPLE THRU THE AGES. AT THIS PINT IT IS A SEPARATE STATE WITH ITS OWN LAWS AND CANT BE PROSECUTED, EVEN THO THEY HAVE BEEN SEVERLEY SANCTIONED BY THE UNITED NATIONS
          JUST WHERE DOES ONE GO? STAYAING IS ONLY PROLONGING OUR AGONY AND THE MEMORIES, WE HAVE TO PRAY, PICK UP THE PIECES AND MOVE ON…TYE ARE STILL DESTROYING US DAY AND DAY OUT/ WE MUST FIND A NEW FAITH OF PEACE AND LOVE ELSEWHERE TO SAVE OUR OWN SANITY, BU THEY MUST BE BROUGHT TO TASK FOR ALL THE TERRRIBLE HARM ATHEY HAVE CAUSED TO SO MANY INNOCENT.
          KATHY XRCC

  14. Many times through out the Bible Jesus pointed out that it was people’s faith in God that healed them ………..my question is do those in leadership have the kind of faith that leads to healing???????

  15. The Archdiocese needs to understand Victims do not want their value based on any particular achievement. I personally do not need this saintly action and this church that is accomplishing something. I would rather have the truth, deeply and completely. Nothing else will satisfy no matter what they do or how much they accomplish. Truth is what allows confidence to rest in hope and anything else than simple truth is absurd.

  16. I agree with others above that the Archdiocese needs to do so very much more. A significant beginning would be to remove the political “pressure” and the SOL etc. Think of the peoples’ money that goes into that! It’s ironic how the institutional Church is confusing “sin” and “crime”. Faith is necessary, on the Church’s part, that if they do the right thing, Jesus will provide…..take a page from Mother Teresa’s book! Then, it would be helpful if good priests throughout the diocese joined voices with us to encourage the hierarchical Church to become more like one proclaimed and modeled by Jesus in the Gospel and less like a big, power-hungry, patriarchal, rule-driven, shameful, self-protecting institution it has become. I often wonder as I read the Scriptures why the hierarchy isn’t shaking in its collective boots when they read the words of Jesus – especially in reference to the priests of His time. Additionally,it would be nice if, when contacted by mail, Archbishop Chaput would address the points of the writer rather than criticize the “emotional” tone of the writer, thus avoiding the “sticky” parts. Ad hominem, hmmm…Lastly, I think the Church should undertake hiring professional experts to go to each parish and educate the laity about the reality and legacy of childhood sexual abuse. It would be great if people were pursuing this on their own, but the Church teaches a lot of things – I can’t think of anything more important, because the lasting effects of childhood sex abuse will ripple through the generations of families, negatively impacting the family members whether they are conscious of it or not. Wouldn’t it be novel if the Church could be out in front truly leading the society by example instead of catching up far too late behind?

  17. I agree with everyone’s comments on this. The blanket statement that was issued to the parishes regarding the mass, seemed hollow. The church had no passion for the victims because they have not chosen to really deal with this issue. These are hollow actions and words at this point, until they area really ready, honestly, to open up about this problem within its own walls. Though prayer can be powerful, actions speak louder than words.

  18. These sanctimonious dodges known as “Healing Masses” are for suckers.
    I hope neither the AD’s victims nor their families will submit to such nonsense.

  19. In order to heal…there has to be repentance.

    At the very least…it should be a penance service. Stand there in your everyday clothes…every last one of them…from Chaput to deacons…and repent before your parishioners as a very tiny beginning. As far as the victims…expecting them to walk into the house that abused them is selfish and arrogant. That is such a clerical move…”hold a healing service…you know…for victims…we’ll invite them to OUR mass where we can pray for their healing and our egos too.”

    And for crying loud…QUIT LUMPING THE VICTIMS IN WITH WHATEVER YOU WANT FOR YOUR CHURCH!

    They just don’t get it. I will be bashed for being critical of their efforts. But things like this reek of their insulated decision-making. If they even consulted victims, they wouldn’t be doing things this way.

    Have your mass. Pray for victims, their families, oh, and yourselves. The last one is who you are doing it for anyway.

    • Sw,
      Been thinking of standing outside myself. I remember how amazed and shocked I was when Vicky came into OLG and attended our church meeting on sexual abuse in the AD of Philly I know it took many years for her to get to that point and many survivors may never want or be able to get to this point. I will never forget the strength of the human spirit I witnessed in her. It was an amazing experience I don’t really have words to describe it. Some abuse survivors are able to go inside churches but I agree its arrogant and shows a lack of understanding to invite abuse survivors to a catholic church since many were abused in or near a church. I have to add that until I went to the vigils and talked to our survivors I was somewhat arrogant and also lacked understanding………..in order to understand the church leadership needs to become humble …..humbling is never comfortable but always necessary for growth and healing…….but you need an open heart………many places in the Bible Jesus rebukes the hard of heart……

      • Beth,
        You, among others, are the Catholics I needed to meet when I was looking around the pews for the people who “got it.” I couldn’t understand why no one seemed to be outraged at the hierarchy, disgusted by the handling of child rape, or grieved on behalf of victims…you really are Jesus with skin on to me. The fact that you are Catholic means I can’t write “all of you” off.

        We don’t need a mass with vestments and ritual in a building that represents hurt, shame, and on-going corruption. We needed (and need) more Beths!

    • Once again, Survivor’s wife, you have hit the nail on the head. Well said! I will respond to this Mass soon, as I did receive this invite and have much to express. All the sentiments expressed above are right on, thank you all for your compassion and deeply felt empathy. I ask that you all keep one thought in mind, always, NOTHING to this very moment would have changed in the Catholic Church if it had not been for the victims who had the courage to speak up and say enough! Children, your children would still be in dire danger of being raped while the silence of this Church went about it’s business. Only after being pressured did this Church have to address this carnage. Not one survivor was asked about weather this was a good idea. What this shows on behalf of the Church is a total lack of any kind of understanding of what a victim suffers. Many of us were raped while inside a Catholic Church. Please do not compare the sandusky and Penn State with what he did to his victims what makes being raped by a priest different is we were raped in the name of God, what is left for a bleeding child when God has been disposed of and dismembered, what hope is left? On top of all that you call this priest “father”? Shame on this institution and it’s members who use us purely for PR purposes. If they want suggestions for God’s sake ask a survivor, how difficult is that? For me, it’s common sense. Chaput, your words are hollow and your actions speak even louder about your contempt for the wounded!

      • Vicky whenever I read about all the Church had done to change things, I always think..No it was all that the victims have done that changed anything at all..you protected these kids..all of you.

        • Thank you, Kathy. You cannot imagine how much it means to me that you know this. I wish I could have saved them all so much sooner. My deepest pain that pierces my heart is when a victim sees no recourse but to end his or her life. The depth of my sadness is beyond measure.

      • Vicky:I really wasn’t comparing what you have endured with what happened at Penn State. I was being facetious .I get the distinct impression that I did or said something to offend you. If I did ,I am truly sorry. I really marvel at what you have endured in your life and the strength that you show on a daily basis. Again, if I said something on a previous blog to upset you, I apologize.

        • My Dear Friend Jim, You have not offended me. I know your heart, my friend and it’s just and it’s true. You are real and I treasure knowing you on this site and truly hope one day we will meet. For me, it was just a last straw about people that in their ignorance compare sandusky to us as survivors. I know where you were coming from I just did not explain it well because i was angry receiving this invitation in the mail. I was beyond insulted and angry. zThank God I had therapy, i was able to “vent”.
          No need to apologize, I have great respect for you.

    • Beth, Thank you for your very kind words. You are correct in writing that it has taken many years of good therapy to have walked into your church. What struck me was the level of hurt and bewildered anguish I saw in the eyes of so many that had attended this talk. I knew I had done the right thing in coming and speaking when one of the ladies came up to me with tears in her eyes and said, “by you being here, you have put a face to this painful truth”. I just wish more parishes would let us speak without anger and help people understand the lifetime effects of sexual abuse. Educate! So many people don’t understand it. I will always be grateful that God chose me to be there that nite.

      • Vicky Amen. I believe God was definitely present and I believe he can and does amazing things….and he can and does work thru good people…….you were meant to be there no doubt about it. Thankyou.

  20. Remove the SOL!!

  21. Tell Chaput to NOT invite Lynn! Would not think you would have to say that, but every time I read about some church (not just RC) offering prayers for victims they almost always include prayers for “their priests”. As if!

  22. Ladies and gentlemen I so much enjoy what people write on this site. It comes from the heart. Sadly, we and our families are bound by an event that took place in our life that never should have. My regret is I may never be able to shake the hand of each and every one of you.

    I am not going to say anyone who does go to this mass is wrong, and I am not going to say those who do not go are wrong. I most likely will not attend after my wife read the blog and said “we have something to do that day” and when I asked her what we were doing she gave the answer ” I will find something to do”. I cannot blame her, she never signed on for what she goes through.

    Some real facts have presented themselves. On one hand you have survivors who will welcome this as a part of their continued healing, and something I can relate to is the event leading to be a “trigger” for more pain. Pain that some do not understand as being real, but it is real. So we must do what is right for our own comfort and well-being.

    My abuse was no worse then anybody else. It took a part of my life away. But my honest feelings are I do not want to be only a face with other abuse victims who all suffered what happened to them in different ways. Prayers and a mass maybe a good gesture but sadly that is all it is. If Archbishop Chaput wants to sit down with me and hear not only what I have to say and question but also what my wife and daughter have to say of what they had to experience then maybe an apology may mean something.

    This is something he must do with each and every victim/survivor who will welcome it. No excuses.

    I hope I’m wrong, but I only see a 90 minute Mass tops. Where he looks out upon the pews of abuse victims and sees only faces. He won’t see the pain in the hearts and minds that some survivors like me and others have been fighting for decades.

  23. This is simply another public relations move by the Archdiocese. A few years back Cardinal Rigali along with then Vicar of Clergy and now Bishop Senior. It was called Witness to Sorrow. This current mass offering is simply a ” show of shows”, it is designed so the faithful of the Archdiocesan parishes will see that the Archbishop is making efforts to make them feel good. No singles mass, retreat or vigil will heal a victim/survivors pain.
    As a recovering Catholic, it is my choice of how I practice my faith. One place I certainly would not is the Cathedral of Ss. Peter and Paul where so many priestly promises were made during the Ordination to the Priesthood only to have those same hands abuse just a short tine later. I personally will not entertain any idea of attending this mass, however I will personally continue to make efforts that all organizations supporting those abused project a clear message withou specific agendas of there own. I personally will continue to rally behind the SOL reform and Rep. Mark Rozzi to see that this bill gets a chance for vote on the house floor. My best and thanks to you all at C4C. Two-Year Window for Sex Abuse Victims
    Petition by State Representative Mark Rozzi

  24. So, Somewhere between the Philadelphia and Harrisburg, Pa. area, there is a line drawn, and that line either starts or stops the… “prayers for the victims” ( 2 different Dioceses’ ). Huh. I personally do not know where this line is drawn, btw. Now, I do know that truly, God hears all our prayers. I do know this. Not hearing that lately, as I learned that while in Catholic grade & high school. However, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, not the Diocese of Harrisburg, whom, as I live within, and I am a adult survivor of priestly abuse, this Harrisburg Diocese, and myself and any other victims, in this area, will theoretically be ” un-prayed for “. Again…HUH !

  25. Let me ask another question. Putting the archdiocese aside, what can the average person do for victims? Is there a type of gathering that Kathy and I could organize that would bring comfort or at least a sense of community?

    • Susan: Dennis says in an earlier post that he would like to shake the hands of many of the people who post on this blog. I too would like to meet and greet many of those who post here. This blog has been a tremendous help for myself and others. Just to know that one is not alone is extremely helpful .What the venue would be is certainly up for discussion. Perhaps a picnic when warmer weather arrives or any other inexpensive venue. One thing I would suggest is having a place on this site for those of us who have been victims to share our stories. I learned quite awhile ago that one of the benefits of twelve step groups is the sharing of stories and the identification with those stories Victim/survivors .could share what happened to them, how it has affected their lives and what they have done to overcome the trauma. I know bits and pieces of many of the stories of survivors who post on this blog but not their entire stories. Of course many people will be reluctant to share and that is ok .Perhaps when reading what others have gone through they would be more willing. But I really believe that providing a safe place for victims to share their history of dealing with clergy abuse would be extremely helpful. There are other sites for victims but some of us have been put off by what we have found there.

      • Jim, Sorry it’s taken me so long to get back to you. I can absolutely begin a section for victim/survivor stories. Would you like to kick it off? If so, I’ll privately email you with my email address. You can send whenever you like. I’d like to put together a C4C team for the Justice4PAkids 5K on May 3. Everyone has the option to walk or run. Family and friends are welcome. I’ll post more details.

    • Great question. I’ve been an advocate for clergy abuse victims for over 25 years. I watched through drawn curtains around an emergency room bed as blood seeped further and further down the bed sheets All the time, I was standing next to my son as he lay in his emergency room bed with a bullet in the back of his head. Believe it or not, as I prayed to God I promised I would do whatever I could to make this situation right. Never knowing what I was actually promising and what I would actually do.

      I never suspected my son could harm someone but perhaps he had tripped someone or shoved someone to make a gun go off by accident.

      In those precious moments my Catholic upbringing and parental guidance kicked in gear. In other words, I thought about doing the right thing, not about placing blame or just assuming my child did nothing wrong.

      Until we as parents worry about protecting all children, ours will never really be safe.

      If I had spent 20+ years helping kittens and puppies I would have been recognized multiple times for such good works. Doesn’t happen so much as an advocate for clergy abuse victims, not that I need it to continue as an advocate, but it says something about our society.

      I think victims of clergy sex abuse need an event where the general public comes out in large numbers and finally acknowledges them for their courage and ability to survive under the worst conditions.

      For what it’s worth, my son was the victim of an attempted murder at the hands of a 15-year-old boy most likely and abuse victim of a catholic priest. After trying to kill my son, the boy put the gun to his head, fired one shot and probably died instantly.

      Good luck with your planned event whatever shape it might take. I know it will be very successful and welcomed by all survivors of clergy sex abuse.

    • Susan,
      It depends. What is goal in reaching out to victims? If you are trying to build community within the Catholic Church for victims…I believe that ship has sailed.

      Is your intent to be a representative of the Catholic Church in some way in order to offer some sense of healing?

      • SW, I don’t think there can be a community for victims within the institutional Catholic Church until there is radical change. I just happen to be a Catholic who wants to do the best I can for those I’ve had the honor of getting to know via this site. I think I speak for Kathy as well.

        • Susan,
          Your point that radical change is needed has kept me pondering these thoughts all day. What kind of radical change is needed? What exactly has to happen in the Institutional Catholic church for there to be a living, thriving Roman Catholic community wherein those who have been sexually violated by members of the Catholic Church can be at home?
          I just cannot fathom what those changes would be to allow for such a thing to happen. I see a change needed in Catholics, the people themselves. There is something so disordered and dysfunctional in the Roman Catholic Communities, be it religious or lay. Whether one is a member of the hierarchy, diocesan clergy, member of religious order(male or female), or a lay person, there has to be a community mindset that fosters healthy boundaries in families, including teaching children to have healthy boundaries. That way we have children who grow into adults with an understanding of healthy boundaries rather than what seems to be rampant communities of dependent and immature, boundary-less adults. I question whether lack of mature adult mental health is endemic to Roman Catholicism.

          • Michele, Really good points. You are so right about issues being within the laity as well. I think we’ll be asking ourselves these questions for a lifetime.

        • Susan, I have no doubt there are people who want to know what to do.

          Being a voice for victims…not shying away from the conversation…um, starting a blog…all very important ways to help victims heal.

    • Susan, I gave a list to the archdiocese of all the healing things they could do to assist in the healing of survivors,Not one suggestion was ever implemented. If you want suggestions and are sincere in taking in those suggestions i will be happy to help you with ideas. You know my email.

      • Vicky, When did you give this to the archdiocese? We sincerely want to share with a broader audience what victims/survivors need/want. Much isn’t within our power to implement, but at least we can say it was put out there… and often. Perhaps the knowledge with mobilize some. While I do think there is evil and indifference, I also believe there are people who just need to know what to do.

        • Susan,
          I am not a survivor but I feel we should remember and recognize those survivors that have lost their lives and listen with compassion to the stories of our current survivors. And as mentioned before let our survivors that have started on the journey to healing share what has helped them heal. Prayer is also very powerful. I have heard Child Sexual Abuse described as a Holocaust and when I go by churches that have fake tombstones to emphasize the number of abortions in this country I wonder where is the same concern for our Sexual Abuse Survivors those tombstones could just as easily symbolize the loss of so many of our survivors. Lastly we need law changes to make sure that children are as safe as possible.

  26. Susan, many victims/survivors, families and friends they have confided in could use an informal meet and greet as so many carry the shame alone. Many standby and ask, What can we do? There are resources available that deal specifically with this subject matter. Organizations willing to get people help. There are public policy issues that people can become involved in simply by asking what can I do. A good way to start is something I personally conducted a few years back for those with mental health & addiction issues, by developing your own message, a person can clearly convey what happened, how they are handling themselves now and what they hope to do for others. Media, as we we’ll know, like to hear the war story instead of how a difference can and is being made. This media messaging traing is something I have wanted to do , tailored for abuse victims for sometime now. A big piece that can remain is anonymity if a person chooses. This will reduce the stigma that some carry but also increase the confidence that Change can happen. Additionally, victims/survivors may be more willing to share their story with a positive ending by noting that they will not stand by and watch the enabling continue, justice disappear and a large number of practicing Catholics remain in the dark about the truth. I will not character assassinate any particular support groups, but until a general message can be conveyed and these groups unify in some way, the general public remains in confusion about what is or isn’t’ being done.

  27. Pope Francis said he prayers to God, not a Catholic God. Chaput should not pray to a Catholic God, as he seemingly does, and expand his respect and love for God by telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, as Christ himself always did, no matter the consequences, and remove all pedophile priests hiding in closets.

    This upcoming “Catholic” Mass is a public display of sorrow and prayer much like the Pharisees and Sadducees would support. Would a truthful Jesus support such a pompous show of piety?

  28. Susan, Catholics have been conditioned as children not to question those in authority, but the fact is that those in authority have let us down. Until the Archbishop calls off the lobbyist in Harrisburg little will change. The question for the faithful of the Archdiocese is , why aren’t we demanding that Archbishop Chaput and Pope Francis, support these legislative changes in the laws that make all kids safer, instead of using your weekly offerings to block them? All parents deserve to know where every one of these rogue priests are. Let’s give every person who is entitled,their day in court and let’s make kid’s safer in the future at the same time.

  29. Kathy, I like the idea of an informal gathering in a public space that would enable this community that you have gathered here to meet each other.

  30. Susan & Kathy – first, you both go over and beyond what most people would do in reaching out to victims. I know firsthand how Kathy’s support and caring has helped me come to terms with my situation. In addition, she has put me into contact with other resources to assist me.

    I am in favor of an informal gathering – where issues could be discussed. How many people know that when you give to a collection supporting retired clergy at the Villa, you are also supporting priests leading a life of “penance and prayer?” I know that I was reluctant so report my incidents because the SOL had elapsed but found out that law enforcement needs all information to establish patterns of behavior.

    My questions are these – what can we force schools and parishes to do? Take the Fr. John Paul situation – who was at Bishop McDevitt for 15 years. After his story came out, multiple allegations were made from McDevitt alumni. Kathy read the Facebook page and can attest to it. Tell me not one fellow priest, not one administrator, not one faculty member, saw anything out of the ordinary? Tell me not one report was made? That is the accountability I want to see.

    • Owl Fan, You and countless others would like more answers. Supporting SOL Reform will expose predators and those enabling them. As far as transparency, let’s leave it as hopeful, but don’t hold your breath. The unfortunate part is many of the faithful in this Archdiocese are not educated on this epidemic and are satisfied when an announcement is made from 222. N. 17th Street of the little action that was taken, standard protocol. The faithful are shielded from the truth, but a sigh of relief gives them some peace. Victims/survivors have to break out the coping time and time again. Getting involved with Public Policy on this issue will bring you a sense of…Yes-I am doing something! My best, MMcD

      • Michael I agree that most are not educated on this issue..the online comments with news articles usually show this to be true. People were referring to Lynn as a convicted pedophile…others said the trial showed not one ounce of evidence of wrongdoing against the Archdiocese..one poor woman is under the assumption that abusive priests are under house arrest at St Charles Seminary. And then of course everything is fine now because of background checks.

    • Victim’s Sister and Owl Fan, Would a weeknight or weekend day work better for most?

  31. I would love such a gathering. I have so much anger in me for what has happened to my brother so many years ago. He still has not recovered and is in a very serious condition mentally. ECT treatments, alcoholism with numerous relapses, suicidal tendencies, PTSD, which you know is almost impossible to treat, etc., etc. I would love to be included, and think it would bring at least a little comfort to all.

  32. Susan,

    I have read some GREAT ideas. I hope you know you would have to involved if the initial plan is to meet at a diner or some other location like that. I for one have never met anyone who posts here and I only know who you are by your photo. (Is there a way to post our photos into the block at the left ? )

    My concerns are the Catholic Church. I would at no time would like them to be invited into this community.

    1. We have all witnessed over the years how concerned they have been to victim/survivor needs.

    2. Some may experience their involvement as a trigger for additional pain. I will repeat a medical oath I took many years ago, and that is to “do no harm”

    3. All persons who maybe part of this community may practice the Roman Catholic faith.

    My only other thing that I feel is there should be no involvement with other organizations such as SNAP or others. What I am trying to say is the success or failure of this community should never have to depend on the dollar bill.

    Thanks for reading

  33. What makes Chuput think that I would return to the Cathedral ( where I worked and was abused) over a 4 year period!

  34. My husband and I have reluctantly come to accept the ineffective response by hierarchs. A painful truth is that we’ve also come to accept, but dislike, the lack of demonstrated concern Catholics have had about the rape of children and lack of accountability of their moral leadership.

    I believe Catholics think they can ride out this “unfortunate” time in their Church’s history. Catholics haven’t even begun to see the long-term devastation they have participated in. This should alarm every catholic sitting in the pews. Why? Because, THIS ill of the church will repeat.

    Some may not be able to imagine that reality because they think they’ve learned lessons, implemented policies, and had laws imposed on them. It will repeat because the Church hasn’t healed. Perhaps not with your children, or grandchildren…but it will repeat. To quote my husband…” If we don’t heal, we’ll become what we hate. If we do heal, we’ll love what we become.”

    In order to heal in this area, there has to be a full account (honesty and transparency), there has to be a willingness to suffer with victims. To become ultra-vulnerable with survivors. To offer true repentance for their actions (and inactions and silence – the good Catholics in the pews), and a demonstrated commitment to do whatever it takes. No, RCC, a lawsuit isn’t “suffering.”

    If they have this list of survivors they’ve invited…offer to rent space for an open sharing for victims…with listening as parishioners’ and hierarchs’ only role. Offer homily time once a month, diocese-wide on the same weekend, for victims to share their stories and/or how to prevent this from happening again. Do you know what a vulnerable, defenseless, powerless position this would put the RCC in? Do you know what it would do for victims to be heard though? Or what it would do for the laity to hear it? We aren’t their enemy. We are their wounded. They will not heal their church unless their primary role becomes about helping victims heal in whatever way necessary.

    What if Catholics asked forgiveness of victims? Then were prepared for the compassion, or anger, or rage, or sadness, or grief that would come? What if you offered space (like a blog, a hall, a home, a phone call, an email) to listen to victims? What if Catholics signed petitions to support victims? What if they demanded space in their bulletins for meeting times and places for victims? What if Catholics were fearless about sharing with other Catholics what they’ve learned from victims? I think these are all ways average people can come alongside victims and witness to their pain…to let them know they aren’t alone in it.

    For Valentine’s Day, I wrote my husband a note thanking him for many things… little things, like filling the car with gas, reading to the kids before bed, coming home every day from work (lol). Mixed in were big things he has done…and one of them was this, “…forgiving people who never asked for, but should have begged for your forgiveness.” Yesterday, he shared that out of the dozens of hierarchs he’d met and the countless Catholics who knew of his story, not one of them ever asked for his forgiveness. He didn’t mention it with any ill-will, more of a matter-of-fact statement after reading my note. He has forgiven them…but, they’ve never asked for it. That says something about them…it also says something about my husband.

    I thought about his comment and I wonder if the reason why no one ever asks forgiveness is because they believe they haven’t done anything wrong?

    “I confess to Almighty God, to you, my brothers and sisters; that I have sinned through my own faults, in my thoughts and in my words, in what I have done and in what I have failed to do…” Do we know what this really means when we say it?

    When was the last time you asked a victim for their forgiveness?

    My husband gave our diocese a list of ways to help victims heal. It was as useful as toilet paper.

    • Survivor’s Wife

      I have read your comment not once but three times, and each time I read it I keep shaking my head and saying to myself why can people like you, me and so many others see how simple the solution is ?

      I would like to share this link with you and show you we might see the sunshine rise. I want to assure you this is no bible thumping link (if I offended anyone I am sorry) but an actual event that is unfolding in Kansas City.

      http://www.kansascity.com/2014/02/16/4828951/call-for-vatican-to-discipline.html

      I think you maybe able to relate with this article and if not I hope you can relate to the very first sentence.

      • Dennis,
        Thank you for the link. I signed that petition!

        Mr. Weis has done great work. He is very hopeful about the changes that can occur in the Catholic Church.

        I relate to the article because I believe one person can make a tremendous impact when they have passion.

        Passion – willing to suffer for

        What are we willing to suffer for? I often thought of passionate people as those who were really excited about something, would dive head first, jump in with both feet. But, truly passionate people do those things even when it comes at a high cost to them personally. They are willing to suffer for _____________.

        If we fill in that blank, we can pretty much nail down one of the purposes in our lives.

  35. Chuput’s actions speaks louder than words.

  36. Catholic theology on reconciliation tells us that in order for reconciliation to happen, the offender must recognize their sin, and say. “I am sorry” and “will you forgive me?” The offender needs also to express sorrow to God for the offense. This has not happened.

    This is how I understand SW’s comments above. Someone has to say, I am sorry that this has happened to you; then seek and ask for forgiveness.

    The humility and wholeness of truth it will take to offer sorrow and seek forgiveness for these offenses is beyond our church leadership but not beyond this caring adult catholic who has the heart to say to each one here, “I am so sorry this has happened to you”. I want to ask for forgiveness and speak for the church. I am deeply saddened by each life that has suffered here. I am not the church leadership, but I can say from my point of view as a Catholic that I care and that I am so very sorry for all the pain this has caused each one here.

    • Victim’s sister, As a survivor I would have liked my perpatraitors to come to me and with great humility ask for my forgiveness. It would be up to me as to how I would respond. Not one ever came forward and do you know why? They said because God had forgiven them. Saying I’m sorry as a catholic as you have said, what I much perfer that you hold the church responsible, it is not your job to stand in for them.

      • My husband is past the “I’m sorry” stage.

        I don’t need Catholics verbally apologizing either. We need people LIVING their “I’m sorry.”

        I want what Vicki wants. Protect children by holding the hierarchy accountable and pressure them to quit standing in the way of victims getting justice and healing.

  37. Katherine FitzGerald Reply February 18, 2014 at 2:25 pm

    A healing Mass is an act of mercy. But mercy, without justice, is cruel. FIRST, comes justice. The people and institution who committed the crimes have to be judged, properly punished, pay what is owed to the victims, and put forth concrete measures intended to prevent further crimes. Justice equalizes the evildoers and the victims, providing a platform for genuine acts of mercy. But, when mercy comes before justice, the evildoers preserve their power over the victims, making acts of mercy cruel and manipulative.

    • Exactly, healing begins when Justice is served:

      “Actions speak louder than words. We/You can apologize over and over, but if your/our actions don’t change , the words become meaningless.”

    • Katherine,
      I agree wholeheartedly. I can’t go to mass or even adoration and worship Jesus if I was ignoring my neighbors sufferings…….I felt empty and fake doing so…….that’s why I started going to vigils and got involved with law changes and I will continue to do so. I strongly feel Jesus wants people healed and children protected and that justice is part of that healing process for many. I search daily for God’s Will in my life and its not easy to follow and its not comfortable and many times I fail but I know his Will always leads to peace and joy despite our circumstances……I believe in my heart things will change in this state (PA)because of Our Survivors Truth ……………and thank God there is a place much better than this Earth that we can call home someday.

  38. Kate,
    It may be semantics for me…

    I have experienced mercy without justice and it wasn’t cruel. Are you saying it’s linear? There has to be justice and then mercy can follow?

    I’m not sure I understand the cruelty as you describe it. There are things this side of heaven where justice will never be served, but mercy is evident.

    “When mercy comes before justice, the evildoers preserve their power over the victims…” Then, that isn’t mercy to me. That’s manipulation. Control. Coping mechanisms in order to feel better about themselves.

    I don’t see the healing Mass as an act of mercy at all. I see it as a feeble attempt to assuage their guilt and preserve image by doing “something.” An act to demonstrate their authority. We don’t need their authority…we need their humility, vulnerability, exposure, transparency. It’s all about them. It’s why it feels inauthentic and hollow to many victims and parishioners.

    • Katherine FitzGerald Reply February 19, 2014 at 1:33 am

      SW,

      How disingenuous is it for the Archdiocese to hold a healing Mass for victims when it has not acknowledged its sins and crimes, has not paid for them (in its failure to support SOL legislation), has not properly punished the evildoers, has not held itself accountable to its own “best practices” (the Dallas Charter), and has not put forth a concrete plan that will protect children and rule out further sins and crimes? Instead, it acts with a sort of faith-base, arrogant entitlement. It uses the faith (a healing Mass) to obscure its concrete, justice-based duties and responsibilities. How profane is that??

      How cruel is that?

      How unCatholic is that?

      The piling on of hurt is unforgivable and crushing.

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