By Lois Luckett
Archbishop Joseph Kurtz did the absolute right thing to release the names of the priests credibly accused of sexual abuse. Bringing this sickness into the light is an important step toward healing. Thank you.
He also said he expects more people to bravely disclose their experiences of abuse. The past cover ups have perpetuated pain and permitted perpetrators to escape consequences and prey again and again. Unacceptable. As a psychotherapist, I know that we are as sick as our secrets. Honesty heals.
As I read through the names released by the archdiocese, I saw familiar priests. One who welcomed me into the Catholic Church as an adult convert. Betrayed. My heart was touched however when I offered him Communion at a hospital in his last days, with a prison guard sitting outside.
I saw another who, one night in 2003, confirmed my fourth son and was gone the next morning, accused of molesting boys in Chicago. Dangerous.
Who did you see on the list? What did it bring up for you? Does it make you want to turn away? Have you buried memories or feelings because you love our church and feel helpless to change things? This crisis affects us as individuals and as “the church,” the body of Christ. What hurts one, hurts us all.
We can best heal now by talking about how this affects us and what needs to happen to bring transformation. From my years of treating sexual abuse survivors in my private practice, I know that the entire family is affected by this misuse of power. We need to look at the whole structure and culture of the hierarchy to root out the causes of this sickness and to amend the system.
John F. Kennedy wrote, “In Chinese, the word crisis is composed of two characters. One represents danger and the other represents opportunity.”
We are now at a crucial point, when things can either change or sicken.
The Archdiocese Sexual Abuse Review Board asks us “What needs to change?” We need to pray together, speak and hear our truths in a safe space, and then discern the movement of the Holy Spirit. She is alive in us and urging all of us towards healing and transformation.
I thank our archbishop for his encouragement to “seek healing for those wounded so deeply … and build up with God’s grace, a community of truth and charity that is a safe haven for all.”
As the synod on sexual abuse culminates in Rome this week, I invite you to come gather together in small groups at St. William Church, clergy and laity alike, and dialogue with hope and honesty. Sunday, Feb. 24, from 1-5 p.m. Healing is hard work I know, but if we walk and work together, I believe we can find our way. For information and to register, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lois Luckett is a member of St. William Church and a licensed clinical social worker in private practice.