May 04, 2005

A Path to Healing: The Story of a Victim of Clergy Sexual Abuse

Catholic Herald

By Gretchen R. Crowe
Herald Staff Writer
(From the issue of 5/5/05)

Joe (name has been changed) was 11 years old when he was sexually abused by a priest in another diocese in 1957. Forty-eight years later, Joe sat with his wife, Maggie, in the back row of a small day chapel in a quiet church. They sat side-by-side, not holding hands, but the sense of support that Maggie lent Joe was palpable.

In a quiet but clear voice, Joe related the real-life nightmare of being a child victim of clergy sexual abuse.

"For quite a long time I stewed about it," Joe said. "I’m not going to mention the (priest’s) name. It was quite a search to find him."

Joe’s investigation led him to the bishop who had been in charge of the priest at the time Joe had been abused. Joe emphasized his caution in making an accusation.

"I wanted to be very careful it was the same person," he said. "I found the bishop to be extremely understanding."

Joe and Maggie said the priest had already been suspended for other allegations, but that no charges were pressed. The offending priest was not defrocked, but was taken out of active ministry. In Joe’s case, the statute of limitations had passed.

Though Joe was unable to take legal action, his search opened the door to the path of healing. He attended counseling and, when the Arlington Diocese, under the supervision of Victim Assistance Coordinator Pat Mudd, scheduled regular Masses to pray for the victims of sexual abuse, Joe and his wife attended the first one at Arlington’s Cathedral of St. Thomas More in June. Joe said the healing Masses were a "tremendously good idea" and "very thoughtful on the part of the bishop."

Posted by kshaw at May 4, 2005 09:06 AM