TFYQA asks why this is not possible in each diocese of Australia where there have been victims of clergy abuse?
This is a call to each and every Bishop, Priest, Nun and followers of religions in Australia where clergy abuse have been found evident to stand up and support victims.
Thu, Sep. 14, 2006
Church reaches out to victims
Ads and an event tomorrow involving Cardinal Rigali are aimed at those who were sexually abused by clergy.
By David O'Reilly
Inquirer Staff Writer
Cardinal Justin Rigali has launched an advertising outreach campaign for victims of clergy sexual abuse while summoning his priests to hear directly from two sex-abuse victims.
The two actions, coming a year after a scathing grand jury report on clergy sex abuse in the Philadelphia Archdiocese, represent the most public and personal acknowledgment by the archdiocese's leadership that it needed to do more to "understand and appreciate" the experience of victims.
Such steps are "pretty unusual" for a Catholic prelate, according to David Clohessy, a national advocate for sex-abuse victims.
Rigali has urged all his priests and bishops to join him tomorrow afternoon for a two-part event called "Witness to the Sorrow" at St.Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood.
There, a male and a female adult victim of child sex abuse by priests, and a victim's parent - all from the Philadelphia Archdiocese- are scheduled to describe the grief they have endured as a result of that abuse. Afterward, the assembled clergy will join Rigali at aspecial Mass at the seminary chapel.
Mary Achilles, the archdiocese's victims' assistance coordinator,called tomorrow's event a "sincere effort to honor and acknowledge" the suffering of abuse victims.
"What the cardinal is hoping to achieve is simply an opportunity for priests and himself and bishops to hear directly from victims about what their experience is," she said. "... I don't think anyone inside the church or outside can hear these stories enough."
Only photographers and reporters from the Associated Press will be allowed into the seminary to cover the "Witness to the Sorrow" program,but it will be shown in a live streaming video on the archdiocesan Website, www.archdiocese-phl.org.
The archdiocese has not identified the speakers.
Yesterday, KYW-AM (1060) also began running archdiocese-sponsored commercials in which Rigali addresses "the adult survivors of sexual abuse in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia" who have not yet come forward, urging them to do so and to seek help.
In the radio advertisements, the cardinal tells victims, "We want to help you build a peaceful life.
"When you first came seeking assistance, you may not have felt that the archdiocese's response to your needs was satisfactory," he says in the radio spots. "The archdiocese is now making every effort to listen carefully in order to better understand and appreciate your experience.
"In meeting personally with many of you, I have learned of the recurring trauma that affects your lives. This trauma can present itself as flashbacks, anger, anxiety and depression. Some of you have spoken of loneliness and isolation."
Print ads with a similar theme began appearing last week in some editions of The Inquirer.
The print and radio ads urge victims to call the archdiocese's hotline at 1-888-800-8780.
Clohessy, executive director of Survivors' Network of Those Abused by Priests, said he had a mixed reaction to the "Witness to the Sorrow"gathering.
"Every time clergy sexual abuse is publicly discussed, it's good,"he said. "But this feels like an idea crafted by the archdiocese'spublic-relations team... . The implication is somehow that priests need to hear more, when what's really needed is for the bishops to do more."
Clohessy called on the cardinal to punish those in the Philadelphia hierarchy whom the grand jury named as concealing and facilitating clergy sex abuse.
The grand jury issued its report on Sept. 21, after 40 months of investigation into sex abuse in Philadelphia by Catholic clergy.
The report concluded that the hierarchy under Cardinals John Kroland Anthony Bevilacqua had engaged in a systematic and "immoral cover-up" of abuse involving hundreds of children and as many as 169priests.
Achilles said outreach to victims and the gathering tomorrow were,in part, a response to the one-year anniversary of the grand jury report.
She encouraged the archdiocese leadership to organize "some kind of event to commemorate the day their stories came to light" in the grandjury report.
Achilles, who took over as victims' coordinator in January, said she spent the first half of the year studying the archdiocese's response to adult abuse victims.
"I found a bureaucracy that seemed to be trying to be accountable for its money but was projecting an image of counting nickels and dimes," she said.
At her urging, she said, the archdiocese now exercises far less oversight of the psychological counseling for which it pays, and is more open to victims' requests for other forms of financial assistance.