As parishioners of Santa Clara Parish in Oxnard and also as membersof the St. Vincent de Paul Society, we are relieved and pleased that adefinitive settlement for the victims of the sexual abuse scandals inour archdiocese has been reached.
While no amount of money can heal the wounds of such ill use(especially during childhood), the fact that Cardinal Roger Mahony hasbrought to a close this sorry chapter in our church's history is asignificant contribution to the healing of all involved.
We applaud most of all the heartfelt apologies extended by ourcardinal to these victims. While for some victims this is "too littletoo late," it is part of a large effort to bring about mutualforgiveness and reconciliation in our church community — past andpresent.
We also applaud the creation and implementation of archdiocesanprograms to protect all minors from any possible future abuse. Anyparishioner, parent or guardian can attend the VIRTUS sessions (aka"Protecting God's Children"), which promote awareness of signs of abusein our children. This program is also designed to alert responsibleadults to possible predators.
The archdiocese also now requires fingerprinting of all churchemployees, teachers and volunteers who might have access to children atany parish school or other facility. Criminal background checks areperformed on all these people before they are permitted to work with oraround our children.
For the children, there is a new program called "Good Touch, BadTouch" to educate them about any activity with adults that may beinappropriate. It is available through all Catholic schools and allreligious education programs in the archdiocese.
At this point in our history, our archdiocese is now one of the safest and most protective places for kids in the nation.
Even though a very small fraction of the clergy has not (in thepast) acted in accordance with the highest moral and ethical standardsdemanded by their priestly vocations, we, the body of Christ, throughthe eyes of faith, still remain "one holy catholic and apostolicchurch" founded and maintained by our Good Shepherd, Jesus, the Christ.
We remain faithfully in Jesus' love.
— George Johnson is president of the board of directors of the St.Vincent de Paul Society, Santa Clara Parish Conference, Oxnard.