Saint John the Evangelist will be hosting our Four Courageous Conversations, a facilitated listening and feedback session on the Sexual Abuse Scandal, on Thursday, November 8, at 6 PM, and Saturday, November 10, at 9 AM. Dr. Dobie Moser, the CYO Director for Cleveland, OH, and our Retreat Leader on Accompaniment in 2017, will be facilitating these sessions. These identical sessions will give us a chance to voice our reactions and our purposeful responses to these inexplicable acts. You will only need to attend one. These session are free to attend, but please call the office or sign up online below so we can gauge the level of participation and ensure there is enough food and drinks for all.
Facing Our Pain
Catholics are feeling deep sadness, anger, and pain regarding revelations of clergy abuse and the cover-up highlighted in the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report. Allegations of decades-long abuse by retired Cardinal Theodore McCarrick and his resignation as a Cardinal are additional sources of deep pain. Finger-pointing and infighting among leaders has diverted attention and resources away from the victims and their families. Meanwhile, the rest of us are left wondering how such a thing could happen.
It’s heartbreaking to learn about the suffering of the victims. Compounding our heartbreak are the disbelief and horror that Church leaders opted for scandal-management over the welfare of our children. We are profoundly sorrowful for the victims, especially for those who took their lives. Outrage leads some to leave the Church forever, and leads others to gather to pray and resolve together to respond in faith: “Never again!” All of it raises questions about what this means for the Church, for the faith of its members, and how trust might be restored.
We people of faith normally turn to the Church in our times of pain, loss, sorrow and need. We sort through and assign meaning to what is happening in our lives and the world. We find meaning and hope through prayer, Christian community, the sacraments, and by helping others through service. Yet turning to the Church is difficult when her leaders – whether some or many – have been morally and criminally complicit.
There is excruciating pain as well for the vast number of Church leaders, ordained and lay, who feel shame and betrayal that the Church they love and serve could be the source of such cruelty and suffering.
Why Courageous Conversations?
We need safe places and relationships to face and respond to the Catholic Church Clergy Sexual Abuse Crisis. We need opportunities to gather together to reflect, pray, and listen to each other to discover and assign meanings to this experience. These places need to be safe in every way – psychologically, spiritually, and physically, because it’s risky and vulnerable to sort things out in community through conversations. “Safety” means that the conversations need solid guidance, structure and clear boundaries so as to help people listen to each other in love.
Courageous conversations build intimacy and trust when people are encouraged to share their thoughts, feelings, vulnerabilities and hopes within a loving Christian community. Courageous conversations are building blocks for caring, intimate, and compassionate relationships that form Christian community. Courageous conversations are forms of accompaniment, with the hope to walk with one another so that no one has to carry their pain alone in an isolated manner. Accompaniment and courageous conversations are sacred, painful, memorable, and beautiful. Courageous conversations lead toward more conversations that prepare our hearts and minds to take courageous actions that bring about change.
Healthy and loving communities require and develop ways to navigate and talk about things that matter, however painful and difficult. Active steps and opportunities for structured conversations are needed to help people with the unfolding pain and trauma of the harm done to the victims and to people of faith. Learning how to have these conversations models and nurtures civil discourse that is rooted in respecting and upholding the dignity of all persons.
Loving Christian communities need to gather people for prayer, community, reflection, support, and listening to one another in a safe and judgment free environment. Gentle and loving listening, shared vulnerability, and conversation in community is a path towards healing, growth, and change. This conversation contributes to changes that are needed at the personal level, the parish level, and the institutional levels of the Catholic Church in order to be effective.
Objectives – Participants will:
- Experience warm hospitality in an environment that is safe in every way;
- Pray together as a Christian community;
- Learn and practice the Art of Accompaniment as a Christian community as they move through the Four Courageous Conversations and concluding gratitude conversation;
- Reflect, speak, and listen to others so as to assign meaning to their experience of the Catholic Church Sexual Abuse Crisis;
- Make recommendations to Church leadership.