Kathy O’Connell, Founder
It’s totally amazes me the way the Holy Spirit and God works in our lives. For days, I’ve been writing, deleting and rewriting my thoughts for this issue on child abuse. Finally, deciding to give up this invitation to write, I went to check the mail. Today, in the mail I received a magazine from Lurie’s children hospital here in Chicago. The first article was “Protecting the Innocent: No Child Deserves Abuse.” I took that as my sign from the Holy Spirit to guide me back writing this article.
I’m a victim and survivor of child abuse both in my home and by trusted clergy. It took many years before I opened myself up to reality and to honestly say that to another person. It was one person I could trust, even though trust has been a difficult challenge because of the abuse. And, now, I can share with you.
No child deserves abuse! An absolutely truth. And, yet, in our society child abuse continues to grow. Teachers, relatives, coaches and parents, without doubt, continue to abuse innocent children. Growing up with Catholic school education for fourteen years of my life (in the 1970’s), yes, there was abuse then, too, in my home and in my Church. Sad to say, child abuse did exist and it still does exist. And the road to healing from its wounds remains long and lonely.
I not only grew up with Catholic schooling, I then eventually worked in a Catholic school. What I know is that today there is a difference. A huge difference that was promoted by the Pope, cardinals, bishops and clergy who are working together to protect our children from the danger of abuse. They’ve acknowledged, after many struggling years and with sadness, that clergy abuse has taken place and committed to protecting children here and now. They have collaborated with experts and educators and many others to create strategies to prevent abuse that once was silently taking place in our schools and churches.
The good news is that our children today in Catholic schools and churches are safe from the evil of abuse by clergy or others in authority in the Church. Our churches are finding ways to be empathetic to those who once endured that unknown suffering. In particular, our clergy and lay people of the Archdiocese of Chicago have taken many forms of action to not only prevent it in today’s world, yet, to find ways of healing those who have revealed their dark secret from the past.
I surely can’t say that child abuse from our society is gone. Unfortunately, that evil may always exist; however, children today are made more aware of the power in their voices to speak out and report incidences that might be happening. Adults are trained in observing and intervening.
Again, child abuse will sadly still exist, but in our Catholic churches I’m confident that will not be a problem of today only the past. A child’s faith today will not be shattered by abuse inside their place of prayer. If abused in any other way, each child will have safe haven if he or she, as a child or as an adult, turns to the Church for help and healing. And, with that, we can only keep praying for an end altogether of child abuse. Because NO child deserves abuse!!!
For the full issue in which this article appears, click here.