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Posted September 28, 2004

Book: Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church: Trusting the Clergy?
Editors: Marie M. Fortune, W. Merle Longwood
The Haworth Pastoral Press, Binghamton, NY, pp. 109

An Excerpt from the Jacket:

Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church is an eye-opening collection of Catholic and non-Catholic perspectives, statements, and responses regarding Catholic clergy sexual abuse from a public symposium entitled “Trusting the Clergy?” This book includes the viewpoints of some of today’s most influential members of the Catholic Church, such as Archbishop Harry J. Flynn, Bishop Hubbard, and Father Donald B. Cozzens. It will bring you up to date on the ways in which the American Catholic bishops have dealt, or are attempting to deal, with the sexual abuse scandal.

An Excerpt from the Book:

The church is also a place that takes care of people, where children experience and believe in the love of that church and its members for them, and by extension, the love of God for them. What is different about clergy abuse is that it shatters not only trust in the behavior and intentions of those who give care to children, but also trust in the systems of beliefs that give children a sense of meaning and community in their lives.

. . . . Many of you may have been puzzled by some victims’ responses to being interviewed, for example, in church chanceries. Given what we have just discussed, if you put yourself in their shoes, you cannot assume that a setting in which you derive comfort and meaning is also going to be a setting in which they can feel comfortable, or even emotionally safe. And so, let us return to Archbishop Flynn’s focus on putting yourself in the eyes of victims and the eyes of pareents, who have experienced betrayal, too, through the church’s abuse of their children. Those who would reach out to victims need continually to be monitoring and asking, “What would be best for you? We would like to reach out to you. Would you welcome that, or is that something you don’t feel ready for right now? Will you let me know if and when you feel ready? Would you like to speak with me? On what terms would that be most comfortable for you?

Not just the church, but anyone who deals with victims that come from an environment in which people have been betrayed, needs always to be respectful of where they are coming from, and to understand that the loss of trust that is inherent in being victimized means that there may also be a loss of trust in what you hold most fundamental. That loss of trust must be respected, and perhaps at some future point that trust may be restored. But it will not re-emerge if you tell them what they should believe, how they should feel, or how they should behave. Trust can only re-emerge if you can show them that you can hear how trust for them has been breached.

Table of Contents:

W. Merle Longwood

Symposium greetings
Kevin E. Mackin

Keynote: Dallas and Beyond-Perspectives of a Bishop and Pastor
Harry J. Flynn

Trusting the clergy: a response to Archbishop Harry J. Flynn
Michael J. Bland

What is the agenda? A response to Archbishop Harry J. Flynn
Marie M. Fortune

The sexual abuse crisis: what have we learned?: a response to Archbishop Harry J. Flynn
Keynote: The Sexual Abuse Crisis: What Issues Do We Still Have To Face?
Donald B. Cozzens

Ethics and Legalities: A response to Fr. Donald B. Cozzens
Marie M. Fortune

Response to Fr. Donald B. Cozzens:
Howard Hubbard

The Sexual Abuse Crisis-Issues We Still Have to Face:
Response to Fr. Donald B. Cozzens
Carolyn Moore Newberger

Responses To Clergy Sexual Abuse By Local Lay Leaders Representing Diverse Communities
A Latina Perspective
Ladan Alomar

An African American Perspective
Anne M. Pope

The Church and Gay Men: A Spiritual Opportunity in the Wake of the Clergy Sexual Crisis
Robert L. Miller, Jr.

Marie M. Fortune