Walk Supports Silent Victims of Clergy Abuse
Marchers Take Their Message of Unity, Action to the Streets
By Scheri Smith email@example.com
The Courier-Journal [Louisville KY]
Downloaded June 2, 2003
BY JOHN SOMMERS II, SPECIAL TO THE COURIER-JOURNAL
Greg Hall and his daughter Madison, 4, participated in yesterday's Walk for Justice.
More than 100 people gathered yesterday at Bardstown Road and Eastern Parkway for what they called the Walk for Justice - a march showing support for people sexually abused by members of the clergy.
The walk, which began at 1:30 p.m., was sponsored by the Linkup, a Louisville-based interdenominational advocacy group for abuse victims.
Sue Archibald, president of Linkup, said the purpose of the walk was to focus attention on the issue of clergy abuse and to give silent victims a voice.
"It raises awareness on child sexual abuse," she said.
Participants walked south on Bardstown Road for about a mile before turning around at Taylorsville Road.
Archibald said many of the marchers described themselves as victims of sexual abuse by priests and others connected with the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Louisville. Some are currently involved in the more than 250 lawsuits against the archdiocese that alleged decades of sexual abuse by priests, teachers in parochial schools and others associated with the church.
Gregory C. Hall, one of the plaintiffs, carried a sign with his childhood picture on it yesterday. Hall's family marched with him.
"Before my daughter goes into parochial school, I'd like to rectify it," Hall said of the situation. "It's time to make a stand."
Jodi Blair, who said she too was a victim, circulated a petition asking that Archbishop Thomas C. Kelly resign because he knew about the alleged sexual abuse but did nothing.
Blair said she's still "in the mad stage," and taking it to the streets is the answer.
"It shows unity," Blair said of the march.
"I think it shows that we mean business and we're not going to let it be swept under the rug like it has been for 40 years."
Archdiocese spokeswoman Cecelia Price said the church had no comment on the march.
Archibald told the crowd that sexual abuse happens in every denomination and that it's not just a legal issue.
Blair said some pedestrians she approached to sign the petition shied away from it, but they were in the minority.
Most, she said, were receptive and wanted to know more about sexual abuse in churches.
Blair said she has been under stress because of the court cases and having to relive the abuse. But no matter how hard it seems, there's a benefit, she said.
Being an activist is helping, "and I'm getting there," she said. "What would really make us feel empowered is when the mediation is settled and we win."
For more information, visit Linkup's Web site, www.thelinkup.com, or call (502) 741-1303.
Any original material on these pages is copyright © BishopAccountability.org 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.