Sexual Abuse Conference Planned
How Religious Organizations Should Respond Is the Focus

By Peter Smith
The Courier-Journal [Louisville KY]
Downloaded July 14, 2003

A psychologist who says he was moved by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Louisville's sexual abuse crisis has organized a conference for Saturday that will focus on how religious organizations should respond to cases of sexual abuse and prevent them in the future.

The conference, titled "Healing and Preventing the Wounds of Sexual Abuse in Our Religious Institutions," will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at the Kentucky International Convention Center, said its organizer, Dr. Joseph Fischer.

The keynote speaker will be Dr. Carroll Cradock, of Chicago, an expert in the assessment and treatment of victims of sexual abuse. She has consulted with more than 100 religious organizations about abuse issues, including the Archdiocese of Chicago.

Fischer said that while he is now an Episcopalian, he grew up attending St. Elizabeth of Hungary Catholic Church at a time when a priest there, the late Rev. Arthur Wood, is alleged to have been abusing some of his classmates. Wood was accused in 39 lawsuits recently settled with the archdiocese.

"I am committed to create value out of what looks only like dilemma here," Fischer said. "The Archdiocese of Louisville is in a position to make a major contribution to organized religion if it takes a very strong course of action toward healing and revitalization."

While the archdiocese is not organizing the conference, "When we learned of the plans, we encouraged Mr. Fisher in his work," said Brian Reynolds, chancellor and chief administrative officer for the archdiocese.

The event has "very qualified persons involved," he said. "We have helped them with publicity, and no doubt some of our staff members will participate. It is very important that good programs like this be offered to really help the community address the critical issue of child abuse in society as well as within churches."

Reynolds said the archdiocese will announce a schedule of safe-environment training sessions in the next few weeks.

Fischer has been inviting not only Catholics but also people of other religious affiliations to attend.

Advance registration for the seminar is $50, or $40 if four or more registrations are received from the same congregation or religious organization. Registration the day of the conference is $60.

For more information, call Fischer at 777-0790 or visit the Web page


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