"Voice of the Faithful" Send Message to Church Leaders

By Jennifer Steiner
WCPO [Cincinnati OH]
October 4, 2003

About 200 Tri-state residents gathered Saturday to confront the Roman Catholic church's handling of clergy sexual abuse scandals.

They gathered at Good Sheperd Church in Sycamore Township to attend the first regional conference entitled, "Voice of the Faithful," and to send a powerful message to church leaders -- to discover a key to healing.

"If we don't talk about it, and look at it, and grow up as adults in our church and confront the realities -- our church will become obsolete," said Nan Fischer, of Voice of the Faithful.

At Saturday's conference there was less talking, and more listening.

Members heard from Pat Stachler, a wife and mother, who says she survived a brutal rape at the hands of a Dayton priest almost 40-years ago.

Stachler said she still remembers the moments afterward -- and sometimes the shame and the pain feel like more than she can bear.

"He takes my left hand, pries it open, slaps money in it and closes it -- and tells me to hop a bus the next day and go down to Cincinnati for confession to the Franciscans," recalled Stachler.

"That whole image of having been made out to be a prostitute, and it was all my fault because I was "one," was something that haunted me for many, many long years," said Stachler.

That experience put Stachler in therapy for more than 20-years.

"Sometimes the trust issues were so horrendous, it would just overwhelm me, take my voice away -- throw me into tremors -- and I couldn't even say anything," said Stachler.

But now her voice is back, and she's using it. Using it help others by sharing her story, and getting involved with organizations such as "Voice of the Faithful."

Stachler hopes that by helping other understand what she went through as a victim of clergy sexual abuse, she can help lead the way to positive change.

"We're not the cause! We're not the cause -- we are the key to healing," said Stachler.

Participants at the conference, who came from Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana, signed a letter to Archbishop Daniel Pilarcyzk demanding that church officials hold themselves accountable, not above the law, or church canon.

They also expressed hope that all victims of abuse are ensured to be heard by, to receive apologies from, and to be compensated by church leaders.


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