Masses to Be Held for Victims of Sex Abuse

By Sandi Dolbee [San Diego CA]
December 25, 2003

The church will "pray for healing and repair and reconciliation for all those hurting from the clergy sexual abuse scandal," said Father Joe Spieler, Christ the King's pastor.

Spieler said this seemed like an appropriate time to include this focus during a church service. This weekend is when Catholics observe the Feast of the Holy Innocents, commemorating the biblical story of the killing of the children by King Herod after the birth of Jesus. It's also a time when the focus is on contemporary children's issues.

After the Mass, there will be a time of sharing, Spieler said. The service will begin at 5:30 p.m. at the church, which is at 29 N. 32nd St. near Imperial Avenue.

"This is our parish, not a diocesan thing," Spieler said. "We're not wanting this to be a big thing, but it is open to Catholics who want to come."

A spokesman for the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego said he was not sure whether other local parishes have held similarly themed Masses. In other parts of the country, some dioceses and archdioceses have held special services to reach out to victims molested by priests when they were minors (in Los Angeles, Cardinal Roger Mahony dedicated a chapel earlier this year in remembrance of victims of clergy sexual abuse).

Among those planning to participate on Saturday is Jaime Romo, San Diego coordinator of a national victims rights group, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

Romo applauded the idea, saying that many victims have not been able to return to the church of their childhood because of the trauma they suffered. This kind of outreach "is a beginning," he added.

"For me, it is healing in just the idea that others have initiated this," Romo said.

The national scandal began in January 2002 in Boston, bringing a wave of accusations of abuse and coverup across the country in cases that go back decades.

U.S. bishops responded with a historic national zero-tolerance policy for any clergy who sexually abuses a minor. The first-ever audit of that policy is due to be released on Jan. 6.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.