"We Wished It Could Have Happened Sooner"

By Chloe Friedman
WHAS 11 News [Louisville KY]
May 24, 2004

It was called a special service of healing.

On Sunday, at Holy Spirit Catholic, many were invited to come together and pray for the victims of sexual abuse. Many say it is a moment, they have been waiting years for.

Out of respect for victims, TV cameras did not capture the service. For many, this may have been the first time they have confronted their abuse. Those who did speak on camera called the service a tremendous step toward repairing a fractured relationship with the Archdiocese of Louisville.

"For some, I think this will be an ending, but for others a beginning," says Cal Pfeiffer. He was a victim of priest abuse but told WHAS11 News he has not turned his back on his catholic faith. That is why he says Sunday afternoon was historic.

Pfeiffer came to Holy Spirit, a church rocked by the abuse scandal, so he and other could heal.

In attendance at this service, ArchBishop Thomas Kelly.

"We wished it would have happened sooner," says Pfeiffer. "But at least it's happening."

"Hopefullly some of the victims will get past this and hopefully this will be a start for them." says another victim, Jim Cecil.

About 75 people were on hand for the service.

"I know healing does not happen easily," the Archbishop told WHAS11 News "But we needed to do something public and ritual."

Outside the service, two lone abuse victims stood outside.

"There can be no healing without truth," said Jeff Koenig

The Archdiocese settled more than 200 victims last year. However, there is still litigation pending and according to those who protested the service, a veil of secrecy still remains.

"Archbishop Kelly gave a deposition in April and it's under seal," says Koenig. "At the church's request."

"The judge ordered it sealed. I have no control over that," Kelly told WHAS11 News

The Archbishop says he is working for a better tomorrow.

During the service he sprinkled water of atonement around Holy Spirit. "The sins that had been committed here were so deeply ingrained that no washing would clean it," says Kelly. "But it is in the power of the church to pray for that healing."

Some victims say the healing is a life long struggle.

"It's been a lot of work to get to this point," says Cecil.