Church Must Understand Victims

By Jane Flynn Rodell
Telegraph Herald [Dubuque IA]
November 18, 2002

C-51 Mills Court, Indian Creek, Ill.

Regarding the recent interview with Archbishop Hanus (Newsmakers, Sept. 29): As a victim/survivor of sexual abuse from the Rev. Henry Dunkel, of St. Columbkille's Church in Dubuque many years ago, I question some of the "appropriate actions" that Archbishop Hanus took concerning some of Father Dunkel's victim/survivors.

I told another bishop, who was a dear friend, about my sexual abuse and asked how his diocese was handling sexual abuse cases. I mentioned this to Archbishop Hanus, who shortly afterward demanded an apology for contacting this other bishop.

To aid in healing, I was receiving professional counseling, as were other victims of Father Dunkel. The bills were being paid by the Dubuque Archdiocese. However, without asking to contact our individual therapists concerning our healing status and an estimate of how many more treatment sessions might be needed, the archdiocese informed us that our bills would no longer be paid. No forewarning was given. I was left with three months of unpaid bills for treatment.

We were re-victimized by the hierarchy; however, one victim's therapist gave her free therapy sessions after the archdiocese terminated her payments. Her therapist was more concerned about her healing than the money.

On Oct. 12, 1993, Father Dunkel, who was then retired, was allowed to say a funeral mass. (Archbishop Kucera was then the head of the archdiocese.) Allowing a pedophile priest to say a public mass representing Christ is horrific to anyone who is a victim of sexual abuse.

I question the church law that requires the bishop to take care of the pedophile priests. If the priest promised "obedience and service" to the people of the Catholic Church, there should be accountability for his "obedience and service."

Instead of the pedophile priests receiving a check from the Catholic people each month, why not give them work skills so they can be self-sustaining? After the Bishop's Conference in Dallas and hearing other victims' suffering and poor treatment by the hierarchy, I hope that Archbishop Hanus has a better understanding about victims of sexual abuse. I also hope that having a victim on the review board will aid in understanding others who have suffered this horrible crime.


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