Panel confronts church abuse crisis, urges laity to lead way forward

Catholic News Service

September 26, 2018

By Carol Zimmermann

A panel discussion Sept. 25 at Georgetown University on the current church crisis was akin to a very large parish town hall meeting.

Panelists and audience members alike shared their pain, shock and complete frustration with recent allegations of abuse and cover-up by church leaders and they also showed a strong desire to somehow forge a path out of this.

This wasn’t a talk where audience members were scrolling through their phones to pass time or looking at their watches to see when it would be over. During the hour and a half, there were moments in the churchlike campus hall when you could hear a pin drop, particularly when panelists shared about their own experiences of being abused.

The audience also audibly gasped over references to church leaders’ seemingly callous responses to the abuse crisis over the years and they also broke into applause at several points, particularly over calls for laypeople, especially women, to have more say in the church.

When it came time for question and answer session, a line formed immediately and snaked to the back of the hall. Many of the questions, from college students, recent graduates and many long since out of college, echoed frustrations and a desire to make things right but no idea how to begin.

One questioner, who said he was a seminarian, asked in almost a hushed tone: “What can we do? How can we be a solution?”

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