Child and Youth Protection Catholic Leadership Conference

Catholic Star Herald

March 28, 2019

By Carl Peters

An adult survivor of child sexual abuse was scheduled to be a presenter on the first day of the conference, but notice came at the last minute that he would be unable to speak.

But, although it was not the topic of his talk, the next presenter on the schedule, Dr. Robert Crawford, acknowledged that he too had been a victim of abuse as a child. He also pointed out that, based on statistics, abuse victims were in the audience.

Not that anyone in the audience needed to be convinced of the prevalence — or the trauma — of childhood sexual abuse. Or the damage it has done to the institutional church. This was the 14th annual Child and Youth Protection Catholic Leadership Conference, held March 24-27 at the Crown Plaza Hotel in Cherry Hill.

In attendance were 210 representatives from archdioceses and dioceses throughout the United States. The large majority of the group were women, but their professional backgrounds varied. They included social workers, psychotherapists, educators and others.

Like most professional conventions, the three-day conference was designed to let participants update and sharpen their skills, enjoy camaraderie with their peers, and boost morale. But the title of the first day’s last presentation was an indication of the difficult challenge these workers face: “Keeping Our Faith When Exposed to the Worst Things That Happen in Our Church.”

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