The Pilot

June 26, 2019

By Greg Erlandson

For those who say the Church doesn’t get it, or the Vatican doesn’t get it, I offer up Msgr. John Kennedy. Msgr. Kennedy has perhaps the most unenviable job in the Church today. He is head of the Vatican office that investigates allegations of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy.

“I can honestly tell you that when reading cases involving sexual abuse by clerics, you never get used to it, and you can feel your heart and soul hurting,” he said recently. “There are times when I am poring over cases that I want to get up and scream, that I want to pack up my things and leave the office and not come back.”

Msgr. Kennedy made this remarkable admission in a speech to a room full of Catholic communicators and journalists during the 2019 Catholic Media Conference. His speech lasted more than an hour, during which you could have heard the proverbial pin drop. At its end, he received a standing ovation.

The ovation was not for his rhetorical skills, but for his honesty. He spoke frankly about the excruciating purgatory of his work.

“One of the worst things is seeing photographs and exchanges of chats or messages that are often presented in the acts of the case,” he said. “In all honesty, this work has changed me and all who work with me. It has taken away another part of my innocence and has overshadowed me with sadness.”

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