Book offers hope amid church abuse scandal

The Eagle

July 27, 2019

By Shawn Manning Chapman

In the current wave of the abuse crisis in the Catholic Church, it has been hard to know what to do. I have taken it on faith that the church eventually would survive this crisis and make the necessary changes to protect children and adults from abuse, because I believe the church is true.

However, I have also shared in the agonized cry of so many devout Catholics who have chosen to stay with the church in the midst of this crisis, “Lord, to whom shall we go?” as the abysmal response of church leaders has left me feeling helpless and angry. I had begun to think I never would see a meaningful response in my lifetime to this dire situation.

Abuse of Trust; Healing the Church gave me real hope for the first time that there is a way, and all of us can be a part of it right now.

I am confident that reading it will help Catholics understand the experience of sexual abuse and its effects better and to see how each of us can be a part of healing the wounded and helping the church take a righteous and effective path to being a refuge for the broken, making amends, protecting the vulnerable, educating families and reclaiming the spiritual fatherhood of our leaders.

The arrangement of the book helps to draw the reader into the experience of survivors, their spouses, their parents, by letting them tell their stories — “sacred stories” as they are called in the book.

These stories contain no lurid details but are very honest. Their authors don’t varnish the truth of what happened and what people suffer from clergy sexual abuse and the resulting trauma. It interested me to see how each of them found a path to healing. I enjoyed hearing about the way their Catholic faith actually helped them find restoration and new life, helped the rise and help others.

“We all love the Church and desire to heal her of this great wound. We desire to help our fellow Catholics (the secondary victims) to receive healing and to help our priests and Bishops to better understand how to seek out and offer healing to all victims of sexual abuse; especially those harmed by a leader of the Church.”

Allen Hebert is a survivor of clergy sexual abuse and an active, faithful and devout Catholic. He speaks our language and can explain this to us from the inside. This is a good Catholic book from a good Catholic man.

I appreciated the sections of the book written by experts to help us understand abuse and trauma as well as a way not only realize the problem and recognize abuse and potential abuse, but how to respond to it.

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