A chance to listen to victim-survivors

Catholic Herald

Jan. 8, 2020

By Zoey Maraist

Angela Boggs was sitting in a small group when her fellow parishioner uttered those words. They were at a listening session at St. John Neumann Church in Reston in the immediate aftermath of the 2018 clergy sexual abuse crisis, and it would’ve been easy to feel dirty after hearing about the terrible crimes committed. But this woman said she was disgusted by her own complicity as a member of the Catholic Church.

“That really touched me,” said Boggs. “(Victim-survivors) have been harmed terribly by our church and we’re accountable. We may not be legally accountable but we are accountable to God for that. We have a responsibility to support people who’ve been damaged by our church.”

Boggs and her fellow parishioners felt angry, hurt and discouraged, but they decided they weren’t powerless. A month later, they gathered to form the Action Committee, an acronym for advocacy, change, transparency, inclusion and ongoing reform regarding clergy sexual abuse.

Of the many facets of the crisis, they decided to focus on the victim-survivors. They read as much as they could and invited speakers to educate them, such as Frank Moncher, the victims assistance coordinator for the diocese, and the victims assistance coordinator of the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales, the religious order that staffs St. John Neumann.

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