Catholics4Change [Philadelphia PA]
October 10, 2021
By Susan Matthews
The founders of Catholics4Change, an online forum dedicated to the prevention of clergy child sex abuse, have launched the Catholics4Change Community. The virtual and global platform allows Catholics, survivors, and advocates to communicate and collaborate virtually.
“We didn’t want the efforts of people working to prevent child sex abuse to be limited by chain emails, conference calls, and social media,” said co-founder Kathy Kane, a social worker who advocates for policy reform. “This community offers a powerful platform of tools.”
“During the pandemic, people have become more comfortable in virtual settings,” says co-founder Susan Matthews, who was an editor at The Catholic Standard and Times in the early 90s under publisher Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua. “We’ve built this private membership community to go way beyond a website, Zoom, or online meetup group.”
It’s a fully-equipped international hub that can be easily customized by the members, the oldest of whom is 88.
Ten years ago, Matthews and Kane began publishing the Catholics4Change.com blog in response to the 2011 Grand Jury Report that revealed a clergy child sex abuse coverup in the Philadelphia Archdiocese. With their own children in Catholic schools at the time, they were infuriated by the betrayal and deeply concerned for other families.
“The coverups continue into 2021 and clergy child sex abuse is a global problem. The horrible news coming out of France is proof,” said Matthews. “We aren’t trying to change the hierarchy. It’s clear they won’t change their culture of clericalism. That’s what allows child sex abuse to flourish. Instead, we’ve changed. This community is our call-to-action.”
Kane and Matthews invite experts and groups from around the world to connect and strategize with each other and individual community members within the platform. The Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP) is the community’s first sponsor advocate organization.
“Child sex abuse prevention deserves a unified, international effort,” says Kane. “This is just the beginning.”