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Our Bishop Writes
It is a time for prayer and healing

By Most Rev. Robert J. Carlson
Bishop's Bulletin
February 2004

In the October issue of The Bishop’s Bulletin we shared with you the results of the study conducted by John Jay College of the University of New York on the issue of abuse in the Catholic Church.
You will find those statistics presented once again in this issue of The Bishop’s Bulletin. I am told this will be the first independent study of an entire institution taking an in-depth look at the problem of abuse.
I realize that if you read some sectors of the media, sexual abuse of children still appears to be a Catholic problem. The reality is that it affects every area of our culture - schools, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, churches of every denomination, and families. Hopefully the knowledge gained from this study will help to prevent abuse in our society.
The results of the study are to be released on February 27, and I do not see this as a day for a media event. Rather, it should be a day for prayer, fasting, seeking of forgiveness and healing.
If you stop to think about it, there is a lot of healing that has to take place. There are victims of sexual abuse who have finally been able to come forward after years of pain and suffering. There are likely others who are not yet ready, though I invite them whenever they are ready. This entire crisis has also been painful for you, the people of the church (the Body of Christ). Our priests have also been hurt, betrayed by the actions of a few.
Therefore, on that day, the first Friday in Lent, I am planning a service of prayer, penance and healing at St. Joseph Cathedral at noon. I hope other parishes around the diocese will also have such a service on February 27.
Like the apostles in the upper room following Jesus’ passion, death and resurrection, we need to turn to the Lord and once again hear him say to us, “Peace be with you.” (Luke 24:33-49)
It is time to move beyond our shame and fear and begin the process of healing. Perhaps the example of Saint Maria Goretti, the twelve-year old girl who was attacked by a man who wanted to steal her purity, will provide us with a good example. She resisted this person and was stabbed again and again and would soon die. As she lay dying, she said, “For the love of Jesus, I forgive my murderer, and I want him to be with me in paradise. May God forgive him, because I have already forgiven him.”
Saint Maria Goretti is not only a great example to young people today when it comes to purity, but I believe she is also a great example for victim survivors of abuse as she shows what can happen when we allow the Lord’s healing in our hearts and lives.
Jesus taught us about healing and compassion with the parable of the Good Samaritan. Unlike the others who passed by, he helped the innocent victim who was lying there in need. This doesn’t mean that victim survivors don’t have the right to feel anger and betrayal, they do. However, they don’t want the anger and bitterness to destroy the ability to know God’s love and to find joy in their hearts once again.
I would like to invite victim survivors and indeed the whole Body of Christ to join in this prayer at the Cathedral or at another parish. The Cathedral service will be at noon on February 27. It will begin, I pray, a time of healing and renewal and allow us to draw near to the God who loves us.



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