Out of the FOG

The Other Sides of Us => Religious & Spiritual Discussion => Topic started by: Danden on April 19, 2019, 03:03:09 PM

Title: Healing from abuse
Post by: Danden on April 19, 2019, 03:03:09 PM
Hello all,  I want to share a book I have found "Jesus Calling" by Sarah Young.  It has a scripture reading for every day of the year and I find it helps me to meditate and pray on the love of God for each of us.   

I heard about it from a survivor of sexual abuse by a priest.  The bishop in my diocese has done something extraordinary.  It seems that few bishops have done this in the US, at least according to my local newspaper.  A few years ago, he contacted people who had been abused by priests in the diocese and invited them to a "listening session".  Amazingly, for these people, this was the first time they had the chance to tell their story to a person in the church who simply  listened to them.  Since then they have organized a survivors group amongst themselves.  Then a few weeks ago the bishop held a Mass of Healing and Reconciliation in our community, and it was very powerful.  Several victims, some of whom were in their 50s and 60s, each got up and told their story, and gave their testimony how it changed their lives.  For these survivors, their faith in God remains strong.  Very sadly, we also heard about a victim who did not survive his abuse and committed suicide.  The priests and bishop did not say much at this mass, only the victims spoke.  It did not end there, however.  I heard that after the Mass, there was a reception, and a person came in from the community, because she heard the bishop was there for the healing mass.  He got up from the table where he was talking to people (and perhaps enjoying himself) and went to a table where he and the woman were out of earshot.  He sat and talked to the woman for 45 minutes about what she had on her mind.

I find it very encouraging that there are people in the church who are willing to do what our bishop did.  It was a beautiful, healing and uplifting thing for him to meet with these victims and to have this mass in public.  He didn't just bury his head in the sand, or hide from sight like so many in the church.  He really cares about the people who have suffered.   As we know, so many people, so often, are unwilling to acknowledge the reality of abuse and how it affects the victim.  Another very positive thing I draw from this is that there is so much power in simply listening to people.  It reminds me of a lyric from a Billy Joel "I'm only willing to hear you cry because I am an innocent man".  Rather than be burdened by the collective guilt of the church, the bishop had the moral courage to meet with victims and face their deep hurt and pain.  So powerful.
Title: Re: Healing from abuse
Post by: all4peace on May 09, 2019, 11:33:19 AM
Danden, I'm so sorry this slipped down the page!

This sounds like an incredible healing opportunity for those who were hurt badly by some in the Church. I love that some of the leaders had the love and wisdom to create a safe place for their stories to be heard. Thank you for sharing!
Title: Re: Healing from abuse
Post by: Danden on May 11, 2019, 01:13:00 PM
Thank you all4peace.  I wish more people could have been there that day and had the experience.  It is so rare that people who abuse others will take responsibility for themselves.  Even rarer for third parties who have done nothing wrong,  to understand and to help victims who have been abused by others.  I have never seen anything like this. 

I think part of its genesis may have come from an elderly priest in the diocese who, together with a methodist minister in the community, years ago started a spiritual retreat program for adult survivors of emotional, physical and sexual abuse.  I'm sure his influence and experience in this area of ministry contributed to bring this all about.  There are good and morally strong people out there.  We just have to have faith.  I am finding the book "Jesus Calling" helps me.
Title: Re: Healing from abuse
Post by: TriedTooHard on May 21, 2019, 07:43:31 AM
Thank you for this glimpse into this event. 

My DH and I always wondered what the seemingly nice people still there were thinking.   Its been a tough balancing act.  We try to teach our son how to be safe and how to recognize the warning signs, all while being neutral and respectful of other people's beliefs.  He is involved in an extra curricular activity that is tied to this church, and we have come to trust some of the volunteer parents.  They are very understanding of why we and others don't attend mass or become involved anymore.

My DH and I were witnesses for a victim of priest abuse.  His case was recently settled, but the priest is still being harbored by the church in a 3rd world country.  The victim was offered counseling from the church, but the victim declined and has sought non-church counseling.  The lawyer and police think this is a smart choice.  They don't trust the local bishop.  The local police have a warrant out for the abusive priest's arrest, but will probably never be able to bring this guy to justice.  My uPD relatives are still involved in the church and think these victims are lying and out to destroy the church, and said many mean and hurtful things to us when we were still in the FOG and tried to talk to them about it.  I'm not sure if they would ever show up to one of these events.  I wouldn't know. 
Title: Re: Healing from abuse
Post by: Danden on May 25, 2019, 02:25:34 PM
TriedTooHard, I'm very sorry to hear about that experience for you, and for the victim.  I hope you, your DH and the victim will find healing. 

You bring up an interesting question.  I too wonder what is the thinking of all the good people in the church, and why they don't speak up and do more, as a whole.  I haven't heard a lot about that or seen a lot of that, except for the mass I attended.  I think that the issue of child abuse is an issue that speaks to the idea of evil in the world.  This is true for any kind of child abuse, emotional or physical, and more so if it is sexual abuse.  It is just basically evil to corrupt and damage the innocent heart and soul of a child, in any way.  And this is why people want to hide from it, whether they are the perpetrators, the abettors, or even the third party observers.  People just want to hide from it, in a powerful way.  Because it is so evil and so ugly.  We all have a strong feeling to hide from it and deny it.  It takes a lot of courage to face it.