Entering into the pain and solidarity of survivors of sexual abuse


By Bishop Thomas Zinkula

How should we respond to the resurgence of the clergy sexual abuse crisis?

One response is to become angry and leave the Church. Some Catholics did that the first time around. Some will be tempted to do so now. I understand such anger and frustration, and have felt it myself. It is natural … human … justified.

Bishop Zinkula

But there is another option, a better option.


What does a family do when one of its members messes up? The family doesn’t give up and break up. Instead, it rallies and tries to fix the problem.

In a recent podcast, Bishop Robert Barron talked about what our nation did when slavery threatened its very foundations. Instead of simply giving up on the American experiment, President Abraham Lincoln led the country in a fight for the ideals of American democracy.

This is an opportunity to take a close look at ourselves and our faith. Why am I Catholic? Why am I a bishop? Why don’t I just leave?
Speaking for myself, I love the Church because it is grounded in Jesus Christ, who is incarnate of the Father, and crucified and risen from the dead for our salvation. I love the Church because of the mystical body of Christ, the sacraments and the saints. I love the Church because of her great principles, ideals and teachings.

That is why I choose to stay and fight for our wounded Church. That is why I want to do all I can to fix this big problem. I invite you to join me.

How can we do this together; where can we begin? As a start, we can participate in the prayer and penance the diocese is doing during the month of September. We can thereby enter into solidarity with the pain and suffering of the survivors of sexual abuse and the Church herself.
The Scriptures tell us that there is tremendous power in prayer. God gives us free will; he chooses not to force himself on us. I imagine God waiting for us simply to ask for his assistance. When we do, I picture God saying, “Finally!”

May we, who stake our lives on the Paschal Mystery, call upon the Holy Spirit to transform our communal anger, pain and suffering into a renewal, purification and cleansing of our beloved Church.

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1 thought on “Entering into the pain and solidarity of survivors of sexual abuse

  1. I absolutely agree on the need for prayer and penance. But I would also be interested in discussion of the role of the laity in holding the perpetrators – priests who violate, bishops who violate and cover up – to account. Recent comments by at least two bishops, placing blame on a “homosexual culture” and the availability of contraceptives, indicate that we still do not accept responsibility to clean our own house. Actions by priests within the diocese indicate that we have not learned a thing about the damage that a culture of clericalism does.

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