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Sparking a new conversation about the crisis

February 10, 2012
Most projects that land on my desk are easy to get excited about. Covering a two-day conference on clergy sex abuse was frankly not one of them. While it’s an unquestionably important topic, I, like most Catholics, am simply tired of the demoralizing news.
Sr. Nuala Kenny, one of the organizers of the “Trauma & Transformation” conference, understands that feeling as much as anyone. The Sister of St. Joseph was one of the authors of the “Winter Report” on abuse in Newfoundland and, later, the “From Pain to Hope” recommendations adopted by the Canadian bishops. She addressed our collective sense of fatigue during her presentation.
Many, many people say to me, ‘Nuala, for God’s sake, stop talking about this. I can’t deal with this anymore. I don’t want to hear about it anymore.’ And my standard reply has become, ‘You don’t want to hear about the offenses. You don’t want to hear about the hurt and the harm because it is so painful. We have not yet begun to discuss, what does this say about us as a Church, and where is the Lord leading us? That conversation, you can’t be tired of it, because we’re only just beginning it.’
Using the terminology of Sr. Kenny -- a medical doctor -- the conference attempts to perform a “root cause analysis” of this crisis: why did the abuse take place, and why did our community so often fail to address allegations appropriately? Taken together, the presentations by researchers, social workers, abuse victims and two Catholics bishops (Bishop Ronald Fabbro of London and Archbishop Anthony Mancini of Halifax) provide fresh insights on the issue.
Tonight S+L will air a one-hour compilation of highlights from the conference. A DVD set including full versions of the talks can be purchased from our online store.
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