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From the Executive Director: An open letter to survivors of clergy sex abuse in the Catholic Church

Posted by | Executive Director Deacon Rick Birkel, Ph.D.

August 20, 2018 From the Executive Director: An open letter to survivors of clergy sex abuse in the Catholic Church

Catholic Charities of Oregon expresses its shock, horror and disgust upon learning of the details contained in last week’s Pennsylvania grand jury report regarding the widespread sexual abuse of children and the subsequent cover-up.

We urge Church leaders to take action to punish and remove the perpetrators and those who hid this information from investigators and the public.

Clearly there is need for widespread, systemic reform in all parts of the Church to assure these horrors cease and never happen again, and we await clear, concrete and convincing steps locally and nationally.

The first order of business, however, and our immediate concern is with the survivors of clergy sexual abuse. Some survivors will feel vindicated that their stories are finally proven true. Some will be deeply re-traumatized by these recent reports.  Many will not be able to read the report because it is too traumatic.  Our concern must, first and foremost, be with these individuals and their families. Survivors must be embraced by the faithful; their pain and loss must become ours. Furthermore, we must fundamentally change the way in which victims and survivors are treated. Church leaders and personnel should not be driven by legal concerns, fears of litigation or self-interest, but by a pastoral compassion that asks, “What can we do to help you? Tell us what you need.” We at Catholic Charities of Oregon stand in solidarity with survivors and their families – we are devastated by your losses. Please let us know how we can help. I can be reached at rbirkel@ccoregon.org. Deacon Richard Birkel, Ph.D.Executive Director