Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
August 30, 2010
Women's gifts can help solve Church's sexual abuse crises
A pediatrician and sister says sexual abuse is global
CANADIAN CATHOLIC NEWS
OTTAWA - Catholic women must use their gifts to address the systemic problems that have led to the Church's global sexual abuse crisis.
That's the message Dr. Nuala Kenny, a retired pediatrician and Sister of Charity, brought the Catholic Women's League's (CWL) 90th national convention here Aug. 9.
"As long we think clergy sex abuse is the individual sin of an individual offender or the individual sin of mismanagement on the part of bishops, we are not going to learn about why," Kenny told 600 delegates packing a downtown hotel ballroom.
When she started looking at the sexual abuse crisis 20 years ago in Newfoundland, people tried to say it was a local problem, confined to the St. John's Archdiocese. Clearly, the sexual abuse crisis is global, she said.
She also blamed powerful forces of denial as well as a tendency to minimize the evil sexual abuse causes to victims.
"People are not attentive to the magnitude of harm."
She stressed she is not blaming priests or clergy. The Church needs all of us to restore what has happened. "What kind of a people are we if we didn't take care of this?"
As women, you have within you, because of your participation in the priesthood of the baptized, the gifts and talents that are needed by our Church today, she said.
Kenny, who taught medical ethics at Dalhousie University and acts as a health policy advisor to the Catholic Health Alliance of Canada, has had a front row seat in examining the clergy sexual abuse crisis in Canada.
Not only did she participate in the inquiry in St. John's that led to the Winter Commission report, but also she contributed to the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops' groundbreaking document From Pain to Hope, as well as Breach of Faith; Breach of Hope, which was meant to stir discussion in parishes.
The "brave, wise leadership" in the Canadian Church could contribute its wisdom to the worldwide sexual abuse scandal, she said.
"The suffering is not just to the victims, but to every good, loving, committed priest and bishop I know," she said. "It breaks my heart when they go into Tim Hortons with their clerical suit on and people move away. You and I are victims. The whole Church is suffering."
VIRTUE OF HOPE
Kenny said the suffering is an opportunity for women, through patience and perseverance, to develop the virtue of hope, to be like the "astounding women" who brought hope to the Apostles with the news that Jesus had risen from the dead.
"Is it possible to attend Mass faithfully and not know this person of Jesus?" she asked. "The answer to the crisis in our Church has to be Jesus."
An enormous reformation is needed, she said. "You've got to find Jesus first before you can start fixing the Church of Jesus."
Kenny called clericalism a "fundamental problem."
Clericalism is about the protection of image and status; it is resistant to criticism and resistant to change, she said. There is a special role for the ordained priesthood, but it is not power and privilege. That role is similar to that of Jesus' washing the disciples' feet.
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