The first response that a survivor of childhood sexual abuse receives when revealing what happened to him or her is crucial for opening the door toward healing.
“I believe you.”
“It is not your fault.”
“I am sorry that happened to you.”
The news of grand jury investigations and a renewed push to punish the Catholic Church with a retroactive removal of the civil statutes of limitations often overlooks and drowns out an important message about the Church’s support and assistance for survivors and their families.
The Catholic community is committed to encouraging healing among sexual abuse survivors and their families; and offers lifelong resources, including counseling, addiction treatment, and other services. Every diocese has a survivor/victims services professional on staff to listen, learn about their trauma, and encourage survivors in their own time to get support. This is not ordered by the court; it is the Church’s initiative to address the harm, pain, and anger caused by child sexual abuse.
The Church has repeatedly acknowledged abuse that happened and its role in the ongoing suffering experienced by survivors and their loved ones. While recognizing and respecting that every individual must take his or her own personal journey toward healing, the Church is committed to offering assistance. We will provide continuous resources for survivors and their families so they can have access counseling, addiction treatment, medications and other necessary support services.
In addition to support for survivors, the Catholic dioceses of Pennsylvania adhere to strict safe environment practices, including training for employees, clergy, and volunteers in identifying and responding to signs of abuse. Our dioceses enforce a zero-tolerance policy for clergy, employees, and volunteers accused of abuse. The dioceses have already reported these allegations to local district attorneys and have now they have also shared them with the Pennsylvania attorney general’s office. Credible allegations of misconduct result in permanent removal from ministry, no matter how long ago the abuse took place. Every adult who interacts with children — including clergy, employees, and volunteers — is subject to thorough background checks.
Where to find Catholic child protection and victim/survivor support services in PA?
The Church cares very much about healing for survivors of abuse. We take responsibility for what happened in the Church and take great precautions to protect children. The emotional outcry for the Church to make things right for past victims is understandable. Survivors do not need retroactive lawsuits to get support from the Catholic Church.