Letter: We must do more for sex abuse victims
I would suggest you and all the priests within your Dioceses divide up the names on the lists of abused children, women and young adults in your respective Dioceses and personally offer to meet with each victim to apologize, listen, provide spiritual comfort, and ask for ideas on how to make victims whole again, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
I commend the Forum for its article on North Dakota clergy sex abuse victims . As a practicing Catholic, I am appalled by the sordid details of the sexual abuse and coverups within our Body of Christ that have come to light in the past 10-15 years, not only in North Dakota but all across the world. It is a stain on the church, and especially its leadership, as most of the details were only revealed after numerous lawsuits and investigative reports. It appears that our leaders were dragged kicking and screaming into this new world of transparency and accountability.
Some sincere efforts are being made to atone for these grave sins within the church through special Masses of Reparation, prayers at Adoration, abuse reporting systems, victim assistance programs, and similar activities. And, of course, financial reparations are being paid to victims of abuse by many Dioceses across the country. Some have declared bankruptcy as a result of these payments, which is probably only right given the number of lives that have been ruined by these offending priests and the bishops and archbishops who abused young people themselves, or covered up abuse and allowed it to continue for so long. While these prayerful efforts and financial reparations are a step in the right direction, are they really enough? The victims interviewed by The Forum do not think so. Neither do I, and I suspect, neither do many other faithful Catholics.
Therefore, I am openly challenging Bishop Folda and Bishop Kagan to take an additional step. I would suggest you and all the priests within your Dioceses divide up the names on the lists of abused children, women, and young adults in your respective Dioceses and personally offer to meet with each victim to apologize, listen, provide spiritual comfort, and ask for ideas on how to make victims whole again, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Will it be a lot of work? Yes it will. Will everyone want to meet with you? Not likely. Would Jesus make such an effort? I suspect so. After all, should not good shepherds have the smell of the sheep?
I also challenge the legislature to give due consideration to legislation opening a two-year window within which to file sexual abuse lawsuits. It is the least we can do for those who have suffered over these many years.
Finally, to all of you who have suffered this abuse and spoken up publicly, both in North Dakota and around the country, thank you. I can only imagine how difficult it was for you to come forward. I am humbled by your strength and courage. Pax vobis.
Randy Abbott lives in Fargo.
This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Forum's editorial board nor Forum ownership.