Browsing Pastor's Corner

Healing the Sexual Abuse Scandal

Dec 11, 2018

Recently, I read two articles in America Magazine outlining possible ways of trying to heal the Church from the effects of the clergy sexual abuse scandal. One article was written by Louis J. Cameli, entitled, “Finding hope and healing in the face of the abuse crisis.” In his article Cameli writes that perhaps the greatest wound inflicted on the Body of Christ by the scandal isn’t felt only by sexual abuse victims but all the faithful. Cameli says this wound is the loss of a belief in the reliability of the Church’s bishops and clergy. Cameli states that one of our most important psychological supports to our beliefs is in the reliability or unreliability of the most important people in our lives. So many Catholics placed their souls in the hands of their religious leaders in the expectation that they were reliable and have been sadly disappointed.

To try to help heal that wound Cameli suggests that the bishops take steps to use the historically Catholic practice of reconciliation. He suggests that bishops and clergy who have contributed to the abuse scandal show a willingness to repair the breach of trust that has occurred. He said they need to confess their sin and accompany it will readiness to repair the hurt inflicted on the Body of Christ and to live with the consequences.

A second article was one written by Stephen J. Pope. It is entitled, “Can restorative justice help the church heal from sex abuse scandals?” Pope says in his article, “none of the current proposed strategies for reform pay enough attention either to the dignity, needs and desire of survivors or the degree of damage that was done to social trust within the Christian community.”

Pope suggests that the Church’s efforts to heal in the wake of the scandal should include the implementation of the practice of restorative justice. Restorative justice emerged in the 1970s and 80s as a process of dealing constructively with wrongdoing and violations of social trust. It was very successfully put into practice by the South African Truth Commission set up to help bring healing to that country in the wake of the apartheid practices of the white minority governments.

Pope defines Restorative Justice as, “a process where all stakeholders affected by an injustice have an opportunity to discuss how they have been affected by the injustice and to decide what should be done to repair the harm. With crime, restorative justice is about the idea that because crime hurts, justice should heal. It follows that conversation with those who have been hurt and with those who have inflicted the harm must be central to the process.”

He adds, “Restorative justice is strikingly different from criminal justice in giving priority to repairing the harm caused by wrongdoing-including first and foremost the harm done to victims but also to the wider community and even the perpetrators.”

Hopefully, when Pope Francis meets with all the presidents of the national bishops’ conferences from around the world in February to address a worldwide response to the sexual abuse crisis, they will decide to implement a plan that helps to work to restore reliability and trust in the Church using a process such as Restorative Justice.

In September I shared with parishioners my intention to observe the Ember Days celebrated at the turn of each season as my own personal time of fasting and prayer in reparation for the clergy sexual abuse scandal. The winter Ember Days occur this Wednesday, Friday and Saturday December 19, 21, 22. As the Church continues to deal with the effects of the clergy abuse scandal I intend to use the observance of the Ember Days as my personal time of prayer and fasting in reparation for the suffering of its victims and to ask the Holy Spirit for the purging of the Church from the sins of abuse.

I recognize that it is my personal choice to observe the Ember days as days of fasting and prayer for the scandal but I would like to invite parishioners to do the same. I feel that as Jesus told his disciples really dreadful demons such as the abuse of children and other vulnerable people can only be driven out of our society with the help of fasting and prayer.

As a public way of marking the Ember days I would like to invite parishioners to join me in a Holy Hour on Friday, December 21, 2018, at 3:00 PM. The Holy Hour will include Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, some reflection on the Penitential Psalms and Benediction.

In February Pope Francis will be meeting with bishops from throughout the world to formulate a Church wide policy to prevent sexual abuse and hold those responsible for it accountable. This policy will be applicable for the Church throughout the world. Pray for the Holy Spirit’s guidance for Pope Francis and those planning this meeting so that they will formulate a response that ends sexual abuse once and for all.

Advent Reconciliation Service Sunday
The Holy Redeemer Advent Reconciliation Service will be held Sunday, December 16, 2018, at 3:00 o’clock in the church. It will be a short service of the word followed by the opportunity for individual confessions. Frs. George Bellenoit, Marcel Bouchard and James Buckley will be here to assist Fr. Sullivan. As you pray for your own Christmas miracles come cleanse your soul of sin so that you can be fully prepared to welcome the miracle God has planned for you.

The Foundation to Advance Catholic Education (FACE) invites you and your family to the 14th Annual Winter Brunch on Sunday, February 3, 2019, at the Coonamessett Inn 311 Gifford Street Falmouth, MA 11:15AM – 2:00PM. Tickets are $30 adult, $15 youth (under 13). The event will include a visit from Wally, the official mascot of the Boston Red Sox, raffles with fantastic prizes, including five Walt Disney World® Tickets. Please contact Jane Robin at (508) 759-3566, or via email at for tickets and sponsorship opportunities.

Children’s Christmas Pageant Planned
Plans are being made for our parish Children’s Christmas Pageant scheduled for Sunday, January 6, 2018, before the 10 AM Mass. We are planning the pageant for the Feast of the Epiphany, the twelfth day of Christmas, because last year we had to cancel our plans to hold it on Christmas Eve. We didn’t have enough Faith Formation children willing to participate on Christmas. It seems too many were going out of town for Christmas or had other commitments. Holding the pageant on Epiphany is a good plan because the pageant will be after the hubbub of Christmas Day is behind us. The pageant will take about fifteen minutes so I’m sure you understand the 10AM Mass might run a little after the 11 o’clock hour but come and support our parish youth.

Follow Us on Facebook
If you’re a social media devotee you can follow parish activities on our Facebook. More and more parishioners are accessing the page and also “Liking Us”. Why not do the same.

End of the Year Parish Donations
Many people need to take a distribution from a 401K, IRA or other such funds before the end of the year. It is often advantageous for tax purposes to make a charitable donation of some of these funds. Last week the parish received a gift of $3,500 from a parishioner in such a situation. Their generosity is appreciated your much. If you find yourself in such a situation please consider a gift to Holy Redeemer Parish.


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