success stories

Methods That Are Being Implemented
To Counter The Bewilderment Over Pedophilia

Parishioners helping parishioners is one of many plans being implemented in the Diocese of Manchester to respond to the bewilderment over pedophilia. Parish meetings are being recommended that encourage parishioners to ask questions, express opinions and vent frustration about recent revelations of clergy sex abuse.

Some liken this process to family dynamics in which families are encouraged to gather around the kitchen table and talk out problems when they occur. As an old saying would say, they are asked to put their cards on the table.

Manchester Bishop John B. McCormack has asked pastors to begin planning with their pastoral staffs and parish leaders to schedule open and frank discussions with parishioners.

McCormack said, "As a way of helping parishioners deal with their concerns about these matters and their trust in the church, I am asking pastors to focus on providing a time to listen to the concerns of their parishioners and to gather with our parish communities late in Lent to pray for the victims of sexual abuse and their families. We need to ask God to help us as church to see and accept our failings in preventing this in the past and to strengthen our resolve and awareness to prevent such incidents in the present and the future."

A letter has been sent out to all deans reminding them that the Charities' parish social ministry and clinical staffs are available to help facilitate the listening sessions and for counseling to families and individuals that may be in need.

An informational card, "Protecting God's Children: Responsible Relationships in Ministry," has also been distributed to parishes. It states, in part, "in view of the fact that we encounter Christ in the people we serve, our relationships in ministry take on special importance. To this end, we recognize the need for a process to address relationships that are not consistent with our mission as church and that offend human dignity.

"Preventing child sexual abuse begins with each person being willing to raise his or her own awareness about the nature and scope of child sexual abuse in society, in the community, in the neighborhood, and in the family," the card says.