US prelates walk in solidarity with sexual abuse victims

abuse solidarity walk

A group of prelates joined in a walk of solidarity with victims of child sexual abuse following the end of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) fall plenary held in Baltimore, Maryland.

Billed as the Pathways to Prevention, Healing and Justice Inaugural Sunrise Walk, it coincided with the annual day of observance for the prevention of child sexual exploitation and abuse established by the Council of Europe in 2015.

The Catholic leaders and sexual abuse survivors were part of a group that included lay advocates, New York Board of Rabbi’s executive vice president Rabbi Joe Potasnik and Islamic Relief USA president Anwar Khan.

Before the walk, the group held hands and listened to prayers from leaders of each faith. It was capped off by Cardinal Seán O’Malley of Boston, president of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.

“We’re here representing so many survivors, people around the world, we’re united with them in prayer, and in solidarity,” O’Malley said.

“Father Goodness, we invoke your blessing upon us. Heal all of the broken hearts so damaged by this terrible scourge of abuse. Help us to be ever committed to safeguarding, and bringing some reconciliation, and love into our world. Help us repair the broken world we’re living in. In this, we ask, in Jesus’s name, Amen.”

Auxiliary Bishop Elias Lorenzo of Newark has worked on child sexual abuse cases for years. He called them “some of the most horrible stories” he has ever heard.

“This work still needs to be done. We are not finished,” Lorenzo told Crux. “We in the church are trying to address [this problem] and walk, literally, with survivors to find hope and healing in their lives, and hopefully in that common walk, they will feel comfortable returning to church and into the love that God can give them.”

The abuse solidarity walk ended alongside the harbour, where further words of support and prayers were shared.

Father Gerard McGlone is a clergy sex abuse survivor and member of the Global Collaborative group that sponsored the event. He noted the significance of the walk coinciding with the US Bishops Conference fall plenary.

McGlone commented that the walk “sends a clear message” that Catholic Church leaders recognize the problem of child sex abuse. That the abuse occurs both within the church, and in general society.

“For us to be able to preach about it, for us to be able to teach about putting survivor’s stories first, is really the point of this,” he told Crux.


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