BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Many view the church as a place of comfort and healing, but for some tangled up in the web of scandal that was clergy members accused of sexual abuse, they might have a different perspective. That’s why on Friday, April 5 at St. Joseph Cathedral was specifically for them.
“We have tried to kind of open up the problem in a way that we can talk about it openly,” said Bishop Michael Duca. “That is, bringing what was in the dark into the light.”
Once a year, the Way of the Cross is held in the Catholic Church, but this ceremony was a little different. It focused on changing the way sexual assault victims deal with pain associated with the church. Bishop Duca says it’s about repair and church members being open minded to past experiences of victims.
“Sometimes, you can struggle with something so long you just get tired. We can’t get tired,” the bishop said. “We have to keep our hearts soft, open, and willing to hear and walk the journey at their own pace.”
The bishop says that healing journey began when the names of clergy accused of wrongdoing were released. From that moment on, the bishop says time is reserved for victims to preserve and have renewed grace.
“We have to stay vigilant, in so many ways and keep our hearts open,” the bishop said. “That means we have to become vulnerable. We have to be able to let someone else’s pain touch our heart.”
“We’re to walk that slow path with them,” Dina Dow said. “Never to forget it, but never to let it hold us back either, but to walk forward together in God’s love.”
Dow works with and attends another catholic church in the area. She says when the issues arose that questioned the behavior of some members of the clergy, it affirmed her faith and encouraged her to dig in. Dow says while reaching the portions of the prayer during the service, she felt sorrow for the victims.
“But I also felt a great sense of peace,” she said.
Bishop Duca says right now, his focus is enforcing a safe environment to make sure no one else falls victim.
“Even in the pain and difficulty we live in hope,” the bishop said. “That’s the hope that will really help us to heal and shape our church in the right way.”