From The Hand of Fr. Aaron Ferris For February 24, 2019

This note will bring to an end our current discussion regarding the abuse of children by priests. I am sure we will be talking about this again. Later this year the Attorney General’s office will be releasing reports on each diocese in the state, and that will likely warrant talking about this situation again.

For now, I want to end with those who were abused by priests. They have undoubtedly suffered the most in all of this, and our hearts should go out to them. Children are not at fault in these situations, and for someone in a position of authority and trust to abuse a child is a horrible crime. It can leave lasting emotional scars. There can be a whole range of experiences, including shame, guilt, fear, self-hatred, and any number of other feelings and responses. Some are able to work their way through it better than others, but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t serious harm done.

One problem that is often raised is in regard to what the Church is doing for those who have been hurt by priests and bishops. As with so much, I don’t have a lot of answers. It would be easy to say that the Church should pay for counseling for those who have been hurt in this way, but how long should that counseling go for: a year, five years, a decade, the rest of their lives?

Lawsuits often award damages. Even if someone does not file a lawsuit, should a diocese be on the hook for making other monetary compensations? There have been a few dioceses around the nation that have filed bankruptcy because of lawsuits. In some places they closed parishes and sold property in order to pay for damages. These are not easy answers.

Of course, money doesn’t change what happened, nor can it ever make up for the harm caused. It might be part of the solution, but it isn’t the whole answer. An important part of the answer comes through the healing power of Jesus. He is the one who cured the sick, cast out demons, and raised the dead. The Church might need to make good some material restitution, but Jesus is the only One who can truly heal those who have been hurt.

For me, this is one of the areas that has been seriously neglected by many. There is a long tradition of healing in the Church going all the way back to Jesus. We often focus on physical healings (those are generally the most obvious), but Jesus is no less powerful in healing the spiritual, mental, and emotional damage that we suffer through life. In fact, Jesus can use the harm that has been done to us to make us stronger, holier, better people. This is not to excuse the wrong done, but it does tell us of the gracious mercy of God.

If nothing else, we; bishops, priests, and all the people alike, need to be dedicated to this because this is something we can do without question. We can continue to pray and offer sacrifices for those who have been hurt. If we know people who have been abused, we can be good brothers and sisters in Christ to them and strive to help them find the healing they need. There are a lot of answers that we don’t have in these complex situations, but we can always be committed to the healing and salvation of our brothers and sisters who have been seriously hurt.

Rev. Aaron Ferris
Rev. Aaron Ferris
Rev. Aaron R. Ferris Ordination Date: June 6, 2009 Pastor, St. Anthony Parish (Saranac) and St. Mary’s Parish (Lowell) 402 Amity Street Lowell, MI 49331 Phone: 616-897-9820
%d bloggers like this:
Skip to toolbar