“The pain of the victims and their families is also our pain, and so it is urgent that we once more reaffirm our commitment to ensure the protection of minors and of vulnerable adults” […] “it is impossible to think of a conversion of our activity as a Church that does not include the active participation of all the members of God’s People.”
What is Outreach? #
What exactly does “outreach” mean? When thinking about a definition of this term, some elements may naturally come to mind: raising awareness of available services, reaching out to someone in need, demonstrating a capacity to listen and learn from those who offer their experiences, and taking a proactive stance towards the community. Outreach is thus like a virtuous circle which generates new and richer possibilities for the wellbeing of our communities.
To create this virtuous circle, outreach toward those who have been affected by abuse necessarily entails proactively listening and supporting this acknowledgment through further initiatives and events suitable for local Churches. By consequence, when further thinking about outreach the inculturation factor necessarily plays a part: what works in one community may not work elsewhere, and no single initiative can work everywhere since outreach must account for the specific cultural contexts of a given community. However, by spreading awareness of what has been done locally as well as globally can certainly offer inspiration from which local churches can find the best practices suitable for their specific needs.
What are the Principles of Outreach? #
With this understanding of what outreach is, TutelaMinorum continues to discuss and collect best ways to help victims/survivors heal. Additionally, TutelaMinorum wishes to include the voices of the survivors in the global and local ministries of the Church’s healing and safeguarding efforts. TutelaMinorum will never forget who we serve, and for that reason our efforts in this area will always be on-going.
A very significant part of the mandate of the Commission is to explore and make available resources to support and help victims/survivors on their journey of healing. TutelaMinorum is committed to ensure that the voices of victims/survivors are clearly and constructively heard in the global and local ministries of the Church’s healing and Safeguarding efforts.
It must be stated that there is no perfect ‘one size fits all’ healing treatment or action since each victim’s/survivor’s story is unique and each path to healing is different. Additionally, what serves as a “Best Practice” for any one Episcopal Conference, within their cultural context, may not serve as a “Best Practice” for another. Below are thoughts and suggestions provided by those who have worked many years in the ministries of healing and safeguarding. It is a buffet of suggestions for Episcopal Conferences, Dioceses and Religious Congregations to select and implement what best fits their circumstances.
This resource is dynamic and always unfinished; it reflects over five years of work with Victims Survivor Panels, but it will constantly change and be updated as additional suggestions come to TutelaMinorum’s attention from all over the world.
May we never forget we serve a God for whom all things are possible (Mt 19.26). Healing IS possible.
What are the Effects of Sexual Abuse? #
Sexual abuse is a devastating event that robs survivors of their dignity, and freedom of self-expression. When a child loses control over their own body they experience a humiliating sense of powerlessness and shame. As they mature into adults, their traumatic experiences may manifest in various ways. Common psychological manifestations include typical features of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Complex PTSD.
Survivors of child sexual abuse may also experience poor health outcomes.
In addition to the psychological trauma and physical manifestations, those abused by a member of the clergy are uniquely challenged because of the deep fracture of their spiritual bonds with God and the Church.
Because every person who experiences the trauma of abuse is unique, it is important to refer the individual to a therapist who can provide a comprehensive clinical assessment and treatment plan to ensure the best possible outcome is achieved.
What is the role of Formation in Outreach? #
Ø Support ongoing formation of priests in ways to integrate issues related to abuse and trauma into their pastoral work and ways to add self-care measures when working with traumatized persons.
Ø Formation for trauma-informed pastoral care that encourages clergy and others in ministry gifted in working with the marginal and wounded to offer guidance and prayerful events for victims/survivors and families
Ø Encourage victims/survivors, family members, priests interested in learning from others to sign up for The Healing Voices Magazine (www.thehealingvoices.org) to discover more resources to support spiritual healing, and engage the community in writing and events.
Ø Meet with the clergy in the diocese who have been very supportive of the safeguarding ministry: to thank them, encourage them, and meet with them more personally.
Ø Ensure clergy (and other ministers within the church) involved in ministry with survivors have supervision available to them