Newspaper Archive of
The Message
Evansville, Indiana
February 2, 1996     The Message
PAGE 7     (7 of 16 available)        PREVIOUS     NEXT      Full Size Image
PAGE 7     (7 of 16 available)        PREVIOUS     NEXT      Full Size Image
February 2, 1996

Newspaper Archive of The Message produced by SmallTownPapers, Inc.
Website © 2020. All content copyrighted. Copyright Information.     Terms Of Use.     Request Content Removal.

Wo& in the Light: A Pastoral Response to Child tbuse is a collaborative statement of the on Women in Society and in the the NCCB Committee on Marriage and was prepared in the Secretariat for Family, and Youth under the supervision of the Publication was approved by the Committee in September 1995. The is further authorized for publication by the Monsignor Dennis M. Schnurr General Secretary NCCB/USCC I: INTRODUCTION then, is the message we heard from him announce to you: that God is light; and in darkness.., if we walk in the light, as we have fellowship with one another. 1992 statement When I Call for Help, we ;o COndemn domestic violence against stated Unequivocally that neither the the Church condoned abusive situa- speak out against another kind of vio- Sexual abuse, particularly in a home or abuse is the exploitation of a child for .gratification of an adult. It may range from fondling to intercourse and the use pornographic materials.1 Child sexual centuries has been cloaked in a con- because the abuse often occurs in victims are children. People tend to authority figures, such as parents, or clergy, are above reproach; COmmunity- could not abuse chil- often hides behind the masks true incidence of child sexual abuse re- it is nonetheless significant.2 We arly that any act of child sexual It is never justified. of child sexual abuse has come to ieve it is important to speak on issue, to offer a word of touched by this tragedy. tell of sexually abused people With their experiences; many more forth out of embarrassment and tell of the tragedy that happens become aware of sexual abuse however, that when sexual and deal1 with, many people forward to We Orae abusers their behav- elled to speak the Church burden of re- of sexual ministers and sis- employees sexually a and adoles- ely aware of caused Xve are com- ith these sit- Y and in all Onal Confer- The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana Walk in the Li t ence of Catholic Bishops has established an ad hoc committee on sexual abuse by clergy to help church leaders take appropriate action. Each diocese has de- veloped comprehensive policies concerning sexual abuse, which often apply to employees and volun- teers, as well as to clergy and religious. We are fully committed to preventing child sexual abuse and to restoring victims to health. 3 We speak, too, as citizens of a nation and a world that decry the exploitation of girls. While we recog- nize that sexual abuse of boys is significant -- some studies estimate it at 20 to 25 percent of all child vic- tims 4 - the overwhelming number of sexual abuse victims are girls. We are especially alarmed at the large number of victims who are girls under age 12. 5 We join the United Nations, the International Catholic Child Bureau, and other groups in drawing attention to the vulnerability of girls throughout the world, including the United States of America. To Whom Do We Speak? To adults who were sexually abused as children. To young people who are, or have been, sexually abused, and to their families. From the editor: About the document, 'Walk in the Light' 7 To abusers and potential abusers who act out the impulse to sexually abuse those they are committed to love and protect. To priests, parish ministers, youth workers, women's commissions and councils, educators, and other church leaders who can assist those who abuse and are abused. To people of all faiths who are concerned about families in crisis. To all of society, which is coming to recognize the terrible toll of child sexual abuse and the need to take action against it. "FELDHAus Class of '70 What We Hope to Do We realize that emotional and spiritual healing can occur only when issues can be openly addressed. In this statement, we seek to bririg the tragedy of child sexual abuse into the light, to give people needed in- formation, and to offer the spiritual, sacramental, and social resources of the Church so that the healing pro- cess may begin. As with When I Call [br Help, we in- tend this statement to be an introduction -- along with some practical suggestions -- to what parishes and dioceses and committed people of all faiths can do about child sexual abuse now. PART I1: DIMENSIONS OF CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE Those Who Are Abused Sexual abuse occurs in all racial and cultural groups; in rural, suburban, and urban areas; and at all socioeconomic and educational levels. Authorities believe that many cases go unreported because they involve family or friends. Reported victims of sexual abuse are most often children of school age. However, evidence indicates that sexual abuse may begin at an even younger age. At least one major treatment center reported in 1993 that 25 percent of its patients are five years old or younger.+ Sexual abuse usually takes place in secret and is kept secret because the abuser fears discovery. Sexual abuse is often more difficult for a child to acknowl- edge than physical or emotional abuse, and the sexu- ally abused child may feel more isolated. Children often blame themselves for the abuse, therefore it is important to reassure the child that he or she is not responsible. The adult, not the child, is responsible for violating the boundaries that the child could not maintain alone. Profile of an Abuser Abusers come from all walks of life, all economic backgrounds, and all ethnic groups. Men commit 90 percent of sexual abuse, and 70 to 90 percent is com- mitted by persons the child knows. Family members make up one-third to one-half of the perpetrators The Church must work at the parish level to heal victims and perpetrators of child sexual abuse, according to a document released late in 1995 by the U.S. Bishops' Administrative Com- mittee. The document is intended as a practical introduction to the issue of child sexual abuse, es- pecially in a family setting. For more information, please contact Catholic Charities, Court Building Suite 603, 123 Northwest Fourth Street, Evansville IN 47708. Telephone (812) 423-5456. The text of this document is published this week in the Message, as part of an ongoing ef- fort to provide readers with the teaching of the Church on issues of today. "Faithful For Life," a document from the U.S. bishops on life issues ranging from abortion to euthanasia, was published Jan. 19. The Message will continue to publish documents and texts as they are made available. "Walk in the Light," Copyright 1995 by the United States Catholic Conference, Inc., is reprinted with permission. against girls and 10 to 20 per- cent of the perpetrators against boys. 7 It is impossible to reliably identify potential sex abusers. Various studies indicate that they may be more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol; may have been abused as children or have witnessed abuse; have low self-esteem; consider a sexual relationship with a child easier and less threatening than with an adult; maintain rigid expec- tations of roles within the fam- ily, and view anyone outside the family with suspicion; rational- ize their actions; and do not con- sider their abuse to be morally offensive. Some sex abusers, MILLER & MILLER ii r "Funeral Pre-Planning Since 1940" 424-9274 r i Hi-Tech Sheet Metal Inc. Residential, Industrial & Commercial Heating & Cooling Installation Sales & Service I 422-9242 ] Operated by Michael and PatriciQ Koch 15 SI Third Avenue, Evansville i i i i COMPLETE INSURANCE SERVICE Auto! Home! Fire &; Life! Your Personal Service Agent James L. Will Ins. Agency Inc. 1925 W. Franklin Street 425-3187 i iiii iii i