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In the Midst of Abuse Scandal, the Call to Healing and Wholeness Through Love

A Guest Column From Mr. Mac


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The following is a guest column submitted by La Salle’s religious studies teacher Mr. Tom McLaughlin, also known as Mr. Mac. Guest columns and letters to the editor, which are published at the discretion of the student editors, can be submitted to lasallefalcon[email protected]

 

Most members of the La Salle community are likely aware of the clergy sexual abuse scandal rocking the Catholic Church again. In addition to being a religious studies instructor at La Salle, I am a survivor of this abuse. As you can imagine, I’ve suffered profoundly during the four decades since it happened.

Many years after the abuse occurred, I discovered that my Church and school leaders knew long before they transferred this man to my Catholic school that he was a serial abuser. Occasionally, this reality still haunts my heart, mind, soul, and body.

I’m writing first to call individuals and the Church to wholeness, and then to deliver an affirmation of the power of Love.

I call readers and the entire Church to do the following seven things. Failure to do this work of love may condemn our descendants to dealing with this crisis decades, even centuries from now.

1. Talk about the scandal: Anger, sadness, confusion, shame, rage, despair, weariness, frustration. These are just some of the emotions many of us are feeling. They can become poisons that we must remove in order to heal, individually and as a community. Talking helps accomplish that.

2. Educate yourself about the issues: There are two distinct yet related aspects to this crisis: the abuse itself, and the cover-up. Regarding the first, what caused clergy to sexually abuse children? Unpack the issues of pedophilia and ephebophilia (primary attraction to adolescents), and note that scientific studies show no direct correlation between these disorders and homosexuality. Also explore how seminarians and priests are educated, trained, and supported regarding their own sexuality and the requirement of celibacy. What are the trained psychologists, medical personnel, and sociologists telling us about these issues? As for the cover-up, many of the damning Church documents are already available to view online, and so are articles and books that explore the complicity of Church leaders.

3. Pray, meditate, reflect: Sometimes prayer includes words. It always involves active listening.

4. Discern what you are called to do: How are you called to love in this situation? What could you do? Only the Creator knows how each and every action will weave together to create wholeness. So, ask, listen, and decide.

5. Act courageously: Do your best to act lovingly despite your fears. And on those occasions when your fear wins and you don’t do what you’re called to do, have compassion for yourself. Then try again tomorrow.

6. Live as if healing is possible, because it definitely is. I know: The purpose of the Church is to co-create the Kingdom of God on Earth, to make Love present. No matter what humans in the Church have done, Love is still real. Despite my suffering, and sometimes because of it, I see love; I feel it, know it, and do it. So, focus on the Love –the giving and receiving of it – even as you work for justice.

7. Love one another, and yourself: You’ve acted courageously. Now what? Continue loving to the best of your ability. Even when your actions don’t seem to create the outcome you want, love anyway. Accept that you’ll never fully know the impact of your loving actions. It’s simply your nature to give and receive love, because you were created by Love, from Love, for Love. Just love.

My message of faith relates to points 6 and 7 above. Yes, I have experienced crippling pain – and sometimes still do. Out of my woundedness, I have done and thought things that have harmed people I love, and myself. AND I’ve experienced spectacular, life-giving healing. By the grace of the Father and Mother of All that Is, I’ve been able to bless the world. My suffering dug a well in the core of my being that has filled with Love, Beauty, Joy, and so much else that is Good. That is the source of all I offer this school, my family, and the world. Even the Church.

Healing and wholeness are possible. I know this thoroughly. But we must say Yes to the work of loving.

Live the Yes. Live the Love.

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1 Comment

One Response to “In the Midst of Abuse Scandal, the Call to Healing and Wholeness Through Love”

  1. Ryan Darmody on September 13th, 2018 8:08 am

    Thank you, Mr. Mac, for once again enlightening our community with your wisdom and grace.

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In the Midst of Abuse Scandal, the Call to Healing and Wholeness Through Love