2017 OCYP Annual Report: A 5-year Reflection

Carrie Cooper

By Carrie Cooper
OCYP Director

As we publish this 5th edition of the work of the OCYP, I asked myself this question – have we made a difference in acknowledging and addressing the reality of child sexual abuse within our faith community? I believe the answer is yes. And I also believe there is so much more we can do.

Since 2012, I’ve had the great honor to meet with abuse survivors and their families and be trusted and accepted enough to hear their stories. I’ve met some of the most amazing heroes of our Church family, and my heart aches for them because of the harm done to them by an agent of our Church. Not just physical or emotional harm, but spiritual harm – because abuse perpetrated in the name of God inflicts deeps wounds to one’s soul. My prayer is that our Church will continue to listen — because every story matters — and to show more love and kindness to those who have been harmed directly by an agent of the Church, or harmed indirectly by those who looked the other way, by those who didn’t believe their story, or by those who protected the abuser over them.

For those who abuse or cross appropriate boundaries with children in our Church, you must be held accountable. Because safe churches are where abusers are reported and held responsible regardless of who they are. This is the kind of Church we strive to be. This is who God expects us to be.

Since 2002, when the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People was adopted by the USCCB, our diocese has offered child sexual abuse awareness training to over 35,000 adults. As caring adults, it is our responsibility to protect children and the vulnerable. We are the first line of defense against sexual abuse.

Training children to protect themselves and to learn how to report suspicious behavior is a key element in our Church’s awareness and prevention efforts. Nearly 13,000 children and youth received this important training last year. Each year we continue to empower adults and children by arming them with knowledge and awareness in order to make this diocese a safe place for all. Each year, these efforts continue to strengthen our safety net of protection.

Recently, Pope Francis acknowledged the Church’s “own failures in providing for the protection of children: extremely grave facts have come to light, for which we have to accept our responsibility before God, before the victims and before public opinion.” The Pope added “as a result of these painful experiences and the skills gained in the process of conversion and purification, the Church today feels especially bound to work strenuously and with foresight for the protection of minors and their dignity, not only within her own ranks, but in society as a whole and throughout the world.”

I’ve joined the Pope in this vision. Won’t you join with me in promotion of healing and protection?

 

 

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Saturday
November 18, 2017
Newspaper of the Diocese of Kansas City ~ St. Joseph