About an hour-and-a-quarter into the video presentation last evening, I had an uncomfortable moment.
The discomfort surprised me…because I can probably best be described as a reluctant participant in the “Protecting God’s Children” workshop that was being held in the cafeteria of our parish school.
Please don’t mis-understand: I’m all FOR the program itself. But my “Scouting” and “youth sports” leadership days are long behind me…so I’ve never seen much point in taking the workshop. Since PGC verification is not a requirement for the volunteer activities I do today, I thought I could safely compartmentalize the whole mess around child sex abuse as somebody else’s responsibility.
What I learned last night is this: We must ALL keep our eyes open. We must ALL understand how predation happens. We must ALL be willing to speak up when we see something that concerns us.
As that realization settled in, I could feel my heart being pierced. My stone-cold heart…the one that rails against church leaders who so masterfully covered up the crimes of abusers in the clergy ranks for so many years.
My stone-cold heart…the one that sniffs at the inadequate contrition displayed by bishops even today.
My stone-cold heart…the one that tends to accept no personal responsibility – present or past – for the sins of his community, his church, his sex-sodden culture.
I found that my heart was moved…by the stories I heard from the survivors.
My heart was moved to realize how easily their stories could have happened, right in front of me. I prayed that my obliviousness had not contributed to an unsafe environment in the past…but I realized, even as I prayed, that I had no earthly idea whether such horrors had indeed happened on my watch.
So how does one make restitution for his decades of stony-hearted obliviousness?
Perhaps this is a start: I’d like to encourage you to see what I’ve seen. If you haven’t attended a PGC workshop, take a moment to find a training session near you – and sign up:
Let us pause now…to recall that we are in the presence of the Holy & Merciful One.