With the unanimous approval and support of the university’s Board of Regents on 16 October, a further step has been taken in the evolving plan to establish an institute on sexual trauma here.
The proposal originated this past summer when 23 resource persons from around the country responded to the invitation of Abbot Timothy Kelly and President Brother Dietrich Reinhart to come to Saint John’s to consider the ecumenical issue of sexual exploitation in the churches, particularly by clergy and religious.
A primary recommendation of this group was that Saint John’s Abbey and University should, in the words of Abbot Timothy’s follow-up report to the monastic community, “establish a center or institute which would serve as a clearinghouse for information, policies and resources; where conferences, institutes, or summer programs might be convened around specific issues; where graduate and undergraduate courses could be developed; where a publishing plan could be inaugurated; where a visible forum within the university and monastic community could be established to mobilize our resources to assist in the healing of sexual trauma within the churches.”
The next phase of the plan involves fund raising for the financial support of the program and the selection of a director of the institute. Estimates are that it will be three to five years before the institute is fully operational.
Responding to an invitation of Abbot Timothy as chancellor of the university, 14 representatives of the national Victims of Clergy Abuse Linkup, Inc., met at Saint John’s 20-21 November.
The purpose of this initial meeting was to explore collaborative efforts toward the healing of victims of sexual abuse by clergy and for the prevention of such abuse. Preliminary planning was made for two major conferences on the topic here in mid-June and August 1994.
Welcoming the participants, Abbot Timothy said: “Because the first word of the Rule of Benedict is ‘Listen,’ it is our hope that by listening to one another we will emerge from this meeting with greater wisdom than any of us had before.’ Our goal is to be the kind of resource that models what it means for brothers and sisters to join together in unity for the sake of that mutual respect and love that drives out sin.”
Trauma Institute Approved, Abuse Victims Meet