In response to the invitation of Abbot Timothy Kelly, OSB, chancellor ofSaintJohn’s University, representatives of the national organization of Victims of Clergy Abuse Linkup, Inc., met at SJU on Nov. 20-21.
The purpose of this initial meeting was to explore collaborative efforts for 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 this topic at SJU next summer.
Jeanne Miller, founder and executive director of The Linkup, presented background information on the formation and history of this organization since its beginning two years ago. The primary goal of The Linkup is “to prevent clergy abuse, and to empower and assist its victims to overcome its traumatic effects on their lives. The Linkup seeks to encourage organized religious institutions to develop and implement responsible, accountable policies and procedures” in this regard (from the mission statement of The Linkup).
In welcoming the 14 participants of the meeting, Abbot Timothy said, “Because the first word of The Rule of Saint Benedict is ‘Listen,’ it is our hope that by listening to one another we will emerge from this meeting wi th a greater wisdom than either of us had before.
“From The Linkup we can learn much about the trauma of sexual abuse and exploitation, the pain and suffering this has caused, the sense of betrayal that has been created, the hope that was threatened with destruction.
“From us The Linkup can learn a new dimension ofwhat it means to share in guilt by association, to be victims along with you of the failure of the church and society to adequately face issues of exploitation of all sorts, sexual, economic, political, to name just a few…
“Our goal is to be the kind of resource that models what it means for brothers and sisters who are sinners to join together in unity for the sake ofthat mutual respect and love that drives out sin.”
Calling this meeting a “quantum leap” in the institutional effort to deal with clergy sexual abuse, Miller expressed her appreciation at a media conference for the invitation that brought The Linkup to Saint John’s.
A leadership training conference for persons involved in victims’ support groups is being planned for mid-June, 1994, at Collegeville. A national conference with the theme of “Healing Towards Prevention” is proposed for early August 1994 at SJU.
Victims of Clergy Abuse Meet at Saint John’s
Submitted by Fr. Daniel Durken, OSB, abbey publicist
December 8, 1993