Catholic New World: Newspaper for the Archdiocese of Chicago

Protecting children and youth

Faced with great harm, people move to protect those in danger and to heal those already harmed. The Catholic Church in the United States and in the Archdiocese of Chicago has acted on both these fronts to address the danger and the sin of sexual abuse of minors. This special report in the Catholic New World notes the progress to date.

Personally, the many meetings I’ve had with victims of sexual abuse by priests have left me with painful emotions but with very clear convictions. As in all dangers and in all healings, the person most affected determines what will happen in the long run. People’s different reactions have to be respected. Some of those abused make good lives for themselves and are able to be free; others sink into patterns of life that are self-destructive. In all cases, however, the memory and the effects of sexual abuse as a child last through many years and return from time to time in ways that make authentic demands on us.

Like the effects of abuse, the programs that have been developed in the Church since 2002 are now in place for the long run. The Archdiocesan Office for the Protection of Children and Youth works each day to safeguard children and to assist those who have been abused. Their dedication and professionalism not only help those abused but also help create a climate of trust and confidence.

Help for victims is conditioned by many factors other than the needs of young people or the care of victims themselves. We live as people of faith, however, in the assurance that the Holy Spirit consoles and strengthens and that, in the long run, God’s designs for the afflicted and for all his people can transform lives and situations.

I am grateful for these reports and, most of all, for those who protect children and heal the wounds of abuse. Thank you.

Sincerely yours in Christ,
Francis Cardinal George,
OMI Archbishop of Chicago