BREAKING NEWS Minnesota BCA identifies law enforcement involved in Albert Lea shootings Full Story
STREAMING NOW: Watch Now
CLOSINGS: View Closings

VanSickle: I pray for the soul of my abuser

Jim VanSickle, who says he was sexually abused by his priest, responds to the new grand jury report that details accounts of sexual abuse by more than 300 priests in Pennsylvania's Catholic Church.

Posted: Aug 16, 2018 9:30 AM
Updated: Aug 16, 2018 9:32 AM

After the release of a Pennsylvania grand jury report on the decadeslong sexual abuse of more than 1,000 child victims by priests in six dioceses, there is horror and there are questions about what comes next. One question I'm hearing and thinking about as a scholar of the Catholic family is whether the report will lead Catholic families or individuals to turn their backs on thousands of years of Catholic teaching about human sexuality.

Even people who have close relationships with priests and bishops they have known and trusted for years might emotionally struggle with the idea that this church can continue to provide guidance on sexual morality. It's not necessarily a logical response; sexual abuse is a crime of power and exploitation. But it is an understandable one.

The Catholic Church, as virtually all religions, exhorts believers to a high standard of sexual behavior. Like every human behavior, but even more so, sex is supposed to abide by the law of love. Our actions must positively promote human well-being, by empowering people to be who God made them to be. The law of love also contains a duty of special care to the vulnerable, especially children. And regarding sexual behavior in particular -- which is so fraught with meaning, and so prone to exploitation -- the Catholic Church is insistent that because sex makes babies, the well-being of born and unborn children should always be kept in mind in connection with every sexual relationship.

But assuming the truth of the grand jury report, many Catholic priests and bishops violated every one of these rules, to a staggering degree. So what will Catholic families do with their thorny questions about sex in a world busy hypersexualizing their kids, retreating from marriage, and too often ridiculing morality that links sex with marriage and children?

I am frankly of two minds on this question. Some Catholics will firmly, explicitly close the door on Catholic sources of sexual morality, yes. And it will be difficult or impossible to woo them back.

But speaking as a Catholic mother of long experience with Catholic parishes and schools, and speaking as a family scholar who has visited and addressed Catholics in nearly every US diocese over the last 30 years, this first group may not represent the majority of Catholics.

I say this for two reasons. First, the Catholic laity are more knowledgeable and sophisticated about healthy approaches to sex and sexuality than many people realize. They have had to be, given the #MeToo world we live in. They are also convinced -- and social science agrees with them -- that kids attached to their faith will make loving and more responsible sexual choices. They have been assisted immensely over especially the last 40 years by the brilliant teachings of St. John Paul II about the theology of the human body.

Many of the laity have therefore appropriated Catholic teachings for themselves in order to secure their own happiness and freedom and that of their children. It's a jungle out there as a Catholic parent, and if you don't have a reasonable, compassionate reply to your kids, you're pretty much toast when it comes to passing on Catholic morality.

Second, I don't think the majority of Catholics were looking to particular priests or bishops for their sexual morality. Most Catholics don't read encyclicals, bishops' pastoral letters, or their local Catholic paper. Most homilies are not about sexual morality. And from personal experience, the homilies that do touch upon it are not grappling with especially young adults' urgent and foundational questions: Why is sex more than recreation? Why is marriage more loving than cohabitation? How can I welcome children in the world as it is today?

Instead, a lot of Catholic families look to other families' experiences. They also look to a wide array of lay-founded Catholic groups with websites, conferences, and educational materials. These might include Ruah Woods, the Theology of the Body Institute, and others. Having traveled around the United States and spoken to innumerable parents and families, I can see clearly that they are not waiting to be instructed on matters so deeply affecting their kids' and families' well-being. They are seeking it out, and finding it provided, usually by lay Catholic experts.

The Catholic Church has no one to blame but itself for the loss of trust the Pennsylvania report will provoke. At the same time, however, in a world of expert, lay-Catholic initiatives framing and teaching the beauty of Catholic sexual morality, some Catholics will continue to hold themselves to these standards, and to pass them on to their children.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 333626

Reported Deaths: 3843
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin700691145
Ramsey29459521
Dakota23564198
Anoka23541236
Washington14864125
Stearns14564125
St. Louis9549121
Scott896460
Wright847548
Olmsted714637
Sherburne618746
Clay529960
Carver509715
Kandiyohi440828
Rice432338
Blue Earth431217
Crow Wing383339
Otter Tail338925
Chisago334516
Benton322753
Nobles316032
Winona297832
Douglas283040
Mower274823
Polk271527
Morrison246731
McLeod233721
Lyon232812
Beltrami230718
Goodhue222932
Becker221521
Steele21038
Itasca206324
Isanti203917
Carlton201417
Todd190314
Nicollet172126
Mille Lacs164632
Freeborn16227
Le Sueur157012
Brown156115
Cass153511
Pine14498
Meeker144812
Waseca143411
Roseau13035
Martin124721
Hubbard119729
Wabasha11301
Redwood104620
Chippewa9808
Renville95530
Cottonwood9454
Dodge9311
Watonwan8944
Wadena8637
Sibley8404
Rock8249
Houston8004
Aitkin79930
Fillmore7690
Pipestone76518
Pennington7058
Yellow Medicine69612
Kanabec68614
Swift63610
Murray6124
Faribault6093
Pope5721
Clearwater55410
Marshall5459
Stevens5403
Jackson5321
Lake4518
Koochiching4216
Wilkin4175
Lac qui Parle4124
Lincoln3811
Unassigned38159
Norman3718
Big Stone3392
Mahnomen3225
Grant2986
Kittson2518
Red Lake2303
Traverse1531
Lake of the Woods1071
Cook800

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 237371

Reported Deaths: 2571
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk34873347
Linn14787169
Scott1184692
Black Hawk11288147
Woodbury10763137
Johnson985939
Dubuque947999
Story701924
Pottawattamie682474
Dallas661260
Sioux383829
Webster378339
Cerro Gordo373252
Marshall360950
Clinton345645
Buena Vista316614
Muscatine305172
Des Moines300623
Warren294115
Plymouth287044
Wapello265072
Jones237118
Jasper231546
Lee228719
Marion211922
Carroll204325
Bremer202713
Henry19367
Crawford183116
Benton175423
Tama157442
Jackson151117
Washington150216
Delaware147621
Dickinson145812
Boone144912
Mahaska133928
Wright13107
Clay12505
Buchanan123410
Hardin122812
Hamilton119514
Page11925
Kossuth11768
Clayton115510
Cedar114614
Harrison113432
Floyd111921
Mills11129
Calhoun10987
Fayette109812
Lyon10769
Butler10748
Winneshiek105513
Poweshiek103714
Iowa101414
Cherokee9674
Winnebago96325
Chickasaw9195
Hancock9138
Sac9068
Louisa90122
Grundy89514
Allamakee88413
Cass84725
Union8437
Mitchell8429
Appanoose81613
Humboldt8125
Shelby80511
Emmet79026
Guthrie78315
Franklin76421
Jefferson7635
Madison7265
Unassigned7090
Palo Alto6744
Keokuk6567
Pocahontas6024
Howard5859
Ida54915
Osceola5461
Greene5422
Montgomery51411
Clarke5064
Davis4839
Taylor4833
Monona4567
Adair4539
Monroe45113
Worth3881
Fremont3823
Van Buren3815
Decatur3410
Lucas3416
Audubon3112
Wayne3087
Ringgold2432
Adams1812
Rochester
Clear
37° wxIcon
Hi: 43° Lo: 20°
Feels Like: 33°
Mason City
Clear
34° wxIcon
Hi: 45° Lo: 21°
Feels Like: 28°
Albert Lea
Clear
37° wxIcon
Hi: 45° Lo: 22°
Feels Like: 37°
Austin
Clear
39° wxIcon
Hi: 45° Lo: 21°
Feels Like: 39°
Charles City
Clear
37° wxIcon
Hi: 46° Lo: 21°
Feels Like: 33°
A Quiet Weekend Ahead
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Latest Video

Image

Albert Lea church taking in displaced residents

Image

Rochester Area Foundation Virtual Event

Image

Path for economic recovery

Image

Sean's Weather 12/4

Image

13 homes evacuated due to Albert Lea blaze

Image

Property Taxes to Decrease for Most Olmsted County Homeowners

Image

Property Tax Decrease in Olmsted County

Image

MSHSL announces return to participation plan for winter, spring sports

Image

Improvements to Highway 14 corridor

Image

A plan for dangerous Highway 14

Community Events