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Archdiocese invites abuse victims to gathering for healing, advocacy

August 16, 2010

“My goal in wanting to do this is not only for us to come together and draw strength but to come together and tell the church what we need from them in order for us to heal and get over this,” added Mateus, who said she was abused by a priest in the archdiocese in 1966 when she was a 20-year-old college student.

Mateus, who has returned to the church and belongs to a charismatic prayer group, is hopeful the bishops can begin to approach survivors’ healing as a responsibility under church principles of restorative justice. She looks toward diocesan policies that will lead to healing and include services such as “access to qualified therapists without any interference in the therapy by the diocese.”

Mateus said: “What heals people from this kind of trauma is love.”

Survivor Paul Fericano, who was abused when he was a 14-year-old seminarian in Southern California in 1965, said that trying to find common ground between survivors and the church has been a long and painful road.

“Most of the time people just want to be heard, and from there we find out what they really need,” he told Catholic San Francisco, the archdiocesan newspaper.

“Those who I have worked with run the gamut from those who are very angry and have not received any therapy at all to those who have been in therapy quite a few years and are doing deep work on themselves to determine what they really want. It’s all part of the healing process, even litigation for some,” said Fericano.

He said he hopes the gathering will help bring parishes into the support effort with survivors and bishops.

Read the whole article.


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