by Ejuma Adoga
The recent revelations of abuse in the Catholic church have dominated the news for the past few weeks. Naturally, as a devout Catholic, I read up on all of the reports and accounts of the survivors. Buzzfeed News did a powerful and heartbreaking report on abuses committed by Catholic Nuns at St. Joseph’s Orphanage in Vermont, which troubled me. After all of my research into the unspeakable injustice in the Catholic Church, I was left feeling shocked, disgusted, and shameful. I cannot imagine the pain these survivors have felt for years, not being able to speak out because of the power and positions of their perpetrators, and forced to remain silent because of fear, shame, or the belief that no one would take them seriously.
Yes, abuse happens everywhere, but that does not excuse the Catholic Church. Their stories should be told, and we, as Catholics, should be ready to experience momentary discomfort in listening to them. That discomfort is nothing compared to the years of indescribable pain and suffering that the survivors of these abuses have faced, and these conversations must be had.
It is not enough to send prayers and thoughts to the victims of abuse; as Catholics, we have to give survivors the space to tell their stories. I’ve noticed that when injustice is exposed, there is an initial outrage, but then silence, and everything is forgotten after a few months. For the sake of the victims, that cannot happen again.
My Catholic faith is something that I have been reflecting on even more deeply as a result of the abuse. It has always been an anchor for me in times of distress, and it has always kept me uplifted. In light of the abuse revelations, it continues to be a source of support for me to lean on because it gives me hope. It gives me hope because it is something to hold on to in times of utter hopelessness.
My faith gives me a purpose because I believe that there is much more to life than what we are presented with. My connection with God is something that I find to be one of the most intimate connections in my life. In times of disbelief, anger, sadness and shame, I find that talking to God, whether it be through thinking out loud or in my own moments of reflection, has been very cathartic. It is very personal to me, and while I may not always get an answer back, it is comforting to know that God is there.
I don’t know what will happen in the weeks, months and years to come with the Catholic Church, but what I do know is that something needs to change. It is not enough to sympathize with the victims. Action must be taken—not only to ensure this never happens again, but also to help the victims to heal.