Discover more from In Spirit and Truth
Changes for In Spirit and Truth - Making Space for More Voices
My first post on this blog was in December 2018. Those words came after months of reading and learning and praying and crying as I tried to figure out what God was asking of me in light of the devastating atrocities being brought to light in my Church. When I quit my job in parish ministry, I didn’t know where I was going or what I would be doing next. I only knew that I could no longer be silent.
I spent the first few years on this blog sharing my own thoughts and reflections, trying to convey what I was learning to anyone who might listen. As Awake Milwaukee began to grow, I finally had a sense that we could make a real difference to survivors, their loved ones, and all who have been wounded by sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. I was honored to be able to connect with many survivors and listen to their stories, and I became convinced that sharing their voices was the real key to changing hearts and minds. At that point, I was much less interested in sharing my own thoughts and more interested in lifting up the wisdom and experiences of those who have experienced abuse.
The focus of In Spirit and Truth has always been sexual abuse by Catholic leaders, and that’s where Awake’s mission remains centered. (In case this hasn’t been clear before, when I write on this blog, I am not speaking for Awake or as Awake’s executive director. This blog is my personal project, and I only speak for myself here.)
However, over the past few years I’ve also connected with more and more people whose experiences of harm in the Church don’t necessarily fit into the neat box of “sexual abuse.” This may have been grooming, sexual harassment, inappropriate comments, a sexual proposition, or other behavior that is harmful but a person doesn’t quite feel comfortable labeling sexual abuse. Or maybe it was abuse that was physical, verbal, emotional, psychological, or spiritual in nature, which can also have a devastating impact.
I’m not an expert on any of these things, but I have listened to enough stories to see how deeply people can be wounded when religious leaders misuse their position and authority to harm another. I know it also hurts when it feels like this abuse doesn’t “count” in a Church that has barely begun to grapple with even headline-grabbing sexual assault.
I’m not interested in comparing one type of abuse to another and judging which kind is worse. Nor do I have any interest in evaluating people’s individual stories of harm and telling them what label fits or doesn’t.
What I can do is make space for people to share their voices and their stories. I’d like to do more of that here.
Moving forward, the In Spirit and Truth Survivors’ Voices Panel will be open to those who have experienced any form of abuse in the Church. I look forward to bringing these perspectives and stories to light as well.
If you have experienced any form of abuse in the Church and would like to be part of the newly-expanded Survivors’ Voices Panel, you can learn more and sign up here:
If you know someone who might appreciate an opportunity to share their experiences, feel free to pass this post along to them:
This is a busy month for me, as we’re working on final preparations for Awake’s first-ever weekend retreat for abuse survivors (if you are a person of faith, please pray for us July 21-23!). I will be back on the blog next week with a quick request for support, followed by the July Reading Roundup at the end of the month. The Survivors’ Voices series will return in August.
Thank you to readers new and old. Let’s keep learning and growing, together.