Posts Tagged Healing Circles
Over the past two years, Voice of the Faithful® has facilitated nine Broken Vessel™ Healing Circles around the United States. Participants have included victims/survivors and others harmed in some other serious way by abusive clergy and/or by hierarchical leaders who enabled abuse. In addition to enhancing the arduous work of personal healing, these participants have contributed to the healing of many other individuals who have been deeply wounded as well.
Those of us who have facilitated these circles remain deeply moved by and grateful for each participant’s willingness to pursue a path of healing through this experience. We welcome feedback from any participants who feel they have something to offer about the Healing Circle experience from their present personal perspective.
We deeply desire to offer Healing Circles to anyone who could benefit from them. We ask you, our readers, to reach out to those whom you think would benefit to let them know that a viable step along a path toward healing exists for them in the Broken Vessels™ program. Click here for additional information or contact Bill Casey at email@example.com. We assure complete confidentiality.
In addition, if any of you find yourselves in a place where you can provide any level of financial support for the costs of the Healing Circles, please make a donation to VOTF restricted to Healing Circles by clicking here or mailing your check, with “For Healing Circles” written on the memo line, to VOTF, P.O. Box 423, Newton, MA 02464.
The U.S. Catholic Church’s primary responses to its clergy sexual abuse scandal have been protection protocols and litigation, that is, promulgating the Dallas Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People and leaving litigation as the primary option for abuse survivors seeking justice.
Conspicuously absent from the Church’s responses have been programs and activities focused on healing wounds from the scandal.
Voice of the Faithful has an approach that the reform movement believes has great potential as a step on the path toward healing for anyone who feels harmed by the scandal. William Casey, a former VOTF board chair and Northern Virginia Mediation Service Restorative Justice Program director, featured this “Restorative Justice Healing Circle” approach in a lecture he presented Dec. 3 at Boston College in Newton, Mass. The college’s Church in the 21st Century Center co-sponsored the event.
Called “Storytelling for Healing,” the lecture explained the power of deep listening and safe storytelling to an attentive audience of BC theology students, VOTF members, abuse survivors and community members. Casey, who also facilitates Healing Circles, described how they ensure a safe place for each participant to tell his or her story. He then quoted testimonials from people who said the Healing Circle had started them on a path toward healing or nurtured healing they were beginning to experience.
Casey also pointed out that the injury caused by clergy abuse spills over into families and friends of survivors and onto all people of faith whose trust is shaken be such betrayal. All affected by this breach in trust are welcomed into a Healing Circle.
Audience questions made it clear the concept of Restorative Justice on which Healing Circles are based is not an easy concept for those living in a 21st century, First-World country, where people are most familiar with retributive and punitive means of redress. Several people expressed their gratitude that VOTF was taking this lead in responding to survivor needs.
More information on Healing Circles is available on VOTF’s Programs webpage.
There was the man who had been sexually abused as a boy by his priest. The priest who felt shunned within the Catholic Church after he spoke out against such abuse. The husband who had never told his wife about his assault decades earlier. The couple in their 80s who raised seven children in the church but finally, tearfully, decided to leave the pews.
“They’ve all been participants in a healing circle, a pilot program launched in Boston a year ago by the Voice of the Faithful (VOTF), an organization of progressive Catholics formed in 2002 in response to the priest sex abuse scandal. Based on a restorative justice model, the circles allow those who have suffered harm to meet in a small group and tell their stories.
“This month, the organizers seized the occasion of Pope Francis’s US visit to try to win awareness of their project at the highest levels of the church. In a full-page ad in the National Catholic Reporter, VOTF issued an open invitation to the pope to attend a healing circle in New York during his Sept. 24-25 visit. ‘Welcome to the U.S. We invite you to join us in a Healing Circle. Time does not heal all wounds. Some wounds fester, like those the survivors of clergy sexual abuse suffer, and the wounds their families and communities experience. They are broken people, as is their Church,’ the ad read.”
By Bella English, The Boston Globe — Click here to read the rest of this story.