I have been thinking about two events in our Parish over the last month. Francis Sullivan from the Truth, Justice and Healing Council came to speak to us and hear from us about the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. Many parishioners turned up, asked questions and made statements as befits this terrible scandal in the life of our Church. Reconciliation may be under way but we have a long way to go.
One of the issues raised was how we, as the community of faith at Our Lady of the Way, can play a role in that reconciliation.
At about the same time, we were remembering the events of 25 years ago in El Salvador; six Jesuits, their housekeeper and her daughter murdered at the University of Central America.
Both terrible examples of modern era violence; in each, we see the Chuch at work but in very different ways. In each, the Church played multiple roles. Some we may be satisfied with, indeed proud of.........the alignment of the Jesuits withn the oppressed and marginalised in Central America. Other roles of the Church may numb, indeed horrify us. The sexual abuse, the cover ups, the alignment with some of the American Church with the oppressors.
Beyond the horror, what can or should we do as a Community of Faith?
I have a few thoughts. What do you think?
Many parishes are named after Saints long gone whose good works were of another time. From what I see in my research, there is no Parish named for the Jesuit Martyrs of El Salvador. As our parish continues it's renewal for a community of the 21st century and reflecting carefully on the call to be " a poor church for the poor", should we adopt a new group of patrons whose example is of modern challenges and emblematic of the Jesuit work in education and social justice?
Should we create a permanent memorial to the many victims of Catholic Church sexual abuse? What form might it take? How can we avoid allegations that it is all too little too late? Should that risk put us off?
Perhaps we could find an appropriate space in one of the Church's for a specially dedicated altar and prayer area; a suitable sign of our genuine prayer for forgiveness and reconciliation.