Catholic University Closes Out its Discussion Sessions on Responses to the Crisis in the Catholic Church

By Natalie Colonna

Catholic University students and staff met for the final installment of the “Response to the Crisis in the Catholic Church” series in the Pryzbyla Center on Monday, October 8 answering questions with a discussion on what to do when losing faith in the Church.

Nearly 40 students filled six round tables in Great Room C to join in the discussion on people losing their faith in the Church. The discussion series host, University Chaplain and Director of Campus Ministry, Rev. Jude DeAngelo, was joined Dr. Susan Timoney, the Associate Dean of Undergraduate Studies and Professor of Practice in the School of Theology and Religious Studies who returned from last week’s event, as well as Emmjolee Mendoza Waters, Associate Director of Campus Ministry and Community Services.

This third and last installment in the weekly discussion series spoke to many of the fears and concerns of Catholic U students. The Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report came out August 14. The report is the result of a two-year investigation by the grand jury into widespread sexual abuse of children within six Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania, and includes the cover up between senior church officials of Pennsylvania and the Vatican.

“One of the most important things from all of these different kinds of conversations is knowing that conversation has to be held. I think a lot of people are kind of struggling with it in the silence,” said Irene Wilson, a junior English and secondary education major who serves as a Resident Minister in Gibbons Hall. “It’s really good that there have been these opportunities for people to open up and know other people are struggling with it just as much as well and that they can struggle with it together.”

Waters opened up to students discussing how she has struggled with her faith in recent weeks. She began the evening discussing her individual experiences of fear, embarrassment, and anger through the current state of crisis in the Church. Waters spoke largely to her commitment to both her faith and the poor, a truth that she practices both with her own family and with those on campus.

“I am hoping that students know that they can come talk, and by talking I mean more like I can really listen,” Waters said. “For me, this is a really personal journey and recognizing that wherever people this is their journey and we should listen.”

Since the first event in September, this discussion series has been an outlet for students to openly discuss and reflect on the many incidents of sexual abuse that were recently uncovered in the Church. The past three discussions have promoted a positive and open platform for any conflicts students may be facing at this time.

“I think this was the most vocal people have been so I would say that this has been probably the most valuable of the discussions,” DeAngelo said.

At the end of the discussion, the floor opened up for questions and asked about issues regarding restructuring in the Church and how to forgive those perpetrators of sexual abuse. Several students, including junior politics major Isa Martinez, mentioned the need for procedures going forward that would prevent the abuse taking place.

“I think it’s important to remember that closure is not coming anytime soon, because there is no immediate fix to this problem,” said Martinez. “There is a lot of hurt and pain going on, and I think in order to move forward we need to work on being there for one another.”

Upon a student’s request, there may even be more opportunities for on-campus adoration for those seeking time for prayer and reflection beyond the final discussion series.

“People are going to need to step up and to speak on behalf of the Church when they have the opportunity because we are more credible than our leaders are at the moment,” Timoney said.

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