Thank you for your coverage of the most recent sex abuse crisis in the United States (Our Path to Reconciliation and Healing, September 11). I appreciate the comprehensive and detailed coverage of how the Diocese of San Jose is proceeding after the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report.
I became a Catholic in May 2003, as a senior at Santa Clara University, just a year after the explosive Boston Globe expose reported significant coverup of sex abuse cases. Needless to say, my whole time in the Catholic Church has been during times of doubt and questioning of the hierarchical leadership in the Church. At the same time, I am proud to call myself a Catholic, and have greatly enjoyed serving in ministry roles over the past 11 years within the Diocese of San Jose. Having become involved with mental health, youth, and educational ministry within the Catholic Church at the Diocesan, state, and national levels over the past 4 years, I can safely say the Diocese of San Jose is certainly a unique and special Diocese, committed to supporting the ideals of the Second Vatican Council.
At the same time, I worry the latest crisis will cause the “pendulum to swing to the other side.” While all in ministry must remain vigilant and cautious of abuse of young people, we cannot and should not let relational ministry to young people suffer. Indeed, in his 2012 book titled, Engaging a New Generation: A Vision for Reaching Catholic Teens, Frank Mercandante states, “in an effort to protect young people, the responses we have formed through legal policies and guidelines may be hampering, limited, challenging, and perhaps even driving to extinction significant relational ministry. These policies often wind up protecting teens form much more than predators–in the end, we protect them from any meaningful contact with adults…overly stringent policies leads to a Church that is more concerned about financial and legal protection than on the active, personal, pastoral care of young people. This results in the loss of the Church’s credibility and the far greater loss of our teens.”
I hope all those who work with our young people in the Diocese will join me in advocating for policies where protection and prevention can and does meet practical and pastoral.