CHARLESTON—Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone will offer Mass on April 2 to commemorate National Child Abuse Prevention Month.
“We’re going to pray for all victims of child abuse and recognize that it is a national problem at all levels …
and is a problem we have to be continually aware of,” the bishop said.
It will be held at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, 121 Broad St., at 5:15 p.m.
Bishop Guglielmone is well aware that many parishioners and church leaders would rather he not address child abuse in such a public forum. He knows it may stir controversy, that the media may cover it, that hostile letters may be written, and that certain groups may even stage protests.
But he is not one to back away from a thorny issue. The bishop said the church has to do the right thing, which is to acknowledge the problem and stamp it out.
“First and foremost, we have a responsibility to clean up our own act,” he said.
For the Catholic Church to accept its failures and repent, all members must be advocates for children and anyone else who is abused, the bishop said. That means meeting the issue head on.
At the same time, he said child abuse is a many sided coin that must be addressed throughout society.
His frustration is evident as he talks about the media portrayal of the Catholic Church as the one, horrible perpetrator.
Bishop Guglielmone said it is pure naiveté to believe that exorcising child abuse from the church will solve the problem, and stressed that people must acknowledge it is a societal evil and address it across the board.
His advice to parents and other caregivers: Be aware of the signs of abuse. Talk to children about abuse, make them aware of the dangers, ask questions and share with each other. If abuse should occur, seek help. Report criminal activity to the police no matter who the perpetrator is.
Bishop Guglielmone said a written copy of his homily may be available upon request after Mass.
For more information on preventing abuse, there are organizations available in each deanery.
For example, Darkness to Light is a national organization based in Charleston. Parents can read about the seven steps to preventing abuse at www.darkness2light.org. The website cautions that child abuse is a complex problem, and the seven steps cover only a small part of it. For more comprehensive information, take their Stewards of Children training.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website, www.childwelfare.gov, also offers resources for preventing child abuse and neglect. The site states that the best way communities can protect children is to strengthen families by nurturing attachment, promoting knowledge of parenting and of child and youth development, parental resilience, concrete support for parents, and social connections.