Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Archdiocese to aid clergy abuse victims

Archdiocese to aid clergy abuse victims
FREE COUNSELING Group therapy sessions offered to adult survivors of childhood sexual molestation
March 7, 2009
BY MAUDLYNE IHEJIRIKA Staff Reporter mihejirika@suntimes.com
Adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse by clergy are being offered free counseling -- from the church itself.
Survivors, along with their families, are being invited to join therapy groups sponsored by the Archdiocese of Chicago, church officials said Friday.
The 12-week group sessions for male survivors will begin Saturday in Lincoln Park. For women, the sessions begin March 19 in south suburban Evergreen Park.
The survivors group is open not only to those abused by priests but any adult sexually abused as a child, archdiocese officials said.
A separate, four-week session for family members of those abused by clergy begins Saturday at the Archbishop Quigley Center, 835 N. Rush.
Offered by the archdiocese's Office of Assistance Ministry -- established in 1992 to help victims of the priest sex abuse scandal -- the groups will be run by outside professionals, a spokeswoman said.
Mixed feelings
Officials said the therapy offerings are not in response to lawsuits filed against the church in connection with the sex abuse scandal, or the settlement last fall in which the archdiocese paid $12.6 million to 16 sexual abuse victims.
"It's not anything mandated. Anything that can help victims, Cardinal [Francis George] supports," archdiocese spokeswoman Susan Burritt said. "The cardinal absolutely believes this is why we're here, what we do as a church."
David Clohessy, of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, had mixed feelings about the offer.
"We think therapy for survivors is very helpful, if not crucial,'' he said. "But at the same time, a therapeutic relationship is based on trust. And for many who have been victimized by priests, brothers, nuns and seminarians, it may well be hard to trust archdiocesan-sponsored therapy."
For more information or to sign up for the sessions, go to www.archchicago.org.

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