September 15, 2018

Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows

A RESPONSE TO THE MCCARRICK SCANDAL AND THE PENNSYLVANIA GRAND JURY REPORT FROM THE CATHOLIC PSYCHOTHERAPY ASSOCIATION

As an interdisciplinary professional association made up of mental health professionals across an array of fields including psychiatrists, psychiatric nurses, psychologists, professional counselors, social workers, marriage and family therapists, pastoral counselors, and academicians, we are committed to upholding the dignity of the human person and strengthening families. We are also committed to supporting the magisterial teachings of the Catholic Church. It is therefore with much grief that we the leadership and the members of the Catholic Psychotherapy Association (CPA) respond to the current situation facing the Catholic Church, given the findings of the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report and additional revelations regarding Archbishop McCarrick.

First and foremost, we grieve the terrible pain and anguish suffered by children and young adults who were abused at the hands of men who should have been protectors of their souls, but instead chose to desecrate their holy office and perpetrate most unholy crimes. Psychological research catalogs the terrible toll caused by sexual abuse across the lifetime of the victims: post traumatic stress, loss of connection, breakdown of families, depression, intense feelings of shame, substance abuse, and physical health problems to name only a few. The only humane response from Church leaders and members in the face of this great sin should be repentance and a firm and sincere desire to make reparations.

Second, we grieve for all affected families. The hurt and suffering of parents, grandparents, siblings, and all extended family members related to abused children is immense. Families with an expectation of raising their children in the sacramental life of a holy Church, have instead had their children violated, their trust betrayed, and their faith shaken. Research has shown the powerful effects of vicarious trauma as well as the reality of inter-generational trauma.

Third, we grieve for members of the faithful at large. Many Catholics find it difficult to trust their own pastors and episcopal leadership in light of widespread dereliction of duty. These are not isolated incidents. The extraordinary failure of some of the episcopacy to protect children, effectively screen candidates for the priesthood, provide safe environments and formation in seminaries, and uphold some of the most basic moral teachings of our Church, has left many of the faithful in a state of confusion, disillusionment, shock and anger.

And fourth, we grieve for faithful members of the clergy. We know many good and holy priests and bishops who strive to uphold the teachings of the Church and to be true shepherds and spiritual fathers. When the Church loses its moral credibility, everyone is affected and the mission of the Church, to spread the Gospel message of salvation, is compromised.

What is to be done? Many of our members provide services to trauma survivors and their families. Many of our members also provide services to clergy including but not limited to psychological assessments, individual counseling, and human formation. As a group, the Catholic Psychotherapy Association offers our services to assist efforts to reform and renew the Church in this time of need. We are more than willing to provide counsel and advisement on the psychological effects of trauma on the individual, and its impact on larger groups.

Specifically, the Catholic Psychotherapy Association pledges the following:

  1. We, as a group, offer to assist the Church at every possible level, from the parish to the diocese, to the conference of bishops, to the pope himself if asked, if our skills as therapists, educators, and mental health experts can be of assistance.
  2.  We advocate for change and measures to prevent further abuse. We support Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), in calling for a committee (Press Release) that includes members of the laity and experts. We call for a thorough and impartial investigation of all events and cover-ups that led up to this scandal, and we call for the implementation of additional preventative measures and safeguards.
  3. The members of the Catholic Psychotherapy Association stand ready to assist individuals in the healing process, as well as the institutional church, in any way that we can.  We fully intend to be involved in that healing process both personally and professionally.
  4. The members of the Catholic Psychotherapy Association, offer our prayers, individually and collectively for the victims. We also pray for effective reform that will provide greater accountability of bishops. We encourage the members of the Catholic Psychotherapy Association to participate in a novena to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.   (http://www.motherteresa.org/novena-to-the-sacred-heart.html)

Domine, miserere

Gerry Ken Crete, PhD, LPC, LMFT
President, Catholic Psychotherapy Association
gcrete@catholicpsychotherapy.org

The Catholic Psychotherapy Association is a professional association of mental healthcare providers and educators. CPA’s mission is to support mental health practitioners by promoting the development of psychological theory and mental health practice which encompasses a full understanding of the human person, family, and society in fidelity to the Magisterium of the Catholic Church


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