By Lynn Charnitz
Awake Leadership Team
The twin crises in our Church—the crisis of sexual abuse and the crisis of leadership failures in responding to that abuse—are large and complex problems. There are no simple solutions, no grand plan that will address the concerns and real pain of every person affected. It can often feel overwhelming and just too big to tackle. Awake is committed to providing ways for Milwaukee-area Catholics to engage with these issues. Here we suggest several actions individuals can take to make a difference.
Six Things You Can Do Now
- Pray. Prayer is so powerful. Be creative with extemporaneous prayer, or say a Hail Mary. One prayer I say often: “Please awaken our hearts, O Lord, to the needs of those touched by the crisis in our Church. Comfort the abused. Heal the hearts and minds of those who have lost trust and faith. Protect those who labor in faithful service. Make our Church whole again.” Consider signing up to pray with Awake. A prayer will arrive in your inbox every other Sunday.
- Spread the word. Send someone the link to this blog so they can learn more about Awake. I’ve had success by simply adding this line: “I have found this to be a well-balanced and informative look at the Church today. Thought you might find it interesting too.”
- Like us on Facebook. See Awake’s Facebook page here. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if an Awake post went viral? It’s simply a matter of people like you clicking share buttons. Awake’s posts are educational and inspirational, covering news related to the Church crisis, as well as updates on Awake activities, or a thought to ponder. Check out the post of the day and use it as a reminder to say a quick prayer for the ministry.
- Sign the Open Letter to Survivors. Awake’s first public action was to reach out to survivors with our Open Letter. We invite all to sign the letter in solidarity with its message. The response we have received from some survivors has been moving. One survivor said that reading this letter was the first time she felt heard by Catholics; another said these words were just what she needed to hear. Please add your name to keep the list growing. Seeing the numbers of people who stand with them can truly be a message of hope to survivors and their loved ones.
- Share, share, and share again. Reach out to family, friends, and fellow parishioners. The Church crisis has touched so many, even beyond the victims and their loved ones. Some have chosen to leave the Church. Others have questioned their faith commitment. Still others are struggling through and recognizing that it is human failures that are at the root of the issue, and that Jesus remains the loving presence He always was. It may be a difficult topic to broach, but it could be the opening that someone has been looking for to share their thoughts and questions about the subject. Extend an invitation for them to join in some way: subscribe to the Awake Newsletter; join us on Facebook; sign the Open Letter to Survivors. Let them know this issue affects all of us as it has wounded our Church and our society. Encourage them to become educated about the topic so they can engage at a level that is comfortable to them.
- Give us feedback. One of the three pillars of our mission is to “Listen.” We want to hear from you. Are we hitting the right notes? Has something we said been especially relevant to you? What would you like to see more of? Comment on the blog or Facebook. Reply to our newsletter. Or just email us at email@example.com
We Are One Body
For many of us on the Awake Leadership Team, these verses from Corinthians have been central to our work: As a body is one though it has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body, so also Christ… If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it. (1 Cor 12:12, 26)
Pope Francis in his August 2018 letter said “…every one of the baptized should feel involved in the ecclesial and social change that we so greatly need.” We each have a role. We would invite you to make a commitment to make one or more of our ideas a part of your contribution to the Body of Christ.
Lynn Charnitz is retired from a career as an IT project manager, giving her time to pursue more volunteer interests. A member of SS. Peter and Paul parish in Milwaukee, she is one of those confused and conflicted by the abuse crisis, who works in small ways to be an agent of change.