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  • Writer's pictureFaith Hakesley

A Call for Accountability and Healing in the Catholic Church

By Faith Hakesley and Letitia Peyton

As victims of clerical abuse, we bear deep scars inflicted by those who were meant to be our spiritual guides. Our wounds have been further exacerbated by the Vatican's continued use of Marko Rupnik’s art, despite his reprehensible actions. This essay is a plea for justice and a demand for accountability within the Church that has so deeply betrayed us.

The Church has consistently promised transparency, accountability, and compassion for victims of clerical abuse. However, the recent controversy surrounding the use of Rupnik’s art starkly highlights the Vatican’s failure to uphold these promises. Dr. Paolo Ruffini's defense of Rupnik at a recent Catholic media event was a profound betrayal to all of us who have suffered.

Cardinal Sean O’Malley, President of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, advised all Curial offices not to use Rupnik’s art. Yet, this guidance was blatantly ignored. This disregard highlights a lack of respect and empathy for the victims of abuse. The ongoing display of Rupnik's art within Church institutions serves as a painful reminder of the abuse we endured and the lack of serious action against those who have perpetrated such horrors.

Pope Francis has called for a unified, compassionate Church. However, the actions—or inactions—of the Dicastery for Communications under Dr. Ruffini's leadership have caused further heartache and trauma. His defense of Rupnik and the continued use of his art are indefensible. They undermine the Church’s commitment to justice and healing for abuse survivors.

In light of these grievous oversights and failures, we demand Dr. Paolo Ruffini's immediate resignation from his position as Prefect of the Dicastery for Communications. The Church must demonstrate its commitment to supporting victims of abuse and ensuring that those who have inflicted harm, directly or indirectly, are held accountable. His resignation would be a small step towards rebuilding trust and showing genuine compassion and respect for victims.

Additionally, we call on all Catholic organizations, dioceses, parishes, and publishers of Catholic media to join us in this demand. We urge the removal of Marko Rupnik's art from all places of worship, churches, and publications. This collective action will send a clear message that the Catholic Church is committed to justice, healing, and the dignity of all survivors of abuse.

The Catholic Church must prioritize the well-being and healing of those who have suffered at the hands of its clergy. Only through sincere actions and accountability can the Church begin to restore its moral authority and offer true solace to its wounded flock. Together, let us take a stand and say enough is enough. Let us work towards a Church that truly embodies compassion, justice, and healing for all.

About the Authors:

Faith Hakesley is a Catholic wife, homeschooling mother of five children, survivor of clerical abuse, author, and blogger. Her mission is to spread awareness about issues such as sexual abuse and encourage healing through faith. Most of all, she feels called to spread a message of hope. During a life-changing meeting with Pope Benedict XVI in 2008, he said to her, “There is always hope.” It is this message that Faith strives to bring to others through her work. Faith is the author of Glimmers of Grace: Moments of Peace and Healing Following Sexual Abuse, a devotional for survivors of sexual abuse. She is also a columnist with The Ruth Institute and is the Vice President of the TentMakers of Louisiana Board, contributing her leadership to the organization's mission.

Letitia Peyton is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of TentMakers of Louisiana, and founder and co-host of Resilience in the Shadows Podcast, where she leads the charge in advocating for survivors of sexual abuse. Motivated by her family's experience within the Catholic Church, Letitia has tirelessly supported survivors alongside her husband. Her focus on promoting transparency, policy reform, and support services underscores her commitment to ensuring all survivors receive the help they need. Letitia's advocacy extends beyond her personal experience; she is also the co-host and founder of the "Resilience in the Shadows" podcast. Through the podcast, Letitia gives a voice to victims and educates the public with special guests who are experts on sexual abuse trauma. With a professional background in Payroll and Human Resources, Letitia's impactful work seamlessly combines professional acumen with a passion for advocacy and community service. Guided by a compassionate desire to empower survivors and foster positive change, her contributions to the panel are invaluable.

About TentMakers of Louisiana: TentMakers of Louisiana was established to provide hope, healing, and justice for survivors of sexual abuse. Our mission is to support victims through various initiatives, including advocacy, educational programs, and community outreach. We aim to foster a safe and supportive environment for survivors to share their stories and seek justice.

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