Lessons from a Survivor of Clergy Abuse

This post was originally published on YArespond.

YArespond recently hosted a survivor of clergy sexual abuse for an evening conversation, so that we can better understand, respond to, and facilitate healing for survivors. We learned a lot from our three-hour discussion, but here are just a few of the takeaways:

“How do you heal in the Church when the abuse was from the Church?”

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Inside the Closet of the Vatican: Interview on Viewpoints with Todd van der Heyden

I was recently featured on Viewpoints with Todd van der Heyden, where we discussed Catholicism, homosexuality, the Vatican summit on the clergy abuse crisis, and Frédéric Martel’s recently released book “Inside the Closet of the Vatican.”


Chris Damian is a writer, speaker, attorney, and business professional living in the Twin Cities. He received his B.A. in Philosophy from the University of Notre Dame and his J.D. and M.A. in Catholic Studies from the University of St. Thomas. He is the author of “I Desired You: Intellectual Journals on Faith and (Homo)sexuality” (volumes I and II). He is also the co-founder of YArespond, a group of Catholic young adults seeking informed and holistic responses to the clergy abuse crisis. In his free time, he enjoys hosting dinner parties and creative writing workshops. 

Clerical Transparency vs. “Coming Out”

Father Thomas Petri is Vice President and Academic Dean at the Dominican House of Studies (where I discerned, with much sadness, that I did not have a Dominican vocation). He also co-hosts The Church Alive on EWTN radio. His public statements can carry some weight in the American Church, and because his above comment is representative of one faction of American Catholicism, it merits discussion.

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Cohabitation, the Catechism, and a Catholic Job

A few weeks ago, FemCatholic shared on Twitter:

One of our followers had her parish job offer rescinded upon the Archdiocese discovering she’s cohabiting with her fiancé. What say you, #CatholicTwitter? Cool or uncool?

Note: the tweet has since been deleted and is no longer available

I asked:

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Anti-Immigrant and Pro-Choice: Are we the same?

When President Trump started his anti-immigration campaign, many of my pro-choice friends took that prime opportunity to point out the hypocrisy of right-wing politics. The argument goes something like this: how can you say that you defend life when you refuse to care for the lives of refugees, especially refugee children, especially when these lives are in danger in large part because of Western meddling in the Middle East?

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I Wish I Could Love Thee Notre Dame

“I learned that as deep as a wound is, that’s how deep the healing can be.”

Mary Karr, 2015 Syracuse University Commencement Address

I recently had the privilege to speak with students on the Notre Dame LGBTQ retreat, and it gave me an opportunity to reflect on my own time as a gay student in college. When I return to campus, I can often see other graduates basking in a shimmer around the edges, the Catholic glamour of the Basilica, the warmth of the grotto, and the roar of the Stadium. Friends fondly recall late nights in LaFortune and flood their former dorms with nostalgia. For many, Notre Dame is and was a dream come true.

I wish I could see it. I want to be just a normal college graduate, who looks back on those days and wishes to relive them. But I can’t. And I’m don’t.

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An Ecclesial Examination of Conscience, from Your Gay Christian Brother

Stories I have heard over the last couple of weeks:

  • a student who came out to his father in high school and was kicked out of his house the next morning
  • a woman who was fired for a same sex relationship, who received death threats from Catholics after going public, and for whom it took years before she didn’t wake up angry at the Church

These stories are all over the Church. If you go where gay people are, these are the stories you hear. If you haven’t personally heard one of these stories, then you should consider what this means about your construction of ecclesiality, and what can be done about this. If people don’t do anything, then this is the status quo. If you stand by silently while this happens, then history (and God and I) will remember you as one who acquiesces. I won’t stand for it, and you shouldn’t either.

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