Abuse Intolerance and Reconciliation

Featured Image: Paul Mathey, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons  https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Paul_Mathey_-_Woman_and_Child_in_an_Interior.jpg


“The pain, shame, sadness, anger created and ongoing due to the clerical abuse scandals of the Catholic Church were mentioned many times. Ongoing reconciliation and atonement were seen as necessary now and into the future. Nobody acknowledged the safeguarding now in place, one person said being believed was important, and ‘abuse’ referred to the broad range of sexual, physical, emotional and spiritual abuse. The issue was generally referred to as ‘the abuse scandal’ and the lack of words or language for this suggests the process of assimilating the evil tragedy of what has happened to the church is only at the beginning.”

from The Synthesis Report on Hallam Diocese Synodal Journey by the Diocese of Hallam: April 2022
This retreat material uses the diocesan synod report as the basis of a prayer journey. The themes raised in synod meetings by the people of God in the diocese of Hallam were gathered into a synthesis report which Bishop Ralph conveyed to the Bishops  Conference of England and Wales. This was incorporated into the Continental report sent to Rome in 2022. While these are not necessarily his views, Bishop Ralph is fully supportive of the synodal process and encourages the synodal method of Conversations in the Spirit, prayerful reflection and further discernment with these themes.

Opening prayer

If you are using this prayer by yourself at home, then remember that you are not alone. You are a valued member of this group, you are sharing this retreat together. Each person will pray and ponder in their own time and place, but the Spirit is with each and every one and all of you. You are together in God.

A: God, you have gathered all your people in Synod,
We give you thanks for the joy experienced by those who decided to set out to listen to God and to their brothers and sisters, with an attitude of welcome, humility and siblinghood. Help us to enter these pages as on “holy ground”.

A: Creator of the world, eternal God,
B: we come together from our own places for a little while.

A: Redeemer of humanity, God with us,
B: we have come with all our differences seeking common respect

A: Spirit of unity, go-between God,
B: we have come with stories of our own to a place where stories meet.

A: So here, in this space, let us take time together. for when your people gather and stories are shared, there is much to celebrate and honour.
B: In your name, three in one God, pattern of community. Amen.

Adapted from “Iona Abbey Worship Book”, 2001. copyright © WGRG, Iona Community, Glasgow, Scotland. wildgoose.scot. Reproduced by permission.

Summary of the Diocesan Report

  • Pain, shame, sadness and anger from sexual, emotional, spiritual, physical abuses of the Church.
  • Need for ongoing collective truth seeking, to confront all aspects of the trauma, (including intergenerational), with time given for listening and understanding and for public reconciliation and atonement, in order for healing to take place.

Hallam Diocese recognises that safeguarding needs to be at the heart of our activities in order to provide a welcoming, safe and supportive environment for all.”  There is a clear procedure for reporting any concerns that people have.

A. First impressions

  • What I like about this summary is ………
  • What I do not like about this summary is ……..
  • This summary makes me feel ……..


Matthew 18:8-10

Jesus said “……if your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life crippled or lame than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into the eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into the hell of fire. See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.”

Points to Ponder

  • This is a difficult and sensitive subject. If, for personal reasons, this upsets you there are some people and organisations that you could approach.,[1][2][3]
  • Counsel to us all not to put people off following Jesus by our behaviour towards them, but to respect and honour the sacredness of God within each one of us, and especially within those who are most vulnerable, so that we can all be free to follow Jesus

Reflect, Respond. Share

B. Reflect

  • In this passage Jesus is saying to me …
  • My response to this is …
  • This makes me feel …

C. Respond

  • If I was to review my responses to parts A and B I would say …
  • Something I have discovered is …

D. Share

  • A few days later, read what you have written for C. Is there something that you are comfortable to share with the group? It could be what you have written, or maybe a poem, painting or photo could better express what you want to say.

Closing prayer

A: As we continue in our retreat together, in this day and in our lives
B: May we be grateful for the blessings of this day, today and each day.
B: May we be grateful for the new stories and new ways of thinking we have explored, today and each day.
B: May we be grateful for kind company, heedful to God, heedful to ourselves and heedful to each other, today and each day
A.  We pray for God’s mercy  
B.  for the perpetrators and the structures and prejudices which have enabled and concealed them
A.  We pray for God’s healing
B.  On all who have been harmed
A.  We pray for God’s blessing
B.  On those who work for justice
A.  We pray for God’s courage
B.  As we work for reform
A.  We pray for God’s Wisdom
B.  As we discern together the way forward towards justice and compassion.
A: God from whom all gifts come, who shares our adventure, and delights in our friendship
B: We thank you for your presence with us as we continue in our retreat this day, and each day of our lives. Amen