By Mike Hoffman, Founder
When the creation of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors was announced in 2013, it was a welcomed development. I thought the creation of the Commission would bring hope and healing to victims/survivors of clergy abuse. Soon after the announcement, I wrote a letter to Cardinal Sean O’Malley’s office requesting further information about the nature and scope of the Commission. I received a brief, but informative, reply a short time later. I had never sent a letter like that to anyone outside of my diocese, and I was happy to be heard.
As I think about that experience, and reflect on the many news reports about the work of this Commission, I have wondered how it may impact me as I continue on my healing journey as a survivor of childhood sexual abuse by clergy. For me, healing starts at home with my wife and our children. That is where my heart is, and with my heart broken comes the full realization of the truth that my childhood innocence was lost to satisfy the needs of a very bad man. As an adult survivor, I must reconcile how that affects me today. I find healing and comfort at home, with my family, friends, co-workers and fellow parishioners at St. Mary of the Woods. Healing continued for me when I came forward to tell my story to officials of the Archdiocese of Chicago Review Board and when I started individual counseling. These actions have helped to reduce my devastating pain and sadness.
This healing was local and deeply personal. Looking to Rome and this Commission of good and well-intentioned women and men will not bring me healing in my daily life. However, the work of the Commission can bring hope to our world and Church by promoting safe environment initiatives throughout the world for all God’s children. The Commission can provide leadership and vision across the globe and use its influence and considerable resources to break the silence that surrounds child sexual abuse. Such leadership and vision fills me with the hope that no child will have to endure what I did: as a child victim and an adult survivor.