Sex-Aabuse Conference to Meet in Louisville
Annual Meeting of the Linkup Centers on Clergy

By Peter Smith
The Courier-Journal [Louisville KY]
Downloaded February 19, 2003

A conference on the clergy's sexual abuse crisis is expected to draw about 200 victims, experts and advocates to Louisville next weekend.

The Linkup, a national advocacy group for victims of sexual abuse that recently moved to Louisville, will hold the conference Friday through Sunday at the Holiday Inn downtown.

Although the group holds a convention every year, much has happened since it last met, noted the group's president, Susan Archibald.

An explosion of allegations of sexual abuse by priests has affected Roman Catholic dioceses throughout the nation, with the Archdiocese of Louisville especially hard-hit by 213 pending lawsuits.

Bishops last year pledged to bar all abusers from ministry.

"It's been such a busy, historical year for so many victims," Archibald said. "We'll see a lot of people sharing notes on what's happening around the country but also sharing ideas of how we can continue to fight the problems and expose the crisis."

Speakers will include:

Journalist Jason Berry, whose groundbreaking reporting for the National Catholic Reporter helped expose the issue beginning in the 1980s.

The Rev. Gary Hayes of Cloverport, a priest and former Linkup president who was abused as a child.

Retired psychotherapist Richard Sipe, who has studied the abuse issue.

Minnesota lawyer Jeff Anderson, who has represented hundreds of clients in sex-abuse lawsuits against Catholic and other religious organizations.

The agenda includes such topics as sexual misconduct by priests involving adults, changing abuse-related state legislation, and the impact of abuse on "secondary victims" such as relatives of the abused.

Advocates from Canada will also speak on the abuse crisis in their country, much of which focuses on abuse at church-run residential homes.

The group plans a "march for accountability" to Louisville's Cathedral of the Assumption on Sunday morning.

"It's going to be very peaceful, not really a protest type of event," Archibald said.

In a written statement, archdiocesan spokeswoman Cecelia Price said: "Linkup has been around for more than 10 years and has done fine work in providing care for people from many denominations. We encourage Linkup in its efforts to provide support for survivors of sexual abuse."

Archibald said the Louisville archdiocese was one of about a dozen dioceses around the country to contribute money toward scholarships to enable abuse survivors to attend. The archdiocese contributed at the "gold" or top level of donations, at $200 or more, she said.

Archibald said she solicited donations from the country's 194 dioceses and received donations from about a dozen.

Registration for the conference is $60. More information on the conference can be found at or by calling 290-4055.

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