It's a Matter of Faith

By Crystal Britt
KWWL 7 [Waterloo IA]
March 12, 2003

It was a time of atonement...a time to apologize for sexual abuse within the Catholic Church. In a "Service of Lament" Sunday night in the Cedar Valley, Archbishop Jerome Hanus along with area priests took time to say the words the families of victims have longed to hear. In our segment "Matter of Faith" we take you back to the service. It's was a first of its kind in eastern Iowa, and after months of planning the Archbishop lead a healing service at Sacred Heart Church in Waterloo.

Because family members of abused victims talked to the congregation about their experiences our cameras were not allowed inside during the service. As for the inspiration for all of this..."To have a service where they could hear the fact that God didn't abandoned them and perhaps the church failed them", said Father Denny Juhl-Blessed Sacrament Church. Inside the packed church...silence, as believers listened to one family's testimony. The mother of abused sons told the congregation... "Unless you also experienced this you can't understand. This priest sexually abused our sons. He never denied the accusations and he told us 'It was for their own good'.

"It was my belief and Archbishop Hanus' belief too that people can heal and before the church can move on, those words have to be spoken", said Father Juhl. "We were more or less in denial ourselves as to these things happening", said Jeanne Lutgen-Church Member.

In the near future churches in Cedar Rapids and Dubuque will also hold "Services of Lament".

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