Coping with the Church Sex Scandals: Resources for Teachers and Schools

How do we handle the news of the church sex scandals with our students and school communities?

By Pat Gohn

Catholic schools not only need physical emergency preparedness but they need it spiritually as well.

This is not an easy time for the Catholic Church in the U.S., or the world, for that matter. We are scandalized by the recent revelations in the news regarding the detestable actions by some prelates, priests, and other church members with regard to sexual abuse of minors and others. (Our corporate statement about the scandal is here.) We, too, are praying, fasting, and preparing for our mission to continue to teach the faith in the days and months ahead.

We know that, despite this ongoing crisis, we are called to bring the Good News to others. We are called to an active faith — and to be a listening ear, a caring heart, and a healing presence to others — even as we may need that comfort ourselves. Let’s remember to reach out to each other, and to pray with each other. Here are some resources that may be useful. We hope to update this page with some of the best links we find along the way.

Important links from Church Leaders:

Pope’s Letter to the People of God, August 20, 2018

From the first paragraph: “If one member suffers, all suffer together with it” (1 Cor 12:26). These words of Saint Paul forcefully echo in my heart as I acknowledge once more the suffering endured by many minors due to sexual abuse, the abuse of power and the abuse of conscience perpetrated by a significant number of clerics and consecrated persons. Crimes that inflict deep wounds of pain and powerlessness, primarily among the victims, but also in their family members and in the larger community of believers and nonbelievers alike. Looking back to the past, no effort to beg pardon and to seek to repair the harm done will ever be sufficient. [Read more.]


From the USCCB:

From the President of the USCCB: President of U.S. Bishops’ Conference Announces Effort That Will Involve Laity, Experts, and the Vatican as U.S. Bishops Resolve to Address “Moral Catastrophe”

From the President of the USCCB: President of U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Renews Commitment for Greater Effectiveness and Transparency in Disciplining Bishops 8.27.2018

Also: Statement from the National Review Board Calls for Lay Leadership Amid Sexual Abuse Crisis on 8.28.2018

Vatican News: Official reactions to the Pennsylvania report on clerical abuse


For catechists and formation leaders:

From the FIDC, as shared by the NCCLLiturgies and prayer resources Find a variety of options for prayer, including suggested Mass settings, sample prayers, litanies, a list of relevant psalms, and hymn titles are included. Go here.

The Parish Emergency Kit

And its supplement: Details here.


A Catechism Lesson: Discouraged by Evil and Sin? Take heart!

For Parents: Talking to Children about the Church Scandal

Bringing Healing to a Wounded Church

CARA reports: New allegations of sexual abuse within the Church are consistent with historical pattern.

Liturgies and Prayer Resources in Response to the Church Scandals


Coping with the clergy sex abuse crisis

Keeping alive the Church we love

Doing penance for our Church 

In the midst of sex abuse allegations, what is Catholic layperson to do?

From elsewhere around the web:

Contact information to write to Church Leaders:

The USCCB lists names and addresses for Catholic bishops.

If you want to write regarding your concerns, The Siena Project can help by offering letter templates that you can use or modify. FAQ’s about the Siena Project.

Sermons and informed discussions:

CARA offers analysis and statistics on this subject: We’ve created a short summary article,  CARA reports: New allegations of sexual abuse within the Church are consistent with historical pattern. Bishop Robert Barron’s resources on the sexual abuse crisis Many links found here. From Aug. 19, 2018, Fr. Paul Scalia


“Why Remain Catholic? (With So Much Scandal) A video by Bishop Robert Barron, auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, and

Video: Statement from Bishop Thomas Daly of the Diocese of Spokane. Not only is the bishop forthright in addressing the crisis, but he gives a good short catechesis on why prayer and fasting are called for by everyone (that part starts around 2:22).

Video: Bishop Robert Barron of Los Angeles and responds to questions and answers about the sexual abuse crisis, recorded on Facebook Live on 8/27/2018. Watch it here.




Father Mike Schmitz on the Pennsylvania grand jury report. Stay with it till the end. Suitable for adults and teens.


From Elizabeth Foss: Difficult Conversations – A thoughtful article for parents from this mother-of-nine about keeping children safe from predators

From Fr. Robert Barron: Why Remain Catholic? (article and video)

From Katie Prejean at America Magazine: Dear fellow Catholics: The Church needs you now more than ever

From Sister Anne Flanagan, FSP, a downloadable Holy Hour of reparation and more: Retrieving Friday as a Day of Penance

From Elizabeth Scalia at Word on Fire: Praying in Crisis: The Sorrowful Mysteries of This Moment

From Katrina Fernandez at the National Catholic Register: The Laity Demand Justice and Action

From Jerry Windley-Daoust at Peanut Butter and Grace: The Clerical Sex Abuse Scandal: What Parents Can Do, and How to Talk with Kids

Sr. Brittany Harrison, AKA “Sister B”, on Twitter is promoting #GoodPriest:


Articles related to former US Nuncio, Archbishop Carlo Vigano’s testimony:

 Original story from Edward Pentin at National Catholic Register, and Testimony 

The Pope’s reply to the Testimony, also here

The USCCB’s reply to the Testimony

Summary article dated Aug. 30, 2018 from John Allen, Jr. at Crux: Aftershocks of cover-up accusation against Pope felt in Rome 


Pat Gohn is editorial director for Catholic Digest and Today’s Catholic Teacher, and editor of CATECHIST magazine.

This article was originally posted at CATECHIST magazine.

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