Saint Louis Platform: Victims of abuse recall meeting with pope

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Olan Horne, 48, a survivor of clerical sex abuse, believes that Pope Benedict XVI's visit to the United States marks a turning point in the way victims of sexual abuse are treated in the Catholic Church.

"I saw it in his face, heard his voice. He understands," said Horne, one of six survivors who met Thursday with the pope. He spoke with the St. Louis Beacon from his Massachusetts university food service office.

Benedict himself brought the shameful issue up last week at three masses at Washington Nationals and Yankee stadiums and at St. Patrick's Cathedral, at a New York seminary campus and at a press conference aboard his plane Shepherd One. He also discussed the issue with the bishops in Washington.

"Benedict told the bishops to meet with survivors as he had; this pope gets it," said Horne. "I like to say that I'm from Missouri and you are going to have to Show Me. Benedict showed me."

Horne has no connection with Missouri, but for years he has embraced the state motto as his own. Horne repeatedly has demanded that the Catholic Church "show me" how it has taken the issue of sex abuse of minors seriously in a public way.

"I never gave up, I always had hope. I didn't have much faith, but I always had hope," said Horne who has not attended Mass in years and baptized his children but never took them to church or allowed them to make their First Communion.

Bernie McDaid, 52, another Boston survivor who is a painting contractor in Boston, tried to tell his story to Pope John Paul II in 2003. He traveled to Rome but saw only Vatican officials, he told the Beacon from a Boston construction site. This time was different.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Benedict XVI

Posted April 27, 2008 at 5:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

1. Words Matter wrote:

Thank you for posting this. It’s my favorite story on the papal visit so far and here’s the best part:

Horne surprised himself at what he said to the pope after years of calling for meetings between popes and survivors.

Since he became an adult, he has rarely gone to Mass. A couple of hours before the visit, Horne went with his college-age daughter to the Papal Mass at Nationals Stadium.

“At that Mass, I realized that I hadn’t given my daughter faith, but I could give my daughter something,” he said. “I could show her never to give up. There was the head of the whole Catholic Church. And in an hour he was prepared to meet with me and other survivors. I had never given up hope that things might change. Given up faith sometimes, but never given up hope.”

Ten minutes before the pope arrived, Horne asked a priest to hear his sins in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, popularly called confession. Catholics believe that in this sacrament Jesus directly provides the grace of healing and forgiveness.

April 27, 6:05 pm | [comment link]
2. Laura R. wrote:

It’s very moving to read an account of Pope Benedict’s meeting with these individuals privately, after having watched the public events on TV.  The genuineness of his love of God and care for His children shines through in everything I’ve seen and heard.  May God bless him and keep him among us for a long time to come.

April 27, 8:39 pm | [comment link]
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