Clergy And Abuse Victims Work To Heal The Wounds

By Frances Kuo

(Louisville, Ky., May 23rd, 2004, 6:20 p.m.) -- Decades after abuse cases rocked the Archdiocese of Louisville, Sunday was a day of reconciliation. Healing the wounds was a tall order for some of the victims who turned out. Last year, more than 200 abuse victims settled a lawsuit with the Archdiocese for $26 million dollars. But the harder task is healing the psychological wounds. As WAVE 3's Frances Kuo reports, this service was meant to be a first step.

Church often represents healing. But for dozens of members of Holy Spirit Church, that healing doesn't come so easily.

"It was a little of a struggle, you have to face your demons," said Bernie Queenan, a victim of clergy abuse.

The demons are from decades ago when the church was hard hit by the sexual abuse scandal. This was meant as a moment of reconciliation, not just for the victims, but even those who weren't.

"The church needs healing above all else, the victims are the sign of that, the proof of that, but I think all the people here today want very much to pray for that healing of the church," said Archbishop Thomas Kelly.

"He would take me over to the rectory during school hours and he would abuse me there," said Jeff Koenig, another clergy abuse victim.

But Koenig couldn't bear to go inside the church. He was abused by one of the priests when he was 12 years old. His wounds won't go away until he says the church reveals all the demons of the past.

"If they opened everything up, I can begin to heal then and get closure, but not with everything under a veil of secrecy," said Koenig.

Archbishop Kelly also offered this at Sunday's service. He said he would've got down on his hands and knees to clean up the harm the scandal left behind. But he added, "I know some stains will never be washed away."

Online Reporter: Frances Kuo

Online Producer: Charles Gazaway