Yesterday at the Capitol
So, yesterday was quite a day. I travelled to Madison with Awake Milwaukee to participate in a press conference announcing a Wisconsin Attorney General investigation into sexual abuse by clergy and faith leaders. I stood in front of the State Capitol Building, alongside survivors and fellow advocates and faced approximately one million news cameras (at least it felt that way to me) to share a message from a Catholic viewpoint.
It was an honor.
My life and perspective have changed so much since God put me on this unexpected path; I often think about Sara-of-three-years-ago, and what that woman would think if she could see me today.
Past-Sara would be spending April wrapping up the beautiful First Communion season and then diving into plans for another amazing (and exhausting!) Vacation Bible School. She would be thinking about how to share the love of God with the families in her parishes, and how to invite the women in her moms groups into a deeper relationship with Jesus. She could never have imagined herself speaking at a press conference, let alone standing with government officials and abuse survivors calling for truth and transparency in the Catholic Church.
I'm pretty sure that past-Sara would be completely surprised by what I am doing today. But I hope she would recognize that the deep faith and conviction that inspired me then are the same faith and conviction driving me now.
God sure does work in mysterious ways.
Here's the first part of my statement at the press conference:
Good morning, my name is Sara Larson. I am a committed Catholic and the executive director of Awake Milwaukee, an independent grassroots nonprofit organization of Catholics whose mission is to awaken our community to the full reality of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church and to work for transformation and healing.
I am here today to speak for Awake and for the many, many Catholics throughout the state of Wisconsin who are heartbroken and outraged about the crimes that have been committed in our Church, Catholics who welcome the Attorney General investigation and the opportunity we have to make our Church better. I am here today because I recognize that healing can only come when we face the whole truth of what has happened in the past – and what is happening today.
I would like to first address my fellow Catholics: While I know many of you are grateful for today’s announcement and hopeful for the greater transparency and accountability it may bring, I also recognize that others may be concerned or even angry at the prospect of this inquiry. It is true that the process and results of this investigation are likely to be painful for anyone who loves the Church. I understand the temptation to wish that this would all just go away so that we don’t have to think about these horrible stories any longer.
But the reality is that abuse in our Church is not simply a problem of the past...
Lord, when people are listening, help me to speak Your wisdom and Your truth.
Give me humility. Give me courage.