Sister Nuala P. Kenny, F.R.C.P. (C)

Still Unhealed

Lord, save us! We are perishing!” And Jesus said to them “Why are you afraid, you of little faith?” (Matthew 8:25-26)

Mission and Goals

This work continues my thirty five year journey of healing the Church from the clergy sexual abuse crisis and incorporates challenges for faith and the Church arising from the pandemic.

As a pediatrician, I am painfully aware of the devastating harms of the physical and sexual abuse of children and youth by family members and trusted others. The additional spiritual abuse when offenders are “men of God” has caused lamentations like those of the prophet Jeremiah: 

“See, O Lord, how distressed I am; my stomach churns, my heart is wrung within me” (Lamentations 1:20).

I have groaned and shed tears over. My stomach has turned in disgust at the abuse of power and trust, and at the magnitude of the harm to victims, their families and communities and to the entire Body of Christ. As a physician trained to respond rapidly to illness and the risk of harm, the denial and delay in leadership response has both baffled and angered me.

My journey with clergy sexual abuse began in 1989 as a participant in Archbishop Alphonsus Penney of St. John’s, Newfoundland’s Archdiocesan Commission of Enquiry into the Sexual Abuse of Minors by Members of the Clergy (1990) which identified the importance of deeper study of the systemic and cultural issues fostering the crisis and inadequate leadership response. I was an advisor to the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops which produced From Pain to Hope (1990-1992). From 2014-2018 was an advisor to their Ad Hoc Committee for the Protection of Minors in their 2018 Protecting Minors from Sexual Abuse: A Call to the Catholic Faithful in Canada for Healing, Reconciliation and Transformation. In 2012, I wrote Healing the Church: Diagnosing and Treating the Clergy Sexual Abuse Crisis and in 2019 with David Deane Still Unhealed: Treating the Pathology in the Clergy Abuse Crisis and the new Prophetic Possibilities for the Post Pandemic Church (In Press 2021).

My goals are to provide critically constructive reflection on how we, as disciples of Christ, should respond to these challenges in the post COVID world; provide inspiration and support for laity and clergy who desire repentance and continual conversion to disciples of a loving and merciful God; and recognize the Resurrection lessons of dying to the old and rising to new life in a time of radical transformation of believers, organizations and institutions to the mission, words and witness of Jesus.