Nuala Kenny brings to the crucial task of healing and renewing the post-pandemic Church, 55yrs of passionate commitment to the Church as a Religious Sister and 35 years of clinical care for seriously ill, dying and abused children. As a professor of pediatrics, and a physician ethicist with interest in palliative care and end of life ethics and just health policy with a special interest in pandemic and public health, she has been a trusted advisor to national and international bodies in the Church and in society.
Recent blog posts
There is a new and potentially powerful global recognition that child sexual exploitation and abuse (CSEA) is a grave violation of human rights and a major public health issue. These longstanding and worldwide violations of the innocent were worsened by the quarantine and isolation of the COVID 19 pandemic.
The post-pandemic Church continues to be plagued by silence and denial of longstanding abuse of power and harm to the vulnerable in clergy sexual abuse of children and youth, racism, colonialism and participation in economic and political structures of power and privilege.
The 52nd Eucharistic Congress Sept 5-12, 2021in Budapest, Hungary has ended. I read Pope Francis’ homily at the closing Mass yearning for inspiration and encouragement on the renewal of the post-pandemic Eucharist, the essential ritual for our Christian identity and security.
In these blog postings I continue my life-long journey of diagnosing and treating the pain and suffering of victims of clergy sexual abuse. I have been committed to this ministry since my initial involvement as a pediatrician caring for child victims and then...
Nuala Kenny’s commitment to Healing and to the Prophetic Possibilities for the Post-Pandemic Church
I am a child of Vatican II and love the understandings of the Church as the Body of Christ and the People of God. but not the organizational and institutional failure to witness God’s love and justice. I have prayed to provide faith-filled and courageous help in healing the Church and speaking truth to power.
My personal journey with healing the Church from the scourge of clergy sexual abuse of minors began in Newfoundland in 1989 when Archbishop Alphonsus Penney of St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada, convened a unique lay-led Commission to advise him on catastrophic abuse in that diocese. This now landmark study identified systemic issues in urgent need of further study, including abuse of power, education of clergy and laity, sexuality, support of priests, and the Church’s avoidance of scandal.
I began my 2012 Healing the Church; Diagnosing and Treating the Clergy Sexual Abuse Crisis (Novais, 2012) with a quote from the Acts of the Apostles “…we cannot keep from speaking about what we have seen and heard.” (4:20) and wrote
“There are days when I cringe at the thought of working on the issue of clergy sexual abuse…I am tired by being embarrassed by, and angry with the Church…Yet I feel an undeniable call to work in this area.” (13)
I also quoted and another from Catherine of Siena, a mystic, reformer and Doctor of the Church in the 14th century correctly noted “if a sore is not cauterized or excised, but only ointment applied, not only will it not heal, but it will infect the whole body, often fatally.”
I began my 2019 Still Unhealed: Treating Pathology in the Clergy Sexual Abuse Crisis (Novalis, 20190 with the cry of the apostles “Lord save us! We are perishing! And Jesus said to them, “Why are you afraid, you of little faith.” (Matt 8:25-26)
I wrote “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).
“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 newest book A Post-Pandemic Church: Prophetic Possibilities (Novalis, 2021) was written in the storm and chaos of COVID-19. In the Introduction I note that,
“In the wonderful, sometimes messy, and always mysterious stories of stories of our personal and communal lives some years are better than others. For our wounded and weeping world, 2020 was not one of the good ones. Coming after some difficult and divisive times in the Church and in the world, COVID-19 made it feel like never-ending, even apocalyptic “worst of times” without any of the “best of times” in sight. (11)
In 2021 the Church and world are experiencing unprecedented wounding and vulnerability with no clear end in sight. This experience has changed us and will continue to do so. The fundamental challenge for disciples of Christ is to maintain hope in the power of the Holy Spirit and respond in ways that accept this Calvary time as a dying of pathology and rising to new life as individuals and as a Church.
Getting to Know Sr./Dr. Nuala Through Some Key Presentations
Divinerenovation.org video series:
#4 – Morally Blind
Catholic Womens League August, 2020 Convention “Women’s Work in Healing the Church” Webinar
De Paul University, Chicago May 11, 2021 “Healing in a Wounded Church”
Concerned Lay Catholics opening “The role of the laity in Healing the Church”