On this most solemn day of the three in the calendar that leads to Easter, this Good Friday, our thoughts sit with the victims of sexual abuse who committed suicide and their families.
It is right and just that these victims not be forgotten.
It should go without saying that they should be held in reverence in our collective memory but we believe that is a strong tendency to deny that suicide is part of the crisis.
These victims should not be swallowed up and placed in a frozen state of past tense by a Church seeking to move on in an era of good feeling sparked by the election of a new pope no matter how humble, how close to the people, how down to earth he may prove to be.
When, and if, actions come from Pope Francis that deal with the crisis of sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Church, those who committed suicide cannot be left behind.
They must be honored.
What happened to them must ring down through the centuries.
These are wrongful deaths. Not wrongful in the unloving way suicide is cast as the wrong act of the victim. Wrongful in the justice sense that these innocents were cast into death by the torture and tumult of their abuse and the wrong hung upon them because those in authority over their perpetrators did not act to save the innocents.
These are not the deaths of some far away and unknown strangers.
The victims who committed suicide are our first Communion partners, our altar boys, our classmates, our teammates, our choir mates, our neighbors, our brothers and sisters, our children and our grandchildren.
They are victims who may have been able to portray a fine façade for a short or a long time to the outside world before the demons of a childhood brutalized by rape and sodomy could no longer be overcome.
The lives they touched remain touched, remain aching, remain disrupted, remain unsettled – especially in a holiday season and most particularly one that is focused on resurrection.
No matter how widely or how closely spaced the chairs, for these families no matter the holiday there will always be an empty place at the table.
On the day when the whole Christian world holds close to its collective heart the death of an innocent young man cruelly executed for the sins and crimes of others, we ask our readers to sit by the tomb and keep watch, keeping observant vigil for those victims of sexual abuse by priests and nuns who died by suicide and with tender reflection hold dear their memories while continuing to seek justice for them and their grieving families.
— Kristine Ward, Chair, National Survivor Advocates Coalition, (NSAC) KristineWard@hotmail.com