Outreach to Clergy Abuse Survivors during Coronavirus: Jesus Wept

by Mike Hoffman


This was another bad week. Due to the effects of the Coronavirus shelter in place order, at work, 25 really good employees have been temporarily laid off. Just that alone caused feelings of sadness, shame, and disappointment. With the lay-offs came a variety of organizational and task re-alignments, which caused near-constant questions and disruption. Related to that, I accepted a pay-cut which resulted in really difficult conversations at home about our family priorities and goals in this new reality. All of this occurred against the backdrop of my on-going efforts to heal from my wounds of childhood sexual abuse. Even though I have found comfort in my family, and friends, I find myself in a state of near tears virtually all day, every day. I feel if I am struggling like this, then perhaps other abuse survivors may be struggling during this time. This 5th Sunday of Lent, my wife and I viewed the taped Mass from Holy Name Cathedral celebrated by Cardinal Cupich. Fully aware of my own brokenness, hearing the Gospel reading of Jesus raising his friend Lazarus from the dead, and how he wept, caused my near tears to break through and I wept. Tears flowed down my face while sitting on my couch with my wife at my side as the taped Mass continued on the computer screen. In Jesus’ humanity over the loss of his dear friend, he wept. It was good for me to hear that Jesus felt such despair and anguish at the loss of Lazarus. It is only human. I feel similar despair almost every day, made worse by the consequences of shelter in place. To be honest, I was happy to finally cry. Given the sexual abuse imposed upon me when I was a young boy, I feel it is only human for me to weep. As the Gospel story continued, in a true miracle, Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. Jesus showed us his divinity in this act. Additionally, he made Lazarus and Martha happy and whole. Filled with life, they could live a fulfilling life according to God’s will. I feel living with the tragic and long term consequences of childhood sexual abuse requires similar acts of God, each day. I call it God’s grace. Being open to God’s grace, and the healing that comes with it has helped me to have a greater chance of living a fulfilling life. I cannot heal from my wounds alone. I need help from God, as well as my family and friends. Even in my tears, I was comforted by this Gospel reading. I hope other abuse survivors may be comforted as well.

I’d like to remind all abuse survivors they are not alone or abandoned, during this time. Please take time for yourselves and your needs. Hope and healing are possible, even now. My thoughts and daily prayers are with survivors of abuse. Stay safe and be well.

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