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Ministry for Survivors of Clergy Sexual Abuse

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Ministry for Survivors of Clergy Sexual Abuse


Our Mission

This Ministry calls the Diocese of Oakland to address with integrity the harsh realities of sexual abuse in pastoral settings.


Survivors of clergy sexual abuse, laypersons and clergy, work together to:

  • Empower victims to report abuse to local authority, i.e. Police or Shriff Departments
  • Support and empower survivors in their healing and promote acceptance of survivors
  • Educate to transform attitudes and bring community awareness of the issues surrounding clergy sexual abuse
  • Create, sustain and insure implementation of policies designed to prevent abuse, and to hold abusers accountable

Who Are We?

The Ministry for Survivors of Clergy Sexual Abuse was established from a dialogue between survivors and church leadership. Out of that dialogue came the realization that for some survivors the Catholic Church must be a willing participant in the healing process.  The dynamics of Clergy Sexual Abuse parallel that of sexual molestation in a family setting, which includes the victim (the survivor), the abuser (the priest or member of the clergy) and the mother (in this case "Mother" Church).  Inherent in the healing process is the need for "Mother" Church to be accountable, which means to intervene and break the cycle of denial, protect and support those who have been victimized, and confront the abusers residing in its commission.  Our ministry includes survivors of clergy sexual abuse, working together with members of the clergy who are willing to open themselves to the devastating experience of what it means to be sexually abused by a priest or member of the clergy.  Together, hand in hand, we work as advocates for victims to bring Support, Empowerment and Hope to lives tragically altered by the debilitating legacy of Clergy sexual abuse.

What is Clergy Sexual Abuse and Who are its Victims?

Clergy sexual abuse occurs when sexual activity of any kind is enacted by a priest (or Deacon), thereby abusing the power and authority of the pastoral role committed to the priest (or Deacon) and violating the rights and dignity of the persons affected by such misconduct.  The fundamental dynamic at the heart of Clergy sexual abuse is that of an abuse of power.  The role of Priest, or any religious figure, offers the potential of a relationship of immeasurable value.  A person in their care ultimately looks to them for the fulfillment of the deepest expression of self to the divine.  Thus, the relationship offers solace where there is pain, hope where there is despair, and fulfillment where there is emptiness. The Priest is looked to either consciously or unconsciously as a person of power.

Anyone may potentially be victimized by clergy sexual abuse.  This includes not only minors, but also young adults and adults, both male and female.


Clergy sexual activity can never be consensual on the part of the victim.  The Power Differential in the relationship automatically puts the Priest (or Deacon) in the position of power.  Therefore, there can never exist a truly mutual consentual agreement.  It is the oblidgation of the priest (or clergy) to hold the sexual boudaries in all relationships.



Support for Survivors

Provide church leaders with the tools to develop support, promote healing and generate empowerment for survivors in the church community.

  • Offer counseling and spiritual direction to survivors of clergy abuse and their families.
  • Build acceptance for survivors of clergy sexual abuse in the church community. Confirm survivors of clergy abuse are valued members of our community.

Information about our support groups.  (A Support Group for Survivors of Clergy Sexual Abuse)


Educate clergy, church employees, and the church community around the
realities of clergy sexual abuse.

  • Through workshops and presentations bring the community to an awareness of the issues surrounding clergy sexual abuse.
  • Provide opportunities for survivors to tell their stories in order to affect attitudes regarding clergy sexual abuse

Design and Implementation Procedures

Ensure Church policies of the Diocese of Oakland are designed and implemented to guarantee offenders accept responsibility, and are made accountable for their abuse of power.

  • Reporting incidents of clergy sexual abuse will be confidential, conducted with sensitivity, and made as painless to the survivor and their family as possible.
  • Periodically review, update and recommend changes in current sexual abuse policies.
  • Work to have a survivor of clergy sexual abuse on the Diocesan Review Board.


Diocesan Procedures for Reporting Sexual Misconduct


Additional Resources

1.  Adult survivors of physical, sexual, and/or emotional child abuse and neglect:

2.  From Darkness to Light on Child Sexual Abuse.  7 Steps to Protect Children

3.  SNAP Survivor Network of Those Abused by Priests

4.  Voice in Action, an international organization dedicated to helping adult victims of child sexual abuse