Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Just a Little Thing About Wording

Screen dump from the video clip from YouTube.

As I watched a short clip of the Archbishop of Brisbane, Mark Coleridge, addressing Catholics on the subject of preparing adherents for the Royal Commission’s[1] findings I winced.
This little piece is limited to one issue — the wording in the Archbishop’s video specifically about the survivors of sexual abuse. I was surprised that he said, “That justice and healing may be done to them.”
“That justice and healing may be done to them.”
Anything in that resonate within you? Anything in that sentence trouble you?
Here’s the thing for me.
“That justice and healing may be done to them.”
Firstly, as a general comment about sex abuse done to children, reprehensible is not a strong enough word regarding the systematic abuse of young people within the church’s care. This is where words do fail. Nothing I could say here justifies comment.
I also wonder about those who did not survive the abuse — those who years later died through suicide or misadventure — those who left families behind, so the families, themselves, are the survivors. There are also myriad levels and manifestations of ‘surviving’ abuse.
Wording for many may not seem that important, but it is infinitely important.
A simple improvement could be made to that sentence, to make it read like the Catholic Church actually understands what happened and what needs to happen. (And the Catholic Church has this sympathy of mine. As if any of us know, or could know, the extent to which what needs to happen, because how do you possibly ‘fix’ something so broken. And there are undoubtedly details for many survivors which will never come to light, as is the nature of the depth of the topic.)
Here’s my one point:
Whenever we do something to someone, we do something, perhaps with the best of intention, but possibly without their express will and interests in our hearts. But, whenever we do something for someone, on the other hand, we do it with their will and interests in our hearts. A huge difference in meaning.
“That justice and healing may be done for them.”
That sentence demonstrates more clearly that justice and healing for the survivors ought to take place at any cost, which is the only appropriate response.

[1] The full name: Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

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