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Continued: Ham Lake talk sets aside discord to heal a hurting Catholic Church

Schwiderski said the folks at the church were trailblazers, recognizing that abuse victims are not part of any stereotype.

“This tells us that our message is understood,” Schwiderski said. “We are no demons. We’re not trying to destroy the Catholic Church. We’re not about money. The true Catholics are speaking here, and that’s the people in the pews.”

Lachowitzer said he was deeply moved by the evening.

“It bypassed my brain and went straight to my heart,” the vicar general said. He was reminded that even after 50 years, a rape could remain an excruciatingly painful part of a person’s life.

Lachowitzer said he would report back to Archbishop John Nienstedt and his staff about the evenings. He said he believes, as the archdiocese implements new processes for handling abuse complaints, that survivors will play a greater role.

“This builds some relationship that is concrete,” he said. “It’s bridging what has been a schism.”

That bridge will continue to be built. Norris invited his parishioners to create the church’s “next step” in its process of reconciliation.

Said Norris: “I see this as a small baby step along the way in the search to find healing.”

 

Jean Hopfensperger • 612-673-4511

 

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  • Abuse victim and advocate Bob Schwiderski, right, embraced the Rev. Charles Lachowitzer of the archdiocese after they met in Ham Lake.

  • Ginny Meuers reacted to her husband, Frank, as he talked about how a priest abused him and how it took 30 years of marriage before he told Ginny about what happened.

  • Tom Mahowald of St. Paul teared up as he recounted his abuse.

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