Jesuit Fr. Jack Costello answers questions from young adults attending the “Scarred by Scandal” pub night. Photo by Vincent Pham

Young adults discuss abuse scandals within Church

By  Vincent Pham, Youth Speak News
  • November 29, 2018

Discussing Church scandals at a pub was unusual for Fr. Jack Costello, but the informal setting allowed young adults to learn about scandals in a safe and social environment.

“It’s an unusual setting to be talking about… a serious and deep issue in a pub setting,” said  Costello. “I think it’s not ideal, but we actually were able to get something shared with one another and I thought it was a very amicable and positive-minded group.”

St. Patrick’s Young Adults hosted their monthly pub night at Prenup Pub on Nov. 22, with the theme, “Scarred by Scandal: Reflecting on Realities.” The themes for the monthly pub nights were chosen last May, but this theme proved timely in the wake of the many scandals and revelations through the summer and fall.

Costello, a Jesuit priest, former president of Regis College and current Adjunct Professor of Culture, Justice & Spirituality at the college, was the keynote speaker.

“Let me say from the outset that the sexual abuse of children and youth, and yes, adults is a major fact and major failure in our Church that we must face head on,” he said.

Costello started his talk by telling the room of more than 30 young adults about the reality the Church is facing.

“It is an institutional failure on at least three counts,” he said, listing the rupture of a personal vow, a failure to care for victims as persons and “an institutional failing and institutional cover up of what was taking place.”   

Costello’s talk mentioned how Jesus was a scandalizer, not of evil things or intentions, but rather in how He disrupted and challenged, and even insulted out of love. He mentioned how Jesus did not abide by the customs and norms of the Jewish people at the time but, citing the story of the woman at the well and Zacchaeus, said He did break customs to be with the people and to show His love and compassion.

“You have the right to have priests who actually care about you and the Church that way,” Costello said. “The Church will not get healed without you.”

“I was prepared for an apologetic approach to it,” said Nancy Chu, after listening to Costello. “This is what society and the media is focusing on but as Catholics this is our answer, this is what we should be trained for.”

“The talk itself was more biblical. I don’t know if he (Costello) touched as much as I would’ve liked him to on recent events on what the Church has done and how it has responded,” said Mark Rubino. “So I think a little bit more was missed.”

The night included small group discussions in which participants talked about the impact of the scandals on their relationship with the Church, their faith, parishioners and clergy. 

“We try to look at more pastoral issues as opposed to events with more theological topics,” said Fr. Santo Arrigo, pastor of St. Patrick’s Parish. “This event itself was an opportunity to create dialogue and bring in people that want to have their voice heard but also to look forward in a positive way amid the struggles and scandals that are taking place.”

Arrigo said the generation represented at the pub night was not necessarily aware of the history of abuse, and that might lead them to think, “this has never happened” before. But, he said, it is important to realize it has happened and the Church has gotten through it in the past.   

Compared to other events, this pub night involved a heavy issue.

“This is a tough issue,” said Arrigo. “All we can do is scratch the surface and help provide some input and perspective.” 

(Pham, 17, is a Grade 12 student at Chaminade College School in Toronto, Ont.)

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