A draft report based on testimony from survivors of Sodalicio abuses in Peru, circulated by the Centre for Theology and Public Issues, is receiving a lot of interest in Latin America – from the media and some lay Catholic movements there.
Sodalicio, a lay society of Apostolic Life within the Catholic Church, is under investigation by the Vatican; and the report will be very useful as it will enable analysis of the issues that could bring about policy changes.
The project seeks to give voice to male victims of sexual abuse through interviews with eight young men involved with the Sodalicio movement in Peru. The aim of this research is to explore the impact of church-related sexual abuse on each of the interviewees and to identify the short and long-term psychological and spiritual consequences associated with it.
Despite the clear need for a deeper understanding of the impact of sexual abuse on religious faith, and the obvious relevance that this has for a fuller understanding of the impact of church-related sexual abuse, very little work has been done in this area so far.
The limited scale of the project means that the findings cannot be readily generalised; but the findings support the widely shared conclusion that the damage caused by institutional sexual abuse is often traumatic and profound, and that this is frequently heightened when perpetrators have a religious standing and authority.
This project indicates that such work is challenging to undertake; and also shows its importance for a better understanding of the destructive consequence and long-term legacies of these abuses.