“A bird’s nest can carry a powerful message: “All children deserve a safe and nurturing environment in which to grow.”
That simple, yet important, aim lies at the heart of a global Symposium entitled “Faith and Flourishing: Strategies for Preventing and Healing Child Sexual Abuse.”
The 3-day, online event kicks off Thursday, and is chaired by Jennifer Wortham, Dr.PH with Harvard University. Beginning on 8 April, it marks what she hopes will someday become the World Day for Child Sexual Abuse Prevention, Healing, and Justice, a proposal which she is launching at the United Nations in September.
Dr. Wortham—whose own family was deeply wounded by the pain of clerical sexual abuse—spoke to Vatican News about the Symposium’s goals, and about how God turned her own family’s suffering into a path of healing for others.
The Symposium, as Dr. Wortham points out, is not just focused on abuse in the Catholic Church, though various Catholic organizations are sponsoring it, including The Catholic Project with Catholic University of America and the Center for Child Protection at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome.
Child sexual abuse is a global phenomenon, and a host of faith-based groups have expressed their support, said Dr. Wortham. The Interfaith Alliance, Arigatou International, the New York Board of Rabbis, Islamic Relief USA, the World Council of Churches, and several abuse survivor networks have all partnered up, just to name a few.
Over 70 speakers from around the globe are addressing over 1,300 registered participants.
Rev. Dr. Denis Mukwege, a 2018 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, is offering the keynote address, sharing his wisdom and work to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war.
Dr. Wortham called it “an esteemed group” of “very dedicated people who are working to improve the lives, and health and welfare, of victims of child sexual abuse.”