One evening on the commute home, the encircling gloom[i] seemed heavier as the radio news covered more reports of offences against women and children by celebrities and other public figures in the UK and, in other parts of the world, stories of parents selling their own children into sexual slavery. These high profile cases doubtless serve as markers for a host of everyday situations. How might catechists respond to these, once their initial instinct to pray has been fulfilled?
The Church has spoken against the evils of sexual abuse and Pope Francis has prompted international dialogue on human trafficking.[ii] The reporting channels for suspected endangerment of children and other vulnerable individuals are clearly established within parishes and, it must be clearly affirmed, catechists are teachers rather than trained counsellors. The parish priest and catechist may believe it to be beyond their expertise to be present to and support those who have suffered such crimes. Yet, priests and catechists are there to co-operate with God in the healing work of the Church. After all, is secular psychotherapeutic counselling alone enough, even where available?