Protecting Children and Assisting Victims/Survivors

By Patricia Mudd, MSW, ACSW; Staff Spotlight

In light of recent media coverage of sexual abuse by clergy, which has caused many to once again reflect on the tragedy of abuse, allow me to offer some insights into the work of the Diocese of Arlington in protecting children and assisting victims/survivors of abuse.

As the Victim Assistance Coordinator for the diocese, I am often the first point of contact for those who call to report abuse.  And I know that no matter how difficult it is for me to understand and reflect upon the abuse, it has been infinitely more difficult for the abused to experience this and come forward.  I also have the privilege to speak to victims who are making strides in recovery from abuse, who call to thank me for a referral to a good therapist or a helpful priest.  They tell me of the progress they are making in healing from sexual abuse and I know that the difficult aspects of my job are all very worthwhile.

Here in the Diocese of Arlington, when we receive an allegation of abuse, we take immediate action, which includes:

  • Reporting to civil authorities;
  • An offer of outreach to those harmed;
  • If it is an allegation against a priest that has been found to be credible, a public announcement of the allegation along with a request that any other victims come forward, and the removal of the priest from ministry pending further investigation by the Review Board.


Everyone should be safe from harm, and all members of communities have a responsibility to help create an environment that promotes that safety. In the Diocese of Arlington, the Office of Child Protection and Safety has facilitated the safe environment training of over 30,000 volunteers and employees and over 65,000 students since 2004. All diocesan employees and volunteers who have substantial contact with children must also complete criminal background checks. The training that volunteers and employees receive is vital to protecting the safety of children. Over $2.7 million has been spent on prevention and protection, including safe environment training, background checks, etc. Recipients of safe environment training are more likely to report abuse and to recognize the warning signs of predator behavior.

In the Office of Victim Assistance we minister to victims/survivors of sexual abuse in many situations – not only those abused by clergy, but also those who have been victims of abuse in the family or in other settings.  We provide referrals to trained therapists and priests who can assist and support the survivors on their path to healing. Our office also coordinates regular meetings between Bishop Loverde and victims of sexual abuse at Masses, Support Group Meetings, personal meetings and retreats held throughout the year.

Not only have I heard from some victims/survivors that they have experienced healing through this program, I can see it in their smiles, in their efforts to help others and in their peace coming into a Catholic church.  These healing efforts, paired with the work to stop abusers from threatening our schools and parishes, offer a comprehensive approach to the issue of child abuse.  This important work must continue and grow, and we have an Advisory Board and a Survivors Planning Group to help consult and guide our work, bringing forth new ideas and best practices for our consideration.

It is the heartfelt prayer of those sharing in the work of Victim Assistance in the Diocese of Arlington that all who come to our doors find comfort in the words of Isaiah 41:10, “Fear not, for I am with you…I will strengthen you, and help you and uphold you….”

Staff Spotlight is — in an ongoing effort to get a range of content on Encourage & Teach — content from staff members within the Diocese of Arlington from contributors who do not write as a part of their day-to-day job.

Pat Mudd is the Coordinator of the Victims’ Assistance office for the Diocese of Arlington.

One thought on “Protecting Children and Assisting Victims/Survivors

  1. The Creation Of The Human Soul Is Like GOD Blowing Divinely Created Bubbles.

    The disordered conduct of child abuse and abuse of women will only largely come to a halt when all human persons, from the moment of conception onward are respected as rational, free, and unique individuals with a great reverential sense and respect of the sacredness and of the mystery and transcendent diginity of the spiritual and immortal human soul. A discussion of the spiritual and immortal soul seems to becomming gradually lost as human persons are more and more viewed as solely physical, and as worthy of love and respect commensurate with their visible existential characteristics such as wealth, psychological health, academic intellegences, social-economic standing, and the like consumerist mentality based criteria that mean nothing to GOD and which will mean nothing to us and which are of no importance in the eternal scheme of things.

    Scripture describes the creation of Man as a process by which GOD formed Man from the dust of the Earth and then blew into Him the breath of life. These are not the exact words of Sacred Scripture but they are nonetheless, somewhat representative of a generalization that could be made by summarizing the respective accounts of the creation of the Human Person in the books of Genesis its various translations.

    Now what does it mean for a person such as a young child to blow bubbles, or for a young parent and his or her child or children to have fun blowing bubbles?

    A) First, a wand or other loop is dipped into a soap suds like solution that is made of ordinary molecular soap like matter whereupon the parent or child then pulls the wand out of the solution and then blows into the loop to form the bubble.

    B) As the bubble is created, it grows and then eventually separates from the loop.

    C) As a separate entity the, bubble floats freely and travels in a somewhat erratic path.

    D) As the bubble travels, it takes on various beautiful colored patterns. This occurs as light is refracted by passing through the bubbles membrane, and also as a result of positive and negative reinforcement of the various frequencies of background light as the light passes through one side of a differential area element of the bubble’s wall and is then reflected back by the opposing surface of the differential area element of the wall, due to the differences in the indices of refraction and the discontinuities between the area element of the bubble and the adjacent air. The colored patterns of the bubbles continues to change and evolve in a time dependent and space dependent manner as the bubbles floats around and approaches and exits various environments with frequency dependent light flux distributions.

    Now, for the analogy of GOD’s creation of the Human Soul.

    A) The creation of the Human Soul involves a special act of GOD’s creation and therefor is a not an ordinary act of GOD’s creation. We can even speculate as to whether the process of GOD’s creating the Human Soul is ontologically different or metaphysically different in a qualitative sense from the creation of say a physical object by GOD or the working of the physical miracle. The new Catechism of the Catholic Church implies that the creation of the human soul by GOD involves a Special Creative Act that puts the soul or more generally, the Human Person, forever in a Special Relation to His or Her creator.

    The human parent or child’s breath is in an intimate relationship between his or her bodily composition as being a partial product of exhaled bodily metabolites, some of which were previously a part of the materials or baryonic mass composition of the body. Such exhalants include carbon in the form of Carbon Dioxide, as well water vapor derived from the water composition of the body, and the specific forms and ratios of pheromones, portions of personal DNA and RNA, and other unique chemical identifiers of the particular human parent or child’s body. Consequently each bubble is filled with air that uniquely identifies the person who blew the bubble and that air is contained within the bubble and prevents the bubble from collapsing by keeping it whole and inflated. The bodily metabolites even become enmeshed or contained within the bubble wall by molecular and atomic diffusion of the air of the person’s initial breath and the air within the bubble into the bubble membranous material.

    In an analogous manner, the metaphorical breath of GOD or the breathing into a man or a women’s just conceived body, the breath of life or the breath of GOD’s spirit, according to the paraphrased Scriptural accounts, denotes an intimate relationship between each directly, immediately created spiritual and immortal human soul created by GOD, with respect to GOD’s causative or generative creative act.

    Now the human breath of the parent or child who blows the bubbles undergoes subtle time and space dependent changes in its specific equations of state, which is a fancy way of essentially stating that its temperature, density, chemical composition, pressure, and the like, change slightly from one breath to another. One breath of air blown into a bubble is always slightly differing from another breath blown into another bubble, even from the same person.

    Likewise, all human souls that are metaphorically blown into existence, are all equally essentially human by virtue of the analogous identical composition of the soap materials and virtually identical material gas that holds each bubble up from collapse (except for the above subtle variations) for each soap bubble blown. All human persons are thereby of the same morally equality before GOD as stated in the new Catechism of the Catholic Church. Yet each soul has its unique calling and vocation, and when united to its human body, each human soul develops its unique set of accidental attributes and characteristics as its own internal and externally generated experiences, and actions, including instinctual as well as partial and fully free acts modify its accidental form. Thus, each created human soul is marked by a personal, and even by distinct metaphysical relationships with its Creator by virtue of the distinction of each soul as a unique and unrepeatable spiritual and immortal vital or life principle. Each human soul constitutes each human person as a unique and autonomous individual who is radically endowed with free will. This reality can be inferred from the concept that each human soul is the unique, vital, or life principle, or the principle of individuality, identity, unity, and uniqueness that constitutes each human person as an autonomous and free individual.

    B) As the bubble grows, it is eventually separated and becomes a fully created and free bubble. By analogy, the soul is said to be created in an instant, however, relativistic quantum field theorists hold that time progresses in discreet steps of finite size and resolution or at the level of the Planck Time = Tp = {[h/(2π)]G/[C5]}1/2 = 5.39 x 10 -44 seconds, a finite time but very small indeed! Note that the smallest period of time ever measured by the most sophisticated human laboratory apparatus is much longer than the Planck Time units or roughly on the order of 10 EXP – 18 second. The difference between these two extremes is roughly of the same magnitude as the difference between one year, and one millionth of trillionth of a second. In terms of the process of spiritual creation of the human soul as to its essential nature, perhaps the smallest unit of resolution of GOD’s creative time is the interval over which the soul is created. Here, perhaps time periods or durations of creative actions by GOD are not metaphysically defined for shorter periods and perhaps there does not exist and sub-routines, or sub-processes, in the human soul’s creation by GOD. Perhaps the finite granularity of physical space time and any such fundamental analogues to the creation of the human soul by GOD at conception can be reconciled by analogy, although perhaps rationalized methods by which this can be accomplished have not been given over to human understanding in this point in human history on Earth. Note that relativistic quantum field theorists also; in some cases, contemplate a spatial temporal structure below the level of the finite units of the Planck Length and Planck Time Units or {[h/(2π)]G/[C3]}1/2 ~ 10 -35 meters and {[h/(2π)]G/[C5]}1/2 = 5.39 x 10 -44 seconds respectively, but generally hold that such fine grained structure may otherwise by inaccessible to direct observational scrutiny at the classical level of space and time. We simply might not be capable of understanding the details of any sub-structures to the process of GOD’s creation of the Human Soul at the so-called point in time of conception through rationalized algorithms at this point in human history. However, the metaphorical process of blowing each human soul into existence is a creative act or process by GOD which is directed by GOD, aka by HIS Almighty Will, and is done so with deliberation, care, and infinite personal love. Just as a human child delights with squeals and giggles at blowing bubbles with his or her parent(s), GOD must certainly delight in creating each human soul, a delight which is compounded by GOD’s infinite childlike humility. Moreover, the bubbles GOD blows are eternal and immortal and thus will last forever.

    C) As a separate entity, the bubble floats freely and travels in a somewhat erratic path. And so the created human soul bubbles with life, and is a dynamic and free agent from the time it is created. It is free to choose its actions, and to grow in a myriad of ways. It is free to learn what it wants to and can learn. It is free to cooperate in its divinely inspired and given vocation. It is free to enter interpersonal relationships with other human persons with various degrees of intimacy and interpersonal warmth. In short, it is free to be itself and to become who and what it wants to be.

    D) Yes indeed, as the bubble travels, it takes on various beautiful colored patterns as light.

    An so the human soul upon its creation blossoms with the nuances and colors of life, experience, vitality, virtue, wisdom, love, warmth and the like, in short in the dynamic and shimmering vital life activity of its accidental form. Such a dynamism most likely per dues into and throughout all eternity since the human soul will be reunited with the human body in all cases at the Final Resurrection of the Dead at the End of Time.

    Regardless of whether the human soul in immortal by its very created nature, immortal by universal grace, or a somehow combination of the two, it has a beauty both ontologically and substantially, accidentally and existentially, and morally, that transcends its immortality. Therefore, regardless of whether the human soul is naturally and/or immortal by universal grace, it has inherent qualities that transcend or go beyond this immortality. Since GOD is love, He fashions each human soul with infinite personal childlike humility and love, and regardless of whether the human soul is naturally and/or gratuitously immortal, in each and every case, it will last forever. This is GOD’s promise and this is GOD’s will, and GOD never takes back a created substantial principle that is personal.

    Note that I personally believe that each human soul is naturally immortal as I am traditionally Scholastic in orientation, but I am open minded to the opinions of those who argue immortality of the human soul in other ways. Regardless, the human soul not only has the ontological transcendent characteristic of beauty, but also those of purpose, reason for existing, value, worth, goodness (and all souls are greatly ontologically good even any souls that are in Hell or any existent Limbo). Perhaps the set of similar attributes is infinite beyond human reckoning of which we are only currently given the ability to form abstractions of the above few members of any such set.

    The care and love and transcendent dignity of the human soul is the reason why we should love all human persons and respect the sanctity of all human life, just as assuredly as GOD has lovingly created each human person and looks after each human person with child-like humble infinite love and delight. In a world amassed with scientific weapons systems that could perhaps destroy the human race and more, can we not afford to treat each other any differently from how GOD treats us and loves us.



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