Hope and Healing at the first day of LOUDfence Plymouth: Fr Mark Skelton and Antonia Sobocki’s Opening Statements
LOUDfence Plymouth began on Wednesday the 15th February, 2023. The day was a resoundingly positive experience for all, with survivors and all in attendance (including clergy and the safeguarding team) experiencing a sense of community, hope and healing. People can still come down and offer their own ribbon of support today and tomorrow. All are also welcome to the survivors Mass at Christ The King church tomorrow at 12 Noon, celebrated by Fr Mark Skelton.
If you can’t make it and would like to send a message of solidarity and support please email Sophie at firstname.lastname@example.org
Please read below for Fr Mark Skelton and survivor Antonia Sobocki’s powerful and compassionate opening statements.
I am a survivor of familial childhood sexual abuse from the age of 7. Growing up I was lucky enough to be raised in church and the church became my sanctuary, my haven, the replacement parent I have loved all my life. It devastated me when I found out that other children had been harmed by the church, my church. It ruptured my trust in the church which has loved, valued and supported me my whole life. It is right we are outraged by abuse, it is a hallmark of our Christian principles, but broken relationships can be mended, trust can gradually and gently be restored and trauma, little by little, can be healed. The important thing is we have the courage to earnestly care for survivors, the wounded part of the body of Christ, with love, generosity and compassion.
I am tying my ribbon in support of all survivors to tell them I believe them, I hear them and I support them. I am tying my ribbon in response to Pope Francis’ request that there is a “Revolution of Compassion”. This ribbon is my way of starting to participate in this revolution. I invite all of you to take part in this with us.
Fr Mark Skelton
One of the most striking things about LOUDfence is the capital letters. It is an accepted thought now that capitals in a text message represent someone shouting. This can sometimes be aggression and anger, sometimes from a sense of frustration and sometimes just the desire to be heard. Today and for the next three days this fence will stand here as a public statement and witness to the many people who have been hurt, isolated, betrayed and silenced through the action of others who have actively abused and violated or who, by their silence, have enabled the abuse to remain unacknowledged, unrecognized and therefore unstopped.
As we gather over the next few days in solidarity with those who have suffered, we hope that this small action on our part may enable those who have felt rejected and abused to know that they are heard, that we are truly sorry and that we vow to do all in our power to insure this is never again hidden or disguised, ignored or enabled. Our prayer, our hope is that every institution whether it be the Church and Schools, Care Homes and Police will be safe spaces, joyful spaces, hope filled spaces.