COLUMBIA - Father Richard Litzau, pastor at St. Thomas More Newman Center in Columbia, said he agrees with responses from the Jefferson City Catholic Diocese, related to abuse within the Church.
Bishop Shawn McKnight of the Jefferson City Catholic Diocese held a press conference Friday, pledging his full cooperation with the investigation of sexual abuse within the Missouri Catholic Churches.
In July, the former archbishop of Washington, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, was suspended after allegations of sexual abuse. Earlier this month, a Pennsylvania grand jury investigation revealed 300 priests had sexually abused 1,000 children.
“There are always challenges in an organization that’s this old, we will move past those challenges and continue to minister to the people of Columbia,” Litzau said.
He said he and the staff at the Newman Center are dedicated to providing a safe space for anyone who needs to speak about the issue. Litzau hopes to continue to help those in need, and to stand behind the Catholic Church.
“We have collected information on how to report cases if there are cases and procedures and policies for that. . .so people know there are resources they can use," Litzau said.
For parents who wonder how to spot signs of abuse in their children, Tracy Johnson, director of the Children’s Emergency Shelter at the Rainbow House, has some advice.
Johnson said signs of abuse in children tends to look the same whether it has occurred at home or elsewhere. She said it is important for parents to keep a close eye on their children.
“It’s our job to protect our children, no matter where they are or who they’re with,” Johnson said.
She said to look out for all signs of abuse, including sexual, physical and emotional. Signs such as new bruises, scrapes or marks on children or a change in personality and behavior.
In light of the allegations, Bishop McKnight said the diocese will host a mass to pray for the healing of the victims.