Survivors of Clergy Sex Abuse Choose Forgiveness and Love Over Hatred and Litigation

Sep 5, 2019

Daniel Paden, left, and Matthew FitzGibbons share their stories of clerical abuse...and forgiveness at the Marriott Syracuse Downtown Thursday.
Credit Racqui Stephen / WAER-FM 88.3

Two victims of clergy sexual abuse are taking a different approach to justice.  Daniel Paden of Johnson City, and Matthew FitzGibbons of Fayetteville both agree that forgiveness and love are the most effective means of healing.  They spoke Thursday at the Marriott Syracuse Downtown.

"My aim is transform my experience of abuse with one priest on one day into a fertile soil as I envision it that sprouts good news," Paden said.

"A word to my abuser and the church:  With God's grace and mercy, I'm trying to forgive you and love you.  Only through forgiveness and love can healing really happen," FitzGibbons said.

The men are among thousands of sexual abuse victims that have spoken out since New York’s Child Victim’s Act took effect and began allowing victims to file a civil lawsuits against their abusers.  However, for Paden and FitzGibbons, taking legal action is not a priority.

"Litigation was never anything that interested me, before or after this act passed," Paden said.  "That said, I fully respect every other victim's view just as I would hope every other victim would respect my view."

"Everybody has to find their own path to healing, and perhaps going forward with legal action is a step in their process of healing," FitzGibbbons said.  "My prayer for them is that's not all of it because there's not any amount of money that can atone for it." 

Paden and FitzGibbons are still members of the Catholic Church and vow not to live with hatred, but to restore love and forgiveness within others.  In fact, they say their deep faith and relationship with God have helped them through their difficult journeys.