The Archdiocese of Chicago will celebrate the fourth annual Mass for victims of domestic violence on Saturday, Oct. 5, 2019, at 5:15 p.m. at Holy Name Cathedral, 735 N. State St., Chicago. Rev. Charles W. Dahm, O.P., director of the Archdiocese of Chicago’s Domestic Violence Outreach (ACDVO) office, will preside and preach at the Mass. All are welcome to attend, especially victims of domestic violence, their children and families.
“Domestic violence affects all communities, races, ages, genders and socioeconomic classes,” said Cardinal Blase Cupich, archbishop of Chicago. “The Church can help break the cycle. It is important for all Catholic leaders to speak out on this important issue regularly from the pulpit, in the ministries offered in our parishes, and through our Catholic schools and religious education programs.
Domestic violence is an epidemic in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control, about one in four women and nearly one in 10 men have experienced sexual violence, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner during their lifetimes. Domestic violence is not limited to physical abuse; it is any behavior used by one partner to maintain power and control over another partner through use of physical, emotional, sexual or financial mistreatment, coercion, intimidation or deprivation.
Among the 198 Catholic dioceses in the United States, the Archdiocese of Chicago has the most developed domestic violence outreach program. The ACDVO office has preached on domestic violence at Masses in 150 parishes throughout the Chicago area from 2008 to the present. ACDVO has developed local ministries serving victims of domestic violence in more than 90 parishes. Representatives from these ministries will attend and participate in the Mass on Oct 5.
“Once a parish begins to talk about domestic violence and becomes more sensitive to the problem, more victims begin to come forward,” said Dahm. “A few things pastors can do to help spread awareness of domestic violence are to share the resources available to victims, provide training on domestic violence to church ministers including priests and deacons, include a discussion of domestic violence in marriage preparation sessions, and reference domestic violence in homilies.”
The Catholic Church’s position on violence against women is clearly stated in the United States Catholic Bishops pastoral letter, “When I Call for Help.” The Bishops write: “We must state as strongly and clearly as we can that violence against women, inside or outside the home, is never justified…and it is a sin and often a crime.” They conclude the letter declaring: “We emphasize that no one is expected to stay in an abusive marriage.”
More information about domestic violence and the work of ACDVO is available on the Archdiocese of Chicago’s website, https://pvm.archchicago.org/human-dignity-solidarity/domestic-violence-outreach. There are videos, testimonies, homilies, prayers, and a manual on setting up a parish domestic violence ministry.