144 Words for 144 Survivors

Scott Swenson

News of the settlement of the clerical abuse scandal in San Diego provokes a personal response.

Struck by the fact that 144 survivors of sexual abuse settled with the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego, I wanted to try to find 144 words to express the values on display from social conservative leaders last week. Here are my 144 words, add yours in comments if you choose.

One hundred and forty-four souls.


A gross reminder of childhood diverted,

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youth and sexuality robbed of sacred joy

by faked Holiness

practicing power over

vowed celibacy.


Millions paid.


Admission of responsibility

replacing decades of denial,

allows genuine healing to begin.


Pious politicians and

another dogmatic diocese

on full display.


Families valued as political shields,

double standards denied,

naked hypocrisy.


Let's talk values.


Generations of fear




                                    — failed.


Teaching youth to responsibly respect

and protect — these are not values to fear.


Communicating your sacred self, your soul,

whatever you call what calls from within,

however you find love in this life

responsibly and honestly — these are not values to hide.


Trusting every individual decision

to the individual's journey;

your life, body, health —

these are not values of shame.


Liberty, respect, responsibility, honesty, choice, privacy —

American values that heal.


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