Learning about the extent of abuse: a two-edged sword

When the extent of the abuse in America began to hit the news it was a double-edged sword for victims. On the one hand it felt very affirming – I am not crazy, I am not alone, people might believe me now. On the other hand it felt overwhelming, devastating. Ironically many of us had remained in the Church, believing our abuse was an aberration, our perpetrator a criminal unknown to his (her) superiors, and we still experienced the beauty and solace of our faith tradition. But the other side of the sword was the realization that not only was our perpetrator not an aberration in an otherwise healthy community of priests but one of many such men whose predilections had been the subject of jokes among fellow clergy (I heard this from a priest). And their superiors, far from being unaware, had been complicit in their protection from civil authority and their reassignment to unknowing parishes whose children became the next prey. This was the knowledge that robbed us of our faith in our church. And robbed me of my vocation to teach religion in the church: the behavior of the hierarchy was indefensible and I would not attempt to defend it to my students.

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