How do I process my grief?
Does suffering have any meaning?
Do we live in a random chaotic universe?
Is it time to re-evaluate my understanding of “God”?
This book is for anyone who has suffered a loss – of safety, of one’s home, of health, of a loved one or a relationship, or of one’s faith … and found themselves asking, “Why?” And then wondering, “Who am I asking?” and hoping they were not alone.
Over the past few years I have used the opportunity offered by this blog to reflect on many aspects of my healing from sexual abuse by Catholic priests.
I have a new book coming out that tells the story of my healing journey and my journey through grief and loss if you are interested in my full story.
“Hard work awaits pope and abuse survivors”
Mary Gail Frawley-O’Dea | NCR Apr. 23, 2013
I read the article and was impressed, as always, by Frawley-O’Dea’s passionate and insightful comments. She not only counsels but truly understands the struggles of victims. Not all therapists can comprehend the spiritual devastation of priest abuse.
Then I read the comments and was sickened by two themes: 1. The problem is homosexuality; 2. Compensation is a miss-use of church funds and neglects the poor and needy.
To the second point I want to say that the victims of pedophile and sexually abusive priests are, in my experience (11 years active in the survivor community; 54 years living with the effects of the abuse) some of the poorest, most damaged and needy people in the catholic community. Sadly they are no longer actively catholic and hence not included in the charitable giving of the church. But the reason they are no longer actively catholic IS the church – the behavior of abusive priests in the church.
I have known suicides, alcoholics, drug users, homeless, bankrupt, mentally ill victims whose lives were irrevocably damaged by suffering priest abuse. Counseling is vital, but so is the ability to earn a living, a place to live, and food to eat. Unfortunately the emotional and psychological ability to process a claim against the church is beyond the mental and certainly fiscal resources of most victims. This is where pro-active lawyers must step in and when they do the claims made must cover their fees and they are expensive. And getting a large settlement is what lawyers do. It helps their reputations. This is just the facts. If the church would make settlements before lawyers are engaged it would lesson costs to the church. But the bishops are the first ones to lawyer up. Again, my experience: 17 years seeking help for therapy, the bishop eventually said – “don’t write to me any more, talk to my lawyer. ” It was downhill from there.
Now to the first point. Homosexuality is not and never has been the issue. No more than heterosexuality. If we throw out homosexual priests we have to throw out heterosexual ones too, because pedophilia and ephebophilia are two very different issues and not strictly homo or heterosexual. Sexually abusive priests I have known, or learnt about, were psychologically deformed in some manner. Some abused girls and boys, some abused adults and children. One of my abusers raped my mother, molested me and one of my brothers. How should he be categorized? Simply a sick man with a corrupted morality and deformed psycho-sexual nature. He was an opportunistic abuser, not a homosexual or heterosexual abuser. We have to stop labeling this a homosexual issue. Healthy homosexual relationships are between consenting adults and are as committed as heterosexual ones. The problem for some of the commenters is that homosexuality is seen as evil so it must the root of the sexual problems of abuser priests. Wrong! If anything, the common sexual issues for abusive priests are chastity and celibacy.
Guilt and shame. Staples of a Catholic education in the 50’s and early 60’s. The very foundation of Catholic moral instruction in this era, especially in the area of human sexuality.
So how is it that the priests themselves did not seem to feel the guilt and shame they preached?
Young boys were tormented with threats of hell if they masturbated, but chasing altar boys was the topic of dinner time jokes in seminaries and rectories. For teenage boys touching yourself was a shameful and guilt ridden exercise in self damnation; but for priests, touching young boys was an exercise in power and control.
What about when they were found out? The boy victims were beaten by their fathers or by another “Father.” “How could you say such lies? You are going to hell for such sins.” And the priests were told by their bishops “We will pray for you, my son, that you can overcome this temptation from the devil. Remember he strikes hardest at the holiest among us.”
Oh, so if priests are tempted that is a sign of holiness; If young boys “give in” and “allow” themselves to be touched, that is a sign that they are agents of the devil. The shame and guilt is theirs. The priests deserve our support, our pity, our prayers; the victims deserve our condemnation.
So, the problem lies in the lack of shame and guilt on the part of the priests, and their bishops. And their complete lack of compassion for young children molested, raped, and sodomized by members of the clergy.
We won’t get anywhere in the search for justice unless the Church begins to teach its priests about shame and guilt.
cold, cold, hard, damp tiles
they didn’t care
with their thick shoes and heavy clothes
pale legs above bloodless toes
the cold hurts
before it numbs
but fear is hot
don’t cry, she warns
don’t whimper or weep
it will be worse for you
stand strong, little mona
stand and stare
see what they point to
see it and know
there is no safety
for little girls
who don’t do what they are told
tears fall silently
on downy cheeks
please don’t notice
i promise i’ll be good
i won’t make a sound
i’ll be daddy’s good girl
“The Vatican says the Pope accepted Law’s resignation from Saint Mary Major Basilica.” Did his birthday party upset the leaders in Rome? Was it too much bad press? I would have thought that Rome was immune to bad press by now. But maybe not? Read the whole article here:
In the article quoted below, author Charles P. Pierce – a writer for Esquire and a frequent commentator on NPR – is scathing in his response to Penn State football players praying for the rape victims of Jerry Sandusky. This is something that can’t be prayed away, he suggests. Why? Because the rape of children is too awful. The Penn State scandal has thrown light on yet another institution in which there is a culture of deceit and a cult-like loyalty to “the company” or “the brand.” Victims in the Catholic Church are aware of this kind of culture and of the rewards passed to those who defend it at their expense and at the expense of morality and adherence to civil law. But that other people “get it” came as a surprise to me. The author seems to be a man with a biblical sensibility and a deep understanding of the psychological as well as physical violence of child-rape. He also has an understanding of the hollow and even horrific religious notion that such crimes can be “prayed away.”
Thank you Mr. Pierce.
The problem can’t be solved by prayer or piety — and it’s far more widespread than we think
By Charles P. Pierce
NOVEMBER 14, 2011
“…The crimes at Penn State are about the raping of children. That is all they are about. The crimes at Penn State are about the raping of children by Jerry Sandusky, and the possibility that people lied to a grand jury about the raping of children by Jerry Sandusky, and the likelihood that most of the people who had the authority at Penn State to stop the raping of children by Jerry Sandusky proved themselves to have the moral backbone of ribbon worms….
There will now be a decade or more of criminal trials, and perhaps a quarter-century or more of civil actions, as a result of what went on at Penn State. These things cannot be prayed away. Let us hear nothing about “closure” or about “moving on.” And God help us, let us not hear a single mumbling word about how football can help the university “heal.” (Lord, let the Alamo Bowl be an instrument of your peace.) This wound should be left open and gaping and raw until the very last of the children that Jerry Sandusky is accused of raping somehow gets whatever modicum of peace and retribution can possibly be granted to him. This wound should be left open and gaping and raw in the bright sunlight where everybody can see it, for years and years and years, until the raped children themselves decide that justice has been done. When they’re done healing — if they’re ever done healing — then they and their families can give Penn State permission to start.”