Someone posted a letter on-line today with news of the death of a Benedictine monk – his abuser. The death may have brought “closure” for his abuser, he reflected, but not for him. Over the years he had planned then rejected both murder and suicide, but now he expressed sadness — for victims, but also for his abuser who, he realizes, must have been a troubled and twisted individual. The writer ended the letter with a blessing for his abuser! I was shocked. To have moved from considering murder, not so many years ago, to offering a blessing was incredible, I hesitate to use the word but — miraculous.
In his words:
“Today I visited Montserrat Abbey, the oldest Benedictine monastery in existence. I went into the Church. I don’t know God’s plan for me, I don’t know God’s plan for Fr. Roger, but in my own simple way, I said – And May God bless him.”
C Michael Coode (SNAP Tennessee)
Here was a victim who had retained his faith in God and was now dedicated to advocating for and supporting other victims through the National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC) and through leadership in his local branch of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests and religious (SNAP). He had maintained his faith in God despite the overwhelming proof of negligence, deceit, and denial by the Catholic Bishops. He could still enter a monastery and not run out shaking and crying. He could still pray to a God he believes has a Plan.
I know one thing with absolute certainty: If there is a God and if there is a Plan it doesn’t involve abuse of children. What makes most sense to me is that God’s plan — call it “the best of all possible worlds” — is thwarted every time someone chooses to reject God in favor of doing evil. And so God has to adjust the plan. My heart tells me that in responding to evil with a blessing Michael has more than lived up to what God would hope for. There is NOTHING more powerful and more loving and healing in the world than responding to evil with goodness, offering a blessing instead of creating more suffering — by hurting oneself or others.
So, I responded to his post and offered Michael a blessing:
May you be blessed and comforted, may the light of Goodness shine upon you and bring you peace, and may you be filled with the healing power of Grace. You are my hero today.
To read the letter in its entirety you can go here: