Betrayal is a hard thing to incorporate into your life. People who have been abused in any way have been betrayed. Unfortunately, if you have been abused by an employee of the Church you are automatically set up for even more betrayal. Sad. My own timeline of betrayals illustrates that.
Betrayal – Sexual abuse by a priest.
He had been the first person I told I thought I had a vocation. I went into the seminary right after high school. It was a disaster. I left.
I re-entered after college and work.
Betrayal – A priest supervisor behaved inappropriately toward me and another seminarian.
Betrayal – After bringing it to the attention of the powers that be I became the problem.
I got no support. I kept being told that I was overreacting. The priest psychologist at the seminary said that they were under-reacting.
Betrayal – I was told to resign or be thrown out.
For the next five years I worked at a home for…how shall I say this…intellectually challenged, medically fragile children. Then I went back into a different seminary for a different diocese.
Betrayal – The earth-shaking revelations about the Boston Archdiocese Clergy Sexual Abuse issue.
At this point no one knew that it was a priest who sexually abused me. Once I had made the off-handed remark that I should sew because of what I had been put through in Philly. Someone told Bishop Michael Saltarelli.
Betrayal – The bishop asked if it weren’t punishment enough that the former priest supervisor had been laicized for homosexual molestation?
He had not even an inkling of how this effected victims.
Betrayal – I was not voted to be ordained a priest.
Granted I was barley keeping it together. Everything that was due was late and I no longer got to chapel early to pray. I couldn’t even sit up straight in chapel. Depression is a mental illness. I couldn’t help myself and no one helped me.
Betrayal – School drama.
Not being ordained I was sent to a parish with a school. I would be there a year. Once in a while I would go to visit the kindergarten kids. I made sure a teacher was always present. Because of the climate of the Church at that time, (that’s my guess), a teacher went to the principal,(there were three classes), the principle went to the pastor and he, in a tizzy, came to me. My response was, ‘The teacher was in the room!’ There was no accusation just paranoia. I won’t go into a school now unless it is to say mass.
Betrayal – As an ordained priest while dealing with molestation.
During my assignment as a hospital chaplain the grand jury report on the Archdiocese of Philadelphia Clergy Sexual Abuse was released. Both my abuser and the sleezy supervisor I had in the seminary were in it. I read the report twice. It devastated me. I demanded a transfer. I was told I’d have to meet with the bishop. I took it as a threat although I did not feel threatened by the bishop.
Betrayal – The meeting with the bishop.
I had already decided to reveal my molestation to the bishop. The start of the meeting was contentious. After revealing my molestation, it became a different meeting…caring and empathetic. I wondered why it wasn’t like that at the start.
Betrayal – Lies of a new bishop.
At his installation Bishop W. Francis Malooly said a lot of pretty words about how he cared about the abused in the Church. Not true. I don’t even remember the issue, but it was in the paper. He responded in what seemed to me was a knee-jerk reaction. I wrote him a strongly worded letter. In it I did say his response sounded petty and he isn’t a petty person. (I have revised my opinion.)
Betrayal – Funeral fiasco and no support.
A funeral I presided at became a defining event in my priesthood. A man came into the sacristy and said, ‘We’re ready’. This was witnessed by the permanent deacon who was with me. We both thought he was from the funeral home. He was from the deceased’s family. We started. The funeral director became apoplectic. After the funeral he yelled at me on the street. This was in front of the deceased’s family and the permanent deacon. I wrote him a letter saying in no uncertain terms that he was out of line and a bully. The letter was strongly worded. I did not threaten him, I did not threaten his family and I did not threaten his business. He took the letter to the bishop who sided with him against me. Turns out he is a big donor to the diocese.
Betrayal – Priest Personnel Board.
It was time for a transfer, and I had to go in front of the priest personnel board. Not a problem. The head of the bored had a copy of my letter to the bishop. I was not intimidated, in fact I thought, but didn’t say; You can wave that paper around until you take off and fly around the room it does not take away my right to say what I said. I think that the fact I was not intimidated caught him off guard.
Betrayal – The blame game at a priest gathering.
At one point in his pontificate Pope Benedict XVI told priests and bishops to stop blaming others for the clergy sexual abuse crises. He was pretty clear that it is our problem. And lo and behold Bishop Malooly got in front of all the priests of the diocese and started blaming the press. Two things here, as a sexual abuse survivor I was terribly insulted that once again everyone was being blamed but the priests who did it and the bishops who covered it up. I was also bothered by the facts being ignored and also ignoring the pope. At the comment session later that day I spoke, calling on the carpet the bishop I said a few things. The pope said not to blame others. Journalists would have nothing to write about if priests and bishops were living what they are supposed to live, what they proport to believe. Also, if Bobby is molested by his baseball coach although tragic it is worse when it is a priest because of the power we have and the life we are supposed to be living. (I also chose to ignore the low but audible groans coming from the older priests, also a betrayal.)
Betrayal – Being slandered by the bishop to other priests.
Such things always get back to a person, even if it takes a while. And it explains some of the things that other priests have said to me or reactions to me because of not fitting into the lies that were told about me. He’s gone. AMEN.
This, of course, is not an exhaustive list nor does not take into account the Universal Church and all the ways they have betrayed victims, the laity and both good and bad clergy. When I was in the seminary I could not fathom why or how someone goes through all of that, gets ordained, then leaves the priesthood. I would never do that, but I understand. That is really sad.