I have not heard word one from any of the three bishops I sent my letter from a previous post to. In this case silence is not golden. So I drafted a new letter and sent it, along with a copy of my old letter along with some other things, to the head of the Bishop’s conference on children and youth. Let’s see what happens.
I was very encouraged to read in my diocesan newspaper The Dialog that you and other bishops in the U.S. think that you finally understand the clergy sexual abuse scandal. Referring to the injury of the victims as, “deeper than non-victims can imagine”, is a great start. On the web site for the USCCB the statement, “…victim who has suffered a violation of trust that can affect his or her entire life.”, and I, a priest, am living proof of that. So I write to you as not only a member of the clergy but also as a victim of sexual abuse by a cleric when I was young. I desperately want to believe what you say, to trust what you say.
I am including four different documents that I have already sent to my bishop or to The Dialog. The first is an appendix to a document I wrote as an aid in my therapy. The second is an unpublished letter to the editor. The third is an e-mail which includes an e-mail letter that was cc’d, to me about another man’s struggles with the, ‘do nothing’, attitude he has encountered over this issue. The fourth is a letter I sent to bishops Malooly and Barres as well as Archbishop Rigali.
Please don’t disappoint.
This was included in the mailing. It is an unpublished letter to the editor in reference to an article of praise for bishops & the pope meeting with victims.
Blah, blah, blah, that is all I hear coming out of the Church all over the world in regards to the clergy sex abuse scandal. ENOUGH! DO SOMETHING! Do something meaningful for victims. Stop paying the faithful lip service and do something. And do not give us the tired old line about confidentiality. The Church needs to show us that there is more than blah, blah, blah. This is not the time for secrecy. (And that has worked so well in the past for the Church hasn’t it?)
Reconciliation masses and unity services do not work. Why? Because the vast number of victims will not come to them. Why? Because they will not step foot in a parish church. Why? Because they hate priests, they hate the Church and in many cases they hate God.
On a recent retreat for people who have been abused I was a team member. There were 28 people on the retreat. Six of them were men. Four of them had been abused by priests. As the only priest present I received the fury and vitriol caused by abusers in the Church and its handling of the scandal. One man stood in front of me, looked me in the eye and said he wanted to bash my head in. He wanted to do this because I am a priest. He wanted to do this because I represented the Church to him and it was a priest, and the Church, that hurt him beyond the comprehension of most people. Now you tell me, is he going to come to reconciliation mass?
Being a victim of clergy sexual abuse myself I empathise. Luckily I was always able to separate what happened to me from my knowledge and understanding of God’s love for me. Others have not been that fortunate. And it is these people who need the Church to do something radical to help them heal. This issue is much more complex than any article or any letter to the editor. For anyone wishing to talk further or seek healing call me. (name & # deleted)
And this, from an e-mail sent to every priest I have an address for with the request they forward it to other priests.
An open letter to bishops and priests;
Over and over and over again I have been subject to your ignorance and the total lack of understanding that you have displayed about the issue of priest sexual abuse and in reality all abuse. I’m trying hard to understand why it is that you don’t understand.
Two thoughts about that have crossed my mind: As someone who has been sexually abused and has worked with many people who have been sexually abused I can state with authority that the abuse affects absolutely every aspect of our lives…personality…actions…reactions…thoughts…interpersonal dynamics…EVERY aspect. That is a lot to digest let alone to understand. We cannot fathom an infinite God because we are finite. You cannot understand all of the ways abuse affects the abused because it is too much to comprehend. My alternate theory is that you just really don’t care. That is too painful to ponder.
When you complain about how sad it is that a diocese has to sell property, close parishes, liquidate assets because of the sexual abuse problem and subsequent settlements it absolutely tears me apart inside. Those are things. Property and other assets are things. I am a person. Other victims are people. People matter more than things. People matter more! What is really ‘sad’ is that priests abused others at all.
Was the Holy Spirit, the third person of the trinity, who is supposed to guide the Church asleep during all of this? The answer is a big fat NO!!! The Holy Spirit was ignored. I won’t be ignored. And you cannot ignore all of us who have suffered abuse, we will not let you. And we will not go away. It is your moral obligation to help us as we strive for healing because it is you, (the collective you), who injured us in the first place so that we need to seek healing.
I also have to ask, “Why is everything a secret?” Even inconsequential things are kept as secrets. Secrets, and keeping them, only contribute to the culture that heaps shame upon victims of all kinds of abuse. It is counterproductive to the claim that the Church is willing to correct the evil that was done in her name, and is counterproductive for those abused outside of the Church. Secrecy is the abusers best weapon so secrecy should not be tolerated.
This issue is bigger than the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church should lead the world in trying to stop all abuse and to rip the shame felt by abuse victims, and worn like some sort of diabolical armor, away.
Is anything happening in the Church in the U.S.???? I’ll wait.