In all that I have done and all that I have read in the course of my own journey toward healing I have been struck by how prevalent sexual abuse is in our society. It is
not a monopoly of the Catholic Church and in fact a person, female or male, is
less safe from sexual abuse within their own families.
Hateful, hurtful things have been said about Catholicism due to the clergy sexual abuse scandal. Some of it, sadly enough, has been deserved. Some of it has really only
amounted to some people or organizations trying to advance their own agenda. And some of it has just been old fashioned Catholic bashing.
My journey has been about me and about God and nothing else. Sometimes the men that run the Church, the bishops and other members of the hierarchy, need to be reminded
that the root of this scandal germinated because of their love for money and their fear of the truth. Since God is truth there should not have been any fear.
Along the way, as a priest trying desperately to get this issue taken seriously by other members of the clergy and members of the faithful, I have run into a wall of hostility and anger that I have found frightening. Much, if not most, of the venom spewed out has been directed toward the victims. One older gentleman actually said to me that if he had said such a thing to his mother he would have been slapped. This was his attempt to let me know that this is not a subject to be broached. I replied that was part of the problem. There are no longer any sacred cows and truth be told there never should have been any sacred cows in the first place.
On a Grief to Grace Retreat, a retreat for those who have suffered abuse, one woman stood in front of the group and with great humility and humiliation told everyone of her mother’s reaction immediately after she revealed her sexual molestation. Mimicking the way she perceived her own mother’s reaction she sneered, “Who would molest you?” My heart broke. After 50 years the duel abuses of her sexual molestation and her mother’s reaction to it still shadowed her life.
Everyone is broken to some degree, I am keenly aware of that. Tragedy and trauma mar us
all. Sin is alive and well in all of us too, but the sin of one, (an abuser), effects countless others. Because I was so affected by the trauma of my own abuse every person I came in contact with was affected too. When interacting with others it was not me but was me pretending…pretending what I thought was normal and socially acceptable. Abuse victims will understand what it is that I’m talking about.
The thing is that you cannot pretend with God. God knows who it is we really are. God sees through our pain and our trauma. God knows our hearts even when they have been blown to pieces by awful, evil things that we have suffered and continue to suffer. Aren’t they reasons that Jesus died on the cross?