Here is one other thing people need to know about those of us who have been molested by priests. I will use myself as an example. It was 21 years before I could even speak about my own molestation by a priest…out loud…and to another person. Until that time it was a closely guarded secret…something shameful. Contrary to what a lot of people believe it was in no way cathartic to say it out loud. Before speaking it out loud it seemed to just be an abstraction in my sad reality. Speaking it out loud made it real. It was not a relief, it marked the beginning of my struggle for healing. Even though I had finally acknowledged it I was not ready to deal with it. (Circumstances forced my hand.)
I was lucky, if you can use the word lucky in this circumstance, the man who molested me was still alive and was still a priest. No one ever said to me that since the priest was dead he couldn’t defend himself. What? That is an incredibly stupid thing to say. Does being dead exonerate Nazi concentration camp guards? I held the secret inside of me for over two decades. I have learned that 21 years is a miniscule time to keep the secret of sexual abuse.
Needless to say, (yet I will say it), that when someone spouts off to me, (usually in a condescending tone), that accusing the dead is suspect, it takes all the self-control that God makes available to me not to punch them. It’s as if the speaker is saying that because the molester is dead then the molestation didn’t happen. Twenty-one years it took me to admit what happened, twenty-one years. I have served on retreats for the abused where some of them have held it a secret for 40, 50 or 60 years. Of course the person who molested them is dead, it took that long for them to seek help.
Some priests and bishops do not and I fear never will understand that this is a kind of living hell for those of us who have survived. Look at the recent unpleasantness; Chile, Honduras, the USA with Cardinal McCarrick…why is this still an issue? It is an issue because of silence in the face of evil, cover-ups in the face of evil, hierarchy who belittle victims in the face of evil. EVIL.
It is so difficult to be a priest in this corporate climate that seems to have embraced what is evil. But in the end the truth will triumph. I fear I will never see it but the truth, goodness, holiness will prevail, will triumph.
, the USA with Cardinal Mc