When the sex abuse atrocities in the Catholic Church in Boston first broke out in the 1980s I was UPSET. Then things calmed down for a while – meaning that the Church got busy with trying to buy silence. Then a couple of years ago I was at a conference and a friend handed me the New York Times and i read the front page – it was about several priests sexually abusing children in California and it tore a hole in my heart. Literally – it left me sobbing and weeping. My roomies at the conference were like – did you want to catch the shuttle to the conference cuz its the Irish guy u wanted to see presenting and through water filled eyes i was like “i cant stop. i cant turn off the tears.” and this is true i could not. so at my bidding they left me there to see where the maker would take me. eventually i was able to slow the hurt down to a trickle and when i went down stairs to grab something to eat a Deaf fellow conference attendee, at seeing my red streaked eyes, asked “up all night?” to which I slide the newspaper over to him, pointed at the headlines and said “I’m catholic.” and started to weep a bit more.
He looked at the (damn im literally crying again now – cuz i can no longer say i am catholic) – he looked at the headlines and then at my face and then he did the beautiful thing that good humans do – he exercised compassion. He tapped my arm and he said he was sorry but his eyes said it all. (im pretty sure it was the guy who invented the ASL writing – Robert Arnold – but i might have scrambled my memory – i didnt really know him then or now but his kindness has stuck with me as has my friends that morning.
I did make it to see the Irish bloke, Dr. John Bosco Conoma, another very very good man but i would say that is the morning that i lost my religion. My heart was breaking. I had slowly stopped attending my Catholic Deaf church after reading about the abuse of over 200 Deaf boys at St John’s School for the Deaf in Wisconsin. The NYT article sealed the deal. I began boycotting the church. it was a painful choice for me because the church had been a sanctuary for me growing up partially Deaf in a small town. Even though i could not fully understand the masses, i read the bible from cover to cover during my adolescence. The gospel of Luke especially spoke to me. I developed an intimacy for Jesus and Mary and Ruth and Jacob etc. They became familiars even if Revelations seemed like someone was tripping. my attraction to soul force / truth force is largely born out of the social gospel aspects of the bible.
So when i reached out to some folks who are strong Catholics to help me reconcile what the Church had done – its complicity and its HUGE SIN in harboring and aiding and abating pedophile priests and other abuses by nuns, I was greeted by defensiveness on behalf of the Church – comments of how the current (now retired – hmmm) pope was the most progressive and responsive to the abuses to which i had to say but wait a minute why while he was in charge of the Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith office where all the sexual abuse cases ended up did he NOT take action on Father Murphy of St John’s. Why when he was pope was he condemning gays and women’s reproductive rights and role in the church while calling for compassion for the pedophile priests but showing NO condemnation for their conduct nor genuine compassion for the survivors? SILENCE
So i talked to someone i know loves God purely and i was very hesitant to share my pain because i did not want to call into question his own faith or undermine his belief in the church and he said what i needed to hear – the TRUTH.
There is no defending those priests’ conducts. There is no defending the Church’s conduct. the PRINCIPLE and CHIEF belief of the Catholic Church is FAITH in GOD. If they lived up to this fundamental doctrine they would have turned in those pedophile priests. Instead they protected the priesthood, the Institution OVER the children. ie they did not have faith in GOD
I can think of no greater sin.
it breaks my heart and it makes me weep. The things these abusers have said to defend their sexual predatory acts are abominable – things like:
– i was just teaching them sexual education
– there was homosexual behavior in the boys dorm so I thought if i masturbated some of the boys it would reduce their temptation
– they seduced me
some things so sick i have blacked them out. The case that sent me into a downward spiral crying crash was a CA priest who tied up two boys and raped them on the alter
on the alter folks – what does this do to a child. not only did they abuse them physically, emotionally, they also abused them spiritually – how does a child grow up to have faith in God when she is represented by reprehensible people who are protected by the church
this is sickness beyond belief. I read a recent case of a Ma. priest who had tons of pictures of little girls – under their dresses or with diapers off (yes infants) with no faces – pix he himself had taken under the trust of the cloak he wore as a priest. RECENT
it was not an anomaly – it was not an “incident” it is not a simple scandal
basically the church has been running a pedophile ring – they have moved these abusive and seriously dysfunctional criminal priest here there and everywhere giving them more opportunities to abuse, traumatize, and devastate young lives, bodies and SOULS – the very things they were supposed to nurture and elevate.
Recently i watched the documentary film Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God by Alex Gibney. It covers a great deal of the Sex Abuse that was rampant and protected at St Johns and takes us oversees to a similar priest who abused tons of hearing boys in Ireland. Both of these priests were big fund raisers and well liked. When i first read about the film before its release i was apprehensive about how well done it would be but then i checked the director and I had seen his film Taxi to the Dark Side – a doc. about an innocent Afghan cab driver who is tortured to death by the US. This is another film that sent me into despair as it is so TRUTH filled and tipped my “ok i guess the Afghanistan war is a justified war” to “WTF are we doing!” – it was the film in which i learned how Bush and Cheney had thrown in a “we cant be prosecuted for war crimes / crimes against humanity” clause and CONGRESS passed it – oh despair. So i knew Gibney does good stuff.
The Mea Maxima Culpa film is VERY well done and VERY disturbing – all roads lead to Rome folks. the vatican has probably the most graphic and disgusting evidence of sexual abuse stored deep in its archives and all gears in the wheel of the Institution that is the Church are oiled and primed to PROTECT it at all cost. It is truly heartbreaking. Many good priests who tried to speak out or get the truth known and protect the children were rewarded ended up leaving the priesthood due to their conscience while other priests who were silent or complicit were rewarded and advanced. The doc. even discloses how the church almost brought an island to send the pedophile priest to but then thought that it might look bad if word got out about it. The film doesnt cover the abuse of Deaf children in Ireland but many many many Deaf boys were abused by the priests at the Deaf school in Dublin. Its an “unknown” known.
The film shows how dedicated several of the survivors of Father Murphy’s abuses were to getting the truth out and to trying to protect future children from abuse. They really did everything they possibly could for YEARS. They made a WARNING and MOST WANTED flyers with Father Murphy’s pix and posted them on car wind shields while folks were inside for a fund raiser and handed out others as folks exited a church, they filed law suits, they called for meetings, one even sued the pope because of his role in protecting Father Murphy over the children. Since the statue of limitations had passed they had to use the violation of use of confession clause cuz Fr. Murphy used confessionals as opportunities for abuse – yes folks these were and ARE very sick men.
The St John survivors even made a trek all the way up to Father Murphy’s cabin (a place where many of them had been taken and abused) to confront him – they even videotaped it. Father Murphy hurriedly says he was sorry and it was a long time ago before rushing into the house but his Deaf housekeeper intervenes and defends him by throwing some Catholic crap questions at the survivors and blocking them from pursuing their way after Fr. Murphy. That part of the encounter is in ASL with captions only and you get a chilling feeling from it – the complicity – a Deaf woman defending a pedophile over her brethren, Deaf survivors.
so i could go on and on (i could tell ya about Marcial Maciel Degollado, a high ranking priest who is a sex criminal and has two wives and families or we could discuss Cardinal Maloney of Ca. and all the pedophile ring he runs)- but the bottom line is – what the church has done and is doing is HORRIBLE – it is beyond hypocrisy. What the Deaf men have done in confronting and pursuing justice all the way to the pope is HONORABLE. From their interviews you can see their pain but also their hope and their faith in love and JUSTICE and that is REALLY what the church is supposed to be about.
Shortly after HBO started running the film Mea Maxima Culpa – the Pope announces he is too tired for the job anymore. Wow!
Seems in addition to having forgotten the purpose of the church (faith in God) it seems the church has also forgotten the power of confession and restitution and reconciliation and JUSTICE.
so while i have lost my faith in the church – i have not lost my faith in something greater than ourselves. Nor have i lost my faith in the power of truth seekers like Terry Kohut, Gary Smith, Arthur Budzinski and Bob Bolger. Thank you for having the courage and spiritual fortitude and hardihood to sign out the truth again and again and again until it was final heard.
so while i keep crying – i am eternally grateful that u all kept trying! Truths must be told and children should never be abused especially by clergy of any kind.