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Letters to the Church or Media

  1. An American writing to the Boston Herald about Cardinal Law
    Dear Editor:

    I am not satisfied with the comments of Cardinal Law in the latest round of child-rape allegations against a Roman Catholic priest ("Breach of trust: Cardinal `sickened' by rape charges vs. Geoghan", by Andrea Estes, Friday, December 3, 1999).

    Law has made some movement towards a sense of compassion to those victimized by the church from the days when he lashed out at victims and the media during the James Porter scandal. But, he is still being disingenuous – or he is deluding himself – when he denies that the church did anything wrong in moving Geoghan and other clerics when confronted with complaints of child molestation. He argues that they did not understand the "mental health" issues 10, 20 and 30 years ago. I would ask the good cardinal if they understood the moral and legal right and wrong of the rapes of children. Would their reaction to theft of church funds have been guided by their understanding of the mental health issues involved?

    Law says he sympathizes to those estranged from the church. Again, he is not being truthful to himself or to the public. By definition, the church teaches that the road to salvation is through participation in the Roman Catholic faith. Therefore, those estranged from the church are barred from salvation. Would not the more compassionate response then be to seek out victims, to do whatever it takes to mitigate the harm inflicted by the church and somehow offer a path back to salvation?

    Thirty-five years ago, I was one of the many thousands of children being sexually exploited by Roman Catholic clergy. When I approached the church in 1994 – when they were presumably less enlightened – I was lied to and I was treated with disrespect and a total lack of compassion. I am still waiting for some meaningful response.

  2. The mother of two abuse victims writing to the perpetrator, who had been a family friend as well as their priest and her supporter in dealing with her own childhood clergy abuse
    June 4,1996

    "Father" PP

    I cannot BELIEVE that 7 months have gone by...7 long, agonizing, destructive, painful, sorrowful, lonely, lost months. And STILL, you are playing your f*cking games of "not being able to face us".

    PP, I am SO sick, so VERY sick and tired of being treated by you & by your diocese as if it were OUR fault that all of this happened. I begged you earlier this winter to write to us, to please DO the least you could do (and give back at least some of what you've stolen from this family) by having the guts and the heart to communicate with us. But have been the epitome of selfishness, pride and greed.

    How the hell can you tell ____and ____that you can't face US?! What the hell have WE done to ever, ever, EVER make you feel you COULDN'T face us??

    How dare you go to ___when I have sat here for all these months, unable to function, to move forward, to heal. While I sat here & watched my family fall apart over and over again. While I have actually writhed from the pain of all you have taken and destroyed and stirred up, trying to understand that you did this KNOWING full well how fragile and depressed (Son#2) was, KNOWING full well what I'd been through and what it would do to me to live it again through my precious children AND to lose all that I'd entrusted you with. KNOWING full well that (Son#1) had also already been through the molesting mill and KNOWING the painful, difficult insecurities and heartaches that he has suffered & still had not dealt with yet. KNOWING full well that (my husband)'s childhood was fractured & unhealed from his experience of incest. PP, who the hell do you think you ARE that you can have such knowledge and ADD to the wounds this family already was trying to endure?

    I have watched my kids go through an emotional earthquake. Everything I tried to protect them from, I ended up HANDING to them by taking YOU into our family. None of us deserved what you did, but especially not these 2 children. I TRUSTED you with my heart. With my soul. With my past. WITH MY CHILDREN.

    You lied to me so many friggin times, PP. I believed you, even after the molestations, when you swore that you would walk a spider web across hell for this family and do whatever it takes to help us heal. And the very day that you and I said our goodbyes, I find out that you lied about what you've done! You LIED to your own brother, you lied to the Bishop, you lied to __, ___, you lied to ME and to (my husband) and to countless, countless others. And that enabled you to walk away from here with armsfull of support and love and encouragement. To leave being adored and pitied by a parish who was bullshitted in a most cruel, cold, Christless way by the pastor and bishop that they loved and adored.

    You just quietly and conveniently disappeared and left ME to clean it all up for you. I was your mother and your sister and your ally and your friend and your soulmate, I was your lifeline, your therapist, your confessor, your secretary...I was so many things...or so I thought. But in reality, I was just your biggest fool. I provided you with your victims, I provided you with your opportunities, I provided you with your alibis. I provided you with your deepest and most formidable support and love and protection. I do not regret having stayed by your side, or talking you into staying alive or ministering to you in your shame. You were FAMILY. I felt like I COULD continue to be (to you) everything that I had always been...because I BELIEVED you would do the right things to repair the lives you broke. I BELIEVED you when you said you would NOT abandon us. I BELIEVED you when you said you would stand before ANYONE and tell them what you had done. What I DIDN'T believe was that you were capable, willing and hellbent on proving that you could be a pedophile priest and get away with it - destroying a family & a community without any intention of restitution or apology or accountability.

    You just manufactured one lie after another after another to cover your dirty, selfish tracks. You LIED the night we confronted you - you admitted only to those things we knew at the time. And then you acted like we were so treasured by you that you just couldn't lie to us anymore. You had the perfect chance to tell us EVERYTHING and STILL be loved by us! We NEEDED to love you. We needed to NOT be overcome by bitterness & betrayal and pain. But you wouldn't even give us that much. You and ___(my perp) have taken everything you could get your CONSECRATED hands on...our hearts, our church, our families, our friends, our sanity, our lives... All because you were too damned PROUD to let (my family) see the "real you". Where the hell is the CHRIST in you??? You CONTINUE to let pride keep you from doing the right things! You CONTINUE after all the grief & wounds & broken families & lost jobs & lost souls you created by putting YOUR pride first. And STILL, you go right on doing the same thing these 7 months later! Still, YOUR pride is more important than OUR HEALING. Yet, you can lie to those you DO communicate with & tell them this all stems from you putting EVERYONE ELSE'S needs BEFORE your own??? That is a damned lie. You made SURE you satisfied your own needs...emotional, spiritual, physical, took what you wanted & then held yourself up as the sacrificial, martyred young priest who was so overburdened & so overworked & overwhelmed. I agree that you were overwhelmed - overwhelmed by the path of lies and deceit and deviances that you wove through my family. Overwhelmed by the fears that one day we'd find out and the gig would be up. THAT was your burden. Not getting caught became a full time job, leaving little room for the energy it would take to be honest with anyone who cared about you.

    I have a lot, a LOT of problems with Bishop ___, but one thing I can't fault him lied to HIM every step of the way too. You used him & took advantage of him and groomed him to trust you too. You used to tell me he was "dumb as a fox". YOU were the sly one. YOU were the one working the crowds and wearing two masks. YOU were the one who was too big a baby to admit to Bishop __ that you wanted to stay here and be pastor so you could continue to be self-absorbed, continue to be the recipient of adulation, continue to satisfy your desires by nurturing a relationship with some naive trusting family.

    You OWE this family. We don't expect you to continue to pretend that you love us, but I DO expect you to offer to your victims the healing that they rightfully deserve. The diocese is paying for your therapy, your food, your insurance, your incidentals, AND your sins. When are YOU going to start taking some responsibility for your actions and for your self? When are YOU going to quit hiding & running away & come face the people who were your family for almost five years? You OWE this family an open link to communicating with you, PP. We included you in EVERYTHING. It was THIS family who made sure you weren't alone when you were sick or who made sure your birthday or anniversary or Christmas or trip to your Dad's were events that were spent with people who loved you, who understood you, who were a part of you, who accepted you (the good & the bad) and who allowed you to be "yourself" (hah!). We, particularly ME, tried to give you everything your mother or grandmother or aunt or brother or whomever DIDN'T give to you. And in thanksgiving and love, you crush me under your heel and walk away.

    I've had people tell me repeatedly that you had this all planned. That it was pre-meditated and methodical. That you scoped out my children and wedged your way into our lives, feigning love and family...all so that you could gain our full trust, so you could get close enough to us that we would never suspect that you would violate our children.

    And they WERE children, PP. How many, many, MANY times did YOU tell me that, PP? How many times did you say "They're little boys, ______". And you sat there at the first staff meeting, with ME holding your hand and you blurted out "I am NOT a pedophile". No one said you were, but I certainly took note that YOU'D said it & I took note that you felt it necessary to defend yourself against the truth that was fast on your heels. Why aren't you a pedophile? What separates YOU from the rest of them? Certainly not your roman collar. Certainly not your reputation. You sat in the rectory the night we confronted you & volunteered to (my husband) that you were sexually aroused when you'd wrestle with (Sons1&2) on ______ Street. PP, they were FOURTEEN years old! They were fresh out of the 8th grade! They WERE INDEED "little boys". Their voices hadn't even changed yet! And you say they turned you on! You were 26 years old, an adult, a male...and they were 14 yr. old CHILDREN. That DOES make you a pedophile, Mr _____. That also makes you a priest who was AWARE that he was in a situation that was unhealthy & dangerous and you did not back away. You drew closer. You drew closer and closer and CLOSER. You had a choice THEN to step back and get help, to explain the situation to us and the Bishop, to seek therapy or to leave the priesthood and find an ADULT homosexual LOVER. You CHOSE to become a part of this family & to ignore the thoughts, feelings, truths, desires, and intentions inside of you. That, Mr ____, makes you a pedophile who preys and selects opportunities, victims and alibis. And now, you think you'll just mosey on back to this diocese & sit in confessionals with little boys or teenage boys? You think that people in this diocese don't know or haven't heard? Do you think it's FAIR and HOLY to subject other people who have already been molested or raped or abused by a priest or loved one to have to come to YOU and have to trust YOU? Yes, people like me and them DO have to re-learn to trust, to forgive, but I defy you to tell me that it's healthy or holy to force them to deal with a pedophile priest, to force them to be comfortable, to be trusting, to be fearless. Every time you run across a poor soul like me or Son #1 or Son#2 or my husband, you're a reminder of the dark, gaping wounds of molestation or rape or abuse. When a school principal molests his students no one is saying "but we can't lose him as a principal! He's so good with the budget! He's so good with the parents! Our children have such high grade point averages!" Yet, because you are a priest, pitiful catholics are shamed into believing that to pull YOU from the church is akin to spitting on God.

    I have learned so much since the days when I too shared that fear, that guilt, that shame. But I no longer BELIEVE that to pull you from the priesthood would be an affront to God OR to His work. To the contrary, I do not believe that men who have the problems you have can function in a pastoral environment. It is dangerous for the children & parishioners & it is dangerous for you. Not everyone is like me. Not everyone who knows what you've done is willing to shed tears for you and continue to love you. Pedophilia and perpetrators of sexual assaults push the panic, fear, hate and revenge buttons on MANY people in this world, PP. And you're an idiot if you think the world will make a hero out of you for "going back into the battlefield". You're just putting yourself first before a lot of wounded people. Again. Going back into the priest business because that's what YOU want.

    What about the rest of us, PP? When do you start paying attention to what your desires and drives do to others? I'm not saying you can't still be a tool of God's. You have much to give I'm sure, but common sense says you can't do it from the place you want to do it from. It isn't prudent, it isn't healthy, it isn't fair to those who would be damaged by it.

    I know you obviously don't care what I think, but I'm going to tell you anyway. I think you CAN be of use to God, AND that you CAN do it from the halls of the catholic church. But not as a parish priest. If you have any guts and any compassion and any true martyrdom in you at all, you will be the designated black sheep - the priest who RECOGNIZES and RESPONDS to his sins by being the one who is called to speak, to minister, to EDUCATE other priests, parishioners and victims of priests like yourself. You should be the one that scared, off-the-edge priests go to BEFORE it's too late. You should be the one that goes to the parishes where the priests have been removed & TALK to them, tell them what was going through your mind, tell them the mistakes you made, the signs to look for, the red flags you saw & ignored, the chances you had to get help, the trouble that ensued...tell your story. BE real. BE CHRISTLIKE and give back to those who are hurting, those who are despondent, despairing, hopeless, bleeding, broken, ruined, destroyed. Use your GIFTS God gave you to RIGHT your wrongs. Not to perpetuate them. You could end the madness if you had the balls to stand up and do what Christ would have you do to RECTIFY and to RECONCILE yourself with His people. If the catholic church had ANY sense at all, they'd use YOU to tell the world that they are NOT afraid of being honest, upfront, accountable and WILLING TO HELP THOSE WHO HAVE BEEN WOUNDED TO FIND HEALING.

    Do you have the courage and the wisdom and the desire to truly SERVE God? Is the church really courageous and loving enough to put one of their own out there and educate the Catholic population? I'll believe it when I see it. If you EVER find the courage, call me. I'd be the first in line to stand beside you and tell it from the other side.

    Until that happens, I guess my family is stuck in suspended animation - being the enemy, having to beg for help from the church, having to beg you to do what you should have done in the first place...all we ever did was LOVE you, PP. Love you and trust you and help you. In return, you've given me a life of utter chaos, of complete upheaval and betrayal & little hope of finding resolution. Little hope of separating you from the priest who raped me, little hope of ever being a part of a church family again, little hope of being anything but provoked by the catholic church that I once held so dear. I can't trust ANYBODY anymore, PP. I gauge everything by you. If YOU could molest my children, what could make me think that ____ could be trusted? If YOU could lie about things so profoundly important, why couldn't anyone else? I don't trust the world I live in anymore. And YOU sit on your ass down south, taking time for yourself, telling _______ how great the help you're getting is. Well, I'm just thrilled, you son of a bitch, that you've had such a productive and progressive 7 months on your "sabbatical". Hell, PP, your diocese PROVIDES you with all the help you want...and even before you blew it, you were surrounded with the luxuries of retreats, of priests' support groups, of room and board without worry. You have a problem? Ask Uncle Bill (the Bishop) and your wish is his command. Plus, you share the damned secret world of half of your brotherhood being just like you. You could have gone to dozens of diocesan priests and told them you were gay or that you had desires towards children and they would have said they understood and didn't judge you - BECAUSE they have the very same desires and drives or deviances. It's a brotherhood of enablers and darkness and cover your ass. You had it made in as far as not having to feel isolated, or alone or different or dirty. You were just too proud to admit you ARE one of the brotherhood of pedophiles and homosexual priests. Any one of them would have given you an ear and a shoulder to lean on, so don't tell ME that you put anyone but yourself and your satisfactions first. You satisfied YOUR desires all along and lied to us and let us etch you in our hearts. Even now we can't hate you. And oh, how I want to.

    I have to fight and fight to find sanity in this mix of horror...I cannot find the balance between loathing you and loving you. If I could CHOOSE to NOT love you, I would. I AM that angry, that hurt, that ruined by all you've done to us. And, the added insult that you would allow ME to minister to you, to support you, to keep YOU alive and filled with hope until you get to (New Mexico) (and even after). All the while, you kicked back and lied to my face, knowing all along that once you got the hell out of Dodge, my family was history. Interesting that you wrote us two letters after you left...and how they suddenly STOPPED after I'd written to you asking you to come clean and to tell me, upfront, in your own words, exactly what you did to my kids. As long as we were in the dark, you played the family game...but as soon as I found out the truth & called you on it and begged you to accept the opportunity to communicate, we never heard from you again. Coincidence? In your dreams. Your last letter to us said you would not abandon us. Another bald-faced lie. Another trick to pacify us while you get what YOU wanted. You HAVE abandoned us, PP. You and your whole group of "holy men"...we got not a word of apology, not an offer of prayer, not a gesture of compassion or guidance or support or comfort or spiritual encouragement. We were treated like outcasts, like enemies, by you, by Fr.----, by Fr----, by Bishop-----, and by Fr.----. So much for the diocesan policy that ensures victims and their families and the parish will be immediately ministered to by a pastoral support team. We're still waiting.

    Meanwhile, YOU'VE had 7 months of help at your service. You've had all the therapy, encouragement, support, mail you wanted. You haven't had to cook or clean or care for anyone but YOU. You haven't had to talk to anyone you didn't want to talk to. You haven't had to face anybody or anything. You could sit on your fat ass and collect the well wishes from people who adored you and didn't know that you did something so heinous to a fellow parishioner. You have been able to walk away and leave all the muck and filth and faces and past behind. WE had to STAY here. We don't have the luxury of leaving town and letting someone else straighten everything up for us. WE have had to FACE people, questions, accusations, rumors, lies, and everything and everyone else that has come down the pike. We haven't had someone pay our bills or hold our hands while we take time to sort out our lives. OUR lives have had to go on and we've had to limp and stumble and fall through each day without anyone taking care of us or telling US to take 7 months off and when we're ready, we can walk back into the world rested and rehabilitated and revered. It was my husband and I who had to plead and cry and beg for someone to help the parishioners. It was he and I who gathered the wounded and tried to help them through it with our own healing service. It was he and I who were willing to bare our souls and our private lives to shed some honesty and sense on a horrifying situation. It was he and I who have had to spend sleepless nights worrying about whether our children would make it through another day, another rumor, another panic attack, another suicide attempt, another agonizing loss, another friend walking away, another week without worshipping in our home parish, another moment with the vicious and cold Fr.--- or Fr.----, another sweaty session with a lawyer, another medical appointment for the pain and manifestations caused by severe stress...where the hell were YOU, PP? Fed, cared for, protected, consoled, encouraged, able to have the Eucharist anytime you felt like it, able to pick and choose who got your phone number and who didn't, who you would write to and who you wouldn't...a million miles from the rubble of the earthquake that YOU caused in this community,and particularly, in MY FAMILY.

    How DARE you be so smug, so selfish, so self-absorbed, so self-assured, so greedy, so demanding and controlling of those whom you've hurt the most. You've talked to (your family) and to --- and to (your spiritual advisor/priest)..and had the audacity to wall off (MY FAMILY) - the very people who cannot move forward or backward until you decide you'll see them or communicate with them. A snivelling, deceitful, perverted Judas. Now I understand the kiss on the cheek.

    As I was writing this, (the Chancellor) returned my husband's call and I was once again placed in the position of not having the luxury of choosing when and who I will communicate with. I had to beg, cry, shout and finally DARE (the Chancellor) to FIND the Christ within himself and respond to this family like a human being, like a PRIEST. You belong to a brotherhood of some of the most dis-spiritual, dysfunctional, unfeeling, manipulative, cold, fearful people I have ever come into contact with. All so afraid of the real world that they'll do anything to protect the brotherhood, to cover the church's ass, to insult and belittle and rub salt in the wounds of bleating, bleeding sheep. It is a brotherhood of frightened, petty, immature, selfish, sneaky, greedy, pompous, dysfunctional and displaced men who take what they want and do what they will and hide behind the robes of a Christ they do not know or even recognize when they encounter him. They'll stoop to cover the sins of a wayward priest before they will stoop to embrace the broken body and soul of a wounded secular Christian.

    I am DEMANDING that you BE a man, BE a holy priest, BE a member of humanity and pull your weight in this horrific mess. And I demand that you forward your address & phone number so that WE will decide when you're ready to deal with us - 'cause buddy, we've EARNED that control over you. You'd BETTER be willing and ready to hear what Son#2 has to say to you, to hear what Son#1 has to to say to you, to hear what my husband & I have to say to you.

    If I am to believe that you ARE indeed my worst nightmare, that you ARE nothing BUT a liar and a pedophile and a thief, that you staked us out and used us like expendable dolls, then I am also to believe that I will never hear from you again.

    Only an asshole and a coward would CONTINUE to run from those whom he has damaged. Prove you AREN'T and BE accountable for your actions, PP. If you DIDN'T plan all of this, say so. If we don't receive word from you to the contrary, then I shall understand that you do not dispute that you are soul-less, careless, loveless, mindless, christless and without conscience. I will understand that it IS exactly how it looks: You used my children and my family. You intentionally inflicted extreme and cruel emotional distress, you had a plan - you carried out that plan - then you ran away to leave us standing in a pool of our own blood. You robbed us of all that we held most treasured and dear...and then you abandoned us to a life of bandaging wounds that can never heal. I don't WANT to believe that, but I haven't seen a single shred of evidence to the contrary. And I don't know HOW to live with that kind of knowledge about you.

    "Wounded Mother"

  3. Letter to the Editor - subsequent to a rape where the perpetrators were known, but the victim was too distressed to give evidence in court:

    As a survivor of childhood rape and as the mother of two survivors of childhood sexual abuse, I read with great, deep sadness the front page of the Democrat regarding the difficulty in prosecuting rapes.

    Coming forward takes more guts than most victims can muster when they have been brutalized emotionally, physically, sexually and spiritually. The world becomes surreal/ Trust is beyond grasp. Fear is the only compass available. "Every day things" (like inhaling or exhaling) are work.

    Coming forward is something most of us are ill-prepared to do when the wounds of rape or abuse are still fresh. It is so necessary to find normalcy, familiarity, foundation, self-preservation and self-defense/protection in the aftermath, in order to take a step forward. Unfortunately, there is nothing normal, familiar, or foundational about reporting a rape. Or having a gynocological exam after being raped. Or a psychological exam. Or hiring an attorney. Or giving a deposition. Or having to be in the same room with your rapists/abuser as though it were perfectly natural to sit across the table from him and "discuss". Or talking about your body to people who are writing down everything you say and, "in all fairness," questioning if the brutalization really occurred. Or sitting in a courtroom and trying to explain or DEFEND your emotions, your body's reactions, your mind set, your credibility, all the while having to "look right and say the right things to/for the jury." Or not being able to say ANYTHING when reporters call because telling the truth or talking about it isn't legally prudent.

    And throughout these months and sometimes years it takes to come to a judicial end, a survivor is expected to "let it go, get over it, move on"...

    More often than not, people who have been brutalized as children don't even begin to address their injuries until they are well into adulthood. This is called survival. Not cowardice.

    The fortunate person who hasn't endured a violation such as rape or abuse has absolutely NO idea what it takes to LIVE THROUGH it, much less what it takes to seek justice. It wreaks havoc on the victim & his/her family for years to come. If you're unfortunate enough to be victimized by someone that has money, notoriety, celebrity or an institution backing them or needing to cover up the negligent actions of a lot of people, good luck finding the stamina to come forward.

    As a juror, doctor, reporter, policeman/woman, judge, bystander, psychologist, or family member, how willing would you be to give up your LIFE, occupation, education, sexuality, sensuality, credibility, friends, innocence, trust, faith, family, privacy, normalcy, mental, emotional, physical, AND sexual health for an unknown number of years in exchange for the slim chance that the person who raped or abused you will serve six months in jail?

    I applaud all children, men and women who come forward to report sexual crimes. And I understand all those who didn't or can't.

    I don't have the answer to making it easier or any more endurable for victims trying to prosecute rapists and sexual offenders. Perhaps the least we can offer survivors is a law that prohibits statutes of limitations on reporting or prosecuting?

    I thank you for keeping the topic alive, and for educating folks a little bit about why it's not so open and closed when these tragedies occur.
  4. A letter written by a clergy abuse victim to the Parish Council. One way to get your perp's actions publicised in the parish is to schedule your issue onto the parish council agenda. Be sure to ask to see the minutes from the next half dozen parish council meetings to check it was ever acknowledged that they received the letter and did or didn't take action & inform the parish as a whole. As a parish council business, these minutes should be public and available to you.

    To the Parish Council,
    Re: Previous minister – Reverend Gutless

    As you are probably well aware, the previous minister at St Blindfaith's left because of allegations of sexual misconduct against a parishioner. To the best of my knowledge, both the congregation at St Blindfaith's and your new minister, Mr Newcomer, were told that the allegations were untrue. This concerns me because I believe that healing can only come where a situation is recognised in truth. While the congregation remains misled, they have no chance to seek appropriate care and healing for the damage caused to the parish by Reverend Gutless’s actions and subsequent denial of the truth.

    As the victim of Reverend Gutless’s misconduct, I wish to correct any misconceptions. I was sexually abused by Reverend Gutless from the ages of 14 to 17. Most of the abuse consisted of him using me to gratify his desire for oral sexual intercourse. When I finally told my sister, she approached Rev Gutless, who admitted the abuse (although he described it as giving me affection). Another minister from whom I sought counsel also confronted Rev Gutless, who attempted to minimise the heinousness of his actions by saying “there was no actual penetration”. However, Rev Gutless also subsequently told the police that he “didn’t remember” whether or not he performed sexual acts on me, yet admitted to Archbishop Nonentity that it happened. It was that admission that caused Archbishop Nonentity to seek Rev Gutless’s resignation.

    The truth of my account has since been acknowledged by authorities such as the Director of Public Prosecutions (who described it as “Gutless’s actions demonstrated a gross breach of trust”) and Judge Churchmember (who confirmed that “inappropriate conduct took place”).

    Given this, I seek Parish Council’s co-operation to work for the healing of the hurt caused to the congregation by Rev Gutless’s actions. I understand that healing in a situation such as this takes time, but also that honest discussion of the hurt and suffering is often the surest path to wholeness. Therefore I ask the Parish Council to prayerfully consider scheduling an open meeting for the members of the parish, at which they could hear the truth, express their pain and discuss any further needs.

    Should you wish to verify the information I have given, I would be happy to attend a Council meeting.

    I look forward to Council’s reply.
  5. From a clergy abuse victim to a bishop, about diocesan expenditure priorities

    Dear Bishop:

    It appears that the mailing for the Catholic Community Annual Appeal dinner has gone out to homes this week. I personally will not attend, as I do not need to be wined and dined to make a contribution to those charities worthy of my money. Might I make a suggestion that you forget about these dinners that feed egos of those who wish to make large contributions, and bait the guilt-ridden consciences of the rest to reach into their pocketbooks? Think of the money you could save by letting these weary tactics rest. Those who truly want to give generously don't need to have a carrot dangled in front of their faces to do it, and in the meantime the diocese is spending MY money in ways that I don't feel is justified.

    Speaking of which, in your brochure you mention all the ways the CCAA spends the monies garnered through this huge appeal. Have you maybe left out how the church spends far too much of MY money to send priests to therapy after they're caught in an abusive relationship with a child or a female parishioner? I know all too well that there is a great travesty of justice in the amount spent on these perps, money that could be used for the good of all instead of protecting the abuser. How much is actually done for the victims? Enough to put a gag order on them? And what about the pricey lawyers that only the church can afford and not the victim? There is a huge discrepancy in what the church budgets money on and what it should be using these funds for.

    The church needs to look far below the surface here. Do you really care about the people of your flock, or do you only tend to a chosen few? Is one life of a priest really more important than the heartbreak caused to an innocent being? How can you justify the way a priest is sent off on a sabbatical, for counseling so to speak, but then continues his pattern of abuse without remorse or reconciliation to the ones who are left behind to hurt the rest of their lives? These are things that I need to see addressed before I will again consider making a pledge to the diocese. I will give back to God what is His, but I will do it in a way to help those who truly need help, and not to an institution which chooses to cover up, protect, abuse power, and mishandle funds for inappropriate and damaging behavior.
  6. Letter to (Father) Stephen Rossetti, director of St Luke's Institute Maryland, a treatment centre for sexually abusive clergy.

    Dear Fr. Rosetti,

    As a member of Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP) I must admit that my first reaction to learning of your ministerial emphasis was repugnance and anger. And if you knew the details of what I'd been through during the past two years you would no doubt be quick to agree that I "have every right" to feel as I do. So, no, I'm not here to debate the merits of providing priests (and nuns) with therapy as I'd be the first to concur that the need is great.

    I read your "Fr. William" story, which provides an intervention proposal that also addressed the needs of "Mary." So, I feel compelled to let you know that at no time after the Jesuit who sexually exploited me was sent off for sex offender treatment in St. Louis, Missouri, was I ever contacted by any kindly nun, asking how I was or what I might need in the way of therapeutic, emotional and spiritual support from the Church? Instead, my regular physician ended up referring me to a lay psychologist and psychiatrist, so I could be treated for post-traumatic stress disorder. And eventually my therapist referred me to SNAP for group moral support. And from affiliation with the group I progressed to filing a formal complaint with the Jesuit Provincial. After listening to me and my therapist over the course of an hour and a half the Provincial approved paying for 12 additional sessions with my existing therapist. That was it.

    Now, I'm well aware of the fact that anywhere from $30,000 - $100,000, per client, is spent on residential therapy for priests and nuns "in crisis." Yet, nowhere near that amount is ever voluntarily spent on helping recover individual victim-survivors of clergy sexual abuse, harassment or exploitation. We are instead told, in varying ways, that we should seek other means (even though our contributions are among those that finance the recovery of priests and nuns), that we are really in some insidious and nasty way responsible for the priest's misconduct or we are ostracized, threatened, legally gagged and generally constrained in any way possible from ever realizing the same high quality of Christian healing process that's so generously provided to those who caused us our suffering.

    If the priest who sexually exploited me had instead been a lay psychologist, you and I both know that would have been sufficient grounds to recommend his license to practice be pulled. But secular treatment centers like Saint Luke's operate on the premise that it is possible heal sexual predators from their deviant tendencies and return them to ministerial duties. I strongly disagree with this assertion only because I also know that for every miraculous recovery you realize, there are at least three or four others who eventually lapse back into the behavior that lands them in centers like SLI in the first place. Further, I believe that gambling the welfare of entire congregations against the possibility that the priest conducting Mass may only have pretended to repent of his misconduct while in therapy, just long enough to get to the other side of the process and go back to work is both reckless and dangerous -- akin to restoring all commercial airline flying privileges to pilots who'd repeatedly turned up for work, inebriated or on drugs. I no more want a barely recovered sex offender leading my church into possible temptation, than I want to be booked on a flight piloted by either a man or woman who only has a few shaky months of A.A. or N.A. recovery under their belt. Would you?

    The priest who sexually exploited me spoke with me shortly before he finished therapy and told me, among other things, that he'd been ordered to attend Sex Addicts Anonymous meetings for the duration of his life, but that he only planned to go for a few months after returning to work. As a long-standing member of two, 12-Step programs, I can't tell you how much his statement of intent not to pursue the recovery process any longer than he cared to, alarmed me in the extreme. I felt as if he was deliberately flaunting his contempt of this aspect of his therapy process with me because he was quite confident that there was nothing I could do about it. In fact, when I later relayed the context of that conversation to his Provincial, the Provincial offered the elliptical response of "not all priests who are sent to the St. Louis facility are there because they are sex offenders."

    Consequently, I have long since concluded that the only way I can be certain I am dealing with a truly trustworthy priest is to avoid dealing with them entirely or only communicate with them via email. Incidentally, I have also written to Thomas Plante, Ph.D., former priest and noted authority on clergy abuse. Would be very surprised if you hadn't heard of him. He was gracious enough to provide me with an excerpt from his book, "Bless Me Father For I Have Sinned" to pass along to members of my SNAP group, as needed. But what may startle you all the more is this statement I received from noted "priest, author, philosopher" Fr. Andrew Greeley:

    "What is true is that it [the Catholic Church] has permit [sic] itself to be deceived for many years about the existence and nature of the problem. It still is... I am one of the few priests who has publicly denounced this kind of abused [sic]. Unfortunately the hierarchy does not listen to my complaints."

    The fact he responded at all surprised me greatly. The added fact he conceded both the extent of the problem and his frustration to me, a relative stranger to him, was remarkable.

    My bottom-line belief is this: Until the Catholic Church voluntarily -- rather than only under threat of court order -- invests as much time, energy and money into ministering to the emotional and spirtual recovery of victims of clergy sexual abuse as it does the perpetrators of it, the Church will only ever be doing a partial job of dealing with this problem. Plus, it will continue to be guilty of failing to fully live up to both the teachings of Christ and the letter and spirit of the catechism. Complete healing, forgiveness and closure on both sides of this issue will only ever be realized at the point every last vestige of denial is obliterated and the welfare of victims becomes as passionate a concern for the church as the protection of its priests' reputations.

    Or as I reminded the priest who sexually exploited me when I last saw him: Christ said, "What ye do to the least of those among you, ye do also unto Me."
  7. Letter to Editor, in response to an article focusing on not judging all clergy in the light of the abuses by some

    With all due respect to John Parente ("Judge not all priests in this abuse scandal"), concerned Catholics and non-Catholics alike *should* judge other priests and demand to know what they knew and when they knew it. Concerned parishioners should ask of their parish priests why they have been silent till now (or perhaps why they are *still* silent) while a cancer rots in their midst, while thousands of children in America and around the world are being molested. Concerned church-goers should demand to know why church writings from the pope on down are inward-looking with only the occasional hint of concern about the victims. Concerned people should wonder why, after a scandal spanning three decades the pope has saw fit to respond with only two vague sentences near the end of a 12-page letter and why the Vatican has not forcefully demanded an end to the coverups of sex crimes perpetrated against children and adults. Concerned humans should ask what is it exactly that these moral leaders are doing to help the injured. Concerned law enforcement officials should, and thankfully do, ask why is it that it has taken 18 years of lawsuits and the exposure of private records in Boston for bishops from Portland, Maine to Los Angeles, California to rid themselves of men they know to be sex offenders.

    I respect the views of men and women like Mr Parente but I wonder if fewer children would be injured if people were *less* trusting of their spiritual leaders instead of more trusting as the writer advises.
  8. Letter to Santa Rosa Press Democrat, praising media for reporting clergy sexual abuse stories

    I thank god and any other deity for the wonderful media coverage of the sexual abuse by priests!! I thank god for people like Robert Digitale and Bob Klose who were willing to stick their necks out to report this issue, so that others could come forward. As victims we have lived most of our lives with the shame and guilt. We have tried so hard to put the memories behind us so that we could survive and live on. There are so many victims that have been in so much pain. So many that turn to many various ways of trying to forget what had happened to them. There are so many ways of trying to make the pain go away. Some turn to drugs to make the pain a little easier to handle. Some, like myself, become obsessive with keeping busy, so that we don't have any time at all to feel the pain. For me, time was my worst enemy. If I had any time to stop doing something, I would begin to think, thinking hurts. Thinking leads to memories and memories hurt. So I had to keep busy!! Now my thoughts turn to those whose pain was so bad that the only way that they could deal with it was to end it. They had to end their lives to end their pain. Drugs and alcohol have been abused by many to ease the pain. Eating disorders become a high consequence of this pain. The victim's sense of control was taken from them by their abuser, so they turn to being able to control something in their lives. Many times the only thing they can control is their eating habits.

    Thank you to all of the media for all you have done to help us find a way to e ase our pain. Victims have been dealing with these issues with the church for many years. Nothing was ever accomplished by trying to work with the church. So we finally turned to the media. It was the media that has saved so many of the victims. It was th e media that exposed the truth. It was through the media that other victims learn that they are not alone in their pain. For most of us, we live our lives feeling as if we were the only ones who this happened to. It is through the media that we discover t hat we share a common social disease. It is through the media that we discover that we are not alone and that is the best and worst feeling anybody can have. We learn that we are not to blame for this. We learn that it was not our fault and there was nothi ng we could have done to prevent it from happening to us. We learn the most valuable lessons from the media. For some of us the media has become our saving grace. These lessons should have been offered by the Catholic Church. The heroic measures of the media should have come from the Catholic Church. How sad it is that we when we did turn to the church, we were rejected. We were turned away. We were made to feel that this was all our doing - as children of god! The messages that we received from the hierarchy was to go away and never speak of it again. They sent us away to the pits of hell - to our memories. They sent us away to the drugs and alcohol, to the eating disorders, to busy tortuous lives we used to escape our pain. They sent us to our d eaths - trying to find a way to end the pain!! Why is it that when we went to them they turned us away? Thank you to all the media, who were there to listen to me. To listen to my story, to hear my words. Thank you to the media who showed me that I was not the only one who was molested. Thank you to Robert Digitale and Bob Klose who were willing to stick their necks out for me and do the things that should have been accomplished by the Catholic Church.

    Bishop Walsh's comments about the media are as wrong as ever. It shows the public just a small insight as to what we have had to deal with in the hierarchy of the church. How sad that its own people don't feel any comfort by the church and would rather turn to strangers for protection. Possibly this should send a message to the hierarchy of that church that the "family" of Catholicism needs to look at its parenting skills for its own people. It is time for a change in the dysfunctionality of the church and how it deals with victims. It is time for the church to look deep within its soul and learn some valuable lessons of its own. It is time to call the church's hierarchy to accountability for its rejection of its own children. It is time that the church thank the media for bringing this issue to their attention, because when we tried, it was not heard!
  9. Letter to a bishop, from a victim (names removed)

    Bishop M;

    Once again, the Church and the Diocese have failed me and the dozens of other victims of childhood sexual abuse by Catholic priests. And, this time, the blame for this failure sits squarely on your shoulders.

    For you had - and still have - the power to undo the wrongs done by your predecessors. You had the power to put many of us on the road to healing and closure. Instead, you have chosen to hide within and behind a cloud of legal smoke and mirrors.

    I truly believed you wanted to settle these matters in a manner that would be in the best interests of the victims, for whom you so pompously claim you have sympathy. How na´ve was I? You have turned out to be a shallow, cold-hearted liar, like your predecessors and like your soulless attorney, Mr. WM. You've transformed yourself into a man who values the almighty reputation of the church and the almighty dollar more than the wreckage of souls left in the wake of evil men in your charge.

    For it is money you and the diocese seem most concerned with. In the words of Mr. WM:

    "After consulting with our clients, we gave the best method for resolving the cases that we deemed appropriate without paying a large amount of money," he said. "We want to get these cases resolved."

    You do not want to "resolve" these cases. You want them to go away, either through a war of attrition, accomplished via legal bullying tactics that would make a mob lawyer blush, or through legal wrangling that further rapes the psyches of victims. Your despicable action this past week has brought tears of anguish and sorrow to my mother - a woman who, along with my late father, raised eight children in a devoutly Catholic household where love and family and Christian ideals were of paramount importance. That you have all but shattered her faith in that causes me no small amount of rage, sorrow and anguish.

    In your interview last month on WJAR TV, you spoke of the heartbreak and sorrow this has caused you. You even paused to choke back tears; and you spoke of your sleep being interrupted and fitful. I thought it was genuine. But you obviously have no shame. Have you been startled awake - gagging and on the verge of vomiting - by the horrific image of a priest forcing his penis into your mouth? Of a priest standing naked in front of you, demanding that you be punished for your sins? Have you awakened in a hospital bed, with a tube snaked down your throat and your arms and legs in restraints, because you've tried to kill yourself? Have you pushed away and mistreated those who love you because you believe you are dirty, tainted and unlovable?

    The Rev. JS is a monster who stole my youth, my faith, my self-esteem and my ability to live a decent, quiet and happy life. Instead, I spend my life fighting demons, both figuratively and literally. I say "literally," because I view your actions, the actions of your predecessors and the actions of your attorneys as demonic. JS may be a monster, but you Bishop M, are in close concert with him and his ilk for perpetuating the spiritual and psychological rape of victims of clergy sexual abuse. JS will pay for his sins in the afterlife, as will you.

    I hope this letter haunts you. I hope you read it over and over and over again. Welcome to my world, where faith is a shattered illusion; where hope is demon who rapes over and over again; and where resolution and closure more often than not point to self-harm and self-destruction.
  10. Letter to Canadian Bishops, after USCCB resolutions in Dallas, Texas, June 2002


    As a member of the Roman Catholic Church in South-Western Ontario, I hope the Bishops of Ontario and Canada do not adopt the same policies as did the US Conference of Catholic Bishops this past week in Dallas, Texas.

    Their decision was to allow a Catholic Priest who abuses "only one" child to continue to be a priest and be taken out of public ministry and sent "to lead a life of prayer and penance." This decision is so wrong. I hope this procedure is not followed in Ontario and Canada.

    I have never come forward in my adult life, and I never will, but as a child I was abused by my local priest. I won't be one of the victims who is looking for a cash settlement from the Roman Catholic Church, or one who is looking for payments for counselling. I tried to come forward many years ago about my priest, but nothing was done at that time. I have lived with my pain and suffering over the years. If what the Catholic Church states about "penance on earth" is true, then I should have a seat next to God in my next life. Now is not the time for me to come forward. My life is settled and I have three young children (all boys). They will NEVER be altar boys in my parish! I will never allow them to be put in or near a situation where their lives can be abused, tormented and have their childhood and innocence stolen, as was mine.

    I attend mass on a regular basis with my sons. My boys go to a Catholic school. I'm a single father trying to raise my three sons in the Catholic faith. I do my best. I teach them that we're all created equal in the eyes of God. My boys are not ones to allow someone to be abused verbally because of their heritage or physical attributes. My sons know no prejudice. In their view, gay men or lesbian women are as human in the eyes of God as are those who carry physical disabilities. One of my sons' teachers is gay. That's right, a Catholic gay teacher. I trust him around my children ..he's gay...he's not a child molester, as are the priests we're talking about nowdays! This teacher is so much a better human being, than was my priest when I was my sons' age.

    I'm not here to dwell on my past.... on the time in my life when my childhood was stolen from me....when my innocence was taken away...when I was taught that "this is right in the eyes of God, as I'm here to take care of you".

    My desire today is to let you know that the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops has to do "one better" that their American counterparts.

    If a Roman Catholic priest is known to have committed ONE abuse against any child, that priest must be REMOVED immediately from duties in his parish, and stripped of his priesthood. Further, any Bishop who covers up this illegal act, should be stripped of his duties as a Bishop. In all cases, the actions of the priest must be reported to the authorities so that appropriate legal action can be taken. The time for coverup has ended. The time when a priest was moved from one church to another to cover up his bastardly deeds has ended. The time when the Catholic Church turned a blind eye to abusive priests is at an end. The public and the legal authorities will not allow this to go on any longer.

    I cannot understand how the American Bishops can allow a priest to retain his title of "Father" in the Catholic Church after it's known he has abused a child. As a youngster, I looked up to my parish priests with awe! Even today I know that kids look at their priests in the same manner as I did. To allow an abusive priest to be called "Father" is wrong. In the same manner a public official is stripped of his title for wrong doing, this must be done with a Catholic Priest. He should NEVER be allowed to carry the title of "Father". This will ensure he is not near children in churches, schools or community organizations.

    I read recently where a U.S. Catholic official stated "some of these cases were not child abuse, some of the participants with the priests were of consenting age". Gentlemen, that statement is nothing but a bunch of bullshit. A young boy or girl looks up to their parish priest. An abusive priest can spend several years looking for the "right victim" in the same manner that would be done by a lay perp. He involves himself in the life of the child. He looks for a child who may have one parent; who has low self esteem; ....who is being picked upon in other words the priest or lay perp watches for the right victim to approach. He may start befriending a child who is 10-11 or 12, but does not do anything physically abusive to that child until he/she is 13-14-15 or older. Does that mean because this child is of consenting age in the eyes of the law, this is alright for him to do? Hell no!

    The perp has spent time allowing the victim to find trust and solace in him. The victim views his priest as a trusted friend. Age should not be a factor in the removal of a priest from the Catholic Church. Sexual abuse is sexual abuse! Period! The removal must include the complete stripping of his title and duties in the Catholic Church. Anything less is negligent on the part of the Catholic Church.

    I pray every day that the priest who abused me is dead. Not because of hatred. I've gotten over that. I know what he did was a sickness in his mind. Hard for me to say, but I think I forgave him already. No, I pray he's dead so he can no longer do to other children, what he did to me.

    I pray that the Canadian Bishops will bring in a policy that is much more strict than did their American counterparts.

    If the Catholic Church does not take immidiate action against all abusive clerics, I fear that the days of the Church will be numbered in the eyes of parishoners in Canada and the United States.

    God bless you all to do what is right for victims everywhere.
  11. A letter to a newspaper after they wrote the following article posted at:

    Dear Editor,
    The front-page story on Bishop McCarthy was very balanced except for one major point: Exploitation of Position. Psychologists, psychiatrists, doctors, etc., are professions meaning that the people in them chose to go into that profession. If members of those professions had done what bishop McCarthy did, they would have their license revoked and probably wind up in jail. According to the Catholic Church, God calls priests to their vocation. Therefore they should be held to a higher moral code. Without discussing the vow of celibacy here, we are talking about sexploitation on the part of a pastor. Does it make a difference whether she was 17 or 21? The pastor is in a position of great power, sadly it was that power that was abused. I wonder how many of his supporters would want McCarthy back if he was a dentist having sex with his patients even if he was a good dentist? As a SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) member, I was shocked to note that the women abused by priests far outnumbered the men in the group. The devastation to their lives is equal to the worst trauma caused by priests on little boys. Consensual sex infers an equal playing field. I have yet to meet a young Catholic woman who considered herself an equal to: a man of the cloth, a pastor, and God's representative here on earth, especially a charismatic one. And if the Church has its way, we never will. So let's drop the consensual sex alibi.
  12. Letter to California Parishioners from the Mother of an Abuse Victim - Dec 2002

    Dear California Catholic:
    You have certainly heard from your bishop about the sexual abuse of children. You may have also heard from abuse victims about their own horrific experiences. But I doubt that you've heard from anyone like me. My son Eric took his own life at 29, several months after he revealed that he was molested at the age of twelve by our parish priest. Sadly, Eric was not alone. Four other young men who were violated by Father Robert Larson also committed suicide.

    People take their own lives when they feel powerless and hopeless, when they feel shut out and ignored. Fortunately, however, abuse victims in California are no longer powerless and hopeless. Thanks to a new state law, they can seek redress through that most American of instutitions: the courts.

    Although my husband and I feel betrayed by the perpetrator, Father Robert Larson, our greatest anger is directed at church officials who kept the truth from parishioners, and therefore allowed other innocent youngsters to suffer so severely and needlessly. Our Lord has never failed us; our Church leadership has. These same church leaders continue to fail us by perpetuating secrecy, and by trying to persuade others to keep silent as well. Please, do not fall prey to this dangerous temptation. Silence helps no one except abusers and those who enable abuse. Help us expose wrongdoing, help us protect other vulnerable kids, and help us recover from our own pain, by talking about abuse and urging others to do likewise.

    Abuse victims and their families are told to "Forgive" and "Go on with life." We hear "get over it" and "Remember, Father did a lot of good during his ministry" or "That was so long ago; why bring it up now?" But we "bring it up now" because talking about abuse helps to prevent it. We too want to "go on with life," but find we can't when molesters are still in ministry and those who covered up for them are still in leadership. In a small percentage of instances, we seek justice through the courts because we can find no justice through our bishops. We understand that these court cases may be painful for you and your fellow parishioners. (Please keep in mind the pain the victims will go through again as well, and the courage it takes for victims to do this.) Still, we believe these disclosures are key to helping everyone move beyond this traumatic quagmire toward a stronger and safer church for all of us.

    Eric has no chance to "go on with life." Perhaps hundreds of other young men and women, abused by trusted adult authority figures, also have no such chance. On behalf of those who do have a chance, we beg you: please don't stand in their way. And please ask your bishop to do the same.

    To learn more about our son Eric and others similarly victimized, please read the story on the SNAP web site: In Kansas, a Trail of Suicide. To help protect children, cleanse the church of sexual abuse, and help those already victimized to heal, please circulate copies of this letter to your fellow parishioners this Sunday. Devout California Catholics deserve to hear another perspective on this terrible problem.
    Thank you.
    Janet Patterson
    1171 N. Conway Springs Rd.
    Conway Springs, KS 67031

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