Letters to the Church or Media
American writing to the Boston Herald about
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.
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
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 no..you 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, sexual...you 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 on...you 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.
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