The Post I Can’t Write
Posted on September 14, 2018
In the nearly five years since I started this blog (this is post number 265), a small pile of drafts exists of posts that were never made public. Some of these were a little too controversial for the organizations I worked for at the time and others intense enough that I, and others, were afraid they might retraumatize some of our readers. The pile is a small one since I rarely shy away from controversy or intensity.
Since I struck out on my own and reformatted the blog, I felt I could dive more freely into controversy and until last week, did not add any new posts to the unpublished pile. The topic that broke this 60-week streak concerned an issue I felt I needed to address as someone who speaks on trauma and trauma-informed leadership. Though I wrote and rewrote the post, I could never find my voice through my rage and sadness.
The post concerned the recent report that more than 300 priests sexually molested over 1,000 children in Pennsylvania. My heart breaks for the victims. 1,000 children had to experience the horrors of sexual abuse by men who were supposed to represent the best of God’s love on earth. I’m sorry that the church I once called my spiritual home did this to you in such a horrible and systematic way. I’m sorry no one stopped the abuse. I’m sorry I can’t find the appropriate words to express my grief.
I am outraged as well!! I can’t go to church…I am outraged that I protect children more than my spiritual leaders!!
I do understand that they are human and are imperfect however, the role they chose to play in our lives as spiritual leaders holds them to a higher standard. Just as I have chosen to be a Licensed Professional Counselor, I hold myself to a higher standard, as does my licensing board, to protect those that cannot protect themselves.
I don’t believe that the church, all the way up to the Pope, understands the damage that these abuses do to our children.
Thank you for providing a space for my outrage.
On a lighter note, I’d love a full hour on how trauma affects the characters of The Walking Dead!
I might need to catch Jerry and Curt up on Walking Dead to do that! I’ll keep it in the back of my mind especially when the new season comes out! Thanks for your thoughtful comment. Matt
Many of us who are Catholic or former Catholics struggle with this – not just with the acts themselves but with the betrayal inherent in covering up those acts and those priests.
Yet I have to say that – for that era – this was not unusual. When I was molested by a relative as a child, I told my mother and she said I was imagining things. This attitude was prevalent in society at large, not just within the Catholic church. We all knew who the neighborhood predators were and banded together if we had to be around them. Walking home from school, if we saw a certain red pickup coming down the road, we hid in the ditch. Sexual predators were all around us, yet no one ever said anything. Like domestic violence and child abuse, these were subjects that were kept in the closet.
I also wonder if the outrage would be so great if it were only girls on the receiving end. I know I’m cynical, but when this whole story really started breaking in the 90’s, the entire focus was on those ‘homosexual’ monsters who did this to little boys. Considering the statistics on sexual abuse between little boys and little girls, I really have to wonder if the world would have been as outraged and sympathetic if only girls were the victims. Do we, as a society, find male victims more credible? Do we inherently empathize more with male victims? It’s a complex web, one in which I find only one solid fact – children, regardless of their sex, should be safe from those who would prey on them, whether that is a priest, a family friend, or a family member.
Thanks, Sara for your powerful comment. I agree that shifting the problem to homosexually was a convenient (and incredibly misguided) attempt to redirect the problem.
Thank you for speaking out on this extremely important issue. My now estranged husband was raised Catholic and will not speak about any harm that has been done to him, whether it was at the hands of clergy or a family member. Several of his classmates in Catholic school were part of a class action lawsuit because of sexual abuses committed at the school. A local case at my high school (a Protestant school) is soon to be settled; at least 34 young boys were sent to a psychiatrist who worked at a Franciscan hospital to “treat” the boys. He was sexually abusing them, and the survivors and their family members have come forward to seek justice from the school. The psychiatrist committed suicide right after he called at least one victim to apologize. In Hawaii, there were several who were victimized by the latest perpetrator. One of them was a girl and her allegations were discredited because she was a female.
I chose not to send my daughter to a Catholic preschool, not because I didn’t think she was protected, but because the local association of Catholic schools had started firing any teachers who had co-habitated before marriage, were in a same-sex relationship or marriage, had ever sought or gotten an abortion, etc.
There is so much religious doctrine and hypocrisy in the church. And the worst of it, of course, being that the church allowed so many children to be harmed at the hands of priests and leaders who were trusted. I wish those leading the church would not just offer words, but would reform the church so this could never happen to any other child. There needs to be action.
Thanks so much for sharing my friend. Wow. I can imagine that these incidents stir up much of the cultural struggles of native Hawaiians as well. Abuse of power, especially when that power is given by God or state, is so incredibly devastating. Matt