Facts are freeing. There has been much written about the abuse by priests and its effect on the victims. In my quest for understanding what I was experiencing, I read a lot over the past several years. As a result, I came to many decisions with the help of God’s grace and discernment.
The one thing I have come to firmly believe is that there are very few who agree with me on all points. That’s fine. I’m not here to please but to be faithful to God, which I think I am being.
Many victims still carry the intense pain they experienced, and this translates into anger and hatred towards the Church. That is perfectly understandable and in many cases is probably the only way they can be at the moment. What everyone must know is that the pain suffered is unlike anything you can imagine. Do not condemn victims for feeling as they do. Where I have problems with some is when they make broad generalizations: ALL priests, ALL bishops, the ENTIRE church, etc. but again, the source of those statement is pain. Healing needs to take place.
Faithful Catholics, and sadly mostly orthodox Catholics (one of which I consider myself) often condemn victims in the name of protecting their priests and Church in whom they have great confidence. I always tell my friends that we cannot trust any of our beloved priests or bishops 100% or any human being. They are sinners as are we.
Faithful priests sometimes think I give victims too much of a pass and am too hard on them.
I’ve come to believe the following things as a result of education and experience. I wanted to share them with you.
I believe abuse by a Catholic priest or bishop is the worst violation that can be made by one human against another. In no other relationship is an abuser seen as God since he stands in persona Christi.
I believe all clergymen have a duty above all others to maintain boundaries for this very reason. It feels like a spiritual violation, a betrayal by the Divine.
I believe the Catholic Church has an institution-wide problem where a culture enabled abuse to be perpetuated. I believe she is working to rectify that but has a long way to go.
I believe she owes justice to victims in the name of the abusive priest or bishop.
I believe she and the priest need to repent and express sorrow. I believe she has expressed sorrow but am not so sure about repentance.
I believe no one can understand how a victim feels except another victim.
I believe victims are blamed. And shamed. And are not believed. And hated. And are thought to have “asked for it”.
These are lies.
I believe victims blame themselves, carry great shame, deny to themselves that it was abuse, carry self-hate and think they are at fault.
This is brainwashing.
I believe there are priests and bishops who have purposely covered up abuse and moved abusers around knowing they probably would abuse again.
I believe there are priests and bishops who did the right thing.
I believe there were a LOT of ignorant priests and bishops and a society that didn’t know how to handle it. There is no longer any excuse for ignorance.
I believe the Catholic Church now does more to protect children than any other institution.
I believe some victim support groups are hurtful and tend to keep a victim in a victim mentality.
I believe some victim support groups are helpful and help a victim move towards healing.
I believe victims can heal and it happens in many different ways. I believe the everlasting healing is through Jesus, reception of the sacraments, prayer and counseling.
I believe that there are false allegations, although this statistically the vast minority. I believe a priest’s reputation is ruined because of said allegation.
I believe most priests and bishops work very hard to create and maintain a culture that protects children and vulnerable adults.
I believe most priests suffer immensely in silence because of the sins of their brothers.
I believe that the abuse of others by priests is one of the worst crimes perpetuated in the Catholic Church.
In the end, it doesn’t really matter to anyone else what I believe. What you believe must come from your own research and prayer. Search for Truth. Try to discern facts from feelings. Get the help of a great support system (therapist, spiritual support, confidante, keep a journal). And be patient and gentle with yourself.
Always, ALWAYS remember that you are not alone. There is always hope!