After All That I Now Know, How Can I Still Go to Church?

by Father Christopher M. Walsh, Pastor, Saint Raymond of Penafort Church

On Thursday, Archbishop Charles Chaput will be installed as the new Archbishop of Philadelphia.  His arrival from Denver brings with it a history of zealous preaching and a call to genuine conversion and holiness.  He is a proven communicator, a man who has led with integrity and displays a genuine care for each person he encounters.  He arrives in Philadelphia as the District Attorney is seeking access to Archbishop Emeritus Anthony Bevilacqua and preparing for the criminal trial of several priests, including the former Secretary of Clergy.  While the news has carried stories about Archbishop Chaput’s success throughout his years of service to the Church, the news has also revealed details of inner workings of the Archdiocese as it handled and mishandled cases in which children were sexually abused (or at least had their boundaries seriously violated) by employees of the Archdiocese, including priests.  While many of the faithful in the Archdiocese are truly excited by Archbishop Chaput’s arrival, many are also asking: after all that I now know, how can I still go to Church?

Since the expansive sexual abuse scandal began unfolding in 2002, starting in Boston and moving throughout the nation and the world, my thought process has evolved a great deal. Like many Catholics, I first thought that this was an attack by the media against the Catholic Church.  I attempted to downplay the reports as rhetoric and tried to ignore the ugly details when they were reported.  I believed that many victims were just looking for money and that the Church was an easy target.  As more of the story was revealed, my position evolved.  I came to admit that there was in fact a history of sexual abuse by priests and it was more widespread that I had imagined.  Crimes committed against children did happen, leaving victims and their families suffering at many levels.  I also began to believe that the administration of the Archdiocese has mishandled cases.  With these revelations, I maintained that while the Catholic Church had these problems, so did everybody else.  These problems exist in other Churches and Houses of Worship, as well as families, schools and organizations that serve young people.  I rationalized the problem; this is what happens, it is part of the broken human condition. I believed that people needed to accept that this happened, it was wrong, now let’s move forward.  Yet as I listened to people, especially those I met through Catholics4Change, I began to realize that people were not only not ready to move forward, they were not sure if they wanted to move forward.  At least, many of these people were not sure if they wanted to move forward with the Catholic Church.

It was with this realization that I made the most recent evolution in my thinking as I began to appreciate how hurt people are by what has happened.  Beyond the pain of those who have experienced the horror of sexual abuse in their life or the life of a loved one, there seems to be another suffering.  Even beyond the pain of those who have been hurt by leaders in our Church who lied to them as cases were handled poorly and perhaps criminally, there seems to be another suffering.  I am beginning to sense that this other suffering is a suffering that comes from the Church not being the Church.  Like others, I grew up believing that the Church was a gathering of people who desired to be close to God through lives of holiness and service.  Priests were supposed to be the image of Christ, not men who abused innocent children.  Bishops were supposed to be “shepherds of the flock”, not men who hid behind technicalities of the law and sought to promote their own image and career.  I believe the people of God are hurt, people are angry, and are not sure how they can still go to Church because this Church we love so much has disappointed us time and time again as this horror has been revealed.  The revelations that have come through testimony and reports of the Grand Jury, as well as the response of the Archdiocese, have caused the larger Catholic community to know the suffering that for years only victims knew.  It is the suffering of a broken Church.

As I have sat with the immensity of this reality I came to realize that our pain is also the pain of Christ Himself.  The sins that were committed by priests, bishops and others which have led to this horrific chapter in the life of the Church, are but some of the sins that put Christ on the Cross.  It was some of these very sins that caused Him to sweat blood that night in the Garden of Gethsemane.  Our pain in the midst of this crisis is the pain of Christ Himself.  Just as we are hurting, so too is Christ.  The way that many of us are experiencing the Church today is not the way Christ intended.  This broken Church is not the gathering He hoped for when He sent the Holy Spirit upon us at Pentecost.

As always, Christ wants to bring us the healing we desire.  I truly believe this and pray for it each day, especially for victims.  Yet Christ also needs us to minister in the Church. As Christ walked the Road to Calvary on Good Friday, the faithful disciples wiped his face, helped him shoulder the Cross, offered a supportive word, or were simply present to him.  They were there with Him while apostles, our first bishops, had walked away and were hiding.  In a similar way, in this hour of agony, as the Church, the Body of Christ, is suffering, Christ needs his faithful disciples to be present.  He needs us to stay and do what we are doing by calling for reform, being a voice for victims, seeking integrity in Church leadership, supporting the effort of others through prayer or simply being present to others who are in need of a comforting presence while this courageous battle is fought in our Church.  I know that for many Catholics, after all that we have come to know and experience in this broken Church, we question how can we go to Church?  Knowing this ugliness, how can we go to Church?  Feeling this disgust, how can we go to Church?  I appreciate the reality of this immense suffering and yet I still believe that God wants us to gather as his beloved people, God still wants us to be the Church.  I guess I keep coming back to the question, where else can we go?  We love the Church because we know that it is through the Church that we meet Jesus and through Jesus are drawn into a community as we journey to the Father and with the Father we experience the love we desire most.  Thus, like Peter we cry out: “Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal like (John 6, 68).  I know that many are tired of giving the Church “another chance”, having been disappointed so many times when this chance was given in the past.  Yet, as a brother in Christ, I ask that you find it in your heart to try again.

As we look at the great reform movements of our Church throughout history, they have rarely come about through the ministry of a Pope or a Bishop.  The great reforms have come through ordinary people like Francis and Dominic, Philip Neri and Catherine of Siena, John of the Cross and Teresa of Avila.  Not only were they not the powerful leaders of the Church, in many cases they were treated quite horribly by the Church leaders of their day.  They were misunderstood, judged, mocked and alienated.  Yet they remained focused on reform for one reason, they knew that the corruption in the Church was not the plan of God.  Furthermore, they know that in His humility, God needed them to be an instrument of reform.  Who will be the reformers today?  God needs you.

I rejoice that Archbishop Chaput is our new Archbishop, but I also know that he is but one man in a very large Archdiocese.  He will not be able to affect the kind of change that is necessary without each Catholic reclaiming the grace of our Baptism and living out the role of priest, prophet and king.  Each of us must seek the reform and renewal of the Church by seeking personal holiness and offering our lives as a sacrifice, speaking the truth in love and joining Christ in the building of the Kingdom the Father desires.  This opportunity excites me.  Therefore, as I wrestle with what I know about the Church and know that more will come out in the months ahead as trials begin, I will still go to Church and I am hopeful that I will see you there.  I hope that together we can pray, plan and support each other in this task that God has set before us: the reform of His Church.  It is broken and He has called us to part of the team that fixes it!

Editors’ notes:

Kathy Kane: Over the past few months I have been fortunate to have many lengthy conversations with Father Chris. I know many people feel abandoned right now, and being able to talk to Father Chris has really been a gift to me in many ways. Our conversations are brutally honest and I don’t hold back at all. I have sort of a love/hate feeling about our discussions. I love that he is respectful of my feelings. I hate that he makes some good points that make me think and reminds me of the Church I remember. I wish we could take our “show on the road” as many of my feelings reflect that of many laity in Philadelphia at this terrible time in the our Church.

What I have learned is that this is a process. If we stand on the sidelines screaming at one another with differing views, are we really accomplishing anything? I know how much I have learned over the past few months from the victims and families who have shared their personal journeys. Their courage amazes me everyday and challenges me on many levels. Hopefully I am able to use my voice to also bring a greater understanding in this crisis. Do I use my voice as a practicing Catholic or someone who no longer feels they can be a part of the Church? Is being Catholic about physically occupying a pew or about actually attempting to live out the Gospel message, Beatitudes and Spiritual Works of Mercy? I have met survivors who are still practicing Catholics and laity who have left in disgust over the horror that has occurred. It is a personal decision, one that many struggle with – everyday.

Susan Matthews: I didn’t realize how badly I needed to read this until I finished with tears streaming down my face. I’ve never been a theology expert of any kind. I only know what I’ve retained from Catholic School. While the media has sometimes described me as devout, I’m very much the “average” Catholic. But when the scandal broke in 2005 and then again in 2011, I felt as if my family and I had been robbed. As Kathy has often said, our Catholicism is a gift. It’s a gift I’ve sometimes taken for granted, neglected or questioned – but it was there for me. I felt that gift was taken away by the hierarchy’s cover up. While I’ll always have God, I still do want my religion. Finally a priest says the words we’ve needed to hear and provides a call to fix what was broken by our leadership. I hope the call to reform is answered. Thank you, Father Chris.


194 thoughts on “After All That I Now Know, How Can I Still Go to Church?

  1. Excellent comments, very thoughtful — it is a shame that more priest are not stepping forward to offer similar leadership, help and guidence.

    1. Plenty of priests offer the same leadership, help and guidance.

      They minimize the scandal and ignore the victims (or give them 2 half sentences in passing, as Fr Chris deftly did), and ask everyone to move on. They mention people who sacrificed themselves for God, and try to make that the same as a billion people who sacrificed other people’s children for God.

      Fr Chris is smarter because he makes the congregation feel like THEY are the victims, and feel sorry for themselves, and he hopes that misery loves company. Its shocking that this works on some people.

      1. Patrick…….. you might be right about alot of things but Fr. Chris did not make me feel this way……I already felt this way……when someone witnesses or hears about a murder(in this case soul murder) by a person they trusted there is grief. I grieve for the victims I grieve for the trust I once had for the leaders of the catholic church…..there is a loss here…to disregard or minimize our feelings already present does not make the pain any less. But again it is nothing compared to the pain the victims have vividly illustrated on this site. It is obvious they need much more from Fr. Chris , church leadership and the laity and they deserve it they have been through more than anyone should have to go bear many times alone.

      2. Beth, if you grieve for someone else and don’t actively do anything, you are just wallowing in self-pity, which Fr Chris is trying to promote. God would want you to fight for the victims, which is actually easy, since the church has no army and no sustenance without parishioner contributions. They have no legal claim to a job. All this cause needs is a “tipping point” of the billion Catholics to throw out all of the complicit priests and bishops, and throw them on the street if not into jail. In fact, this is the only way to salvage the church long term.

        To illustrate that Fr Chris is a messenger of today’s Catholic church and not a messenger of God, I re-read his pity post, which he clearly took a lot of time and thought to write. It is 1535 words long, with 31 words dedicated to the victims. Very Catholic church. Not Christian.

      3. I agree Patrick to grieve and not act is not healthy for us nor helpful to the survivors nor does it protect possible future victims, That is why I am no longer silence and I have attended more than a few vigils among other things.Many times I have heard even my own parish priests say the laity will save the church……… exactly are we suppose to do this they never say……….or maybe they are afraid to say………that leads each of us to follow our own conscience which many are realizing and finding the courage to do.

  2. As a still (just about) practicing Catholic here in Ireland, I find the words of Father Chris quite profound. Like many others in our church around the world, I even now hold out the hope for the voices of reform and reason to come to the fore in the hope that we can begin to heal that which has been damaged. Against that though, Irish Catholics have been confronted with a litany of criminality scandal and lies, perpetrated by clerical abusers right across Ireland. What makes it worse is the fact that this behaviour was enabled by many senior clerics who by their inactions allowed so many abusers to go “unchecked” for so long. The result, so many broken souls, broken lives, broken bodies, and so much pain that I feel swamped by it!! I continue to pray, and to hope that with the Lord’s help, we CAN all be instruments of healing. And we can also be instruments of change, to re-build Christs church on earth into something more close to what he, as a man here on earth, asked us to make of it!! No one person or community will achieve this on their own. It would seem that the God of us all is once again calling us to make this journey together!!

  3. I think you finally got it Fr, Chris. I cried when I read this too Susan. I am trying to do everything in and out of the Catholic church that I can humanly do fight the Satan because he is at the root of all of this, Although we might have different ideas on how to do this. Judas betrayed Jesus and I agree we are suffering along with Jesus at this time………. it is in our brokeness we truly learn how to love…… our suffering he stretches of hearts til they are about to burst and only then do we really know how much Jesus loved us and suffered for us. I have gotten to the point I just lay down before Jesus and all I can say is I love you……….use me. This sin is because of the Evil choices of men influenced by Satan. I find when I surrender to Jesus and not to despair amazing things happen…..that is what gives me hope as well as the truth and God-given courage of the good people on this site both victimcs and non-victims but then again maybe we are all victims to a point and we now understand the pain of having our faith robbed and pillaged that the survivors have long understood. Peace

  4. “I know that many are tired of giving the Church “another chance”, having been disappointed so many times when this chance was given in the past. Yet, as a brother in Christ, I ask that you find it in your heart to try again.”

    First, you are not my brother and neither is Christ. I don’t trust either of you. My brother would not would not have held me down and raped me. My brother would never have threatened me with physical harm and even during the worst of times, used some measure of physical and/or sexual punishment to keep me silent. Brothers protect each other from pain and evil. The Catholic Church gets no more chances from me. They’ve had too many chances and instead of removing a known pedophile priest from active ministry and teaching with young boys, they kept him on the same path so he could continue to assault more children. If you rape a child, or beat a child, or turn a blind eye to those who torture children, you used up the only chance you’re going to get from me. And if you see me coming, you better run, because I would never ignore such injustice.

    I appreciate Father Chris’ gathering of information and looking at the worldwide and epidemic abuse in the Catholic Church objectively, and I’m glad he views the misdeeds of so many abusive priests and their enablers as horrible and unjust, but still, the Church gets no pass from me. They had choices and they chose incorrectly. They could’ve protected so many children when they first learned of abusive priests within their ranks, but instead they chose to hide it, ignore it, and when victims finally had the courage to speak up about it, the Church denied it. This isn’t the response of a moral-based religious institution that loves children and consider themselves men of God. This is an organization, whose sole purpose has always been to protect the guilty while alienating and ostracizing the innocent. This is about good and evil… and evil flourishes in the Catholic Church. But, “Church reformers were treated horribly. They were misunderstood, judged, mocked, and alienated.” I wonder if they knew what it was like to be humiliated by having an adult man, a Catholic priest, digitally penetrate us or force their penis inside us when we were children. (Not to mention the hellish physical pain as well.) I wonder if they had any idea of the measure of judgment and mockery those inside and outside of the Church have thrown in our direction. I wonder if they were taught belief in God, all their prayers and that God answers them, only to be alienated by the Church when we finally found the strength to speak up. I wonder if they ever screamed out for help and begged God “to take me in my sleep,” and nobody came to the rescue. I wonder if those reformers understood that the pain we victims live through everyday and if they knew how hard we continue to fight to protect the most innocent on the planet. Reformers within the Catholic Church have been unable to curb child sexual abuse. Now it’s time for the law to answer our prayers.

    The fact that anyone still has the ability to walk into a church rattles my mind. How much information do people need to know that confession with Father John and unsupervised private after-school tutoring sessions with Father Bill might not be such a good idea? What does it say about those who dismiss complaints of abuse when I can show much information that both Fathers John and Bill have been known to abuse children, and yet they still allow their children and other children to spend time with such perverts? When you ask for my forgiveness, why do you think you even have that right? The Pope should be down on his hands and knees begging of clergy abuse victims for forgiveness. The wrongs committed can never be reversed. I live with the memories everyday. I cowar during panic attacks because I feel the abuse is imminent and will occur all over again. I close my eyes at night and I see big strong hands grabbing at my crotch and I feel the pain of having one of my testicles crushed for threatening to tell someone about the abuse, and when the demons come at night, they’re dressed in black suits with white collars and they chase me until I will awake sweaty, confused, and above all, scared.

    You had your chances. Now it’s my time to shine!

    1. Well stated!

      Clerics will not get us to heaven, but Jesus will. Clerics have power over adults only if we allow them to have that power. I have absolutely no respect for the leadership of the RCC; in fact I despise them. I do however, feel sorry for the priests who are trying to do the right thing. They’re out there, but there’s no way of knowing who they are, so I now stay away from them all.

    2. Rich,
      I admire your strength very much. I was lucky to have had a father that loved me very much and therefore it was easy to believe there is a Father in heaven that loves me even more. I have known victims that have been abused by their own fathers………it affected their trust in all people but mostly their faith and trust in God and Jesus. How can they be expected to trust in a loving Father in heaven when they could not trust their own father…… how you feel makes sense………

    3. Thank you for posting this account. Here in Ireland, I have listened first hand to survivors of clerical abusers give account of their terrible destructive experiences. I have not suffered actual abuse myself, but I do believe that I was being groomed by a priest abuser at one stage during my school days, and for whatever reason, he backed off. Yours in the first on-line account I have read that has really shocked me because of its clarity. The picture you paint is disturbing to say the least, but I commend you for your courage in posting this here.

      And I hope and pray that you continue to “shine” for a long time to come!! 🙂

    4. Your opinion may be the only one that matters. Hopefully, in the afterlife, God will be smart enough to let you decide where the Catholic enablers spend eternity. Your post was much more honest and relevant than Fr Chris’, and Catholics aren’t used to that type of honesty. Fr Chris is a non-victim whining about what a victim he is.

      Keep strong and keep fighting. The pagans are coming to teach the Catholic church some basic morals.

  5. As I always say, I go to Mass because it makes my wife happy. Since experiencing what I did during my time in seminary and in a religious order, I have been altered psychologically. I will never be able to have the love for the RCC that I once had.

    My relationship with the Church is similar to what occurs when a wife or a husband has been unfaithful in their marriage. Even if it happened only one, that relationship will never be the same, even if the adulterer expresses true sorrow, and never does it again.. But, what happens if the spouse continues to commit adultery? Then the spouse constantly lies about it, and AFTER BEING CAUGHT AGAIN AND AGAIN, lies again, and continues the behavior. What love can remain?

    What if the RCC had betrayed Her spouse (Jesus Christ), and His people in the same manner? What love can remain for the offending spouse? In the case of Jesus His love remains unchanged, as God is unchangeable. But, as human beings, such abuse forever changes the People of God, and their relationship to Jesus’ spouse (His Church.)

    “After All That I Now Know, How Can I Still Go to Church?” I can and will continue to go to Church because I now see “The Church” as being larger than the RCC. I now focus on Jesus Christ, and will continue worship Him regularly. But, I no longer believe that I must worship him according to Canon law. I now believe that I can worship him in any Christian church, which may or MAY NOT BE RC. I now believe that there is salvation outside the RCC. I believe that salvation is through Jesus Christ. That’s how I’m still able to go to church.

    1. In the Old Testament there was a prophet that took as his wife a whore to symbolize the unfaithfulness of the people of Israel to God. This is a reoccurring theme throughout the Bible …….despite our unfaithfulness Jesus’s and God still loving us when we repent. Jesus has been betrayed by wife the church just as he was betrayed by Judas.

  6. Father Chris has some wise comments, and comes across as loving and sincere, courageous for his efforts. But he is but one cog in a hierarchical system designed, over the centuries, to concentrate power in clerics, to keep the “faithful” in the dark, to facilitate the bishops having unfettered access to wealth and power. One small example; the Archbishop is supposed to be our employee, or “servant.” Try ascertaining how much we actually “pay” this servant. There’s his nominal pay, the mansion, the finest wines and the finest foods, the unlimited travel, the cooks, maids, secretaries, and on and on and on…. Now perhaps he is worthy of high compensation. But he shouldn’t be determining his own pay and benefits. He should be paid a paycheck, from which he should pay his ALL his own expenses, including food and drink and the pay of all the servants he uses in his personal life.

    A system like this can’t help but devolve into corruption. It already has. it won’t change until the people wrest the power back from the clergy. They will fight this with all their might. But it is the only chance to get this church back to the fundamentals that Jesus wanted for his church. We must seperate the hierarchy from the money and the secrecy!

    Priests like Father Chris will be used by the hierarchy to smooth things over, to quiet the “sheep.” They won’t even realize they are being used because they are good themselves, and trying to do good. But our jobs, if we love this church, will be to stay angry, to get more aggressive, to show up at every opportunity and challenge the power of all these bishops, who now have their power from the “capo di tutti capi” in Rome, rather than from the people, as it was in the early church.

    1. Apparently Archbishop Chaput took a vow of poverty. Hopefully that will make some difference. I agree……..if the priests and bishops lived more like Mother Teresa things might get better. In fact if we all lived like Mother Teresa things might get alot better.

  7. I felt sad when I heard that Charles Chaput would be Philadelphia’s archbishop, not despondent as when Joseph Ratzinger was elected pope, but sad nonetheless. Philadelphia seems condemned to be led by those of the far right extreme.

    But, it does not matter really. We have to stop looking to bishops to lead organizational change. The abuse crisis is twofold: sexual abuse of children and leadership’s abuse of power. It is the abuse of power that is the underlying problem.

    We must demand that civil authorities protect children, not rely on bishops. We can hope and pray for the best from institutional church leadership but it would be gross negligence on our part to expect they can police themselves. They have demonstrated that they can’t. Even a saintly, well intentioned bishop would be caught up in an organizational culture that is toxic. I make a distinction between the organizational culture and the community of believers.

    In the autocratic governance model of the church, ultimately the man at the top of the pyramid is not accountable to anyone. Ordinaries are, in theory, accountable to the pope but in practice few are ever held to account, unless they raise the now forbidden-to-talk-about-matter – when women become priests. (For those who don’t know, one of Chaput’s latest Vatican assignments was investigation of an Australian bishop who simply raised the question about women as priests. Chaput investigated and reported to Rome, the bishop was forced to resign, and never knew what Chaput said in his report.)

    There might be some hope for change leadership from the presbyterate. About 10% of the Austrian presbyterate is currently calling for active disobedience. It is hard to ignore 400 presbyters publically calling for disobedience. I don’t think anything like this will happen with Philadelphia clergy. There will be courageous souls like Father Walsh, willing to stand between clueless leaders and angry Church members without taking one side, but they will be few in number.

    There will continue to be those of us out in the desert because we feel we have no other religion to turn to. I love the church. She is an abusive mother but she is still my mother. It is hardly the one, true church for all but it is — for me. I love the church not because of the beliefs that are supposed to unite us but based on my lived experience – meeting God and feeling his presence again and again in liturgy. I am attached at the heart not the head.

    The emerging Church will certainly include those who are parish members who are willing to support the institution and its leadership by the diocesan tax on local parish collections and put up with impassioned speeches about denying erring politicians the Eucharist. Others of us will choose to gather– in twos or threes in his Name – in small Catholic communities of prayer. Yes, Catholic, without much use for Rome. Like Francis, Dominic, John of the Cross and Theresa of Avila, we will have our communities at the margins of the Church. Some will have one foot inside and another outside; others of us will have both feet on the outside feeling sad that we cannot celebrate the Eucharist because the Woytyla-Ratzinger reign launched an ethnic (cultural) cleansing to produce a smaller church populated by a Catholic masterace.

    I can’t stay angry at leadership. This is not Christ-like and not good for my health. But, this does not mean I will support them. Underneath the anger, always a secondary emotion, is a sadness that has me hold back tears of deep disappointment for what might have been.

    Ah! what a divine religion might be found out if charity
    were really made the principle of it instead of faith. – Shelley

    Hmm… interesting notion, a religion founded on love?

    1. Martin, I think your statement nicely sums up my feelings– we have to use our voice–it is our baptismal right and responsibility and at the same time I have to focus on what I can do, where I can worship, the work we can do. I know there are many other such believers and that the Holy Spirit has to be at work here.

    2. Dr Martin’s post has my one hundred percent agreement; he says ; .
      “Like Francis, Dominic, John of the Cross and Theresa of Avila, we will have our communities at the margins of the Church.”
      I also agree with Fr Chris when he says reform will come from below. But I also think Fr Chris still has another evolution stage or two yet to go. Will he also minister in the margins? or will he do the bidding of the hierarchy. The order priests have already taken a few steps toward the margins and that is where Fr Chris must walk too..[I assume he is diocesan] move at least two or three steps.

  8. Your original outline:

    – write a Catholic rah-rah speech with new hope for the new Cardinal
    – minimize sympathy for victims. Two partial sentences should do it
    – minimize the horror of the Rolling Stone article and Grand Jury report. One partial sentence max.
    – throw a pity party for the readers, putting 98% of the focus on the congregation’s pain rather than the victim’s pain
    – continue to lower the standards for Catholics, but not by as much as Rigali and his pedophile protection program, since that didn’t work
    – use phrases like “(or had their boundaries seriously violated)” instead of saying that Fr Cudemo ejaculated on the face of 10 year old Ruth, then got her pregnant at 12, then took her for an abortion
    – focus on moving on and making everyone feel better
    – use the phrase “so did everyone else” about child abuse, when in fact, ONLY the Catholic church concealed it, and on a massive scale
    – minimize the reforms that are necessary. Do not focus on doing the hard work to find and help the victims
    – do not mention Chaput’s poor record of dealing with the crisis in Denver
    – bold face a section showing how you didn’t believe the victims that came forward, but don’t say that you feel horrible that you made their life more difficult, or that you felt deceived by your bosses lying about it, but instead focus on how you finally believe the victims, and you are a good guy because of it.

    You did well. Catholic standards are now so low for their leaders, that this will impress some of them.

    Outline for a real article:

    – pick a victim like Daniel Neill, who wasn’t looking for money, and killed himself when the Archdiocese repeatedly refused to believe he was raped. Talk about how the Catholic church ruined his life. Talk about the thousands of others that are suicidal. Talk about the urgency to save them before they commit suicide.
    – focus on what the Catholic church should do to find every rape victim
    – insist on any means of forced honesty to prove the church’s integrity, like lie detector tests for every single priest
    – talk about an “internal prison” that the Catholic church should create for priests that got away with child rape because of the statute of limitations. Bread and water in a dungeon. Rewrite bibles for the rest of their lives.
    – talk about how future generations will only see the pedophile protection program in the Catholic church unless they do something completely radical and Christ-like today, without any regard for how many churches would have to be sold to do it. Start with an unlimited budget for therapy for any victims.

    I’ll write the real article, and teenagers can read yours and mine and determine which is a political article and which is a genuine one. I’ll refer them to Rolling Stone magazine, and you refer them to Teresa of Avila and (John 6, 68).

    You letter wasn’t Christ-like. It was Christ-Lite. Do the easy part of “What Jesus Would Do” without the hard part. Impress the bosses (on earth) with a self-pity party for the faithful, and try get them to “move forward” without doing anything difficult or costly. Ignore the victims, but not as harshly as the rest of your leaders. I’ll give you an F for your article, and leave it up to God to give you your real grade.

    I apologize for my honesty, the likes of which your Catholic church has never seen. If you support this Catholic church, you’re a co-conspirator or an enabler. If God is just and smart, he’ll let the victims decide what Catholic conspirators should get for eternity.

      1. double excellent !! There’s an old saying that if the dog bites you once, it’s the dog’s fault, if he bites you twice, it’s your own fault. I stayed in the Church far too long because I truly believed that it was only a few priests who were gulity of child sexual abuse. So, I denied it to myself and stay, then as more and more of this crime became evident, I had to listen to the God inside my soul that told me to move on, move away from a place that only likes to put on a show on the outside but if you want to talk about your inner spirituality, and question the “Catholic faith” then you become an outcast in the RCC.

    1. Your Brutal honesty pretty much is on the money……Realization of the truth is the first step toward change………….I think alot of us now are realizing its that bad……..and its widespread and it was happening to the kids we grew up with………all things the victims have known for years……….. are now sinking in …….we are sad and ……….have days we are depressed about the state of things………but yes we should not giveup we should fight we are in fact the “church militant” to quote the old term. But all of this is nothing in comparison to the hell the victims live everyday. I am concerned about those considering suicide……in fact it was an article about a victim that committed suicide that was what outraged me and upset me so much……I could not go to church if I did not try and fight what was going on……..each fights with his or her own talents and abilites…..some seen and others unseen but will all hopefully end in the same results…….a safer and more compassionate church for all children.

    2. I absolutely agree with Patrick’s post.

      The remembering of Daniel Neill broke my heart again! The horror of his story from the Grand Jury Report grieves and enrages me beyond words. I can’t even begin to imagine what he and his family must have been going through – a horror so unimaginable for us – and at the hands of the disgusting sexual and physical abuse by Fr. Joseph Gallagher, who is living comfortably on Hellerman Street in near-by St. Timothy’s parish on a residential street only a few blocks from the school. Makes me sick! But then that is the MO of our archdiocese.

      Concerning Fr. Chris’s words: “I rejoice that Archbishop Chaput is our new archbishop.” How can ANY of us rejoice in a man who has and will continue to fight vehemently against the removal of the statute of limitations? He will be a warrior for an evil agenda to ensure that House Bills 878 and 832 never pass. Business as usual.

    3. Patrick, I could not find the words to express how I felt about Fr. Chris’s thoughts, but you did, and I thank you. I felt discouraged reading what he wrote as though all I have shared went in one ear and out the other. People really don’t get it when it comes to being a child and being continusly raped by priests and then the church protecting these priests. God? Sin? Boundaries seriously violated, you think? so did everyone else concerning raping a child in the name of God in the same catagory as other institutions and the degree the catholic church went to to cover up these heinous acts?I would be more than happy to sit down with Fr. Chris and tell my story that goes back to 1963 and my need to get these 3 priests out of their parishes around children starting in 1993!I’m sorry Fr. Chris I do believe you still don’t really get it. Until you FEEL what it must have been like for a survivor at the mercy of an abusive priest, your words are void to every rape victim of a catholic priest! If you want some idea of what I am trying to convey, take to heart what Patrick O’Malley so beautifully says, he, Fr. Chris, “gets it.”

  9. So many wonderful viewpoints on here. Having been a catholic all my life and happily so, I am now devastated at losing my church. I can no longer be a pew sitter. But it does not mean I am no longer catholic, I still pray to the same God, and worship Him wherever and whenever I can. What it DOES mean, is that I no longer associate with priests or the hierarchy or sit in the physical building, or HAND OVER MY MONEY (which I am sure is what is missed more than my presence). This has made me so very bitter about the CHURCH, not the religion. I still believe everything I believed all my life. God is everywhere, so you don’t have to go to a stone building to find Him. May God’s peace be with Victims4Justice. My heart aches for him and all the other children like him.

  10. I know Fr. Chris has an excellent reputation about answering questions and his above article was thought provoking, to a point. I wouldn’t start celebrating the arrival of Bishop Chaput, being he didn’t even have time to read the grand jury report in the diocese he is about to shepherd. Really, I think that should have been the very first thing he did. Of course, I can imagine how difficult it was for him to find time to read about a victim of clergy sexual abuse when he was getting prepared to wine and dine the PA lawmakers, plan for a nice cushie dinner party for his installation, etc. Why would he want to ugly it up with the truth of what’s been going on in the Archdiocese in which is about to become the leader 🙁

    1. abigail – “…he didn’t even have time to read the grand jury report in the diocese he is about to shepherd.”

      Regardless of what he stated, I believe he is far too sly not to have only read it, but also reviewed it thoroughly with his lawyers. By saying that he has not read it, he avoids slipping up when questioned about it. THESE GUYS ARE NEVER TO BE BELIEVED!

      1. So true, drwho. In fact, I think every Catholic, in an honest moment, would say that they will always have faith that the Catholic church will never tell the truth if it will get them in trouble. Amazing that people still follow them.

      2. Oh wow, silly me. I never thought of it that way. Must be alot of the brain washing still in my head. I keep forgetting that these guys have their attorneys on speed-dial. Once again, duped, not thinking of these leaders as liars.

  11. That letter made me sick to the stomach. As a victim I find it to be an affront to my cause. What I really wanted to read is a letter written about why people should come to church.
    I mean even though all these gut wrenching crimes were perpetrated by my bosses, I still feel you would be better off coming to church to deal with them and not taking a real stand that will ultimately force change. Oh and I love the new Bishop, the one who fought against people just like you in Denver – and WON!! Thank You and see you in the pews!! Father Dave

    1. Dave, I didn’t read that the way you did. I heard a call to reform the Church. As a Catholic, I can do that by fighting to have the statutes of limitations removed for childhood sexual abuse. I can do it by spreading survivor’s stories where and whenever I can. I can do that by getting the word out to those in and out of the pews. Father Chris wasn’t asking us to have faith in Chaput, the Vatican or any one person. He is just asking us to include God and our Catholic faith. So many Bishops didn’t include either in their decisions. I’d like to be different.

  12. Rich, I want your post to be the lead…

    then we can all cry for the reform that’s needed.

    Fr. Chris wrote a beautiful article…and I suppose if I was standing with my feet in the rcc, I would have tears streaming and be overcome with emotion about the church I need to “feel good” about again. Sort of a “rally the troops” speech so we can be united in changing the church.

    Quite honestly, the reform that’s happening in and out of the rcc has nothing to do with someone sitiing in that pew.

    Fr. Chris, I read what you didn’t write…and I think you missed the boat. I don’t think the laity needs a “feel good” speech about reform…they need someone with the integrity of Christ to stand UP and speak OUT against the abuse of children and call out the “brothers” who have lied to everyone.

    Rich…shine on!!!!

  13. I know that the Q&A’s with Father Chris always draw a large response and expected the same this time. Anger, frustration,honesty – all of the comments have something to offer – the alternative is silence and silence is partly how we have ended up where we are. The question Father Chris answered was my own.
    Over the past few months we have met so many people,many of them Catholic. I have sat in meetings where 90% of the participants were Catholic,including a nun and a priest,working towards improving laws that will protect children. Our D.A Seth Williams is Catholic,some prosecutors on the Grand Jury reports are also Catholic. I have met people whose involvement with this crisis run so deep and yet they are still actively practicing their Faith. It has been sort of fascinating in an odd way. Have they somehow been able to separate the crimes of man from their faith in God? Will I ever be able to do that myself? Do I even want to try?
    I try to think of my conversations with Fr. Chris as I do my own personal journey over the past few months. I became involved because of my horror of what has occurred to children within our church. People sometimes say that those who advocate for victims have a personal ax to grind with the church. Not me,raping children is plenty to make me furious,I don’t need any other church related issues on my agenda. But even though I thought I was sympathetic to victims,I cringe at some of the early interactions I had with victims on the C4C site. It is only because people like Rich,Vicky,and,survivor’s wife ,somehow hung in there and continued to share their experiences,that brought me to a whole new level of understanding. If they had bailed early on,I would not be at the place I am now.There have been many moments when I read the writings of victims and the lightbulb went off – I never looked at it that way,never thought about a particular thing. I will never fully understand because I am not a victim,it would be insulting to say I would.
    That is what I have attempted in my conversations with Father Chris- to explain loudly and passionately the feelings of so many ,and in doing so hope that maybe some of those same “lightbulb moments” would happen for the priests. We can’t read each other’s minds – we need to get our thought,opinions and feelings out in the open to learn from each other. It may not be pretty but it is necessary.
    When we formed the Q&A panel,a commenter suggested having a priest on the panel would be helpful. Susan and I agreed and then were faced with the question “Where the hell are we going to find a priest who would agree to be on the site?” And just like so many other unexplainable things have happened over the past few months – Fr. Chris appeared and agreed to answer questions from commenters.
    I am not defending Fr. Chris – I have probably been his worst nightmare in some ways because I refuse to settle for any excuses,rationalizations etc – none of it makes sense. None of this should ever have happened,but it did.

  14. BethReplySeptember 7, 2011 at 8:46 pm

    “In the Old Testament there was a prophet that took as his wife a whore to symbolize the unfaithfulness of the people of Israel to God. This is a reoccurring theme throughout the Bible …….despite our unfaithfulness Jesus’s and God still loving us when we repent. Jesus has been betrayed by wife the church just as he was betrayed by Judas.”
    By “Beth” Sept. 7, 2011 8:46 pm

    It was while reading the above post by Beth that I knew, that I knew what has happened and, what has to happen for each of us; singly, and personally:
    Whoever,wherever you are and no matter what [if any] church you attend — it’s undeniable that through His Word, God tells us– over and over– walk by faith, not by sight!
    We have tried, in our own ways, to walk by sight:
    Men as mediators
    Men as saviours
    Sacraments as “spiritual food”
    Good feelings
    And “I’m OK, You’re OK”.
    And we have seen it fail, just as God knows it will always fail.
    We have “missed out” on the one thing God has provided to save us from ourselves and gift us with never ending peace and love–
    with and in Him– and that is FAITH.
    The faith of Christ.

    I urge all to read past the few verses quoted here. It’s all about
    walking by faith [of Christ] and not “by sight.”
    GAL2:11 But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face,
    because he was to be blamed.
    GAL2:12 For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the
    Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing
    them which were of the circumcision.
    GAL2:13 And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that
    Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation.
    GAL2:14 But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth
    of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew,
    livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest
    thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?
    GAL2:15 We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles,
    GAL2:16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by
    the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we
    might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law:
    for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.
    GAL2:17 But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also
    are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid.
    GAL2:18 For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a
    GAL2:19 For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God.
    GAL2:20 I am crucified with Christ: neverthless I live; yet not I, but Christ
    liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith
    of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
    GAL2:21 I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the
    law, then Christ is dead in vain.

    1. Yes it is my faith and knowing the end goal is heaven that keeps me focused on Jesus. I was reading a quote by Bishp Sheen and it was something like the surest way to get to heaven is to take someone with you. We are all here to help each comfort each other even admonish each other if that is what it takes to get people to repent and get to heaven. Jail time can even be seen therefore as God’s way of saving one’s soul if it leads one to repent and turn back to him. It is a choice we all have to make…..some still chose evil…….

  15. Reading Fr. Chris’ observation about his Church at this time is healing for me. Thanks for speaking out. I wonder where all the other priests in our area are. I believe many priests are suffering with anger at the bishop’s behavior but are bullied into silence. The Church being an autocratic institution has a history of global sins. To head off these future sins and help the bishops behave using their healthy consciences lets look at changing how decisions are constructed.

  16. Since opening my eyes fully to the abuse in our church, and hearing first hand from so many victims on the C4C site, I am left lost and floundering. My beliefs in the RCC have been shattered, but my faith remains strong. Anger keeps me away from the church a lot these days, and I have completely stopped contributing monetarily. I still pray every day, and have always had a strong devotion to Our Blessed Mother.

    This morning, for no apparent reason, I felt compelled to revisit the stories of Our Lady of Fatima, Lourdes and Medjugorje. My epiphany was almost instantaneous. I now believe that Jesus sent his Mother to prepare us for what is happening today in the church. In every case, the message has been intervened, edited, and often simply hidden by men in authority on every level. Is it any surprise that children are always chosen to receive the messages? They are open vessels to receive the truth. Sadly, there is always someone keeping us from hearing it. What is even sadder is that children have been the victims of the most horrific crimes at the hands of these so-called holy men.

    This past Sunday, I decided to attend mass at the Jersey shore. I was shocked and surprised by the very short homily from the priest. His homilies are always short, direct, and powerful. He opened by saying that he ran into someone he had not seen for many years, and was greeted with “you got fat!” He was stunned, but realized that he was hearing the truth; while in his eyes he looked thin. He was forced to see, and accept, himself as he really was. He ended by saying that now he had to be open to hearing the truth, and accept and acknowledge it. He basically invited us to “bring it on”. He is ready. I almost cried! He is only one man, but I guess it is a start. I am not naïve, and know that until every priest…and every catholic…. has the courage to stand up and say “no more” from the Pope down, nothing will really change. We need more than smoke and mirrors.

    I took the step several months ago to ask close friends of other faiths how they see me as a practicing catholic woman. At first stunned by my question, they soon felt comfortable in telling me how they viewed the RCC. While respectful, they wondered, how knowing me, I could condone what has been going on for many years. It was good for me to see myself through their eyes. Unless we say out loud that we do not approve, the rest of the world sees us as complacent followers.

    Now, more than ever, we have to pray. I believe the time is now. I believe that Our Lady has been preparing us for this crisis in our church today. I believe that the Vatican changed the messages to meet it’s own needs and to redirect our fears to keep us under their sick code of ethics. The warnings are so clear to me now. Stay strong, pray, be prepared, stay focused on God……not men who want to be, or think they are, God.

    Susan, thank you for all that you are doing on behalf of all who have suffered at the hands of evil people hiding behind the church. Thank you to all of the victims for having the courage to speak up and educate all of us.

    The latest message from Medjugorje is below. It is pretty powerful.

    September 02, 2011 Message to Mirjana
”Dear children; With all my heart and soul full of faith and love in the Heavenly Father, I gave my Son to you and am giving Him to you anew. My Son has brought you, the people of the entire world, to know the only true God and His love. He has led you on the way of truth and made you brothers and sisters. Therefore, my children, do not wander, do not close your heart before that truth, hope and love. Everything around you is passing and everything is falling apart, only the glory of God remains. Therefore, renounce everything that distances you from the Lord. Adore Him alone, because He is the only true God. I am with you and I will remain with you. I am especially praying for the shepherds that they may be worthy representatives of my Son and may lead you with love on the way of truth. Thank you.”

  17. Though I appreciate Fr. Chris’s words, they are still very hard to believe. I do wish most could at least follow his example and attempt compassion and understanding. Unfortunately, that hasn’t been my experience, and this comes from one of the parishes directly affected by this particular scandle. You would think they would try harder to be more open to the conflict and pain caused this. Attending mass does not give me the peace it once did. I, like many, continue to struggle to keep my relationship with God via my Catholic faith. If Fr. Chris’s words bring you comfort, then they are meaningful, as I am sure they were intended.

  18. Susan, while I respect and appreciate the hard work you are doing here, I completely disagree with you on this. A letter written by a priest that says he rejoices in the appointment of a man that has opposed everything victims stand for is a complete contradiction. I and many other victims will feel this is simply how the church has dealt with us since the beginning. There is nothing in that article to say wow here is a stand. I have heard something along those lines over and over again. The simple truth is nothing in that letter makes me feel better. To be honest christ can sweat all the blood he wants, I think he should get his but down here and clean house. Father Chris came off to me as extremely offensive, the nerve of this man to pretend to care and then rejoice in the appointment of a man who more than many others symbolizes the church complete disregard for victims, their families and anyone else who wants anything other than the status quo from the church. I have heard the church say many things to me and my family and this ranks right up there. They have always been good at talking out of both sides of their mouth and this letter exemplifies this perfectly.

    1. Dave, thank you for your comments. I remember you have commented a few times in the past and am glad that you still follow the site. the input from victims is so valuable because with every opinion and experience that you share,it can open the eyes of others a little bit more.That has been the greatest thing that has happened on this site and I hope that continues.

    2. Dave, I completely respect your thoughts on this and I appreciate you taking the time to share them. I also appreciate the diversity of opinion here. It always keeps me thinking.

      1. To Susan: I am not a victim of child sexual abuse by a priest. I totally understand why you cried and took Fr. Chris’s post the way you did. I loved the Church (just as you do) for many,many years, but I am so angry about being lied to, after teaching my children how important the truth is. I do see where you are coming from, but I also see how any victim sees this as a slap in the face. I am sure they wanted to hear Fr. Chris at least admit what his seminary days were like, and how he personally knows some of the abusers. That being said, I do see both sides, but I must side with the victims on this one. The RCC murdered their very souls and this is what makes me cry 🙁

      2. Abigail, There are plenty of tears to go around in this. While not a victim myself, I have very strong personal reasons for starting this site. I read and take every comment to heart. I cry for all of us – but the victims always top my list, too.

  19. There is nothing so much that I stand for that could overwhelm my mission to protect the most innocent. Whetever happened to myself and other victims, in most cases, happened long ago. I cannot disregard their pain anymore than I can my own. We were children once and so many of us didn’t have the oppurtunity to grow as we should have; innocent and carefree. Even “what could have been” doesn’t matter anymore. The past is gone and not one moment of despair, nor all the gold in Fort Knox can bring it back. Who many of us could’ve been if we were not abused isn’t even a memory. The opportunities available to so many others were not available to us because we spent most of our days concentrating on just breathing and regretting why we didn’t speak up sooner and stop the abuse from happening. Once the abuse started, it continued throughout our lives and even today. The mind has a funny way of reliving everything. In my own case, I was scared. I had already been orally and digitally raped, which often caused severe pain, and I had already known what it was like threatening my abuser that I would tell someone, only to be pushed down in the boys bathroom and have one of my testicles squeezed so hard that I can remember the pain while urinating for awhile afterwards.

    The physical pain eventually heals, but it’s the mind that takes over. “How could I have been so stupid?” I often thought. “How could this man manipulate me so easily?” The fact is, I was a child, and there’s good reason why persons under 18 years-old cannot consent to sex. Being forced and coerced to do something sexual with a much older man takes a toll on the conscience, especially when it occurs during a child’s pre-developmental years, and during development, that these doors in the tiny dark corners of your brain start to open. Ironically, I didn’t open any of those doors. My abusers did. I’ve just spent the last 20+ years trying to close them. Adults have choices, children do not.

    Don’t waste my time with what some members of the church are trying to accomplish. Do not feed me with stale rhetoric and out-dated reformation. Stand next to me at a press conference or on the city streets as we support, yet another victim, coming forward. Speak out courageously for those who cannot, and prove to victims you have our best interests at heart instead of your brother abusers. Spend the day with me (in street clothes of course) and I will give all the truth as I know and remember it. I will ask for no sympathy from you, but I also expect no excuses on your part. I don’t want to talk about what is being done to protect children. I want to do it. I don’t want you to handle me in the way you’re used to handling your flock. You must know that what the Church has done to protect children is very little. If you believe that, let us see you stand with us and demand justice, accountability, and change. If you cannot do that, go back to your rectory and stay hidden away from public eye, and when I continue to fight, I will continue without you and I will fight you and your kind.

    You want a pass? No!

    1. Fr. Chris I asked you before did you ever think to come to a vigil just to listen to the survivors……..bring some other concerned priests like Rich said you might want to wear street clothes………that is what Jesus would do. I have gone and listened to their stories first hand and the stories from family members. I guarentee it will change your life. They are good people that have had to endure horrible things…….I think you should talk to your superiors and ask them to have Rich or other victims come an speak at every parish in the diocese so they know how this affects people and the longterm affects and that it does in fact exist you can’t denty it any longer and that people are losing their faith and lives over it.

      1. Beth, thank you for your comment. I had heard the story of many victims in many different capacities (including working this young victims of sexual abuse in a mental health facility for 3 years before I entered the seminary). In addition, the majority of priests gathered several years ago to listen to the stories of victims. I agree that there is great power in listening to the stories of others – which is why I wrote this article to share a prt of my story.

      2. I don’t want to speak for Beth, but I think maybe she meant that to show up at a vigil to bear witness to the pain of the victims. I know Beth and I were together at a vigil when a priest emerged from the AD building and one of our group called out in a very friendly manner, that he was welcome to join us – he made a hard left and quickly made his way to the AD parking lot. I myself was almost knocked over by a few AD employees as they barreled down the steps on their way out to lunch. It was an amazing experience. I know the victims have often spoken of feeling invisible – but here they were outside of the building with signs – still invisible.

      3. Fr. Chris,
        Kathy is right. I strongly feel that the survivors need their spiritual wounds healed and that it may mean that all catholics including priests have to get out of their comfort zone and meet the victims where they are at. I was scared going down there. I didn’t know how they would react to me but they all came over to me and said thankyou one by one………….can you imagine that? saying thankyou? Because someone saw them…..someone cared enough to listen. Someone saw that the wounded Jesus Christ was present in them. I have lived in India and seen people walk past people dying in the street. I was a child then and it impacted me greatly. Will you continue to walk by these vicitms for fear of their anger their sadness……..they need Christ and you can be that to them

  20. Why is it that I am the only one who has to live with and remember the gross details of my abuse? The reasons things haven’t changed is because people do not know exactly what happened to us. I refuse to walk on eggshells and hope that people will not be angry with the words I use to describe my truth. I hope they become outraged and use my words to protect the innocence. The only thing I ever wanted is to protect your child from ever experiencing the history of my own childhood. Instead, you spit in my face, call me a liar, and think I’m only doing this for money. You think that my sense of resolve reflects badly on yourself and your Christian brothers. You view me as a thorn in your side when you have to explain to your children why I am standing outside of your church with a sign that reads “I Was Abused by A Catholic Priest.” You cover their eyes and walk briskly away from me. You antagonize priests and parishioners to confront me and my message out on the street and you scream from the sidewalk that I am “anti-Catholic” and a “money-hungry leech.” The fact is more precise that I am anti-child abuse, and I am trying to protect your child. Why do I have to deal with adversity and degredation to protect your kid?

    People need to know about Arthur Baselice III, abused by Father Charles Newman and Father Harowitz. They need to know that Father Newman addicted Arthur to drugs and alochol, offered him money to keep the abuse secret (money which he was stealing from the Church), and as these priests abused Arthur, they did it right under the noses of his parents, who befriended these priests and trusted them. Father Newman was eventually defrocked and sent to prison, not for abusing this boy, but for stealing $1 million from the Catholic Church.

    Catholics needs to know about a friend of mine, who was taken to destinations all over the world by his family’s parish priest. At 10, my friend was raped repeatedly by one or as many as five priests at the same time. He was tied with his hands behind his back while one priest after another did things to him that you could never imagine. Today, that guy is nearly brain-dead. Alcohol and drugs – self-medication – after a lifetime of dealing with such vial treatment has left him damaged and distant.

    People need to read the stories I have and listen to victims explain absolute horror. You need to know about the pain, the rapes, the beatings, the torture until whatever happened to us never happens again. I want you to be sickened by these stories. I hope you know that as a child, a Catholic priest taught me how to masturbate. He described other classmate’s genitals to me. He forced me to urinate while he watched. He pushed my body up against the bathroom wall at school, while he used a dry finger, with thick sharp fingernails, to penetrate my anus. I wonder if you can imagine the pain and the feeling of total worthlessness. To this day, I cannot allow anyone to touch my knees or my shoulders. My abuser used to rub both areas and even when I saw a doctor for a herniated and crushed disc in my back recently, the doctor put her hand on my knee and I freaked out. That’s no way to live is it? How do you think I feel when I have to explain to everybody I work with that the reason I just collapsed to the floor, curled up in the fetal position, huffing and puffing and crying my eyes out because of a panic attack? Do you have any idea how humiliating it is? Some things like sleep and concentration, which people take for granted, I have extreme difficulty with. I’m 35 years-old and I have nightmares like a 5 year-old who’s afraid of the dark. I cringe at the sight of anyone in a black suit, not just a priest. I don’t go to the beach or a swimming pool, because I have a fear of wearing very little clothes in public. My abuser made me stand in the boys bathroom many times in just my boxers while he watched me. I felt so degraded and I’ve always felt like this grime covered my whole body.

    Not too long ago, I couldn’t imagine writing any of this stuff in a forum where other people could read it. I’ve since learned that I have the ability to use these horrible experiences to prevent it from happening to another child. Some here are disgusted by the gross details, but how do you think I feel? I’ve lived it.

    1. That is such a horrible story. I was previously just annoyed by Fr Chris’ pity party post, but now I am furious about it.

      Fr Chris doesn’t care about the victims. He cares about his church. He writes a 1500 word post with 31 words dedicated to victims. He is the same as the other priests in his church, but he is just a little smarter in his approach. The message is the same – ignore the victims, and let’s just move on.

      V4J, I’m with you, and so is God. The only issue is to help the victims and prevent further victims. Anything else is self serving, self pity from self centered Catholics who want to get themselves into heaven. And God won’t let them in if they run back to Fr Chris’ church without helping the victims.

      1. Patrick – “Fr Chris doesn’t care about the victims. He cares about his church.”

        That’s what we referred to in seminary as a well trained priest.

        Thanks V4J we’re all with you!

    2. Thankyou for trusting us with your story………..trusting that there are people that do care and by telling your story it will affect change to prevent future victims………you have long passed bravery and courage……….you are something beyond that………it’s rare and it’s good…………you are braver than most priests and bishops and catholics because you aren’t afraid……………be not afraid is the most used term in the Bible and there is a reason for that……….we all have alot to learn from you Rich…………alot…………….

    1. If the new Archbishop or Fr. Chris could take some time to view this, actually less than 5 mins. (and this is extremely mild compared to the Grand Jury Report) then let them post some comments and tell me for whom I should be crying, the church or the victims 🙁

  21. I also appreciate all of the viewpoints that are represented by this valuable site and I thank Susan and Kathy for all of their hard work to provide this forum for us, especially for those wo have suffered so greatly and still are suffering.

    Regarding Father Chris’s commentary, I just have a simple observation. I have not heard one other priest make statements showing empathy to the laity as Father Chris has done here. How many other priests are really stepping outside of their own little community of priests to think about the impact on others, not themselves? Not too many, but Father Chris has. He may not say exactly what we all want to hear , but it’s a big step in the right direction. My hope, and it may very well be a hope that is never met, is that his big step may create some baby steps for other priests who have a heart, a conscience, and can feel real empathy for others. I do believe there are more out there besides Father Chris. Maybe he will open the door enough for a few more to walk through.

    1. Empathy to the laity? How about a kick in the pants instead?

      A big step in the right direction? Whose direction?

      It’s so disheartening.

      The laity didn’t need a pep rally speech…they needed a priest to account for his complacency, reach out to victims and their families in tangible ways, and “out” his brothers who abused and covered up…and then he needed to encourage those in the pews to do the same!!! That’s a shepherd!! Instead this feels more like a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

      1. I guess what I mean by a step (and, you’re right, it may not really be a big one) in the right direction is that Father Chris is the first priest I have heard yet actually admit that the “Church is broken” and that “crimes” (not just “sins”) have been committed. He is the only one that I know of who has actually given this website (and Susan and Kathy) any real time, acknowledgement and respect on an ongoing basis. Will his willingness to do so encourage others? I don’t know.

        I agree wholeheartedly that we need much more than this before any real progress will occur, but I’m thinking maybe a baby step is better than none at all. I feel like acknowledgement by one could be a first step. I don’t know….I just hope.

        I continue to be sickened, angered, and frustrated. My faith has changed from one that was once, to some degree, Church centered to one that is completely GOD centered. I’m thinking that this is the one actual blessing to come from this horrific state of affairs.

  22. I know it’s been painful for catholics, to face the abhorrent facts of clergy sexual abuse. Yet these facts are not exaggerated nor are they misunderstood. For DECADES seriously disturbed clerics, religious brothers and religious nuns have been sexually abusing innocent children. The incredible revelations of the past 3 decades have shown that church leaders, from cardinals down to pastors, have not only known about this abuse but favored the abusers to the extent that they were allowed to roam from assignment to assignment and in the process ruined more lives. Now, this pattern is catching up with the institutional church and it is having to accept its responsibility for this travesty.
    The Catholic Church is NOT limited to rituals, robes, hierarchs, priests, rules and devotions. It is essentially a community of people. The most important members of this church, are NOT the priests and bishops but the rejected, unattractive, marginalized, hurting members! The only instance I recall when Christ was angry, is when He ENCOUNTERED the HYPOCRISY of the church leaders of His day. In our day, the boys and girls, men and women who placed total trust in their priests and whose trust was shattered by rape and abuse are these people. We TUMBLE INTO HERESY NOT WHEN WE CHALLENGE THE BISHOPS BUT WHEN WE IGNORE THOSE HARMED BY THE VERY INSTITUTIONAL CHURCH THAT DEMANDED THEIR SUPPORT.

    1. Community of people yes………you got……….we have gotten so big and so detached we stopped caring about each other. Wasn’t that Jesus’s main point Love God and love your neighbor as yourself…………..Your last sentence is powerful……….

  23. Patrick…GREAT, insightful posts. You cut to the chase. Thank God someone sees what is going on and not falling for all the slick rhetoric of these priests.

    Thanks Gerald…those were tremendous verses.

  24. Fr. Chris notes that Chaput “arrives in Philadelphia as the District Attorney is seeking access to Archbishop Emeritus Anthony Bevilacqua.”

    Then I learned that Bevilacqua’s hearing was postponed until Oct 7th, what a disappointment!

    Drag that old fart out of bed and get him into that court room!  Mubarak, former despot of Egypt, claimed to be too sick to come to court.  They wheeled him in on a gurney, and put him in a cage.  The Egyptian people loved it.  I wish Bevilacqua could be treated with the same degree of disrespect.

  25. Jackie,
    I hear what you are saying about a priest taking a step.

    However, I see many catholics who want to feel good about their church again so they are willing to get their ears tickled and not see things for what they really are. It’s almost as if the people in the pews will take whatever scraps the hierarchy throws their way…because they are STARVING for truth and compassion and when they even get a hint of it, they gobble it up. I don’t blame them. I am being fed very well and I don’t need their scraps…so I can see how insulting their gestures and words are…where many on the inside of the rcc are just grateful for the bones they throw.

    I don’t think Fr. Chris is uncaring…but, his focus (to me) is off. The priests need to be challenging their parishoners to be CHRIST, and their “attendance” at church will follow…but instead, the focus is on attendance so they can reform the church? How do they plan on doing that without the very people that can help them cleanse and heal? …the victims. I want to scream….BE A SHEPHERD!

    Look at the focus of that post…it’s directed at those hanging on the edge…a plea to stay. Where’s the plea to the victims and their families? Nope, no room at the inn again for us, is there? That’s one of many reasons why it’s insulting.

    Rich, I do not pretend to know the pain you live with everyday……but, keep on telling your truth…keep on sharing your living nightmare. “Clergy sexual abuse” is too antiseptic…it gets “glossed over” because who wants to speak or imagine the pain of what it really is.

    1. Survivor’s Wife – thank you for your words. Your posts greatly affect me. I am always interested in what you have to say. We need to hear it. You speak truth with strength yet kindness and graciousness shines through. Thank you.

  26. Survivor’s Wife, I see your point. If they really want to see people back in the pews, they need to reach out to the victims and their families with sincerity and action (follow the recommendations of the Grand Jury Report…every one of them) and as a CLEAR PRIORITY, so that we can have some real belief that there are true shepherds, not just figureheads. I know….that has not happened. I totally agree.

    My great hope is that, with these upcoming trials and the exposure they bring (hopefully, worldwide), the ivory tower will finally crumble and that maybe it can be rebuilt…..with REAL shepherds running the show. Would that take a miracle? Yes, it probably would. Let’s pray for one. From our mouths to Christ….no middleman.

    1. Thank you Jane. We have the administrators of this site to thank for the ability to share the varied sides to this issue. Years ago when my kids were babies and I was still in the church I would frequent a catholic message board that focused on more of the spiritual aspects of the faith. When I brought up anything related to this topic, (literally asking for prayer for my husband, myself and our children), people would NOT respond. I was eventually asked to not speak of this issue anymore on that board or I would be banned. I didn’t stay where I was not welcomed…but, I prayed for them because, really…how can you be so “holy” and shun the very people that need you most? Literally, God help them. They helped me understand how deep the walls of denial run.

      I try to share my experiences as a witness…I chose my screen name for a reason…it’s ultimately about my husband, and Rich, and vicky, and all other victims and survivors. It’s their stories that matter most…it’s about their healing. The full picture of this is not complete though without the experiences of all who have been a witness to it. There is space for my experiences to be shared…and for that I’m grateful.

      Jackie, I’m praying for a miracle too. In whatever way possible!

  27. Sometimes I feel like I just want to give up. I’m tired of fighting the system and I’m tired of trying to convince people that raping a child is wrong. I don’t know what else to do. It still seems as if child sexual abuse is still very taboo, from some of the responses from people here and elsewhere about graphic details that they have the option of reading or not, and somehow I think it’s also viewed acceptable if the perpetrator is a Catholic priest. It just blows my mind and I can come to no other realization to prove otherwise.

    I spent most of last night in bed crying. Often, I push everything aside so I can deal with it later, but it just seems to pile up until something becomes unbalanced and everything comes tumbling down. When I saw D.A. Seth Williams on the news yesterday, embracing Archbishop Chitputz, I was overcome with a sense of “Look at that! We are never going to justice now. The persons who are supposed to be representing and protecting us are now fratanizing with the criminals. It doesn’t seem fair.” Not only does the Catholic Church need to change, but when our government won’t protect its citizens, especially the most innocent ones, who needs to change more?

    The truth is, nothing in life seems fair. At least not in my life anyway. Everything seems to be so difficult and the aliance between an enabler of clergy sexual abuse and our law enforcement just seems very out of whack. I realized this morning that I am up against the most powerful institution on the planet and our lawmakers, who will give me a ticket for doing 27mph in a 25mph zone, but they refuse to protect children. What happened to my America?

    I would never compromise my standards and principals for anyone, nor any amount of money or favors. Sometimes I just wonder though, why bother fighting anymore? The only person who seems to be not against me is… well… me. I wonder if I have done everything I can.

  28. I’m so sorry, Rich. As upsetting as it is for me to see such fraternizing, for you it must be beyond torturesome. It’s always about the politics. The D.A., of course, has political aspirations. Let’s just hope that he feels that, in the long run, fighting the Church’s crimes will further his career more than not fighting them. He needs to put on a show, but maybe that’s all it is. Embraces are not always what they seem. Remember in The Godfather Michael Corleone embraced his brother Fredo just before having him killed? Don’t give up yet on the law catching up with these guys. We have to hold onto that hope. I pray that some justice will come for you and others.

  29. Thank you, Father Chris, for your thoughtful remarks.

    I left the Church because the culture of its clergy defied both my conscience and the rules of reason called logic. I did not leave due to “pain,” “hurt,” “disgust,” “ugliness,” or “disappointment,” although I experienced them. In your letter, you wrote: “…I ask that you find it in your heart to try again.” But your appeal to my “heart” is a misplaced one. Were I to return to the Church, it would have to appeal to my mind– my conscience and reason.

    While I thirst for reform, and its spirit has moved me for 41 years, to work for it within the confines of an institution that my mind deems immoral and irrational, would amount to a sin against my conscience and a violation of reason.

    I pray that all Catholics will acquire the spirit of reform. But reform does not depend on Catholics occupying their places in the pews. Indeed, such a scenario would compromise it. We all must feel that we can engage in the process of reform from the places we occupy, from our own vantage points, from where our mistreatment, journeys and hurts have taken, driven, or relegated us, and from the recesses of our own strained minds and souls. Permit us to occupy our places! Each is a rich, unique and authentic testimony to the extent and complexity of our fractured Church. Each is integral to reform.

    The clergy’s governance, culture and sins have created a Church environment that is toxic. Is it in this environment that a platform for reform should be laid? No. The platform for reform cannot rest with the institution necessitating it! Experience tells us that such an insular effort has been, and will continue to be, doomed.

    The clergy must forfeit their perceived right to repair the Church from within. They cannot. Cannon Law serves to protect the toxic environment and insulate it from change. The clergy culture defies everything human beings know to be good and right.

    For reform to occur, the clergy must abandon THEIR place, THEIR laws, and THEIR culture, coming to the places of victims, hurt Catholics, stunned Catholics, former clergy, reform-minded organizations, civil law, law enforcement, social services, and the body of knowledge provided by the disciplines of theology, philosophy, psychology, sociology, anthropology, logic and ethics. Before these, they must prostrate themselves! These are the “forces” that will teach and inspire the clergy to rewrite their laws and reinvent their culture. These are the “forces” that will bring the clergy to know The Good upon which reform depends and our faith rests.

    1. Hadit – Excellent. Your last paragraph sums up my thoughts that I have never been able to put into words.

    2. HaditCatholic,
      I have a lot of respect for you in that I sense you stood back [or sat] and “took in” all the disparate comments here [and maybe elsewhere] before “weighing in.”

      I intend to read your piece over more than just once and try to “digest” your meaning as best I can. Thanks for your efforts!

  30. Well I can say one thing for Fr Chris’s letter. It sure did get thoughts and conversation rolling. To Rich, you have been through far too much to ever give up. I can only imagine (and that doesn’t even cut it) what all of this chatter is doing to you. You LIVED this nightmare, you SURVIVED this evil, so when you hear pleas in favor of giving the Church another chance I cannot ever imagine what goes through every nerve in your body. I feel like jumping up and down and slamming my fist and screaming and I have no idea what child sexual abuse feels like, only can imagine from reading your truth. So never give up, I want to tell you that I will pray for you, but I think I forgot how to. I get by now on trying to maintain an inner peace and dwell on my own spiritual energies (whatever the heck that means) but I just want to tell you that your truth needs to continually be told

  31. habitCatholic, your insightful post is sadly exactly how I feel. How long can I deny my conscience, reason, and intelligence? Yet how I miss the ritual and calm sense of “home” that attending mass brought into my life for sixty-one years. I pray for strength, guidance, and peace for all of us.

  32. I pray that all Catholics will acquire the spirit of reform. But reform does not depend on Catholics occupying their places in the pews. Indeed, such a scenario would compromise it. We all must feel that we can engage in the process of reform from the places we occupy, from our own vantage points, from where our mistreatment, journeys and hurts have taken, driven, or relegated us, and from the recesses of our own strained minds and souls. Permit us to occupy our places! Each is a rich, unique and authentic testimony to the extent and complexity of our fractured Church. Each is integral to reform.
    The clergy’s governance, culture and sins have created a Church environment that is toxic. Is it in this environment that a platform for reform should be laid? No. The platform for reform cannot rest with the institution necessitating it! Experience tells us that such an insular effort has been, and will continue to be, doomed.

    the next paragraph is so strong and “damaging” to some; but can it be denied?
    “The clergy must forfeit their perceived right to repair the Church from within. They cannot. Cannon Law serves to protect the toxic environment and insulate it from change. The clergy culture defies everything human beings know to be good and right.”

  33. It’s easy to berate someone like Fr. Chris, but maybe it would be better to dialog with him like Kathy and Susan. At least he’s reaching out. that’s better than what we’ve seen, that’s for sure.

    1. I agree with you 100%, Marty. Because my comments often take a different point of view from those held by Father Chris does not mean that I don’t perceive myself in a conversation with him, where the two of us are making honest efforts to address the issues, and where each respects the other’s effort. Because Father Chris reaches out is exactly why I reach back. In this climate, there is great potential…

  34. I was thinking today why do I go to church. I go because I know what it is and what it should be. I go because I love Jesus and I hate what has happened to his church. I go because I have experienced a glimmer of heaven on Earth and God for the most part used nuns and in one case a priest to answer my prayers .He has spoken to my heart during adoration.He has also worked thru a Protestant minister and a mom’s group I belonged too that helped me deepen my faith. I believe Jesus can use anyone who has a strong love and faith for him it just seems the big miracles in my life came through the catholic church. I realize this is in stark contrast to what others have experienced and I guess my hope is that I stay to rebuild the church so people can experince what the church can and should be. A love from Jesus that is never ending….a compassion that is as deep and wide as the ocean

  35. Beth
    I can really relate to your comments. When I was in high school my father was terminally ill.He died a few months after I graduated. The nuns at my high school got me through a dark time. In my senior year when my father was very ill,I started to cut class occasionally and also let my grades slip- big time.Very unusual behavior for me -I obviously was reacting to the stress in my life.I was called to the office one day and told that an academic and conduct warning letter had been sent to my house. I melted down right in front of a group of the nuns.I was crying because I knew how much this would stress my Mother as she was already dealing with so much because of my father’s illness. The nuns had no idea my father was even ill. They sprung into action,hugging me,consoling me. The disciplinarian called my Mother on the phone and told her that she might be receiving a letter in the mail and it was a mistake – it was meant for another student. Then she hung up the phone and ripped up all of my demerits. They kept me in the office for about an hour, gathered around me trying to figure out how to help me. They were all fluttering around like a scene out of the Sound of Music. And for the last few months of my Senior year,I has their unconditional support. So this is my frame of reference and then I hear about Rich and Vicky who were raped at their high schools. Insanity – that some were harmed, while others were helped.

    1. Kathy,

      You know I like you. I mean it when I say that is a tough story, and one that all of us can relate to, since we’ve all had significant events in our lives.

      It is a story where nuns did the right thing, which, by the way, is their only real job on earth. You probably think about that time constantly – it formed the rest of your life.

      Now read the Philadelphia Grand Jury Report. Priests took other young, lost, lonely, distraught children like you, vulnerable because of their predicaments, and raped them. At 10, 11, or 12 years old. Think about how those kid’s lives turned out. And priests, monsignors, and bishops knew about it and moved them to places where they raped others. Fr Cudemo raped 17 children that they know about including 12 year old Ruth, who he took for an abortion after he got her pregnant.

      Sorry about the dose of cold water, but talking about the good that the Catholic church does, compared to the evil the Catholic church does, is like talking about all the great charity work that OJ Simpson did.

    2. I wish your story was the norm Kathy.

      How loved and protected you must have felt during such a difficult time.

      It’s bittersweet to read because every vulnerable child deserved to be surrounded in that kind of love. Instead they were at their lowest and then raped, then lied to, and then learned that those rapists were protected and repeatedly allowed a fresh batch of vulnerable children.

      It makes sense that you love your church with memories like that.

      1. Survivor’s wife, I have to say that my first 35 years in the Church were pretty great,the last nine years, not so much. I have run into a few clergy members who exemplify the clericalism that we so often hear about. In those situations I felt that instead of asking them to step down from the pedestal they placed themselves on, I did my best to kick the pedestal out from underneath them. I have had some bad experiences in recent years.Nothing that even comes close to those who suffered abuse by clergy,but my eyes have been opened by some of my own experiences.
        It drives me crazy when I read online comments from people who state that they went to Catholic school and nothing ever happened to them – so therefor the abuse claims are false. No one ever abused me either but is that how selfish our society has become – if it didn’t happen to me then it doesn’t matter?
        I have to correct you on one thing. I do not love my Church,sometimes I barely recognize it. I have some great memories that I will always cherish but a few good memories doesn’t trump all that I know now.

      2. when the church is called out for its foundational claims, and juxtaposed with scripture of the bible to show the contradiction, it is not calling in question whether there are wonderful,loving people “in it.” This needs to be understood imo.

    3. I had mostly nuns that taught me and only one do I remember speaking harshly to me. The rest I feel really cared about me. I had alot of good kind nuns. I have heard stories from other(older) people about the nuns that hit their hands with rules. Maybe is a generational thing……..I don’t know. All I know is that the nuns were good to me and recently the new priests coming out of the seminary seem different than the creepy priests I had in high school. I hate what the institutional church has done to the victims and I have wept and I have spent sleepless night over it. But I guess I was explaining that I still love the mystical body of the church and hope some of that may be restored. I think we all would agree the institutional church leadership in philly was the exact opposite of what it should have been. Just because I had some good experinces does not wipe out the evil the church has done. I am not saying that at all.

  36. Kathy, that is a very wonderful story about the good sisters, however, I remember the nuns I had would beat the snot out you if they caught you crying. I remember being in possbibly second or third grade and vomiting because you could not be excused to use the bathroom after lunch. As I had to clean up my own vomit I began to cry and the nun slapped me and told me not to be such a baby. Wow, and I never told my mom that story because I thought I’d get in more trouble at home because Sister what’s her name would never tell the truth about in anyway. And still, I remained a catholic after I reached adulthood. Hmmmmmmmmmm

  37. Patrick
    I agree. So many times people reference the “good” that the Church does and it drives me insane. Okay let’s feed the poor but rape some kids. Insanity- all of it. My point was in reference to Beth’s post in trying to wrap your head around the fact that some one else’s experience could be so drastically different within the same organization. Here is an example- as compassionate as the nuns were to me after finding out my Ddad was ill and taking me under their wing -the priest who was the chaplain at my high school was just suspended along with the other priests in February. So only an office away from these caring nuns was someone who abused children. No abuse was ever reported at my high school from that priest. It was an all girls school run by nuns so they probably put him there because that is what they usually did. If a priest abused boys they would ‘solve” the problem by putting them with girls.

    1. Kathy, not only differences to other people but I struggled with my own reasons for staying and leaving the RCC. I raised all of my children as catholics and they all went to catholic school. So, as many bad experiences that I had, I just chalked it up to several mean nuns, etc. There are mean people everywhere. So, I too loved all the rituals, devotions, processions and the constant awareness of having the Eucharist and the love of Jesus. I was not just a keep the seat warm catholic, I was an extremely active member of the church. So, when I decided to call it quits it was no simple decision. I walked away from a place that I thought of as home, I no longer have any formal worship, I am floating on my own trying to maintain some type of hope, or faith or anything with a God/Jesus/Spirit who was always a Catholic God to me and now I must rediscover Him

  38. The title of this post should have been changed to “After All That I Know, How Could I Not Know Anything?”

    1. I do know now that the altar boys probably had a difference experience than the girls and that some of the priests that were at our church and in high school always seemed creepy. It turns out they were on the list of offenders. Both at my grade school and at my high school I have not heard of anyone coming forward. The priests did not teach at the grade school or high school so unless you were an altar boy or went to them for guidance they did not have assess like if they were teaching a regular subject. We did have some seminaries teach a few lessons occassionally. I think thought that the boys in the church knew more than the girls looking back and maybe that is why you dont see alot of volunteers that are men in the church. They know and knew back then.

      1. You know, Beth, the priest who abused me was my Religion/Sex Education teacher. It always baffled me why the Archdiocese of Philadelphia would choose a known child abuser to teach Sex Education. It is a fact that the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, the Diocese of Wilmington and schools in Delaware and Pennsylvania, where this guy taught, knew for years, all throughout his career, that he was in fact abusing young boys. Isn’t that like asking an alcoholic to be a bartender?

      2. Rich,
        Replying to what you said about the archdiocese placing the priest that abused you as a teacher in sex ed. class. That is the most insane thing I have ever heard. Yes you are right. They knew they should be held responsible. It was callous cold evil and calculating……..they did not care. Heads should roll.

      3. I even remember one time the school gathered all the boys and sent them to the study hall where they showed a man on a large screen checking himself for testicular cancer. I mean that literally showed the guy naked, sitting on a wooden chair and we watched as he felt around his junk and explained what to look for. I never understood the whole purpose of that. Thanks for educating me about possible bumps on my balls but isn’t there a book for that, or maybe a visit to a doctor?

        I can think of so many inappropriate things, other than the sexual abuse, that happened in school. Or how about the time we were showed a movie of naked people walking around some beach?! I don’t remember what movie it was but I highly doubt it was appropriate for a bunch of young boys.

        How about forced showers after gym class with adult male gym teachers in the locker rooms and even strolling by the shower stalls?!

        I can literally pile up the experiences that if my kid had to deal with that crap, I’d be calling the cops!

    2. Think how close you could have been. If you went into the other office, you could have been a sex abuse victim. You were young, vulnerable, and looking for help from the people whose only job it is to help others, and one of them might have sexually abused you. The nuns might have known about him, and did nothing. Other priests and bishops probably knew, and did nothing. You could have been the victim.

      There but for the grace of God…

      God spared you because you are a better fighter than a victim. Be thankful every day that God chose that for you. Think about that every day, and think of those victims, and keep fighting.

      1. Patrick I know that was for Kathy but I do think of that. I also know my brothers were extremely lucky to not have been victims. I wonder about the kids I went to school with all the time.

      2. Patrick said, “God spared you because you are a better fighter than a victim. Be thankful every day that God chose that for you.”

        Something for you to think about if you are to post something along those lines again. I understood your intent toward Kathy, but how do you reconcile that line of thinking if you are the victim? God didn’t spare them because…?

        Explore that.

      3. I think it was matter of wrong place ,wrong time…….anyone could have been a victim and from what I have read the pedophiles I was around as a kid liked boys……so maybe I was safe around the priests because I happened to be a girl……it’s scary……..for the survivors its so sad…….

      4. haditCatholic, survivor’s wife, beth, and other victims,

        Please forgive me. You’re all right. I truly, truly apologize. If I could edit it, I’d remove it.

        I will say that if I were a victim, I would not have survived until today. I truly know that. I have the utmost respect for victims. I’ve talked to victims, I’ve read about victims, and I really empathize with what you’ve been through. I could never have dealt with that at that time in my life, and would not be alive today. I would have given up when given drugs or alcohol, or given up somewhere else along the way.

        I am an angry, confident, committed fighter in this fight, and I believe God chose me to be a part of this fight from this side because I didn’t have the strength to do it as a victim.

        I meant no disrespect. Again, my sincerest apology.

      5. No offense taken here. Then again I don’t believe in God so mabye that has something to do with it.

    3. Rich,
      Just thought I would let you know…

      I bust out laughing reading your alternate title.

      Still laughing. Good one.

  39. I think more priests should write meaningless crap and post it on this site. 105 comments? Sheesh! Everybody has an opinion.

  40. We desperately need more posts from priests. This one has been beaten for far too long.

    Hey Hey Ho Ho…. Catholic priests we need some mo!

    Hey hey Ho Ho…. Catholic priests got to show!

    Hey hey ho hooo —- I’m tired I got to go!

  41. Patrick, I wasn’t offended either and I do believe in God.

    Rich, you are on a roll tonight.

    I like how this post has morphed into something altogether different than the original post. Any more thoughts on what Fr. Chris had to say? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller? Bueller?

  42. one more thought about Fr Chris’s post, I have to ask him, Fr. Chris, don’t you have any priest friends that you can convince to come here and explain their feelings?
    Really it seems to some of us that you pulled the short stick to be the chosen one to come here and offer some type of well ….. explanation for why the church decided to protect all the pedophiles. Why don’t you see if you can persuade a few fellow clergymen to come here and express themselves, as you know, we only bark on here, not bite. (oh, and I am sure many do stop by, just to read what the laity thinks) but we need them to stop hiding and post.

    1. I am away from home and struggling with a little laptop, so I have not kept up with the lst 2 days posts, but I just wanted to say how “to the point and right on I found Abigail’s post.

    2. Abigail, I can assure you that I did not pick a short stick or anything of that sort. I had read the blog earlier and reached out to Susan to affirm that there were priests who are just as concerned and those on this site and trying to come to come to terms with the ugliness of what has happened or is happening, seeking ways to be instruments of reparation and healing and trying to sort things out like others. Earlier this week I was discussing this post and its comments with another priest and invited him to write his thoughts as well (which I found to be very insightful) – I will follow up and see what he has decided. I remain hopeful that people can see that not all priests are abusers or participated in cover up of abuse or sanction the cover up or even knew about the abuse or its cover up. Many are just as horrified and hurt as many who come to this blog seeking answers and support. Not one of us had all the questions or all the answers – we are in this together and I continue to believe that it is together that we will be able to find the healing an renewal that we desire as we come to this site (whose purpose is: a forum for Catholics who wish to respectfully share their concerns, questions and desire for real reform within their religion in regard to child sex abuse.

      1. Horrified and hurt? We’re in this together? Okay, name a place and time and I’ll be there, because so far from what I have seen, priests are not “in this together” with us victims.

        Why don’t you speak out for the wrongs committed by men (and women) within your organization, because if the tables were turned and it was non-priests assaulting priests for no reason whatsoever, I’d back you guys up.

        Good people are supposed to fight for those who cannot fight for themselves. Good people are supposed to protect children.

        The supposed “good priests” will not stand with us victims for fear they might lose their jobs. Well you could take my job and everything I own and I would still never sit back and watch a child being raped! I would not turn a blind eye to the priest who is raping a child, and I would not obey my superiors who protect child rapists.

        Respectfully, I will write in this forum – STOP raping kids! Go find an adult man or woman and try having a consensual relationship. Speak out against those who allow children to be raped, and instead of hiding behind your God, face up to what you know and demand accountability from your own employer. If not, go be with the rest of the creepos!

        I will remain hopeful that people will see right through this kind of propaghanda and I hope they continue leaving the church. It will protect children.

        I hope Catholic teachers go on strike forever, because as long as there’s no school days for Catholic students, there will be less child rape!

        I love how you priests squeeze “child sex abuse” in there so eloquently. I’ll call a duck the way I see and hear it. It’s child rape. Child torture. Child manipulation. Pedophile clergy rapists!

      2. This might not make any sense to you but it does to me. There was a show about a Vietnam Vet (God Bless his soul)that helped get at least 76 people out of the world trade center and he died trying to rescuing more people. They asked his widow why she thought her husband did what he did. She said he always regretted not saving some of his friends during the Vietnam War and he was not going to leave anyone behind again. This is what we need the priests to do” not leave anyone behind”. We need you to go into that burning building so to speak. Trust is regained by action. Anyone can stand and watch the building burn but it is a hero who risks his life to save others. It was priests that hurt these children and I think it is priests who need to reach out to them.

      3. Beth,

        Guys like that Viet Nam Vet are true heroes. It isn’t their job, but it is a true calling. They risk everything, including their lives, to save others that they don’t even know. Another was a BC student profiled on ESPN in a feature called the “red bandana” at He died saving as many people as he could before the twin towers collapsed on 9/11. They are the best of what we wish we could be, and the best of what God created.

        They will be praised for eternity.

        Catholic priests are just the opposite. They are the most cowardly people on earth. They all know thousands of children were raped by priests. They know the problem is much, much, much worse than we know. They know the Catholic church conspired to hide the predators and move them to places where they could rape other children. They know their bishops lie about it. They know truths much worse than what we know so far. They all conspire to bully and disparage any victims who come forward.

        If single Catholic priest had the guts to stand up and say, “This isn’t What Jesus Would Do”, they wouldn’t die. The worst thing that would happen. is that they might get kicked out of the church, and have to live on the street, like millions of people already do.

        You KNOW some of those homeless people on the street were victims of Catholic child rape, and never got over it. They never told anyone. They knew they wouldn’t be believed, and think their lives had no value. Booze made the problem go away, and that was the only way they could solve the problem.

        These priests helped make sure all victims felt uncomfortable coming forward, because they didn’t want to lose their jobs.

        Priests are comfortable leaving those children behind for the “greater good”. No sacrifice for priests. Let the innocent children suffer the sacrifice.

        No one is more gutless and cowardly than a Catholic priest.
        Just the opposite of heroes.

        You make me puke.
        You will make God do a lot worse.
        You are the worst of what God created.
        You will be damned for eternity.

      4. Patrick, Like usual there is alot of truth to what you say. I believe that most mental health clients and people who abuse drugs and alcohol come under two categories those that have underlying genetic conditions and those that were abused as children.Correct me if I am wrong but I remember you saying you had a painful personal experince of a friend who used alcohol to deal with his childhood sexaul abuse and it lead to his death. So you know first hand what you are talking about, That’s why you are so passionate about sexual abuse of children. I think many of us if not victims ourselves know a victim that is also why we are here. I am not going to judge all priests but it does seem that many knew something or heard something.But what I want Fr. Chris and the others priests to realize that this collective guilt or whatever you want to call it seems to be paralizing you to the point it seems to have taken you hostage. Has the new priest assocation even made a public statement to the press about how they feel about the abuse and how they plan on addressing it with the new Archbishop?.

      5. When I said “you” at the end of the last two sentences in the above blog I meant the priests of the archdiocese seem to be held hostage by their guilt or fear or whatever they want to call it not Patrick just a clarification.

      6. Hey Patrick after I wrote that and sent it I realized I did said you I meant you as in the priests not you. Sorry about that. I don’t think you have guilt or fear. I think you are rather brave in saying what you feel. I had alot of trouble sending a blog and it would not allow me to send a correction for a few hours again sorry that came out wrong.Beth

      7. I wanted to post on “After All the I Now Know….” but could not, so I am able to post a reply to Rev. Chris, now “philadelphiapriests” here.
        For ease of reading this I am splitting this into two separate posts.

        To Rev. Walsh, thank you for your reply to my post. I first want to say that I am not quite as gifted when it comes to writing my posts as many other members in here but with that being said, I do try to express myself honestly and sometimes after I hit “Post Comment” I think oooops, I hope that isn’t misunderstood. So in addition to unintentional meanings and typos, etc. please take this as off the cuff but certainly sincere.

        First , because of my respect for Susan and Kathy (although I do not know them personally) I take their word for their confidence and respect for you. After all, you are the only priest that responded here and let us know that you are a priest. So, for that, I commend you. Now, as I post this, I am not referring to you specifically, I am collectively referring to “Philadelphiapriests” as you now have that as your name. You said that you were” discussing this site with a fellow priest and invited him to write his thoughts here.” Ok, one other priest, do you think that you might want to get together with several, possibly, let’s say, ten (10) fellow priests and discuss this forum. See if you can get 10 to respond here.

        I am not saying that all priests are guilty of preying on children. I am not saying that all priests are abusing children. I am not saying that all priests are protecting the abusive ones. But what I am saying is that you…. One single priest…. Responded to this forum. ONE out of how many, not only in the AD of Philadelphia, but out of the whole entire county. I realize that this is a relatively new forum, but really, one priest …. That to me seems incredible.

      8. Father Chris and priests,

        The clerical culture and the managing style it employs to deal with anything that threatens the appearance and pocketbook of the Church are THE causes of the sexual abuse crisis. Until they are annihilated, priests will never appear as horrified as we are, nor will their efforts to find ways to heal the variety of hurts seem genuine or be productive. The clerical culture and its MO are foreign and shocking to us, if not immoral, acting as an additional layer of horror that we must contend with. The ONLY way members of the priesthood can ignite a cooperative spirit of healing and renewal is by burying, reinventing and resurrecting themselves.

  43. Fr. Chris wrote: ” I remain hopeful that people can see that not all priests are abusers or participated in cover up of abuse or sanction the cover up or even knew about the abuse or its cover up. Many are just as horrified and hurt as many who come to this blog seeking answers and support.”

    Then why aren’t you (collectively) speaking out with us? Why do you stay silent? Why? Why? Why? Why have the priests who didn’t know what was going on, who are horrified about what happened to victims and their families…why do you stay silent? Where are you? How is that Christ in this world when you turn away from those who need you most?” Why? Now that you know…why?

    Fr. Chris wrote: “Not one of us had all the questions or all the answers – we are in this together and I continue to believe that it is together that we will be able to find the healing an renewal that we desire as we come to this site (whose purpose is: a forum for Catholics who wish to respectfully share their concerns, questions and desire for real reform within their religion in regard to child sex abuse.”

    The “we” of “we are in this together”…who are you referring to? Those in the pews?

    Thanks for the reminder about the purpose of the site. 😉 I trust that you can see that “real reform” will only come when those who have been betrayed are allowed to share their truth. Unless you (as a part of the rcc) create space for it, the very crimes that are playing out now will continue into the future. I promise you this…unless and until you (as priests) start reaching out to those whom you have hurt by your silence and inaction and lack of “awareness,” you will continue to confirm that you follow a man, not a Lord.

    1. Survivors wife you nailed it in the last paragraph.You really make me think about things from a different perspective and I thankyou for that.

  44. If this priest thinks the suffering he, other innocent priests and the parishoners suffer is equal to the suffering of the victims and families, he is wrong. Let me introduce you to a few people.
    1. Grace. Grace is an 80-something woman, a devout, working-class Catholic. Her four children were all sexually assaulted by a priest whom she considered a friend, a man who came into her home every week for coffee. He kept the children silent by telling them he would kill Grace if they told what he did to them.
    2. Abby. Abby is a 22-year-old young woman who approached me about 4-5 times by e-mail before telling me she couldn’t come forward after all about the abuse inflicted upon her by a popular priest who is still working today.
    3. Bob. Bob was raped for several years by his parish priest. Bob would stare at the crucifix while the priest did his thing.
    4. Janet P. Janet’s son Eric was one of five victims of a priest in Kansas who killed themselves. The anniversary is this month.

    5.Mr. X. A man contacted me about being abused by a ring of pedophile priests in Iowa. I have encouraged him to come forward, but he says it won’t do any good because the Catholics don’tcare and the SOL has run out.
    While I know the Catholics who love thier church are suffering, it really doesn’t compare. Unt

  45. Oops.
    While I know the Catholics who love their church are suffering, it really doesn’t compare. Until they are willing to recognize this- and thank you to those who do- this will not begin to be resolved.

    1. The genius of the devil in the Catholic church is that he can rape children, lie about it, ignore the victims, and convince the congregation that the congregation is suffering. Amazing.

      1. Patrick,
        Let’s do a little “logic ” here. As you illustrate— the devil is working in the Catholic Church, well, the people go to the catholic church every Sunday to — they think— worship God. Well, if the devil is working there, who are they reallyworshipingg?

        Come to your own conclusions.

      2. …and you know when every Catholic walks into church now they think:

        – this priest might have had anal sex with a 12 year old boy and lied about it
        – all of these guys protected child rapists
        – I cheat on my wife and cheat my business partner and cheat on my taxes, but compared to him, I’m doing really good!

  46. Part two of my reply to Rev.Walsh:
    A friend who attended a local parish Mass several months or weeks before the news broke in Philadelphia about the 21 suspended priests, but after the grand jury report became so accessible to the public, one young priest , in his homily, spoke rather harshly to the congregation about questioning him and others about clergy abuse, he was almost, well almost pointing his finger at the laity, like it was the people’s fault for starting this, quoting percentages of how much sexual abuse of children goes on in or society, and how only 2% of that abuse is from priests, etc. As she left Mass that day, she said that she was confused, disappointed and angry. So, several months or weeks later I was shocked to see him as one of the 21 suspended priests. Why the tirade in the homily…. Why the blame of the media, the laity, everyone else but the RCC??????

    This is the type of conduct from priests that gives all priests a bad name. This is what makes the laity so suspicious of the secrets and cover-ups and priestly attitudes that the laity is stupid and we should just do as you say. The evil and sin of child/teen sexual abuse is serious business. It’s not a type of crime that should be able to be forgiven in a confessional. The church’s rules… a sin is only forgiven if the sinner has true contrition. Repeated sexual assaults and the church leaders continually covering up, moving these priests, paying for their lawyers, to me the plain old “people” with a plain old “high school” education is even smart enough to know that these priests (and priests who know of an incident of sexual grooming and actual abuse and does not report it to police) do not have true contrition and are not forgiven

    1. Peace of Christ and Happy Sabbath!

      First off, I did not intend to post my comments as “Philadelphiapriest” (I do not speak for the entire association when I post here). I did not sign out from my wordpress blog when posting earlier in the week, I apologize.

      I am also sorry that I am not able to respond as quickly as some people may like. I get to the site when I am able. I am grateful for that understanding.

      I will try to respond to Abigail’s comments as well as those of others:

      I do not see the merit in comparing the suffering of one to another (this has been noted already in this stream). Victims of sexual abuse suffer. Families of victims suffer. The people of the parish and community suffer. Innocent priests (who did not abuse or have knowledge of abuse or any cover up) suffer. Each person suffers. While the suffering on one may have a greater impact on quality of life than in the life of another, suffering is suffering – it is the subective experience of each person and so I do not minimalize it when someone tells me they are hurting and I do not think anyone should minimize it in the life of another. If someone says they are suffering (and I do feel that the sexual abuse of minors by priests has caused me suffering), then I believe it is appropriate that others believe me just as I believe them. If we can’t presume that much int he name of civility, it will be difficult to have a fruitful conversation.

      When I wrote that I believe that “we” had the answer to the problems faced by the Church, “we” included those who comment on this site, the laity in the pews, priests who serve faithfully, those who are experts in the area of sexual abuse and healing, as well as the larger community outside of the Catholic Church (including the criminal justice system and the media who I believe God is using in many ways to bring renewal to the Church). I do not believe that this crisis will be handled well by circling wagons and handling it in a small tent – this is for the big top with many voices, minds and hearts having a voice. Thus, my participation here.

      In a post I wrote that I have had a conversation with one priest. In fact I have had the conversation with others as well. At this point none have come forward to add comments or write. Why are they hesitant? I believe it is a fruit of the clerical culture that rewards conformity. While they are not directly part of the problem, they are not yet part of the solution either. It is one of the reasons for my participation in the Association of Philadlephia Priests – to encourage my brothers to speak out. I share your goal of having 10 priests commenting here…. I know many are reading these posts.

      In regard to my being called “pastor” and not “father”. It does not really matter to me – you can call me Chris. I am secure in my identity and I believe (and hope that the people of my wonderful Church Family would also believe) that I am a good spiritual father – I seek to provide for, nourish, protect, encourage and love my family. Like any healthy mature father, I seek to be a better man (though God’s grace) each day I am blessed with life. I also understand how the pain of sexual abuse causes others to questions the validity of the title “father” when the trust given to “father” was violated so horribly. The comment made me think back to a recent conversation with a brother priest about “seeing our bishop as a father”. This priest said that he was not attracted to that image because he felt it implied a dependance and systemic immaturity that has been used by the Church in the past for unhealthy things (including the sex abuse crisis and its cover up). It furthers the pray-pay-obey thinking (Father knows best so just be quiet little one). In cases, this has sadly been true. I intend to read more, reflect on and pray about the “father” title in light of the crimes of sexual abuse in our Church.

      Some have asked why priests are not “speaking out with us” on the need for reform. First, why do you think I am posting here? I do join my voice with yours is seeking this authentic renewal in our Church (a renewal also desired by Almighty God). Second, I believe that there are many ways to call for reform in the Church and speak the truth to those who need to hear it. Jesus himself told his disciples – “if they are not against us, they are for us” – thus if a group or an individual is doing something towards the reform of the Church, protection of children as well as justice and healing for victims then great – they are “with us”. Catholics4Change is a wonderful voice for this change, but not the only change.

      Regarding the priest who preached the inappropriate homily days before his own removal, I thought of (I think) Shakespeare – “thou dost protest too much”. He obviously had issues that he had not dealt with and remained in the place where it was easier to blame others than to get right himself. Hopefully, his time on Administrative Leave has allowed him time for thought, reflection and penance.

      I remain grateful for all of the comments and thoughts. I should also note that my original post (After All I Know, How Can I Still go to Church; I will still with this title even though I noted Rich’s suggestion) has made been shared in other forums and produced similar fruitful conversation. I am grateful to Almighty God for using it for His purpose and to Susan and Kathy for the amazing effort in managing this sight.

      Off to get ready for Mass….

      1. “Regarding the priest who preached the inappropriate homily days before his own removal”, maybe some Jail Time instead of “Administrative Leave” would allow him lots of time for ” thought, reflection and penance” I can’t believe I stayed in the church as long as I did to hear this crap

      2. Thanks Fr. Chris for the friendly post. You’re one in a million!
        [Sorry for the pun– the devil made me do it, heh heh]
        Seriously, even one post out of all the millions of Catholic authorities out there is welcome, and I believe others here share that welcome. Peace.

      3. Fr. Chris,
        Thanks for your response but what about a public statement from the Priest Assocation about how they feel about the abuse? or how they plan on working with the victims and Archbishop to address the situation. If not why not? Something in the public eye because many catholics and victims have left the church. You as the leader could do that. If not why not?

      4. Oh Chris, I do thank you for your quick response and I do appreciate that you are one out of many who does want to hear what the victims, laity and others have to say and have the respect to respond. For that I thank you.

      5. Brother Chris (the fact of the matter is that, via Baptism, we are “brothers and sisters in Christ”),

        You say that the clergy is hesitant to speak up due to a clerical culture that rewards conformity. Let’s not forget that the same culture rewards conformity in the laity, as well. It has an oppressive double-edge effect. Particularly distasteful about the effect is the fear-factor embedded in it. The priestly vow of obedience, threats of withholding the Eucharist, excommunication, falling out of favor with one’s pastor, or bishop, or fellow parishioners, desire to move up the clerical ladder, etc., compel us to conform. The scenario is hardly conducive to forming and nurturing clerics and lay people who are insightful, independent thinkers, problem-solvers and action-oriented, and who are equipped with the knowledge and skills to act as instruments for healing and reform in a crisis. The culture of conformity and fear is dysfunctional, altogether contrary to human dignity, a medieval, reign-according-to-terror tool, and, indeed, so oppressive, unjust and inhumane that it, too, should be brought to the attention of The Hague.

        It makes a 21st century mind, heart and soul shudder, to say the least.

        When you beckon me to you, Brother Chris, when you invite me into conversation, when you say we can work together to heal and reform the Church, and when you invite me to join you at the Eucharistic table, every fiber of my being recoils because you represent, indeed, you are the image of, the culture.

        Sister HadIt

      1. “This isn’t a melodramatic comment – It’s God’s anger. I’m just the typist. What else do you think He would say? Whose side do you think He’s on?”
        I found two verses when I looked for “wrath of man.” This is definitely an area I need to work on. I do get angry, so I frequently think about the question of my wrath. Here are the verses:
        Psalms 76:10 Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee: the remainder of wrath shalt thou restrain.
        James 1:20 For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.

        The Psalm is new to me, but I often think about the James verse and how it seems to say that we need to leave more of our anger aside and let God take care of the situations in His way.This leads me to the question that really troubles me “big time”, i.e., is this situation going to lead to a full exposure , the biggest since the “Reformation” , of the errors cover upsoverups of the past?
        Or is it just going to amount to a “footnote in history” , a little perturbation of the status quo that will be forgotten by most as the world continues on its inevitable path to destruction as God’s Word prophesies will eventually occur?
        My earnest hope and prayer is that ,at least in a small way, more will come to know the truth about what God has revealed to us in His Word. The lesson so far, is that it is “the few” , the “remnant” who follow Christ by following Paul. In the four gospels, Jesus spoke to the disciples on earth. In speaking to us, Jesus Christ spoke it to Paul, without any witnesses around, and not on earth but from heaven.

  47. I just read Chris’s reply to me and I also just came to the conclusion to what I knew all along. If more than 1 priest, never mind the 10 I had hoped for, were going to reply here or do anything at all, it would have happened already. I hate feeling this hopeless but the Chruch needs to be knocked down and totally rebuilt (and I am not talking about buildings) Patrick is so right when he is saying that the anti-christ is working right in and through the RCC. This is the most important reason why I am happy to be OUT of the Church. If it does crumble and is revisited by the Holy Spirit, I will be first in line to sign up.

  48. also it sounds to me as if Chris knows that the priest on the “administrative leave” notice he did not use the term “suspended” is going to be back in the saddle again after his “thought, reflection and penance” (and what about contrition, the church must have ruled this out when I wasn’t paying attention as a condition for forgiveness) Wouldn’t you just love to know what his penance was, probably a summer at a beachhouse or mountain villa 🙁

  49. To be added to my last:
    1 Corinthians 4:11 Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwellingplace;
    1 Corinthians 11:1 Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.

    Philippians 3:17 Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample.

    1 Thessalonians 1:6 And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost.

  50. Thanks for posting Fr. Chris.

    You wrote: ” “we” included those who comment on this site, the laity in the pews, priests who serve faithfully, those who are experts in the area of sexual abuse and healing, as well as the larger community outside of the Catholic Church (including the criminal justice system and the media who I believe God is using in many ways to bring renewal to the Church).”

    Perhaps it was simply an oversight or an assumption, but the entity missing from the list is/are the victims.

      1. Fr. Chris,
        I have been thinking about victims of other tragedies, a natural disaster, death in the family, serious illness. The one thing that people say many times is that the love and support of the community sustained them. There has been no such love and support shown to victims of sexual abuse from our parish communities.
        Before our parish community moves on, I believe we need to do that. The trouble is in our parish there is no talk anymore on a community level to address what we can do. It appears our parish just wants to move on. Do you have any thoughts on that?

  51. Fr. Chris,
    What motivated you to speak out now? What was it that brought you to the place where you would post on a public forum?

  52. I hold my position that the suffering of the victims and familes is much greater than the priest who feels people are mistrustful of him now or the parishoners who are very disappointed in their church.

    All suffering is not equal. If I lose one child, I would be devasted- but doubly so if I lost both. If I lose my left hand, I will suffer- but I’ll suffer far more if I lose my right, and more yet if I lose both.

    It’s imperative, if you are ever to make significant changes, you come to realize this truth.

    I remember reading in a Catholic newspaper about Bishop Soens, accused (and eventually found guilty in civil court and by a Catholic tribunal) of sexually assaulting 20+ high school boys. The writer, Bishop Nickless, wrote about three sentences about the victims’ sufffering, and then devoted an impassioned several paragraphs to supporting the bishop.I’ll always remember the first sentence: “Bishop Soens has suffered much.”

  53. Priests say the darnest things…

    I am so sick of hearing about God. Granted, this is a forum for Catholics and I realize that most people on this forum believe in God, but I don’t. I don’t push my beliefs upon anyone. What bothers me most about Catholic clergy is that they think God will see the Church through this entire scandal. Never mind that Chris never mentioned victims in his letter, since we are on the forefront of this issue. Priests think that the grace of God will fix the Church, but I wonder, was it the grace of God who provided the sexual abuse of thousands, and even tens of thousands, maybe more, of children to be abused by members of the clergy? If you’re going to hide behind your God, instead of taking responsibility for your own actions, do you then agree that God is the reason for the abuse to begin with? If God can solve the problem, would it be fair for me to claim that God was the problem?

    Then Chris goes on to add that this issue is for the “big top with many voices.” What does that mean? Do you think it is for the Pope to decide how to curb the scumbag clergy? We tried that once. He ignored us. If I could have a choice who my “big top voice” would be, it’s that little kid I was who cried out for help constantly, and begged for it to stop, only for no one to come to my rescue. Finally, when that little kid found his voice, some 20 years later, it was your big top voices that tried to silence him once again, and refused to accept even the possibility that that kid was abused by a priest, denied it, and lied about past allegations of sexual abuse on other young boys by that same priest. Why does the Catholic Church refute my claims of abuse before they even attempt to substantiate it? I think it’s because you had always hoped to keep that Pandora’s Box closed. The Church only listens when criminal suits and lawsuits are filed, but why did they refuse to listen to me? I didn’t want any money. I even told the Church that. Instead they decided to handle me and jerk me around, and for what? The Church made me promises when I was a kid to give me a good education and prepare me for life. That was a lie. The Church also made promises to me regarding terms of my therapeutic treatment, and once again, they lied. I had to constantly call the Church to remind them to keep their word. How crazy is that? Even a 5 year-old knows how important it is to keep a promise.

    The so-called “innocent priests” are hesitant to come forward and speak out publicly because they are cowards. It’s short and simple, and we victims know which side of the fence you stand. We know it well, especially when we try to alert the community of a pedophile priest, who was removed from their parish for abusing children, and the pastor comes out after Sunday Mass and confronts us on the sidewalks and yells at us, calling us “liars,” and even shoving me and threatening me. Or, how about the priest who came out of the Cathedral in Philadelphia last winter, while we were protesting for justice and an end to abuse within the walls of the Catholic Church, and we were told, “Get the f#ck off church property.” (We were on the sidewalk – public property.) What about the priests who drove by in their brand new luxury and sports cars and gave us the finger, or told us to get a life? Doesn’t seem to me like many priests are supporting us. Every priest I have ever come in contact with, who is actively ministering in the church, has offended me sexually, physically, and psychologically. If you guys really gave a shit, you’d be out supporting us and not the cowards who are giving the “good priests” a bad name.

    Father? What do you know about fatherhood? My father never held me down and raped me. My father never stuck his penis into my mouth and damn near suffocated me. My father didn’t hurt me and my father never threatened to kill me. “Father” is a word reserved for men who actually care about and love kids!

    1. You need to do a documentary about your experiences. I can’t imagine a priest cursing and giving you the middle finger but then again I can. I only protested a few times at the chancery not the cathedral the priests just ignored us and the protesters were all very polite.Do you yell back at them?

  54. Father? What do you know about fatherhood? My father never held me down and raped me. My father never stuck his penis into my mouth and damn near suffocated me. My father didn’t hurt me and my father never threatened to kill me. “Father” is a word reserved for men who actually care about and love kids!

  55. I think this thread might be like kicking a dead pedophile priest… although I haven’t had the pleasure yet.

  56. This thread is turning into more a a “three ring circus without a tent” rather than the big top… just kidding, but over 160 posts …. but here goes #167:

    I know exactly what Rich is saying when he says he does not believe in God. After reading his posts what I do is put my child’s face in the place of Rich’s. It could have been that way. I could sit here and say “oh but for the grace of God” that didn’t happen to my child. No, it’s not that way at all, it’s because that priest that repeatedly raped Rich was not transferred to my parish yet, or my child was not an altar boy yet, or the opportunity for some other rapist priest did not present itself yet. As I stated before, I was not a victim of sexual abuse, but when I prayed to God to make certain other circumstances happen or not happen, I usually got the same response Rich got. None… I actually see why belief in Santa Claus for a child is better than belief in god. At least when they asked for that bicycle or toy, they most likely received it. I will not and cannot say anything to Rich about belief in God, he’s been there, he prayed, he begged but which god listened to him and answered him. Okay, maybe there are people out there saying now, “but look, now his horrible situation is showing others what went on in the church, isn’t this god working through Rich” Really, my spiritual life since leaving the RCC does not leave much room for that “Catholic God”. If we are made in His image and likeness…what the heck, this is something god would do, or would like done? Again, I am rambling off the cuff, but my spiritual life is taking on a different type of meaning. Does anyone know what I am trying to say?

    1. Abigail,
      My try at an answer for you:
      God never said to us that “there is a way to live in this world where nothing bad ever happens to you, or to others, or to the mosdefenselessss etc.”What He has said, when put most simply is: Mankind, by Adam is born sinful and I have made a way for man to live eternally
      with me, in spite of that helpless sinfulness, by the death , burial and resurrection to life of my own Son. Christ died our death for us, if we believe that. It only works if we believe.

      1. Gerald, I have heard that statement before in the Church. I am not saying God promised me a rose garden, all I really meant is that for just about my entire life, I practiced Catholicism and Christianity and I just made the comment that I am somehow (in my old age no less) sorting through my spiriutality. And it took this whole issue of how the RCC handled clergy abuse issues that finally made me walk away. A whole entire topic which I really should not have posted here. Thanks for answering me though.

  57. Your pain and anger are palpable.

    What helps you go on?

    You can email privately if you prefer.

    I asked what it was that brought Fr. Chris to the point that he would post on a public forum. Note his answer. I asked because maybe, just maybe, if there was something specific that helped him speak up, then it may help other priests.

    I ask you the above question because maybe there would be something in your answer that would help those reading support a victim. (including you) in some way.

    1. I am sorry I did not understand the fuller context of your question.

      I suppose part of what made me “speak up” was my personality (I am comfortable with conflict and engaging conversations that others may prefer to avoid; I say this because I believe that personality type/preferences are a factor in the Church’s mishandling of many things).

      More importantly, I heard the frustration of people who wanted to hear from priests and were not hearing from us. Originally, I wanted to assure Susan than there were priests who cared about what happened to victims and their families and that there were priests who were also angry with the Archdiocese and saddened by the way things had been handled.

      I also feel that as a priest I am called by God to a prophetic role in the world – prophets speak the truth regardless of whether or not it is popular. There are many prophetic voices on this site and in these conversations. I am blessed to be among them and remain hopeful that other priests will join their voices to the conversation.

      1. Brother Chris,

        You say that, as a priest, you were called by God to a prophetic role in the world, and that prophets speak the truth regardless of whether it is popular. So, your call is the call of all priests, not your own, personal call. It is a call “unto the priesthood.”

        Yet the priesthood’s culture stifles the call by rewarding conformity and punishing what it deems unpopular prophetic voices.

        Seriously screwed up.

        Praying for you and the others…

  58. I’ve participated in over 150 protests, demonstrations and press conferences in four different states. When you do that many you’re bound to run into a few people who get under your skin a little. Normally I stand silently, with a sign reading “I Was Abused By A Catholic Priest,” and holding a sign like that does muster a lot of emotions from parishioners and clergy. I have been in exactly 3 confrontations with either priests or parishioners. I couldn’t help myself and I don’t regret it. Out front of the Cathedral last winter, a parishioner called me “a money hungry leech.” Since I never asked or demanded a dime from anyone, that hurt. Last winter again, in NE Philly, while alerting the community and parish of a priest who was listed in the Grand Jury Report 2011, myself and a few others were confronted by the parish priest, who called us “liars and losers.” He went on to announce to his congregation, while they were milling around the demonstration after mass, that “Father So & So has be exonerated of all charges and is innocent.” Toward the end of the protest, he came down off of church property, onto the sidewalk and shoved me and shouted threats at me. This was only two days after that priest had been removed because of the GJR. I was in fact telling the truth. The parish priest was lying. At another protest outside of a school and church in NE Philly, in a predominantly Polish neighborhood, a church employee shouted obscenities at us, while a parishioner threw coins at us. There are some things I can take, but when you put your hands on me or call me a liar, or berate a victim who had just come forward on one of those days, I cannot take that. My immediate instinct is to protect.

    I keep moving forward because I am in the fight of my life. Most people wish they could turn back time and be young again, to do things better than the first time around, and maybe they’d find themselves in a better job or better life today. I don’t want that. Yes, I want to go back, but more for the reason that if I knew then what I know now, I could protect myself better and I could protect other kids. But, we can’t go back and I’ll never be able to change what happened back then, but what I can do is protect other kids from experiencing anything like I went through. I figure I can use my voice and my experiences to prevent such evil from ever occurring again. I hope that with my sign in hand, and my shouts from the rooftops, and my presence on the street that I can give another victim the courage to come forward and talk about what happened to them. They don’t have to hold a sign like I do, but maybe they can see that if I have the guts to hold a sign, they can find the courage to call police or the District Attorney.
    This fight has never been about your God, or my God, or no God at all. It’s about bad people doing bad things and good people trying to protect innocence from evil. The optimistic side of me believes there are good men of God. I believe that. But if I can’t see or hear them, how do I know for sure? Why does good not fight against evil? I like it when good guys win. Good guys should always win.

  59. Come and hold my hand,
    I want to contact the living.
    Not sure I understand,
    This role I’ve been given.

    I sit and talk to God,
    But He just laughs at my plan.
    My head speak a language
    I don’t understand.

    I just want to feel real love,
    Feel the home that I live in
    I got too much life,
    Running through my veins going to waste.

    I don’t want to die,
    But I aint keen on living either
    Before I fall in life,
    I’m preparing to leave here.
    I scare myself to death,
    That’s why I keep on running
    Before I’ve arrived, I can see myself coming.

    I just want to feel real life,
    Feel the world that I live in
    There’s a hole in my soul,
    You can see it in my face, it’s a real big place.

  60. Chat room discussion tonight on
    7pm – 9pm EST

    Maybe some would like to participate?

    I haven’t had much time in recent months to provide this online meeting and to update my website because of an illness in the family. Two months ago, my mother was diagnosed with Stage 4 Glioblastoma brain cancer and given less than 7 months to live. I have two brothers who are unwilling to help out, and since my father is a business owner and is away for 12-16 hours per day, the duties of caretaker has been left up to me.

    I haven’t actually been close with my mother over the course of about 15-20 years, but somebody has to step up and take on the responsibility of caring for her and I felt compelled to do it. It’s a 24/7 job and I have actually moved into my parents house and I have been there for the passed 5 weeks, with the exception of the next 4 days I’m getting to spend at home before I have to return there on Thursday morning. So I thought it might be a nice idea to have the chat room meeting, if anyone is interested?

    Please, if anyone has a few extra bucks, there’s an organization called “The Love of Linda Foundation.” When my mother was diagnosed with this cancer, the LLF sent my mother a check for $300, as they do with every resident in Cape May County, NJ who has been diagnosed with cancer. I have donated $1,500 to their foundation and I’d like you to donate as well.

    Good people, who, in spite of tragedy, have overcome to help make a difference in the world. That’s everything.

    1. She is lucky to have a son like you that is hard work. My dad passed away from cancer after a 10 yr battle a few yrs ago. I learned alot thru the process of his dying and I became very close to him. It also deepened my faith. He changed alot and I did too.It might sound strange to people that have not been involved with someone in the process of dying but this experience as hard as it was, was a gift from him. He never gave up(he would always say” what I am suppose to do just lay down and die”) but at the same time accepted it ( he would say “dying is part of life”). From his death and the process of dying I drew strength and I know without a doubt there is a God and Heaven that death does not end the love we share with each other. It also taught me not to fear death nor anything else.

  61. Hadit posted:
    “Brother Chris,

    You say that, as a priest, you were called by God to a prophetic role in the world, and that prophets speak the truth regardless of whether it is popular. So, your call is the call of all priests, not your own, personal call. It is a call “unto the priesthood.”

    Yet the priesthood’s culture stifles the call by rewarding conformity and punishing what it deems unpopular prophetic voices.

    Seriously screwed up.

    Praying for you and the others…

    A very “telling” and true statement IMO. Also, I was “blown away” to see that Hadit is a member of the female gender. At least now it will be easier for me to avoid confusing her posts with those of drwho13 as I have been. Both post quite interestingly IMO.
    Getting back to the topic:
    So the question is; if one will ask, who is the prophet, and who the false prophet?

    Here is another invitation to try the “Search” function on my web site for “background info collated over 10 years.”

  62. I’ve been thinking, maybe I am being too hard on Chris. He is in fact the only priest who has commented on this blog (that we know of) and maybe that should be enough for now. It is more what priests tend to not say than what they do say that really gets under my skin, but I guess they don’t realize how devastating sexual abuse is on a child, just as much as many regulars on this blog seem to be just as ill-informed. I guess, sometimes, because I have felt a certain way for so long and I think the way I think, people should pretty much get it when I explain, but I guess if you’ve never been through it yourself, then you will never fully understand how we abusive victims feel and what we think. It makes our lives even more difficult, because again, we feel like we’re the only ones who will ever understand. It’s a lifetime of loneliness.

    Maybe Chris is one of the good ones or at least he’s just taking the first steps that I have seen limited priests take in the past. I have a deep distrust for all priests, whether they abuse children or not, because it was ingrained early in my life that Catholic priests abuse and hurt children. Maybe that’s an issue I have to work through. I just can’t ignore how I feel and who I am anymore than you can ignore your gender or the natural color of your hair.

    Speaking to Chris: I hope you understand why I am so angry. I’m not a perfect person and I make mistakes just like anyone. I have character flaws and I have never professed to be better than anyone else. I just want to prevent what happened to me happening to another child. Can you understand that?

    1. Thank you Rich. I understand as best as I am able and I am growing in understanding through conversations like these. I can’t even begin to imagine the pain that you have experienced because of the horrible things that you experienced at the hands of priests and the Archdiocese. It is very sad. I am hopeful that you will have many good people in your life who can assist you in knowing the good things of life as well – as you are able and when you are able! Peace!

  63. I just went searching for Fr Chris’s comments which I had read earlier but wanted another ‘take’. I particularly appreciated the progression of his thinking on the abuse issues and the realization that the betrayal to Catholics like myself was so profound, ie ‘the church not being the church’.

    He is right and I wish more folks were talking about it.

    We Vatican 2 types were so delighted with the people of God motif and many of us worked hard to live out those realities.

    Then we had the gradual erosion of that message and a conservative shift. And then we had the explosion of abuse disasters, nationwide and now worldwide. I just read Jason Berry’s Render Unto Rome, and you can add financial episcopal chaos to the list.

    I am reminded of an article Nicholas Kristoff did in the N Y Times about the Two Churches…institutional, and holy throughout the world, selflessly helping the poor.

    I have been involved in efforts to make our laws more useful to abuse victims, and have supported organizations that assist victims. I have also worked for years both in the Catholic Charities world and elsewhere to help the poor.

    I have done it both as a matter of personal faith, and pleasure…I really like helping out, and the people are great.

    But the churches present institutional situation is daunting. And I find it difficult to attend Church…so I was interested in Fr Chris’s insights.

    I like Father Chris s point about Jesus in the garden…

    And Jason Berry ends his book with the sentence, ‘The miracle is that the Eucharist endures’

  64. “We Vatican 2 types were so delighted with the people of God motif and many of us worked hard to live out those realities.

    Then we had the gradual erosion of that message and a conservative shift. And then we had the explosion of abuse disasters, nationwide and now worldwide. I just read Jason Berry’s Render Unto Rome, and you can add financial episcopal chaos to the list.

    I am reminded of an article Nicholas Kristoff did in the N Y Times about the Two Churches…institutional, and holy throughout the world, selflessly helping the poor.

    I have been involved in efforts to make our laws more useful to abuse victims, and have supported organizations that assist victims. I have also worked for years both in the Catholic Charities world and elsewhere to help the poor.

    Tsk tsk! As you say Leslie– “the church’s present institutional situation is daunting.” It makes it soooooo difficult for you to bask in the glory of all those good works all over the world. My my!
    I am so sorry for you , you and the others, poor things!

    “But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.” Romans 4:5

    1. Gerald, I guess I still see your response as not interpreting what the commenter was trying to express. I am very happy though to see you mention the “scandal” in your comments. I feel like you have your own ax to grind with the Church for issues unrelated to the abuse of children and have sort of hopped on board this site.
      I think Joan expressed what so many people feel .You say she “exposed” herself. I think so many people would not be leaving the Church if not for the horrific abuse of children. I see that in Joan’s comments.
      Gerald,people don’t give you much flak on here for your repeated scriptural references or your own personal issues with the church that sometimes have nothing to do with abuse of children – maybe give other commenters the same respect others have given you.

      1. Kathy and Joan Leslie,
        Kathy is right, I should not have picked on Joan Leslie and I apologize. It was a weak moment.I cannot know the lady’s heart and true intent.

        It was only a typo where I used “Leslie” rather than the correct address “Joan Leslie.”

  65. Gerald, I think your response to Joan is a little harsh. She is expressing her own personal journey and the feelings she has now at this time. If we can’t express our feelings then we really aren’t doing anyone much good. What I read in Joan’s comments was her conflict over the good and bad she has seen within the Church. I don’t think she expressed a desire to bask in the glory of anything . She states that she has been involved in efforts to improve state laws for victims- good for her!

    1. Kathy,
      Harsh? I think Joan Leslie’s post exposed herself as a near perfect manifestation of what continues to be a “theme” here on C4C, i.e., the Catholic in the pew being silent on the scandal. Many here have posted their distain for such Catholics. I’m not alone here , am I? It was pointed out by another poster here , that Fr. Chris’ post seemed to “commiserate” with the “pew Catholics” whom feel “victimized” — and I was seeing Joan Leslie as an apparent example of that– based only on what her post said. Of course this doesn’t mean she is truly such.

      Again, for clarity, I saw in her post someone feeling hurt or victimized by the scandal and bothered seriously by being seen by the world as a member of a church with child abusers as ministers/priests, when she knows of a different and charitable side. Hope that helps somewhat.

  66. I can relate to your post, Joan.

    It draws attention to the painful dichotomy created by the truth of our institutional church, on the one hand, and your Vatican II spirit, exemplified, especially, in your work, hopes and dreams, on the other. The disunion is so great; it penetrates the core of you. The Eucharist is the one constant, unchanging, eternal Good in the sea of tension and sadness created by the two opposing forces.

    You describe, yet again on this blog, another kind of hurt.

  67. This was posted Sept. 30, but may have been missed:
    Kathy and Joan Leslie,
    Kathy is right, I should not have picked on Joan Leslie and I apologize. It was a weak moment.I cannot know the lady’s heart and true intent.

    It was only a typo where I used “Leslie” rather than the correct address “Joan Leslie.”

  68. Gerald, you didn’t pick on me…I should have seriously read the other comments BEFORE I made any.

    Unfortunately, I read them after, I posted.

    Theres no way my problems with the church come even close to those who have been abused, and if I could have figured out how to remove my remarks, I would have!

    I still cringe when I think about it.

    But I did appreciate Fr Chris’s remarks, and that was really what sent me back to this site.

    Please know that some of us, very barely in the pew, are doing everything we can to hold molesters accountable on everything from mandatory clergy molestation reporting requirements to statuate of limitations extensions to passing on predators et al.

    And my special gripe is that through their state conference offices, the bishops are lobbying against the very laws that would help victims.

  69. Gerald, you are most welcome…I am profoundly, as both a mother and a grandmother, absolutely appalled that a church I trusted has behaved so incredibly badly. A few years ago, I made a decision to not just be a spectator, but a participant, to be much more aggressively involved in this scene. I will spare you the details of my efforts, but be assured that there are a lot of us out there that take these issues to heart and are doing what we can.

    I have a huge respect for SNAP and a much larger respect for folks that have been abused and are having to deal with it.

    Warm regards, Joan

  70. Not so long ago, Pope Francis asked priest abuse victims for forgiveness.

    Yet how do those of us, whom were raped and had our souls stolen from us, whom committed suicide because of it, can give him forgiveness, or any of us so harmed, when he refuses to clean house of all the Cardinals, Bishops and Archbishops whom covered up these evil crimes and are still sitting in the positions that they are in?

    How can Paul Anthony Carson, whom upon seeing the priest whom raped him walking down the street and then going home and hanging himself, being found by his parents, forgive him?

    How can Emma Foster, whom was raped by Father Kevin O’Donnell, while at a primary school whom committed suicide because of it, forgive him?

    How can Daniel Neill, whom committed suicide because of his rapist priest, Joseph Gallagher, forgive him?

    How can the 30 boys raped at the St Alipius primary school, whom committed suicide forgive him for their rapes?

    None of them can. Matter of fact, they are supposedly in hell, burning for all eternity, because the pain and suffering brought on by their rapes by Roman Catholic priests, committed suicide, which the RC teaches that if you do commit suicide, then you will burn in hell for eternity.

    No Pope Francis, until you do what you have promised us you would do. Clean house, stop fighting us victims when we seek justice for the crimes committed against us, with the church lawyers getting our cases dismissed using the statues of limitations.

    When Parishioners start caring more about us, their very children of the church, whom were raped and brutalized, and many of you turned your backs on your own children, because you would rather support the leaders of your churches, over your very own children.

    When people stand up and demand that the disgusting attacks against us, like Bill Donohue of the Catholic League, whom claims we seduced our priests, whom claims because we did not punch our rapist priests in the face when they were raping us, thereby, we not only wanted to be raped, we enjoyed our rapes and we are homosexuals because of it.

    Then maybe, we will find it to forgive you all. We cannot do so, until all of you, truly repent, and start standing up for us, instead of those whom so harmed us.

    Frank J LaFerriere

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