One Concerned Catholic’s Take on the Healing Mass


GUEST BLOG BY BETH

I am at a loss for words after I meet one of our survivors and/or attend a vigil. The most recent vigil/protest outside the cathedral was no different. I always leave these events, if you can even call them that, changed – as if in peaceful mourning or as if I had just visited a very sacred place.

I had planned on attending the special mass for our clergy abuse survivors just to hear first hand what Archbishop Chaput had to say but when I heard many of our survivors were invited but not included in the planning process I changed my mind. I thought it was best to attend but be present outside in support of all those survivors that were unable or in good conscience could not go inside.

As a practicing catholic I was a little torn about not going in to receive Jesus in the Eucharist. Many times I have gone to adoration and wept before Jesus praying for our survivors by name and I believe he heard my prayers. But I knew Jesus wanted me outside on the sidewalk when Vicky, one of our survivors who has become a good friend, emailed and asked if I would come stand with her and support her as she stood outside the cathedral.

The events that unfolded on the sidewalk were very touching. I met family members of the man who was supposed to testify against Fr. Brennan. He is no longer with us but his family will forever keep his memory alive. I also met the mother of one of Fr. McCormick’s victims. One thing I have noticed is that a few of the victims families I have meet recently have members that have jobs in law enforcement. It brought home to me the fact that clergy sexual abuse can happen to anyone’s child.

Several months ago Vicky gave me crucifix that she no longer needed. I had put that in my pocket to take it to this vigil. Many times I have reflected on the symbolism behind her giving me that cross. We as a church have failed to show our survivors Jesus, but I have discovered in the past few years that the suffering Jesus is truly present in each one of our survivors. In many ways our survivors have saved my faith and given me hope. Their brutal honesty, compassion, courage and abilty to still have a sense of humor despite what they have been thru gives witness to something greater than this earthly world we live in.

When the news people asked to take pictures, a few people were concerned about the ramifications of their names being made public but they gave their names anyway so their pictures could be printed. Just one of the many ways our survivors take risks and sacrifice for others. Isn’t that what real love does – lay down their life for another?

The photographer at one point mentioned that many people don’t seem to realize that woman were also abused and then he mention he had a 12 yr old daughter. Fom his expression you could tell he wanted the best for his daughter and for her to be safe from all harm. I think that is every parent’s wish and why it is so important that laws are changed and children protected.

The security guards seemed a little curious about why we were there and if we would cause any trouble. I even had one ask if everything was going ok, etc. I introduced myself and said everything was good and that I was a practicing catholic and a member of my parishes pastors council there to support my friend Vicky, who was a survivor. I got into a very interesting discussion about why the laws need to change and how law changes were not just to collect money or attack the church but to expose present day predators and keep kids safe today. We talked about accountability and how in his church a member had to step down because he had an affair. He said that If that person had really understood why he had to do so, he would have not made a fuss upon leaving. If he had understood what he was preaching and wasn’t in it just for the prestige he would understand the need for consequences.

The crowd of survivors and advocates was diverse. There was a politician present who also was a survivor of clergy sexual abuse. Sr. Maureen was there as usual and we all joked she was more dependable than the mailman because she always showed up to vigils snow, sleet, rain or shine. Some people going into and coming out of the Mass for clergy sexual abuse survivors didn’t seem interested in stopping to speak to actual abuse survivors which seemed rather ironic. For the most part, the people coming out of the Mass were very kind.

One person who stuck out in my mind was a young man who seemed like he was in his 20s. A discussion broke out that started to get a little heated. The young man seemed a little defensive and stated that the church had made some mistakes and that it was cleaning up its act. The family of one of the survivors who is no longer with us got upset with a few of his comments. Later in the conversation it came out that he was from another Archdiocese and he was discerning whether or not to become a priest. He noted that for such a large diocese the churches where empty and I told him that more recently this was the result of the ongoing clergy abuse scandal and release of the 2 grand jury reports. I asked him if he had read them himself and that I use to think the way he did and that I thought I understood clergy sexual abuse. It was not until I read them, and Archbishop Bevilacqua’s testimony and met with our survivors that I truly began to understand. He started to lower his defenses and said after hearing what our survivors had to say, he felt a little shell shocked and was interested in learning more and would do some research online. I told him if he searched for the truth, he would find it. And although my faith has been rocked to its core, I cling to Jesus.

After the vigil Vicky, Rich and I set out for dinner and some conversation.That was quite an adventure. We had some really good conversations. Rich seemed like he was in a really good place in his life right now and we talked about the dumb Catholics, myself included, who really had no idea what clergy abuse and its affect on children was all about. When Catholics4Change first started, Rich said we ticked him off and how he felt he needed to be brutally honest to get through to us. I thanked him and Vicky for all the education and insight they provided for us. Rich also mentioned he might write a blog about how he felt unsupported by Catholics for so many years and that now that has started to change for him. Rich I don’t want to steal the wind from under your sails, and I am not as gifted a writer as you, so please write that blog. Every time you write, you educate us and encourage other survivors to find their voice. I think in the end that’s what Catholics4Change has taught me. When you are brave enough to reach out to others and keep an open heart – nothing stays the same.

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38 Responses to “One Concerned Catholic’s Take on the Healing Mass”

  1. Thank you, Beth. That was a wonderful article!

  2. Someday there will be a group like yours in the Philly Archdiocese that will share stories and hugs in the Pittsburgh Diocese. For now I’ll read your stories and pray that someday victims of Bevilacqua, Wuerl and Zubik’s cover-ups will have their day.

    As always, thanks for sharing.

  3. The Church needs more Beths! I love your heart.

    There is a Christian song I heard that says, “Break my heart for what breaks Yours.” I can’t help but think of you crying for victims before God…truly, your heart breaking for what breaks our Father’s heart.

    I hope I get to meet all you wonderful people this side of heaven.

  4. stilldisillusioned Reply March 28, 2014 at 7:08 pm

    Beautifully expressed, Beth. Thank you for so eloquently putting into words what so many of us feel.

  5. It reminds me of an experience I had once when trying to support a young woman stuck in her situation the result of being abused by clergy and then the abysmall betrayal by those purporting to help her for years..
    It was heart breaking seeing photographs as she once was, young, vivacious a songbird….. with her whole life ahead of her.
    Being caught up with her anger one day, even giving her a key to the family home so she wouldn’t feel isolated living so far away, and that no one cared.. I recall thinking to myself in frustration, ‘I’ve put myself out on a limb ……….and I automatically heard deep down from within my subconscious a thought process saying, ‘and I died on a tree’…..
    Maybe with Holy Week soon upon us, it has come back to remind me that giving is a never ending responsibility to those who are in need and for whatever reason, can’t help themselves.

  6. Beth thank you so much for both your commitment to supporting us the victims . As well as your time and thoughtfulness to write this piece. There must be a beatitude for what you and Sr Maureen do. When I was wounded you helped me to heal. When I was broken you stood with me to hold me up. When no one would hear me you helped me to speak.
    Your witness give me hope that through this muck and the shambles of a broken institution the message shines through. WWJD? What you are doing! Bless you!
    Suz
    PS I just read -From Sand to Solid Ground- as recommended on this site. Your example and this book has made me realize that somehow I can salvage the part of my faith that is true. Maybe not in a church with all the associations that mess with my PTSD, but there is hope that I will find it somewhere. I have hope that the empty place in my chest and gut where the perp tore out my soul can be a vessel for the part of my faith that is the real message of Jesus. I pray that everyone on this site will be able or a way to filter out all the pain and the junk the instructional church has constructed or find a place where they can rediscover the pure and joyful part of faith. That we may all once again realize a sense of wonder!

    • Suzpt, this is excellent in your acknowledgment of Beth and your follow up section about your faith is also excellent. I appreciate you speaking your truth and embodying real authenticity about your faith. I am presently dealing with this emptiness from within, as you write about and is like my value is nothingness. This creates holes in my soul where I feel nothing in the world I can identify with, nothing true or valuable I can believe in. It is like there is nothing left to attach myself.

      In my eight years of my physical limitations (mitochondria disease) and wrestling with my nothingness of not accomplish anything I felt this deep need to compensate for my nothingness. I have also felt the Holy Spirit prompting me to make a leap of faith from the known to the unknown from this emptiness. Because I have identified nothingness as being small, tiny and helpless in a vast uncaring universe I felt I was at my wits ends making this leap of faith into the unknown. I wanted more information, skills and resources to prepare myself to re-enter this unknown world.

      Just this last weekend I realized stillness is this leap of faith. This stillness as peace is this profound leap. This faith as stillness feels like a place of non-attachment, breaking me from my reactive mind and breaking me apart where my nervous system being tuned to a high pitch. This stillness as peace feels like real faith and appears to have nothing to do with my beliefs or needing to accomplish something. This faith as stillness recognizes the actual support of Presence. It feels like the support of the Sun.

      The Psalm says “Be still and know I am God.” Only I did not know I found this in the holes of my soul. Moving there is an unshakable confidence, be still. It is the first time I understand my value is not based on a particular achievement. It feels like the moment holds its own precious truth and recognizes the preciousness of everything and everyone. This stillness appears to offer a confidence to rest in hope and rest in God as Hope.

      I just want you to know your Hope/hope is your faith I feel from you and is enormous. Thank you and your presence is significant!

      PS: I just want to say moving into this place of stillness as faith has been mean. It sure makes God the Supreme Being, as my brain and guts are ripped out, and yet I have some sense of being.

      • PSS: To be more specific about mitochondria disease are parts of the cell that combines the calories we consume with oxygen and turns this combination into energy which runs everything in our body. My mitochondria are shot, so I have limited energy in my muscles. I just write this so you do not need to research what it means.

  7. Beth: Not too long ago on another thread, the subject of the Catholic hierarchy’s inability to treat victims with kind caring compassion was discussed. No matter what the Church does, it always seems to come up clumsy, non authentic and uncaring .Immediately my thoughts came to you. What the Church needs is someone like Beth to help them understand what victims of clergy abuse are going through.I don’t much believe in Saints. But if I did, you would be at the top of my list. Your ability to see the goodness in people. I envy you for. With all that you have been through in your personal life lately,you still see victims of clergy abuse as worthy of your kindness and compassion. I thank you for being you.

    • Thankyou Jim…..I think maybe my greatest weakness and my greatest strength is that I don’t give up on anyone including myself because Jesus didn’t give up on us……….I think people can change if they want to and sometimes those changes are not seen til they are close to death and some people never change but I guess I keep hope that they do because I have seen many people change for the better……I do believe in prayer and grace………..but also action………

  8. What a wonderful person you are. There’s no telling how many people are comforted and encouraged by your words. I’m passing on your blog to several people who I know will be as moved by it as I am. Thank you.

  9. It’s great you all support each other…..maybe it’s because there’s no money involved that can cause derision and division.
    There’s been sad episodes here in Australia within one support group that I’m aware of where that has taken place and among women, in some instances where the church and religious orders have played one against the other to minimize compensation.

  10. I just came from a meeting this afternoon for an upcoming event and am always struck by all the connections that people have made with one another over the past few years..connections that I always feel are more than just fate.

    One of the people locally who has been tireless in her efforts for legislation,education and awareness, became involved because her parish priest was one of the 26 suspended priests..he is now permanently removed. One of his victims found her because her name was linked with the accused priest on a google search. She and the survivor connected and the survivor just raised a significant amount of money we will use for a project of education and awareness for young children. So a victim of this priest and former parishioner of this priest ,connected to make the world a safer place for children.

  11. I am at a loss for words after reading a “Concerned Catholic’s” Take on the “Healing Mass”. As a survivor of a buse by a Catholic priest I am still dumbfounded by the terms “well meaning” Catholics use in regard to the survivor community. I love the use of possessive pronouns, “our clergy survivors”. As if we are owned by the “concerned Catholics”. The charade of support from you is almost as meaningless as the “efforts” of the Catholic church to reach out to survivors in some meaningful way.

    I find the concept of a healing mass offensive, especially one that is so obviously a public relations magic show in an Archdiocece that is so blatantly pursuing a scorched earth strategy against victims of their own making.

    I am so glad you were “touched” by what you witnessed. I am sure there was a lot of “patting survivors on the head” and all kinds of sympathy for their struggle and then people went away having assuaged their Catholic guilt if only for a while.

    How doing something meaningful? How about holding your sham leadership accountable. How about withholding funds? Because if you are not doing something tangible, you are lending your support to the people who continue to victimize survivors. You are accountable for doing nothing.

    Funny how survivors are being credited with being so brave. I see nothing but cowards sitting obediently in pews on Sunday morning. You can have your healing mass, it means nothing.

    • Michael,
      I’m not sure how long you have been coming here, but it’s clear you don’t know Beth. She’s a compassionate, gentle spirit with an iron-steel resolve to hold the RCC accountable for what they’ve done to victims. She wears no colored glasses.

      That said, you have every right to your opinion and perspective. Beth is the kind of woman who will be the first to understand your anger at the corruption of these men and pew Catholics.

      As far as “our victims,” I feel just a little differently than you. I think the RCC has done everything to talk about “the” victims, all lumped into every other category…anything to distance themselves from the reality that they have a responsibility to help the people they have hurt. So, when I speak to Catholics…I use the term “our” because it means they have a responsibility to take care of them. I will consider your sharing though from now on. Thank you for sharing that.

    • Michael I think this is where what is meaningful for one is not for another and there is no right or wrong in that. Using the term ‘our’ was suggested by a wife of a clergy abuse survivor and was not meant in any way to show ownership.

      I realize that you do not know Beth but there is no patting on the head of victims..nothing like that. As a spouse of a child abuse victim Beth would never be condescending in that manner. I can’t speak to other ways that Beth has helped because she would not want me to, but I can tell you that she has gone far,far ,far beyond actions of others for the sake of victims and children in Pa. and has played an instrumental role in many ways. I will leave it at that although I realize that sounds vague and maybe a bit false but that’s all I can say because it is not my story to tell.
      Standing with the victims outside of the Healing Mass is one way Beth shows support but certainly not the only way. I am sorry if you found this upsetting because it s not what we meant to happen by asking people to write posts about their experiences that day.

    • Michael I agree with most of your points………including the many cowards in the church. That’s one of the reasons I didn’t go into the Healing Mass. I do withhold funds from the AD. I also support Foundation to Abolish Child Sex Abuse. I met with them 2 weeks ago In Harrisburg. I am well aware that one day I will have to meet my Maker and he will hold me accountable for all I have done and failed to do……I use to be afraid to speak out I am not any longer. Its ironic but in many ways suffering has a way of making one fearless……there is really nothing left to fear……

      • And ignorance..my one hope after all the evidence that has been made available is that people would be better informed but that isn’t the case so often, even here in Philadelphia, where the evidence was basically served on a platter and people looked the other way.

        • I agree Kathy. I think a lot of people are ignorant but also as Vicky and many have pointed out not one priest has stood up to the leadership in our AD of Philadelphia in any meaningful way nor supported our survivors.

    • Michael: I too am a survivor of clergy sexual abuse. I have bad days where I see just about everyone as the enemy. Actually I have had years where I consider everyone the enemy .But Beth most certainly is not the enemy.If you were to go back through what she has gone through and the remarkable way she has responded to victims of abuse by members of the clergy you would see her in a different light. I hate to praise her too much because I know that is not what she would want. She is extremely humble but certainly on the right side of this issue. .

    • Deep down Michael, I too have seen some of these ‘healing masses’ a bit of a sham, but that’s just because we’ve seen through them, but in saying that, it’s the only way many Catholics who have struggled to deal with what has been coming to light, can offer their condolences in a collective way.
      These girls may appear to speak condescendingly, for lack of a better word because they’re virtually breathing, it every day.
      If you lived closer to them [maybe you do] it could be of value.
      Be well……..

      • “Italy’s Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco has defended a Vatican policy exempting bishops from having to report suspected child sex abuse to the police.”

        As long as that is RCC policy, how can ‘healing masses’ be seen as anything other that a sham?

        Michael, I’m with you; the RC leadership is a sham. People must remember the bishops only have the power that the lay People of God allow them to have. Personally, I disrespect them whenever and wherever I can.

        http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2014/03/30/cardinal-defends-vatican-abuse-policy

        • I may be wrong in presuming your from Australia but in case I’m right, what’s your opinion on the Encompass Australia program in NSW [Aust] run by the ACBC [Archbishop Wilson’s era, himself under police investigation at a later date].
          None of the clergy going through the program with sex-abuse issues were reported to the police where reporting is mandatory when admitted to.
          Bishop Geoffery Robinson ‘who has won plaudits’ for standing up against abuse led the programme for eight years [1997-2005], where whistleblowers stated many were criminals and should have been in jail.
          Gordon Moyes, superintendant of the Weslyan Hospital where the program was conducted, made it quite clear any confidentialities should’ve been discounted and church leaders had a duty to report any criminal offences invvolving children to the police.
          It will be interesting to see if any of this will be brought before the royal commission now in progress.
          SMH Nov.17 2012 Church holds sex dossiers’..
          Nov. 23 Diagnosos was ‘smokescreen’ to hide paedophiles.

          • United Nation Committee on the Rights of the Child- 25 Feb. 2014

            “Due to a code of silence imposed on all members of the clergy under penalty of excommunication, cases of child sexual abuse have hardly ever been reported to the law
            enforcement authorities in the countries where the crimes were committed. On the contrary, cases of nuns and priests who were ostracized, demoted and defrocked for not respecting the obligation of silence have been reported to the Committee, as well as cases of priests who were congratulated for refusing to denounce child abusers, as stated in the letter addressed by Cardinal Castrillon Hojos to Bishop Pierre Pican in 2001…”

            I saw this very action take place when I was in a religious order.

            http://tbinternet.ohchr.org/Treaties/CRC/Shared%20Documents/VAT/CRC_C_VAT_CO_2_16302_E.pdf

            I’m not from the ‘Land Down Under’ (but I hope to visit one day soon) and I don’t know the particulars of what’s happening there, but the problem is clearly worldwide. All road of cover-up lead from Rome.

    • Sorry Michael for offending you. I used many of the words that you mentioned and can not possibly live to the standards set here. Hope that you realize that many do not need to be here and still do all they can to help. Like the class action suit in Delaware, not all the survivors will be happy with the results. I have done nothing so get angry at me, not those who are trying to help. They need to bridge that gap and they need the Eucharist for strength. Beth did challenge the young man at the mass and tried to get Bob to see our side.

      Thank you Michael, this site needs to be more survivor oriented and I tend to be too challenging.

      Peace,
      Ed

    • Michael,
      I have been reflecting on what you stated above and I am truly sorry for your loss and your pain.I am not a victim of clergy abuse but I confronted a non clergy predator and helped put him in jail and I will never be the same after that experience……. a part of me died thru that experience. My faith helped me to get thru all of it and I that is why the way the catholic church robbed and continues rob peoples faith greatly disturbs me. That is why I am trying my best to reach out, speak out and help change the laws in PA. I am sorry if you were offended in anyway that was not my intention.

      • I snapped at you, Beth. I apologize without qualification or excuse.

        The first casualty of what happened to many of us was truth. The second was faith. I have none. The fact that this “man of god” manipulated and isolated me so that he could take the actions that he took (I won’t bore you with details) showed me that everything he stood for was a lie. It was all a sham.

        I keep reading (and I have been coming to Cathoilcs4Change since the beginning) that Catholics don’t understand who we are and where we come from. Many do think we are some sort of fringe group looking for an easy payday. But that is not true.

        In order for the manipulation to work, the targets had to come from the families of the most devote. We were always told that priests and nuns were the direct representatives of god and should be obeyed absolutely. These predators found some weakness to exploit such as alcoholism, catastrophic illness, death in the family and would prey upon victims that would be easily manipulated. People who are on the fringe, who paid lip service to faith or who were really just going through the motions were not good targets for these predators. My mother did not think twice when Robert Gibson offered to be a male role model for me. When the abuse/rapes started, I knew my mother would never believe me if I told her what was happening. I believed Robert Gibson when he said my mother had condoned what was going on. When that belief was wavering, the threats of expelling my siblings from Catholic School or interest in my younger brother kept me in line. When that failed it was blatant threats of harm or death. Funny how he knew how to rough me up without leaving marks on parts of my body that were exposed.

        I would say most of the victims of Roman Collar Crime were from prominent Catholic families or from devote followers who were in extremis.

        In the five plus years I have been blogging on this subject (I am on the resources page of this site), I have spoken with hundreds of survivors, their parents and their family members, the vast majority who will not come forward publicly even now. There are very common threads that tie us together. There are also serious trust issues that keep us from banding together, the church continues to exploit those divides. The stories I have heard while talking people off the ledge have kept me up at night since I very publicly came forward in 2008.

        For many of us, what we seek is truth, not money. I have never asked for a dime and have actually turned down an offer from the Diocese of Scranton to pay for counseling (of course, they wanted access to my counselor). The only truth I have found is that the Catholic Church is not capable of giving the truth as long as their risk strategy is to separate the survivors and encourage mistrust. Being honest and caring is not in their corporate culture.

        If you want to know what survivors are thinking, talk to them like humans, read their blogs. Most of us do not need to be cared for. I will admit there are some who do need help. Carrying the “great terrible secret” is an overwhelming burden. We had to keep our secrets alone. Our predators had help and continue to get help keeping their secrets.

        I keep wanting to walk away from all this and somehow I keep getting sucked back in.

        • Michael, Your ability to apologize properly makes you very different than the institutional Church.

        • Michael,
          I think you are here because you care and I am glad for it because you keep us humble and honest. When Kathy asked me to write this piece I asked her to say a prayer so it at least made sense. The positive feedback to tell the truth made me alittle uncomfortable as I am just being myself and I am aware of my imperfections. When I confronted that predator 5yrs ago I felt Satan in the room. The predator even said he wrestled with Satan daily.When I left the house where the confrontation occurred Satan followed me for a few days. The only thing that made him leave was Jesus and the St. Michael prayer.I do believe in Jesus now more than ever because of that experience and I do believe in the Devil and I believe he roams this earth in search of souls to ruin.I believe just as Jesus can work through us for good….Satan can work thru people to do evil…….

          • I agree in many cases they targeted children in devoted families and I heard it from a few former altar boys as well and it was very heartbreaking. One former altar boy said that he greatly admired Cardinal Krohl and then everything changed after he was abused.If you ever want to meet to discuss anything further please let me know.

  12. Beth,
    Thank you for the thoughtful and thought-provoking post. Thank you for all that you have done and continue to do to hold the Church accountable and to support the people you have embraced.

  13. Beth: Holding the church accountable and not turning our heads the other way, I also feel is what we can do as Christians and Catholics. I feel if I buried my head in the sand, then I wouldn’t be standing up and supporting the victims/survivors. I do not support the catholic church, but try to help people less fortunate than myself.
    As long as our voice is heard, we are not going away our voices will be heard. When 2 or more people are gathered in His name, Jesus is in our mist.

    Peace!

    Denise

  14. Beth, Excellent post! I covered the inside of the church where Chaput said his useless speech, you covered the outside of the Church. If I may, I would like to expand a bit on what I experienced walking outside with my sign. I loved meeting the people who have either blogged here or were a parent of a survivor. There was a group of maybe 4 people who stood across the street the whole time that seem to be watching us. Sister Maureen asked me to go over and talk with them. I had to chuckle when Sister asked me because nuns always knew who was the “brave” one who intigated trouble! I went over and to my surprise the husband and wife were from my old parish in Levittown for many years. The husband had been sexually abused my a priest of my parish that I had known a long time. The other two men were just as kind towards me as I shared just a “bit” of my story. I invited them to stand with us and meet Sister Maureen.
    As Beth mentioned, a young man maybe in his late 20’s was in a discussion with several survivors where it looked as though it was getting heated. I decided it was best to step in and possibly “cool” the embers. This young man said something about what he compared sexual abuse to which got the survivors upset, he then turned to me and I quietly said, “I understand your need to make sense of this crime of clergy sexual abuse, what you just said is not correct, it is hurtful”. He then in his frustration asked if I was willing to tell my story. I calmly began to detail some of the abuse I suffered. I told some shocking detail of what one of the priests did to me at age 14 I knew it would leave a deep impression on him, by his expression of horror I had awaken in him what Michael so beautifully expressed above in his blog, the Truth! This young man contemplating whether to become a priest, left a different person then when he arrived. He wanted to know the truth, I had a deep respect for that.

    Michael, I so get how you feel! I still struggle with so much anger. For a long time I took my anger out on the people around me because I felt some sense of trust that they would not leave me. I had to work very hard in putting my anger where it belonged, I also had to work on going beneath all the rage and feel the deep well of sadness and loss and betrayal. It took me 15 years in therapy to begin to trust my therapist. When one is raped by a priest we call father, he represents Christ we are left helpless and hopeless. We no longer have a God that we can pray to because we have had that “faith, image, trust” murdered by a representative of God himself. This is what separates us from others who have been sexually abused by a coach, stepparent, teacher, etc. I continue to work on myself in therapy, now going on 25 years. I have come a very long way. I just decided that they{Church} was not going to distroy what value I had left, instead, I was determined to get back what I am worth. The journey has been hell. Every survivor experiences in their own way their healing. The bottom line for me is I want me back, I will never be completely whole, but I will find my TRUTH!
    I admire your courage to express how you feel. When we are vulnerable, hearts, especially on this website, open up and embrace you. Keep blogging, Michael, it helps.

  15. So true Vicky. When a coach is the abuser you can lose your interest in sports. When a priest abuses we lose our faith, our center, our whole direction. Both victims are horribly scarred but the clergy victim loses their soul
    Suz

  16. Suzpt, Thank you for your post. Victims are horribly scarred, I totally agree. I never want to presume, but always respect another’s feelings and their journey. For me, I refused to allow them to dismantle my soul! I fight hard every day in therapy and every day life to love and protect that which is my soul. I believe it is an inner strength that comes from God to keep my soul intact. I also believe that many survivors might feel they have lost their connection to their soul because of the abuse, but no one will ever take that part of us that yearns to reconnect with our spiritual self. We make that choice with no judgements. I refused to hand over what I hold so dear, it is mine and you, priest will not distroy it!

  17. Katherine FitzGerald Reply April 4, 2014 at 4:55 pm

    Beth,

    You have the effect of making me look at my feet when I read your posts. I feel ashamed that I could not remain in the Church while advocating for abuse survivors. When I read how your faith empowers your advocacy, I feel like my advocacy is compromised without it. When I read your posts, they always challenge me to rethink my departure from the faith. Thank you for keeping me mentally and spiritually engaged in the distance I chose but persistently wonder about.

    Kate

  18. Kate be gentle with yourself……….if I had not gone thru all the suffering with my dads cancer and many other things I would not be able to do what I do now my imperfections are many I just try my best and focus on Jesus when I don’t and I look down I drowned……..its a constant struggle to recommit myself to him……….we all struggle…..especially when searching for the truth and trying to do the right thing……….

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