Has Your Faith Experience Been Harmed?


The founding of this blog was based on how the clergy sex abuse cover up impacted my life as a Catholic. That same impact is what drew Kathy Kane’s partnership in this effort. That same sense of betrayal led others here. Over the years, it has become so much more. It has also become a safe haven for victims to share their stories with each other and the laity. It’s been a platform for debate and an information hub offering related news. Priests, nuns, atheists, converts to other faiths and devoted Catholics have all reached out via our private messaging.

It became really clear this is something people needed to talk about. It was God affirming for me and my faith has become stronger as a result. However, practicing my religion in the traditional sense became much more difficult. How should I handle my children’s Catholic education and parish contributions? Where could I attend Mass in good conscience? How do I reconcile the evil with the good of my Church?

What do you think about these things? Would you be interested in sharing your experiences, questions and solutions with others. A couple of our “regulars” have posed the question of holding a forum on these matters. The purpose wouldn’t be to address sex abuse directly, but to address our Catholic faith development in light of the crisis. They welcome any ideas on location, time of year and other planning elements. Please leave your comments.

 

 

 

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124 Responses to “Has Your Faith Experience Been Harmed?”

  1. Katherine FitzGerald Reply June 12, 2014 at 2:28 am

    It’s so good to see C4C open to expanding its purpose and evolving in its mission.

    I welcome this new opportunity and I’ll be there, wherever and whenever.

    If I can help in the planning in any way, please contact me.

    Thank you.

  2. Emery/ Clergy Abuse Survivor Reply June 12, 2014 at 2:54 am

    After the abuse, I went from the kid who would go to a church when not in service to get some peace and connect with God to never stepping foot in a church again…even weddings and funerals. I was devout and attended mass weekly or a few times a week, I felt people were nice and I could be in a place where I could pray without being judged for my connection with God.

    After I started remembering the abuse, my relationship with God was all I had. My family shut me out and I kept on believing because I couldn’t face the fact that this happens to people who would never harm anyone or have a mean spirited bone in their body.
    These days, I talk to God as much as I can and try to be alone in nature. I don’t have religion but know God is somewhere inside and in all living things. My relationship is on the rocks with God a lot of the time but I apologize for my shortcomings and my anger and sadness and how I tend to isolate from everyone and everything.

    I cannot call myself a Catholic but know that I am a child of God. I tell myself that God never intended this and that the abuse was from the hands of a very very sick person who needs help…not sure what kind of help but praying for miracles sometimes eases the torment. It feels good to pray for all involved, our families and loved ones, survivors and even the abuser. I wish for many things…especially a happy or just ending but as reality creeps in, the future becomes clear and how this will probably end.

    It has taken a lot to learn to talk about it and I just wanted to chime in to sympathize with every one of you who are devout and have had your faith harmed and effected in any negative or toxic way. If it means anything to you, I just want to say that no matter what happens to you in this world, everything will be okay. There is a place where there is no pain, no judgement, nothing to harm you, nothing dark and nothing to fear…no predatory elements. You may suffer here, you may live in shear agony some moments but if there is one thing that I will always know in my heart of hearts, it’s that God is Love- Unconditional Love.
    Best regards -Emery

  3. I feel like I have nowhere to express my faith. While I have survived physically from my abuse at the hands of a priest, I have emotions & feelings which make it difficult to even drive by a church, let alone going inside. The last time I was inside a church was about 2 years ago; I went to confession for the 1st time in nearly 40 years. I thought this would be a part of my healing process. I went to the very church where much of my abuse occurred. Suffice to say, after confessing to some stuff, I told the priest why I was there. While his words were meant to comfort me, I’ve not been back to church since. I feel triggered & emotional when I think of ever attending mass again. It just brings too much pain back, flashbacks & awful nightmares. Yet I know something is missing. I feel the need to worship in some manner, but haven’t been able to escape the way I get so emotionally twisted up regarding being abused over & over again by the priest. I really just want to find genuine happiness & not have to fake my feelings in order to not upset others.

    Susan & Kathy, thanks for allowing me to express my thoughts honestly & without any judgement.

  4. I continue in my mid-eighties to practice my faith attending the central prayer of the faithful in the Mass as well as in the sacrament of reconciliation, but I withhold tithes preferring to give money directly to homeless persons and street beggars. I feel that the Church has not been a good steward of its treasure vis-a-vis legal settlements with victims, its legal defense of its wayward clergy, its loss of flock and the resulting closing of parishes, etc. etc. I do not to complain publicly about the church and its scandals as I I feel each of us has to deal with scandal in terms of individual conscience. As my age cohort appears regularly in daily obituaries, I know I have only a few years left of life. I want to continue to live as a Catholic and die in the Church even as I find the clergy attentive more to the Church’s bureaucratic structure than to its flock. Alfredo de la Rosa

  5. Thanks for your questions Susan and I am no longer a catholic. There is something about the catholic church that is threatening to my integrity and my response is still anger If I am not present to my anger it will go into a simmering frustration. This can create this mental chaos, my ranting and raving. In my letting go of my chaos for forty years, on many different matters, I have gradually felt this serenity unfold. I have felt deeply relaxed and the energies of life flow. I have also felt edgy, like my end by allowing serenity into my judging and judged parts. To counteract this emptiness I needed to make a leap of faith into the unknown.

    When I made this leap into the unknown serenity became my faith. At this point it felt like falling into stillness and peace. I also have become aware this faith is listening. It is like listening is the support of faith and everything emanates or flows from it. This listening is like my actions are being guided by Divine awareness rather church doctrine and beliefs. There is still individual awareness, yet this listening seems to offers this personal expression of the Divine.

    So to me leaving the catholic church is a leap of faith into the unknown. This leap has offers this unthinkable confidence and this actual support. This faith feels deep and it cannot be harmed nor can it be lost. This faith is the recognition of actual support of the Divine. This faith appears to be beyond any beliefs and learned procedures. The nature of this faith is experienced as given and is this unshakable confidence I personally do not think I could convince myself of this faith by certain beliefs. It is like being guided by Divine awareness and is the personal expression of the Divine.

    This faith is inner freedom and offers this freedom to look deeply from within without fear.

    Thank you Susan and your presence is significant and to everyone!

  6. to quote a friend:
    “never let your religion interfere with your relationship with God”

  7. I don’t suppose you would subjected to so much personal anger with taking on the harming of ones faith experience, so many have already shared their pain and dissilusionment that you’re practically all family and it would be a great opportunity to affirm to those ‘halfway there’ that whatever one say’s and does, the certitude God knows the heart.

  8. I think this is an awesome idea!! I am struggling with many of the same issues and would be very interested in sharing with others!

  9. My “faith” as taught by Jesus Christ us strong. I try to attend mass daily if possible, attend retreats at Malvern and at my parish, St Cyril of Jerusalem and I I try to follow the recommendation of Matthew Kelly, founder of “Dynamic Catholic,” by praying and study (read) scriptures and Spiritual books each day. I have little or no desire or reason to listen to the Church hierarchy since i am not at all confident they are following the teachings of Christ.I will stay with groups like “Catholics4Change” and others in a hope they can get the Catholic Church hierarchy back on track with our faith.

    • I am in total agreement with you Joe. Our Diocesan leadership over the years has been lacking but even knowing that I feel Chaput is a giant step backward. The way he is handling our Delco parishes is a disgrace.

  10. Its ironic (prophetic?) that this topic is appearing on C4C as it is something I have been struggling with for over a year. I somehow have learned to separate my Catholic faith from the church but, am having a hard time attending weekly mass. In the past couple of weeks, I have attended several masses for special occasions, funerals, etc. I love the tradition of it and the feeling of community. I really have no connection to the parish I am registered in – I originally joined because my best friend was a member – she since has stopped attending Sunday mass.

    I want to get back to regular Sunday mass attendance and am going to speak to another friend from a neighboring parish about it this week. Perhaps going with her will be a comfort and I will get that sense of community back.

  11. Nancy Mortimer O'Brien Reply June 12, 2014 at 1:12 pm

    I always say I will remain a Catholic. But I continue to be disturbed. I live in St. Philip Neri Parish in Lafayette. They are closing 3 churches in Conshohocken and I know the reasons for this are complicated. But I would like to see some compassionate from our altar. There are no requests for prayers for the people affected. No reaching out.

  12. I was a deacon who was ready to ride all this out, but I could not in good conscience after I learned Chaput was fighting any window in the statutes of limitation. It showed me they really aren’t interested in justice for victims, They are probably hoping many more abusers will die before / if victims get their day in court. I am a happy Episcopalian now, but still feel the archdiocese did me damage,

    • Thank you, Sixroute! (Very odd name, by the way.)

      Forgive me for being contrary, but I must, because it needs to be said. As a victim, I am uninterested in my own justice if prevention isn’t considered first and realized as most important. Laws could be enacted today, right at this very moment that would deny me my own justice, but would absolutely prevent other children from a need to struggle someday to seek their justice. There isn’t justice in allowing me or any other victim to charge their perpetrator(s) criminally and/or civilly, if nothing is done to protect the innocent first.

      Tell your comrades to turn over the wicked.

      So much wasted tax money could be utilized for education in preventing more victims. Child sexual abuse is still, believe it or not, a very “taboo” subject for entirely too many people. Criminal convictions could be strengthened. More action should be taken to keep predators away from children. Penalties for those who fail to report a child they know is being abused or in danger of abuse needs to be evaluated intelligently by good people who have their hands in their own pockets! If anybody has been paying attention to the news within the last few years regarding topics other than sexual abuse, it shouldn’t take a “rocket surgeon” (as my Dad would say), to conclude that this country needs an educational crash course in issues of mental health, and then a long-term plan and commitment in making sure that the mental health of every man, woman, and child is a priority. I don’t believe “scumbags” can be cured, but maybe they can be controlled???

      It’s very difficult for me as a victim to see a bright future. I’m trying, believe me, but I know that the more we allow children to suffer, the more bleak the outlook I have, because in the future the world will surely lack the great minds necessary for solving the world’s greatest problems. Do you think if Bill Gates was molested and raped throughout his childhood there would still be a Microsoft? I seriously doubt it. Or, what if Bill Gates was instead shot and killed while sitting in computer class in the 7th grade, along with several others nerds around him? Absolutely no Microsoft! Think of how different the world would be if we didn’t automatically recognize the names of Thomas Edison, Edgar Allen Poe, Mahatma Gandhi, Abraham Lincoln, Bono, Picasso, and so many other great minds that have contributed to the evolution of the human race. We’d still be the cavemen I struggle to convince myself we don’t precisely act like anyway.

      We victims fall upon much different life paths than non-victims. The abuse breeds silence, despair, depression, anger, addiction, confusion, sadness, fear, loss of time, questions of self-worth, and for too many and much too early, death.

      People are born to be loved. Things are invented to be used. The reason the world is so screwed up is because too many things are loved and too many people are used.

      The real justice for me starts when people and institutions stop protecting the guilty and instead protect the innocent. I believe the risks of continued further inaction to protect the youngest, most trusting, vulnerable, and defenseless in our society will logically result in more damaged adults, like me, and I have tried to stress with people here so many times, and I still mean it as when I first wrote it, the world does not need more people like me!

      Anyway, thanks Sixroute, and maybe you could join some victims in a protest some time? It would be a boost for many of us to see priests/deacons outside with us instead of inside with them.

      Peace out!
      Rich

      • I was a mailman, thus the name. I always wanted to take part outside of 222, but always worked. I have not served as deacon since 2011 when I sent the diocese my resignation. I am now an Episcopalian. Refreshing!

  13. John S. Wintermyer Reply June 12, 2014 at 2:54 pm

    As a Catholic priest (52 years ordained and 78Y/O) I also have been extremely shaken by these events of abuse and cover up. I find great solace at the deep sense of the presence of holiness in the hearts of so many who write on this blog. In some ways, we are all like”sheep without shepherds” being marauded by ” wolves in sheep clothing”.
    This community needs to realize that we are adult faith seekers and that there is as much “spirituality” within this group than found in most of the parishes of the Archdiocese. This is not an attack on wonderful and sincere people who have grown up in this Church and find some sense of peace with this structure. But the time has come for people to recognize that there may be other ways for us to express our faith and not be controlled by those who have also lied and deceived innocent victims and covered up the evil of this abuse.

    • I need to say thank you Fr. John for your realistic faith and even your faith expressing this deep inner courage. Faith seems like a lonely place to me, yet it also is its value without reference to anyone. Maybe it is in this place security becomes courage and courage is faith. It is like its own inner strength and offers this enormous capacity to be guided by the Divine. This is just to say your faith speaks for you.

  14. FYI – prayers for me appreciated today as I sign my statement against my abuser! It is OUR church and we have the power to change things!

  15. My Christian faith may be firm, but I find I no longer feel the need to perform/participate in the rites of the RC Church any more. I attend Mass fairly frequently, mostly for funerals, and I am glad my son and his wife had their child baptized in our faith. However, I have not contributed any monies to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia since 2004, even at what was once my parish. Knowing the “apportionment” system as I do, I cannot, in good conscience, give any more money to this corrupt institution, that not only allowed pedophiles to roam freely throughout our AD, but covered up, for the sake of the Church’s public persona, all the evil these men created, and continued to hurt the victims in every way possible, ruining their childhoods, and taking away all forms of security they might have developed. Yes, pedophiles are sick – but those who covered this up are nothing short of devils. A friend suggested I still need to go to Mass, rather than do my own Holy Communion, as a priest’s hands are consecrated, and my own are not. I replied that I know where those hands have been, and they are not any holier than mine, and likely much less holy. I have suggested often that we Roman Catholics need to create a separate Catholic Church, because we’ll have to anyway soon, and because most of us who love Christ and his teachings cannot listen to the horrible, false, evil “information” coming from the pulpits….

  16. I believe in the Church of Baseball. I’ve tried all the major religions and most of the minor ones. I know things… for instance; there’s 108 beads in a Catholics’ rosary and 108 stitches in a baseball. When I found that out I gave Jesus a chance, but things just didn’t work out between us. The Lord laid too much guilt on me. You see… there’s no guilt in baseball and it’s never boring. It’s a long season and you’ve got to trust it.

    Yeah… I’ve tried them all, I really have, and the only church that feeds the soul, day in and day out, is the Church of Baseball. 🙂

    Go Phillies!

    • Rich: Maybe I could join your church? Probably not. I am over the age of fifty . Too old for baseball and too old to get justice.

      • JIm that last part of your statement just makes me so sad…….you cant get justice but these predator priests are enjoying their retirements …….its just so inside out and backwards how things are right now………..if you don’t get justice here which I hope and pray you do one day……..I know someday God will judge them and that’s for all eternity…..this world is temporary

  17. My faith grows stronger each day; it has nothing to do with the RCC. I would enjoy fellowship with C4C

    Peace.

    Denise

  18. Interested in being with C4C to join our hearts together. I am not interested in joining another church though. I will not enter into another RCC, unless I have to. How will this group come together and where?

  19. How has it changed my faith? I now know without a doubt that this is not our home……….heaven is and I guess you focus on that and Jesus and you do the best you can……..its not easy and its not fair but then that’s why Jesus says to pick up your cross and follow him…………but there is a peace and joy from knowing and believing in Jesus and no one can take that away from you……….if you don’t let them…….it all comes down to a deliberate choice on our part……..

  20. I would be interested in a C4C meeting. It is hard to talk about the effect the sex abuse scandal has had on my faith. My faith is extremely strong but it is no longer connected to the Catholic Church. I cannot reconcile a church that preaches a loving God while practicing deceit. In my opinion nothing at all has changed in the Catholic Church and, I suspect, there is still cover up going on. As far as Chaput is concerned – I hope he gets what he wishes for – a small flock who blindly obey his every word and thought – but I will not be part of that flock. I, too, have found a home in the Episcopalian Church. Do I consider myself Episcopalian – no. Do I consider myself a former Catholic – no. I am a Christian who wants and needs a worship community I trust and respect and who trust and respect me.

  21. Gina,”I am a Christian who wants and needs a worship community I trust and respect and who trust and respect me.” Exactly. Recently another Catholic friend and I were at a meeting for a child abuse/survivor event. The meeting was held at a Church of another denomination. Towards the end of the meeting the minister stopped by and closed the meeting with a heartfelt prayer about children..not a prepared prayer just something off the cuff. My Catholic friend and I were amazed that we were treated like equals..that children were so respected..that meetings about child abuse were allowed and encouraged to take place at the Church. We were so impressed that it was actually pathetic. Actually it was really pathetic and we both laughed afterward at how impressed we were with a simple prayer,respect and kindness.

  22. I have been thinking about this since I read the post. I am at a little lost right now because I thought I would always call myself a Roman Catholic, but I feel that slipping away. It was such a large part of my identity. I have been thinking about everything I have read over the years- the mystics and Hitchins and the Buddha. I think I might need to evolve beyond the limitations of organized religion, but I feel the pull to stay. Perhaps this is the dark night of my soul. I would appreciate the opportunity to explore this in some meaningful with all of you who are willing.

    • C & C

      You appear to be seeking understanding of this sense of losing your faith in the catholic church. From my experience of the dark night of the soul strips away all beliefs. There is no more deposits and withdraws in a personal faith like bank account. The dark night there is no sense of accomplishment and it creates this sense of “nothingness.” It feels like inner deficiency and also creates this need to invest energies in building up a self image. Pride wants to compensate for the emptiness and wants to take special satisfaction in one’s own virtue. Then it becomes clear pride is just denial, vainglory, and the unwillingness to admit the deep hurt from within.

      As the dark night works through the denial, the pain that lies at the root of the problem becomes real. For me personally, pride and hopelessness were together and it created this internal violence. “Objection, rejection, I hate you, I hate you, I hate you” was my constant inner voice. Facing my consuming self-hatred was intense and the chasm of inner darkness opened this black hole inside, which drained whatever life I had out of me. Overcoming my pride/denial, resistance and self-deception then created this vacuum from within. Because of my unworthiness to be loved and a worthless human being denial would not allow me to see my pain. Meaningful desires vanished; total blockage of feelings, and life seemed suddenly being drained away. I felt fatigue, apathetic, alienated from myself and others. It created this sinking sensation is like water going down a drain and it created this emotional paralysis, unable to function.

      When my water went down the drain, my sense of self, there was a point it stopped spinning, the chaos stopped and the water sunk out of sight. At this point I realized the story I had been telling myself for long time no longer mattered and was just a temporary fabrication. The familiarity of my story fell into “nothingness” and creates this edginess. This is the point real faith begins. It is where faith allows the emptiness to paradoxically create itself as everything. Down the drain creates this faith from within rather than seeking it from church or from the outside.

      It seems to me the only way counteract the terror and despair, the dark night, is by faith. It literally feels like death, the end, and yet faith allows one’s ego personality slip away. There is agony in the “nothingness” and yet faith reveals itself as everything and everything emanates from this point on. Going down the drain is where my story stops and allows this falling back into the true self. Essence is experienced and there is less projects and preoccupations of my personalities. This center no longer needs to accomplish something and the trance of the ego personality falls away. It is a place one realizes that the most important thing is to be myself deeply and completely.

      This down the drain becomes just a place to begin, over and over and over, and faith can do no other than to allow grace to transform all beliefs into realistic faith. True faith is the realization its own value is without reference to anyone. It teaches self-possession and self-surrender are profoundly together that has mystical overtones.

      • Syd,
        Thank you so much for this reply. I read it a few hours ago and it brought me to tears. I am finally able to gather some strength to log on just to say thank you. My Catholic identity was always a great defense against that negative inner voice which is also slipping away. It was my security blanket and my mask. Not quite sure where I will wind up, but I thank you for recognizing and pointing out some of the signposts of this journey.

  23. I struggled with this as well. I was not abused and my children were not abused although they were exposed to 4 known pedophiles transferred into the two parishes to which I belonged. They abused before they got there and it was known to the archdiocese before they sent them to my parish. The frightening thing to me was that in one parish the pastor didn’t like children. Everyone under the age of 3 was sent to an unventilated quiet room, even in the heat of summer. No youth groups, scouting, or CYO. The two pedophiles were the only ones who showed any interest in children between the time of their baptism and the senior citizens group. I had no inkling how creepy they were. One pastor actually told me that, “It would be a shame to lose a lot of good men for one mistake.” In the second parish I liked the two pastors and found them to be a wonderful men of God, but when I found out that they had been sent two pedophiles and were not warned about it, I decided no matter how good they were that the hierarchy could sabotage any relationship.

    I sat back and looked at it after being a Catholic for 61 years. I need a faith community to support and maintain my faith. The whole consubstantiation/transubstantiation argument and the perpetual virginity of Mary really aren’t relevant to my faith. I found a wonderful Lutheran community that supports my faith, and the two pastors are wonderful preachers. One pastor is a woman and her perspective on scripture is very different, maybe because of gender, and gives me entirely different insights.

    I am impressed by Pope Francis, and pray for his success, but until the middle management is cleaned out and reparations are made to the victims, I cannot feel the presence of the Spirit in the Catholic church. I would hope that at some point the people of the church would rise up and try to benefit the victims. I confess that I am at a loss to know what to do or how to do it, but I believe that this is the first step at taking back the church by showing that we hold ourselves to Christ’s teaching, even when our leaders fail. It may be that by showing how badly our leaders have failed in their job and how far they have deviated from the instructions of scripture, that we may be able to demonstrate the need for reorganization into a church of the people, governed by the people for the people.

    • Parodox- I as do you “…need a faith community to support and maintain my faith.” At the present time it happens to be a RC community (but it’s not necessary for me) as a result of my wife’s desire. I consider the man made rules of the RCC to be of no consequence for me, e.g., mandatory Sunday mass, fasting and abstaining, etc., are of no personal concern. I worship on Sunday, but I personally don’t require a RC mass to do that.

      As long as I’m following Jesus by doing no harm to others, and helping them to the extent that I can, I’m at peace.

      I judge people of any faith demonstrated by their fruits. “I’m secure in my relationship with Jesus and I don’t need these priests (although I know a few good ones), bishops, cardinals or even the Pontiff to tell me what to do” (Estelle Church).

      I consider myself a Catholic in that I believe in the Creed, period!

  24. S. Reid Warren, III Reply June 13, 2014 at 1:46 pm

    To misquote Shakespeare – “Religion is a tale told by an idiot – full of sound and FURY signifying nothing.”

    I read recently that a convent sponsored orphanage in Ireland several decades ago, was recently found to have over 800 dead babies in the septic system! Forgive them Father for they KNEW what they were doing?

    It never ends – it just never ends. “How much longer O Lord, how much longer?”

    I understand fully that many people want and need a personal relationship with God. But, I find that faith that comes from an institutionalized religious source like the Vatican or any of the other organized creed based organizations invariably fail the faithful and take on a political or power agenda.

    The American Friends, the Quakers, appear to have found faith based on deeds – not creeds. What is refreshing about them is that women share equally in the governance of the faith and in what is said in Meeting when The Spirit moves them to speak. Imagine, just imagine, if women were deemed equal in The Church.

    In a novel I read recently a character said: “There is only one sin – to do harm to another. All the rest is hogwash.”

    Indeed.

    Reid

  25. Has Your Faith Experience Been Harmed?…………

    One thing is for sure………..historically, 666 has been understood as a symbol of evil, the devil. In a strange way, I’m beginning to sense a similar fear of another triple number……..222 (as in N. 17th St.)

  26. I’m a cradle Catholic and I Ieft the Catholic Church almost 2 yrs.ago. I’m 60 yrs. young. I’m an example that it’s never too late to do the right thing for yourself. It wasn’t easy, it took a hit on my health but it was a case if I stayed any longer in the Catholic Church I was either going to end up some place in a mental health ward or jail.

    Yes, the clergy abuse scandals played a big part in my personal experience of losing faith in the Roman Catholic Church. I’m a clergy abuse victim survivor. Lies were told to me in the confessional. I was threatened with lawsuits, I was told I would suffer financial difficulties and even if I didn’t do as one priest said. I was:

    ‘an hindrance to the progression of the Holy Roman Catholic Church.’

    I joined a clergy abuse support group and this priest followed me there under a different name and the host (thankfully for software for IP address for the site) warned him to behave but in no time the moderator needed to save the credibility of the group she banned this priest and another priest friend of his from the site. Thank goodness I found a place with those that can relate to a certain degree what I’ve been through and it’s a great feeling to know I’m not alone in this.

    As for me, I can enter a Catholic Church today with no problem just as a visitor for baptisms, funeral Masses and weddings. Whatever feelings I had for the Catholic Church it’s gone…gone…gone.

    Since I left the Catholic Church I will not receive the Eucharist when attending Church functions because I know very well I would be desecrating the Eucharist and I know better than EVER to do that. I do respect those Catholic folks who want to live their life according to the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. I still have brothers, family, relatives and friends who practice their Catholic faith.

    I’m secure in my relationship with Jesus and I don’t need these priests, bishops, cardinals or even the Pontiff to tell me what to do. I never did like the way the Catholic Church treated the female gender but I kept trucking through my life to be that saint in the making so to speak.

    This is who I am and I’m at peace with that. Thank-you for hearing me out.

    Estelle

  27. S. Reid Warren, III Reply June 13, 2014 at 6:06 pm

    It seems to me that Estelle’s story above confirms my feelings. Not only was she abused by the church initially, but then when she wanted recourse and justice and a safe place, she was bullied and threatened. Then, to add to the bullying, two priests, using their ecclesiastical authority and power, STALKED her into an abuse support group. Just the sorts of male predatory behavior that all too many girls and women experience from male relatives, present and former partners, “friends” of the family, the boss, and of course in the present day United States Military.

    But, but, shouldn’t she have found a safe place in church in the first place?

    Reid

    • When I was a child it never occurred to me that there was any other path for me other than religious life. I’d stop in church on the way home from school, went to daily mass as much as I could etc. After the abuse the bottom fell out of my heart. I resisted goof to church and went only when my parents insisted. When I was in my 30s I met some local women that I admired who did a lot of social justice projects. They said their motivation was living their catholic faith. It was like the hound of heaven was calling me home. I bit the bullet and returned to the church. The parish was rather progressive and either there were less triggers or I was able to suppress them. I struggled when a new priest would visit that I didn’t know to be able to trust and felt ill when one reminded me of my abuser but considered it just my problem. Got very active and known parish. Talked about prayer to RCIA, was a EM, my friends and social life was all about the parish. I struggle with things along the way. My children are gay and I support equality so had to shut out talk about family values etc but was able to pick and choose and remain connected
      This all changed 16 months ago when I discovered my abuser was a serial pedophile. I went a year struggling just to say an our father. I have one friend who I can talk to about outside interests but have lost my community. My heart is numb. I go to the woods and say thanks for this beauty or when things are tough cry “help” but it is not catholic.
      Tried to go to church last Easter and left feeling numb and sad about the loss and disconnect. I used to have passionate faith and it is dead. Trying to connect with what the core things that are my foundation that Jesus taught like the beatitudes. I come to this site wondering if there is anything catholic left inside of me. I see people that are now more of my community. When we talk of what is really important I know it came from the good part of our faith that has nothing to do with clergy and the institution.
      I can’t imagine going to another church. Don’t live near Phillie or would suggest meeting people from here for coffee and talking about the essence of our faith that we still believe – love of neighbor, thanksgiving for gifts I life etc. that would be worship. I feel I’m slacking because I don’t do anything to express my need to worship at this time of my life but maybe it’s because I’m still dealing with the sadness of the reality if the abuse which has become all consuming. I hope I can pray again. For now just the fact that I aspire to pray is sort of a prayer. Despite all this I feel blessed and remain a child of God. Guess that’s a little catholic after all.
      Suz

      • Suzpt…….a very sad, difficult and heartfelt presentation of all the struggle and suffering that is always a part of your life……….
        We all know that the Phila. RCC leadership READS these personal stories and yet there is deafening silence down there at 222 N. 17th St………no reaching out individually to those who were destroyed by clergy sexual abuse, those who open their hearts and souls here on C4C

      • What you write is excellent Suz, as you appear modest and direct. Your spirit or faith deep within appears to offer hope. Your hope as your Essential value appears to be the starting point that makes everything else possible. I just wanted you to know you are planting a seed of your own interiority that is making a difference. She is called Hope and it is dynamic. Thank you!

  28. Sometimes when it is so hard to pray, Our Lord knows all…. When your heart is pounding, but the words won’t come out, He knows all. Looking up to the heavens, and saying help, Jesus knows. He feels all and know all of what is in our hearts. He knows every fear, emotion and experienced it all here on earth. He did not sin, though. I guess Suz even though you feel like you are slacking, youre not!!! Syd said it so well, it’s called Hope.

    Peace.

    Denise

    • Thank you all for kind supportive replies. The way I look at is – the church will always be my
      Mother but no longer is my Holy Mother. She is also a pimp that sold a child for her benefit. I am angry and grieving as she is still my mother. Like Peter said. “Where should I go.. You alone have the words..,”. Lost an alone. An orphan on this earth but knowing that I am still a child of God sustains me. Without that I could not survive an understand how others have not

  29. Suzpt, C&C, Syd and Parodox, all your postings, the vulnerability, the realness, truly, touched my heart. I have been very aware for a long time the “damage” the Catholic Church has left in it’s wake concerning the “people of the Church”. Because of it’s arrogance, even that torment means nothing to them.

    One of the most painful parts of my journey was what is called a Spiritual Emergence. It was a natural process of crisis. I was bombarded with inner experiences that abruptly challenged my old beliefs and ways of existing. My faith and all I had believed was, crashing, I was indeed, going through a death. What I didn’t realize at the time was that with a death is a rebirth. During my time of Spiritual Emergence I was fearful and resistant, I needed to control what felt like an overwhelming inner event. I felt anxiety, my body felt as though it was falling apart. I was unprepared for the onset of such strange new feelings. Was I losing control of my life? Where was the safe, old way of feeling of what I thought I had loved in my Church? Then loneliness, a separateness, alienation engulfed me. I felt as though my mind was being shattered into a million pieces. All I felt was fragments, nothing anymore made sense. My therapist called this “divine madness”. She said that some of our greatest blessings come way of madness. My spirit was suffering, I was going through a period of trial. I thank God I had support. Death had come to me in my restricted ways of believing. I had to drop a lot of my limitations that was preventing my growth. Oh, how I grieved! I was grieving my old behaviors and a love of my faith as I had been taught. As part of my detachment, I had to look at truth. Over a long period of time I became very aware of what was termed “my ego death”. many things changed in my life as I walked through this ego death. I felt that my physical, emotional, and spiritual self was being forcefully shattered. What I thought I knew of me was slowly leaving, I was encountering the dark night of my soul. The greatest gift I have been given as I journey through my pain and suffering is that God gave to me a spiritual life that includes a newfound honesty, openess, flexibility, love, and trust in God and in myself. My tranformation came after I walked through this spiritual emergence. With the greatest humility, I will always be most grateful to God for this Divine gift. I have walked a Hero’s Journey. I now connect with the “old” in a different way. I have found what nourishes me, I have found, me, I have come home.

    My Dear Friends,
    Be gentle with yourself. With darkness comes light.

    As we felt the new power flow in, as we enjoyed peace of mind, as we discovered we could face life successfully, as we became conscious of His presence, we began to lose our fear of today, tomorrow, or the hereafter. We were reborn.
    Alcoholics Anonymous

    • I was hoping you could write Vicky about your faith. Your faith appears to have created this opening and acceptance of the conditions you were working with. Your faith appears to now offer this unshakable confidence. Your faith appears grounded in the real rather than the ideal. Your faith appears exceptionally realistic, mature and well-balanced. It now appears nothing could be added or subtracted from your faith. In your unshakable inner peace, your deep faith, we all welcome you home Vicky. And may you know your faith is a powerful, healing force that is simply and genuinely the Holy Spirit with you. Thank you!

  30. Thank you Vicky! What a wonderful place you have found. This is so inspiring to me.
    It’s like when gold is processed and all the dregs fall away to reveal the pure essence. Maybe somehow there could be a community of like minded people that could gather and share in person. In the meantime I am so very grateful to be able to participate in this group. I feel more closer to so many of you all than most of the people who I worshiped with in the past. Peace to all!
    Suz

  31. Ladies and gentlemen I must be honest with you but more important honest with myself. A statement that I gained strength from was Fr. Hermley and the catholic church made us victims and it was up to us to become survivors. I believed in that statement and sadly I had others believe in it also. But I know now I will always be a victim. I will always be that defenseless little boy and no person or therapist can change that and I curse Father Hermley and spit on his grave not for what he did to me but because he did not finish the job. He left behind a shell of a child, teenager and now an adult. Now before anyone thinks I may do something stupid please put your mind at ease because first I am a “coward” second I have a little eight year old girl who I love so very much I could not leave such a memory behind for her.

    You maybe asking yourself why could Dennis be writing such things he always seemed so strong in his comments. Approx. a

  32. Dennis, What you wrote is hard to read but your honesty is important – especially for other victims who may be feeling the same way. What was done to you can’t be undone. It’s an indelible part of who you are now. But just from my limited experience with you here, I know it’s not all of who you are. It may inform many or even all of your thoughts but you haven’t let it steal your love for your daughter. That strength is you.

    • What type of father yells at a childs mother as I did. What type of husband yells at his biggest supporter. One who held me after a nightmare, one who was interested in everything I wrote.

      I deserve everything that may now happen because of my words no matter if Hermley is the root of it or not. I truly believe my book has been written and that is something I truly fear 1000 times more then I fear Hermley and that is growing old alone and dying alone.

      • Susan,

        I would also like to say I’m sorry to those who have read my words either on your blog or others and have gained strength from them only to feel someone who they may have thought as strong is weaker

      • I think it’s human nature to take out our frustrations, fears and anger on those closest to us. That’s where we feel most secure to let out our worst. That doesn’t make it ok; it’s just normal. I agree with Survivor’s wife. It’s hard to find the words, but we are here with you and will read every word.

    • Drwho13: I suppose what is happening in Massachusetts, as well as what is happening in Pennsylvania is progress but I am very disappointed in the bills in both states.The cutoff here in Pennsylvania is fifty years old whereas in Massachusetts the statute of limitations is going to be fifty three. The age cutoff seems very arbitrary. Also the fact that in Massachusetts, one cannot sue the institution that the abuser worked for is another negative. In my view there is much compromise going on but the compromise is extremely one sided. Legislators seem willing to give in on every point when it comes to victims but those legislators supporting institutions like the Catholic Church have compromised on nothing .Maybe someone could point out to me where the Church and its supporters in the legislators have compromised . But I just don’t see it .All victims deserve justice and these bills just don’t cut it.

      • Jim I agree and understand that these Bills will not provide justice for all..after 10 years of no movement and becoming more aware of the non prosecuted predators who roam our state ,free to prey on children,I at least hope it passes. It will protect kids.
        There is sooooo much that goes into all this..more than I ever imagined and the people in the “know’, “know’ what they are doing. I do trust that.

  33. continued

    Approx. a month ago I suffered my 8th heart attack and within that month Laura has left and has taken my little girl with her. I do not blame Fr. Hermley for every misfortune in my life but my health issues and my mood changes along with my controlling ways I do. The same reasons why my first marriage failed. My therapist explained that I was continually searching for that control Hermley took from me and as my health goes coming from someone who comes from that large catholic family were none of my siblings have no medical history as close to mine my cardiologist explained to me how the body reacts to stress. He went on to say if I do not get a hold of it I will be the only patient he had that was killed by a dead man

    • Dennis did you ever hear of “heart math” ? It is a learned technique that sports people but also war veterans have been using very successfully for Post tramatic stress. It can be learned in a 1 hr session and is very easy to do. Rich had mentioned mediation had helped him at one point also.

  34. Continued

    I do not wish for anyone to think negative about Laura. I love her and my daughter so much and if you can understand what a husband or wife goes through you would understand they also become victims and that is something no spouse signs on for, and I know if any of you met her you would fall in love with her too.

    • Dennis,
      I don’t have any words…

      just know I read every word…

      your pain in palpable. I’m sorry.

  35. conclusion

    I wish what was happening in my life right now was not it hurts so very very much I wish I was not the coward I am.

    I can only wait for two things, that Laura and Christina walk through the door or I receive those papers in the mail.

    But no matter what happens Laura will do what she thinks is best. Under no circumstance would I want her to suffer what I have been through. She needs to think of her own health.

  36. Sadly, what I am going through is something the abuser does not know he is doing and something that the archdiocese choose to ignore and if I had to suffer the abuse again I would ask Fr. Hermley to kill me. I am not living anyway I simply am existing

    • I want to thank you Dennis for trusting us with your pain and your words. Calling yourself a coward seems like you are caving into fear. Yet I wonder if you are not experiencing the failure of inner confidence to receive inner guidance. It feels like you have lost your faith and I say good for you. I say “good” because maybe this place is teaching you your own value is without reference to anyone. I just observe, from what you write, you have allowed your deepest feelings to emerge.

      It now seems everything has turned against you, even your faith, and now this inner emptiness. From my experience this is where faith begins, right in the hole where there is nothing in the world to believe in. This place within, the void, appears to be where we learn real faith. It is where we realize realistic faith cannot be harmed nor can it be lost. And please understand I am not here to convince you to find real faith. I just want you to know what you wrote took tremendous strength. This strength, to me, is your support and maybe, after all, is your faith.

      Please understand I cannot harness your anxiety nor can I take away your pain nor can I give you faith. Just being you as a human being is good enough for me and a place to begin.

    • Dennis I have not suffered your pain but I have suffered physical, emotional mental and spiritual pain and all suffering can be used for good I know that for a fact. You are here for purpose ……….I truly believe that………..

  37. Dennis I feel for you. Have many health issues that are stress related and am angry about how this has given me pain and need for so much medical intervention and may most likely shortened my life. Z
    Suz

  38. DENNIS: I am so sorry for all the pain you are feeling. Many of us here know all too well what you are going through. I don’t know which is worse. The pain we suffer ourselves or the pain we cause those closest to us and support us .But don’t be too hard on yourself.No matter what happens between you and your wife, your daughter will always be part of your life. AS someone a few years older, I can tell you that you have much to look forward to with your daughter. The proms, her graduation from high school and possibly college. Her wedding and also the possibility of her own children making you a grandfather.But you need to take care of yourself to see these possibilities. You cannot eliminate the stress that has been caused by the priest who abused you or the stress caused by the Church that ignored you in the past.But you do have much to look forward to in the future. Keep the faith[ no not that faith] and hang in there. You are not alone.

  39. I did it, I did it, I did it.

    Last night was such a bad night. I had the gun on one side of me and the box of all my medication on the otherside. Two ways to end 40 years of torture.

    However, there was that little bit of me who knew I should continue to fight. So I got in my truck and drove to my church (Greenwood Christian Church) knowing I had to speak with someone.

  40. I sat down with my minister Kent a man who knows my past. The tears began to roll as I told him I am not a bad man I so much want to be the best husband and best father possible. I was literally begging for the help I wanted to be that man.

    Kent asked me if If I was willing to stay for church. He told me it was going to be about WHY ?

  41. While listening to the words of the minister I jumped out of my seat and left the church itself and was looking around for someone to talk to, not knowing Kent had someone keeping an eye on me we both went into a room and I told him after the words I was listening to I know the answer.

    Such a burden seem to be lifted

  42. When I looked to the sky and said,

    FATHER HERMLY I FORGIVE YOU.

    I am so sorry I forgot the name of the man who was with me but then another man entered the room Matt another minister for the church, a man who so much I want to be like. A man who truly has GOD in his heart

  43. All three of us prayed, me for the first time in a long time. I prayed for God to be in my heart.

    However I knew I had to do one other thing. I drove to Our Lady of Greenwood Catholic Church and met with a priest.

    I met Father Mike a man who said was only out of the seminary about a month.

  44. I told him why I was there. I told him I needed to stand before a man in a black shirt, black pants, and that white collar and look at him as if I was standing before Father Hermley and say again Father Hermley I forgive you. We both ended my visit by saying a prayer for Father Hermley.

    I don’t know when I will see Laura and Christina again, will they both wish to remain in my life ? Forgiving Father Hermley the answer to my mood changes

  45. Or the feeling I must control everything, or is it something else ? Could it be my health conditions that does not allow me to have clear thought, or could it be something I fear only because of the stigma that comes with it. Could it be that I have more then the PTSD and depression diagnosis. Could it be something I need to be medicated for.I’m still scared of what the future will or will not bring. I do know something though I feel at ease for finally doing what so many others have done.

    Thank you to everyone for your kind words and being there when I feel the world is falling down around me. I only ask that you will be there for maybe many hard, days,months or possibly years ahead.

    • All of us are very pleased with you Dennis. Your act of forgiveness appears to be the actual support of Presence or God available to you right now. These moments you walk us through in your writing feels like from your inner Essence, what is deepest in you and is always true. This inner Essence, where we all tap the inner springs of courage, appears to be where realistic faith is realized. It is here our true nature is supportive and offers this inner strength naturally as it is needed. Courage is this enormous capacity of the Essential and can totally accept not-knowing the outcome of things. This Essence or Presence offers an unshakable confidence. It is felt like the sun and courage is what grounds us in the moment.

      In your writing with the here and now, you appear to be imbedded with the unfolding of the Divine. Real courage and security appears now with you. Call it forgiveness, faith, courage, the sun, Essence, and even an unfolding with the Divine I feel it is now your place to form a stable union with yourself and others. This Essence or Presence is home and we all welcome you here. So may you know deep peace where there is no sense of separation and may you enjoy profound contentment, Dennis!

  46. Katherine FitzGerald Reply June 23, 2014 at 12:21 am

    Dennis, I will always be here for you.

    What you did at both churches, speaking with clerics and people who care about you, and forgiving Fr. Hermley, were acts of taking control of yourself. Continue to do everything you can to take control of yourself. Momentarily put aside whether it will cause Laura and Christina to return to your life. Just know that in focusing completely on yourself and in taking control of yourself, they will open a pathway for Laura, Christina, and others to reenter your life in some form or fashion. Build the pathway that has been obstructed so people can see an entry way to you.

  47. Hang in there Dennis. We can let this consume us or we can move ahead. Can’t undo the past but can try to focus on what is beautiful and joyful in life. Today I was meditating on how I felt as a child before the violation. Carefree, riding my bike with my hair blowing in the breeze, enjoying a Summer day… That part of me is also a part of my story. The boy you were before is part of who you still are. You can recapture that love of life and when the pain surfaces at times if you have something bigger to look at, it can help you keep your head above water. I acknowledge my anger and grief, but am trying to focus on what there is to be joyful about in my life. The same things I hope you enjoy like the milestones ahead for your daughter.
    You mentioned medication. I resisted it for years as considered it a weakness, but finally decided to give it a shot and it made a HUGE difference on my anxiety and depression. Family members have commented on the change and how it helped the way I was so hard on myself and spinning my wheels. It has helped me focus and I realize it is something I need like a diabetic needs insulin. Stress can rewire our nervous systems and meds can help stabilize that ultrasensitivity. Perhaps it would be something to consider.
    Hope you can be gentle with yourself. Hugs!
    Suz

  48. Its 10:56 at night and I getting back into the house. The first thing I want to do is leave my phone number. 317-667-5057. I know the road ahead is going to be bumpy. I want to put it out there and inviite anyone day or night to calll me. I sure need contact and I know to hear another voice who understands what is happening. What

  49. Here is the unfair thing about all of this. I have forgave Fr. Hermley for what he had done to me, and I am so glad to have done that.

    But yet it does not return me to thirteen, it does not.take the scars away, and it does not bring Christina & Laura back. Most important the mood changes and the controlling behavior are they gone.

    I am so glad I finally let the hatred go for Father Hermley but I was the man, it was my words that pushed Laura away. Even if the actions of myself were formed over the years by what Father Hermley did to me, Laura was not seeing Father Hermley yelling at her, she saw her husband Dennis.

    • I called Dennis this morning and in his tears he kept saying, “I am trying.” His blood pressure is high and he cannot get into mental health for three weeks. He told me he wanted to call the minister and see if he could get some help from him. Dennis appears to be feeling powerless and hopeless, overwhelmed and violated, abandoned and alone, trapped and desperate. There appears to be lots of internal shock and lots of anxiety. Maybe give him a call as support and may Dennis know deep peace to help resolve his anxiety, as my prayer for him.

      Anyway Dennis just wanted me to write and it appears to be his way of asking for your support and your prayers.

    • Dennis, I am praying for you. Hope you get the help you want and need. Thank you Syd for keeping in touch with Dennis. We need you Dennis, don’t want to comment further, you need to hear from those who have survived, I have too much anger toward the Oblates to comment -. Also, the mental health system is difficult to navigate – does anyone(that Dennis Trusts) have any connections to help Dennis?

  50. HELP ME HELP ME

    SOMEBODY PLEASE HELP ME.

    I no longer want to be the person Hermley made me.

    I’M TRYING TO GET THE HELP I SO MUCH NEED AND WANT AND I have done nothing but hit brick walls

    I don’t think my physical body and my mind can last much longer..

    • Dennis,

      I don’t know what your health insurance status is, but I hope the lack of it is not preventing you from receiving care.

      The quickest way to get into the system is to GO TO THE ER, and tell them what’s going on, and DO NOT minimize your condition when speaking with the staff. This sounds like a medical emergency, and you CAN NOT wait three weeks for mental health care! Call 911 if you are unable to (for whatever reason) get there on your own.

      Then you must follow the doctor’s instructions; if it’s meds take them! If it’s hospital admission, consent to it! You need to take action NOW!

      Just the act of of doing something will help your state of mind. DO NOT remain inert

      ABOVE ALL, DO NOT TAKE NO FOR AN ANSWER. GO TO ANOTHER ER IF YOU HAVE TO, AND DO NOT QUIT UNTIL YOU RECEIVE HELP!

      Your in my prayers. Now get going!

    • Dennis, I called Victims Assistance at the Archdiocese and spoke to a intake worker named Janice. I am concerned about what you said about waiting 3 weeks for MH treatment,I know you have said in the past that your therapy was covered by the Archdiocese. I asked them to help with your case..maybe someone will be contacting you or your therapist. We are all concerned for you Dennis and want you to get the help you deserve.

  51. Dennis, Please hang in there. You are being prayed for. If anything comes up as far as mental health I’ll write Susan – did ask a few contacts in Philly, Sorry, lost my gmail account. Ed Gunn

  52. Dennis,
    You aren’t alone. You don’t have to do this alone. We are here to support you in getting the help you need.

    Deep breath…you are more than what you have experienced…you are more than what you are feeling right now.

  53. (Crying) God has not forgotten me ! I had an appt. Sent up with a therapist for Thursday at 3:00 and a few minutes ago she called and said she had a cxl tonight for seven and asked if I wanted it. YES YES YES YES. Best part she
    Knows of my struggle and she is tuff as nails. I also have a name of a doctor she knows who is able to give meds if needed. Please say prayers for me

    Kathy , Thank You

    Susan I have not had time to read email will contact u when I get back

  54. C4C community,
    Dennis just called me and asked me to share with you that he is sitting in his therapist’s office right now. He is getting help. He knows he isn’t alone through this. His phone is ringing off the hook and he is asking if we could stop calling for the time being.

    There is so much I’d like to share but won’t violate his trust. He is stronger than he knows. He sounded like my husband when they just couldn’t take it anymore.

    Dennis, I’m so grateful for you.

  55. My battle has begun.

  56. I don’t know how to thank each and everyone of you except to fight this battle and win. There is no guarantee Laura will return but I need to do this for me. I want to be healthy for Christina.

    I have forgiven Father Hermley for what he has done to me but that does change the. Fact there is a personality that was molded because of his actions must be removed and buried with him only then will the real Dennis come out.

  57. I know I will not be writing everything from my treatment but I will jot down things I think might be important to me but to all of us.

    You have no idea how much each and every one of you mean to me.

    I would like to point out my therapy is going to be aggressive (THREE DAYS A WEEK) I will also be seeing a shrink in case I need to be medicated. My therapist has assured me they will work with my cardiologist. Pulmonary and GP.

  58. In addition I think everyone should know my therapist DOES KNOW where Laura and Christina are. She has promised me they are safe and they are not in some flea infested shelter

    I have also been asked by my therapist for one thing. GET RID OF THE GUN. I am already up and showered to take the gun to a pawn shop

  59. Maybe I can get a few dollars to spend on Christina however I am willing to take to the Johnson County P.D for destruction.

    I ask for your. Continued prayers

  60. Continued prayers for you Dennis.

  61. I feel it is right to thank you Dennis for seeking to find help and seeking to find your own inner strength. It appears you are seeking to find help to sustaining faith within you. This faith appears to ground you and appears to create the support you need. I believe as you fall deeper into your own values and faith this unshakable confidence will allow you to rest in hope. Thus hope will allow the mental agendas and projects to cease. This is just to let you know, in a profound way, your faith has already touched us all and it appears this faith is arising deep from within you.

    Your presence is significant and may your faith grow wider where you feel emotionally stable and home from within is your peace.

  62. My faith in the church was lost well before the events of the past few years. A divorced father of six kids I found myself unwelcomed in the Catholic Church and was told by the pastor that I could no longer receive communion… When the sex scandals broke and finally hit home (two of the Philadelphia priest convicted were family friends) it was time to break away from the Church. Its funny, I never lost my faith but I did lose my “home parish” and TRUE friends in the parish. Today, I am die hard Episcopalian and it feels good to be wanted even with divorce scares and the “Catholic” label. Oh, and my faith, it never went away, it just found a new place to call home….

    • And a resounding AMEN, wr!Judgement is reserved only by God. No one knows the mind of God, no one. Kindness and love will always prevail, the greatest of these is LOVE! This catholic institution lives in darkness.

  63. I am blessed

    Not by names and words on a blog but by people who I can truly call Friends.

  64. Dennis, As you know I to am a clergy abuse survivor. I am hearing from just about everyone, can a abuse survivor please try to help maybe in words our friend Dennis. I am going to be very honest with you because as a fellow survivor, you deserve that degree of respect. Reading your words of painstaking plea’s for help, tore at my heart. There is not a survivor out here that is not able to closely identify with the hell you are going through, myself included. Speaking for myself, I needed some time to take care of my own woundedness before I could be there for you. I hold you close,and as I did I allow myself tears for that little boy inside of you that is in such pain. I could not reach out to you until I could tenderly embrace my own pain. I am so proud of you that you reached out to a safe community with all your vulnerability. That, my dear friend, is the utmost defination of courage! I could not bare if you gave up on yourself, I literally, held my breath, hoping I was not to late, in so doing I reached out to the God I know and asked that He enfold you in His arms, then extend to you Dennis, the knowingness of your strength and loving commitment you have for your daughter. My friend, I have been where you are so many times. It’s core agony, I had to think of my own daughter in times like you have experienced these last few days. I could not leave that legacy of giving up to her so it became enough for me to painfully get up from the floor and call my therapist for help. You did all that, Dennis and more. I want you to see the tremendous amount of courage, through all that suffering you, stood up and reached out. You will fall to your knees many times, hit bottom, but always keep in your mind, your precious daughter, she needs her daddy. I, thank you for trusting all of us, here. My heart embraces you on your journey to wholeness. As painful as it will sometimes feel, your little wounded boy will know peace because you had the great courage to stand up for him and be his voice! He needs his tears, he needs to grieve all the losses. One day, you will look back on all this, and be humbled and grateful that you not only stepped up for that small boy but for your daughter, now that’s a legacy you want to leave. I too am here for you. In solidarity, Vicky

    • Its helpful to read the so many view points from each that have shared their words and ways. To each survivor on here, I can only hold peace and see you all at peace. As a clergy survivor, I havent found peace in religions and cant go in churches, shucks, I had a painic attack when I saw a priest walking down the food aisle at the grocery store :/
      I cant see god as a male or female but only as unconditional love and understanding for what happens to souls here on earth.
      I am grateful for the support I have and for the support the survivors have had here…Dennis that is also for you in these times. Its hard for me to share sometimes because I am afraid of people judging me for the tangents and episodes but I am feeling more comfortable with posting. Best wishes to all-emery

      • Emery: I myself don’t believe there is only one path to wholeness from clergy sex abuse. I don’t go to Church. I don’t pray to any God. I don’t see a regular therapist. I believe that each and every one of us needs to find the path that best fits him or herself. Organized religion was done for me back in 1961 when I was abused. It took me a long time to get rid of the guilt that had been implanted in my brain through sixteen years of Catholic education. Once I managed to shed those shackles, life became a whole lot easier. Also key for me, was self acceptance. Once I was able to convince myself that I didn’t have to be perfect[ another product of Catholic education] my life was much easier. Find whatever path you need to follow and go with that. And keep posting. Do not worry whether you think your posts are good enough[they certainly are]. Your ideas and thoughts are as valid as anyone else who posts here.

  65. Katherine FitzGerald Reply June 25, 2014 at 4:20 pm

    Has your faith experience been harmed?

    No, it’s been helped.

    The sexual abuse crisis in the Church shattered my illusions, informed and enlightened me, provoked questions, challenged my conscience, helped me recognize crimes, sins, and injustices, stirred me to care and advocate for others, and helped me separate myths from truths. While it led me to exit the Church in 2006, it strengthened and matured my faith. It helped me define what it means to be an adult person of faith and what actions are integral to being one. It made me less reliant on others for my faith experience and more reliant on myself. It caused me to take charge of and responsibility for my faith experience. I did not linger on what I lost. I did not grieve. I did not drift about with feelings of sadness or anger. I did not associate with another faith. I just trusted myself to figure it out and I was determined to have the courage to implement what I figured. For the first time in my life, I feel that my faith authentically represents me. I sense its presence with more consistency. I sense its relevancy in my life, family, and the world. There are many ways to “do” faith. I rely on my conscience, knowledge, and reason to do it alone.

    • Wow, Katherine your faith feels clear, awake and present. Your quality of awareness, this Presence and faith within you, appears to give you this satisfying quality. It is like your faith is telling you that you do not need to figure it out or how you will get there. It feels like the journey is your faith. Your faith is an incredible richness and I enjoyed what you wrote. Your faith felt fun and may you know the significance of your presence!

  66. I had my second therapy session today and although I still hurt so bad inside that is not what I want to talk about.

    I have been reading, reading again then reading once more all the nice words that have been written for me its giving me hope and strength. In those words I have also read people offering to say. Prayers for a complete stranger. Now although I believe in God I did not put a lot of stock in prayers. My extent in prayers is the Our Father or the Hail Mary. The only other way I know of prayers or praying is sitting in a chair orlaying in bed and having a. Conversation w

  67. With God. I believe without a doubt that prayers have been what is getting me through all this and with continued prayers one day my family will be together.

    But there is still one other thing and this is really what I wanted to talk about. In the words I am reading everyone has that special bond with God. When I read those words it seems that God is truly in your hearts and I want to feel that also. Not to single anyone out, but I read Vickeys comment and it brought tears to my eyes I want to feel that I want to feel what so many of you feel. I want to feel that I need to put everything in Gods hands and everything will be o.k. I want God to know my heart is open to him.

    Thank you EVERYONE for what you have bn doing. The words the calls they mean so very much to me

  68. I know of only one way to repay everyone for what you have been doing and that is fight this battle by going to sessions and in the end winning

    Please. Keep me in your prayers

  69. Dennis, I read your latest post and I felt a tremendous amount of relief. Your seeing a therapist, and responding to the people who showed such sincere care for you. Already you have experienced gratitude. You are on a spiritual journey, my friend, and as painful at times this journey will be, the healing and peace is beyond magnificent. When you begin to feel hopeless, reach out, remember, you are not alone there are people who have a pretty good idea of what you are walking through and can offer suggestions of what may have worked for them. Dennis, you will WIN! You have have a gift that you hold very close to your heart, it is the love of your daughter, this must be your constant thought when you feel like you can’t go on. What your daughter offers you is the incentive that you, her daddy mean the world to her. You will face many battles, the evil will wear many masks, like hopelessness, helplessness, shame, unworthiness, judgement. Face it head on without fear, your vulnerability will be your strength! Most of all, be kind to yourself!! I call it being self-caring. If we fall, we get back up. You have the power, never, never, never give it away. I am here for you and with you, my friend.I Thank you for being who you truly are, a man of honor!

    • Right now I don’t feel like a man and that is because of my actions. BUT I am work in progress. Vickey I owe it to you Susan, Kathy and everyone else for what they have done for me. I owe it to God for hearing all your prayers. Only a week ago I felt that there was only one way out and every turn I made was into a brick wall. Today I have a therapist,who has started aggressive therapy and a doctor who will work in conjunction with her. If I mess this up it would only be aa slap in the face too you and everyone else, especially Susan. Who allowed me to use C4C to scream for help. I have a little hope now something I did not have a week ago not only the possibility of my family returning home but the possibility the personality that someone made me to create inside me will be gone forever. I know I am in the fight for my life, I know I am going to have bad days like I had earlier. Wondering if my wife and daughter are thinking about me but I have to remember c4c, I know I cannot be the center of. Attraction. Susan brings up many important subject matter that needs to be discusses.

      • It seems to me Dennis you have met a crossroad and you have chosen the road that now wants to resolve your inner chaos. I feel the simplicity of your faith has chosen the right road and your faith now appears to know it can begin to trust this unfolding for you. This road, I believe, will develop a real faith and I believe it will gradually become your actual support. I believe as you recognize the actual support of your faith on this road your faith will naturally move into serenity. And I suggest not reflecting on your faith; such as it being genuine and secure enough to walk this road. Faith is the road. It will guide you each moment, gradually creating this genuine security and a faith you can call your own.

  70. Katherine FitzGerald Reply June 26, 2014 at 2:01 pm

    Decades ago, when I was a college student, I met with a professor in his office. On the wall was a picture of Jesus Christ laughing his head off. I had never seen anything like it. The effect it had on me was enormous. “Jesus Christ incarnate,” human, personified, physical, real, and tangible finally hit me. Over the years, the “hit” had the effect of mitigating the fear-factor that Catholicism instilled in me. Regarding matters of faith, I became bold, adventurous, daring, gutsy, nervy, heroic, intelligent, and courageous. Insolent, as well, in the sense that I don’t wonder or worry whether Jesus Christ is still laughing.

    In Fr. Emmett Coyne’s book, The Theology of Fear, he notes how the Catholic Church deemphasized Jesus when it promoted the Seven Sacraments. In promoting the Seven Sacraments, it promoted fear, power, and control at the expense of Jesus Christ’s “Kingdom of God” which cultivates love, service, and freedom.

    Surely, Jesus Christ is not laughing about the fear, power, and control inherent in the Seven Sacraments. In my opinion, His laughter is the natural, human by-product of boldly, adventurously, daringly, gutsily, nervily, heroically, intelligently, and courageously living a life of love, service, and freedom.

  71. Dennis, Thank you for your reply. I have the benefit of being able to respond to my fellow abuse survivors because of years of very good therapy, that is not to say I didn’t do the work. It was and is the most difficult journey of my life, now I am able to reach for my “tools” to help me when I struggle with my pain. Dennis, for years I projected my rage at my therapist, I couldn’t put the rage and pain on the priests that deserved it. I did this projection on her for so long that I began to hate the word, projection! As a survivor, putting the blame where it belonged was very difficult for me because I just could not see what I was doing, I just felt justified in my rage at whoever. After many years of this in therapy, I came to a profound realization that if I continued to act this way, I was perpetrating people around me by my actions. What I needed to do was confront the priests that raped me. I had been avoiding this depth of pain, it was easier to hurt the people around me that I loved than walk into that horror and darkness. When I felt ready was when my true healing began. To walk this walk, takes an inner warrior, it is a testament of courage, strength and vulnerability. I had to allow my little girl her voice, I had shut her up far to long, I felt so unworthy and afraid, I had become so judgemental and so harsh with her. One of the priests that raped me had passed away, I sued his order and won, the second priest I confronted, that meeting was arranged by the victim coordinator who was also present along with my therapist and Fr. Lynn, the third priest I gathered some friends and my therapist and traveled down to Tennessee. I have a DVD of that confrontation which I later presented to the review board, after seeing the DVD they put his name on their Philadelphia website. I could do this only after I was able to PUT THE SHAME on them, not me! Forgiveness if and when it comes, develops later, first this work must be done. Our very wounded child needs their voice, I needed to let this child cry, I needed to confort her, support her and wrap my arms around her, dry her tears and tell her I will always protect her and love her. No more judgements on my part, I have finally lifted the toxic shame from her, a child who never deserved it, ever. because of my work, I have become softer not only towards myself but of people around me. I am not finished with myself yet. I am working on achieving more of an inner peace. Dennis, please be gentle with yourself. As my therapist used to say ALL the time, “put the whip away”. Love the wounded little boy inside you, do the work. The reward is beyond terrific because that child will lead you home, some of your personality will return, it has for me.Take care of YOU, what you want will eventually fall into place, be patient and kind with yourself. No matter what, I am here for you, good and bad just get back up! You are worth it!!!

    • What you write appears to offer this openness within you Vicky. This is real faith, to me, and offers this sense of healing for all of us. Your walk into healing and forgiveness is like you are now comfortable with yourself, with your own body and with your feelings. This is to feel the depths of the Divine unfold for you. It helps me to see the Divine unfold exactly as he needs to. Your healing creates a soothing effect from you, calm and balanced, for me. Thank you!

  72. “ROME — Pope Francis’s global survey of parishes conducted last year revealed sex scandals and negative experiences involving members of the clergy damaged the Roman Catholic Church’s image among its faithful.”

    “Sex scandals significantly weaken the Church’s moral credibility, above all in North America and northern Europe,” the Vatican said in its Instrumentum Laboris, a text summing up the results of a worldwide survey among Catholic parishes…”

    http://www.daily-journal.com/news/nation/pope-s-survey-shows-sex-scandals-damaged-church-credibility/article_c548bc13-84a3-5265-9985-5068f8eac59f.html

    The Church’s image and moral credibility has been damaged, WHAT? That might be news to a bishop who couldn’t remember if it was a crime for adults to have sex with children, but to no one else!

    The RCC just lost more credibility by publishing this piece of history as if it were news. Their PR staff needs an overhaul.

    • The results of this published study show: “Honesty and rigor in not shying away from any problems as disturbing or uncomfortable as they may seem.”.So what took them so long to start to be honest? How many popes[, two of whom were recently canonized as saints] has it taken to begin a new phase in the Catholic Church: Honesty. Sometimes I find it hard to believe what they say and write. What world have they been residing in for the last sixty years?

  73. Susan asks, “Has your faith experience been harmed?”

    The most difficult part for me to see clearly is “denial”, both within myself and in the catholic church. Denial refuses to see there is a problem. For example, I have a traumatic brain injury from a car wreck, literally where my brains were lying on the rocks, and the left front part of my brain is dead. I am basically retarded and much of the time everything within my rational mind goes out of focus. Everything is nothing in my mind and is this constant variation of something else. I spend lots of time seeking order in my mind and if I get into anxiety then nothing is clear or certain. My mind goes into speculation, and then my mind needs to impose order, then my ideas become farfetched and outlandish.

    I will deny my farfetched ideas and my mental disability, even when I know the truth. Facing this truth is like running into a stone wall. It takes tremendous energy facing my mental inadequacy and exerting energy to process information creates physical fatigue and exhaustion. So denial is simple. It is the energy to warding off my disability and life, rather than dealing with it. If I am under pressure and tension I become easily upset and hostility breaks out or I will bust into tears. Sometimes I regress into infantile denial, numb, amnesia and completely dissociated from myself.

    My denial can be astounding, like this never happened. So for me to break my denial I have had to learn to be direct and authentic. It is extremely hard to face my limitations, unsettling, difficult to identify and resolve. Yet in another sense, my flaws and my irrationality reflect who I am. I can no longer deny, put on a mask, nor can I hide my weakness. Thus, in reference to the catholic church, it seems to me the church cannot be completely truthful and express authenticity because it is in denial. From my experience, denial thrives on deceit which is the loss of truthfulness. Deceit is presenting an image rather than the real thing. So from my experience, the church is caught in a trance of denial, deceiving itself from itself, just as I have done with my brain.

    Forty years I have gradually broke my denial and my deceit of myself of who I really am and what I thought would be acceptable to people. In breaking this false identity I have discovered a more Essential identity. It can speak with complete truthfulness and it seems to communicate this need to be myself deeply and completely. This real authenticity there is no reason for deception. However, my down fall is my brain still feels this need to accomplish something. It is like I need to pile up accomplishment to have this connection with people.

    My faith is telling there is no need for my value to be based on accomplishment with people. Yet my brain will not let go of my value based on a particular achievement. Denial snaps in and my mind will go into a consuming paranoia about being a nothingness. This emptiness makes me feel edgy, contempt for everything and I want to seethe inside. My faith tells me this is stepping into nothing is alright, yet my denial wants me deteriorate into nothing as a place to resign. Be passive and refuse to deal with the truth.

    The catholic church could do all of us a deep service if it could deal with denial and pride that builds around it. For me personally, once I admitted pride is at stake and part of my brain will not back down because of denial, this created a potentiality I never new existed. There seems to be an inner Essence here and faith emanates from here. My denial just spoke and fear is running through my body. I am sweating, my head is hot, this is to complex and exhausting and faith says allow it to Be. My faith is saying have an open mind, transcend this inability to have rational thoughts, and fall into this Presence where words and symbols are left behind. I can only say denial is so much easier because I can give up rather than living by faith. Yet faith seems to be a mature letting go and is what changes everything, even my dumb brain.

    I am sorry if you did not need to read what I just wrote. I just needed to write this so I could let my faith start soaking into this nothingness and it can become everything. And please understand I am not that brilliant, as it is only in writing faith seems to allow me to penetrate my superficial level and get to a deeper level more quickly.

    Thanks. My words are just a symbol where I feel I can be understood and then maybe not, which is perfectly okay according to my faith.

  74. Dennis,
    I was away for two weeks so I didn’t read all the blog til today. Jesus works thru people and he can do amazing things thru us……..what I witnessed on this site was pure Love………you love your family and the people on here love you. I was away a few days praying and I always take the cross Vicky gave me to pray at adoration and I was praying hard for all our survivors but I had no idea you were in need of prayers specifically. All I can say with tears in my eyes is God is good and I know this because he is Love and all these people that have rallied around you valid that Love. I pray that God bless you and keep you and that you know that God is close to the broken hearted and that a broken heart can fit more joy in it then you ever can imagine………Peace

  75. When my dad was dying of cancer his lungs slowly collapsed and I remember crying out inside Jesus hes suffocating and it was horrible and then I realized Jesus had suffered in the same way and Mary had to watch him die like I watched my dad suffer in a similar way. I recently stumbled into a garden that was named agony in the garden and again I had my cross from Vicky that I carry with me always and I realized that this is where this cross belonged……all our survivors have suffered so much physically ,mentally ,spiritually, socially……….my heart breaks for all of you and I admire you all in your strength and your weakness………its our struggles that shows the beauty of the human spirit…..so many beautiful souls on this site…….many times it leaves me speechless the beauty admist the suffering…….

  76. You are all so right, the Catholic Church should be burned to the ground so that it can rise from the ashes, reborn into a new and good phoenix.

    • Nony I agree spiritually the man made church is spiritually bankrupt in so many ways. I will always love Jesus in the Eucharist though and the teachings of the church……….

    • There is nothing wrong with the Catholic Church “as is’ that would not be exponentially more wrong with any 2000 year old institution.

      What other aged (or young) global institution even comes close?

      You want perfection, wait for Jesus to return.

      • No one is looking for perfection. After all, we are human. So I think some basic humanity would suffice. Jesus was fairly clear in what he asks of us. It’s as clear today as it was 2000 years ago. Abusing children and covering it up was never OK in His book. Then or now.

  77. Remember, O gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored they help, or sought thine intercession was left unaided. Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, my mother, to thee do I come before thee I stand sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me. Amen

  78. St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly hosts, by the power of God, thrust into hell satan, and all the evil spirits, who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen

  79. Well, nothing will stop me from believing in God. But I have just about given up on the Church. Sadly, I don’t know who I can trust anymore. One person who was instrumental in my dedicating my life to Christ was Cliff Richard and now there are rumors that he is a pedo. Let’s hope they are just that – rumors.

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