Photography Lesson: Developing from the Negative

By Anonymous

A few years back, a close family friend asked me to do some modeling. He’d signed up for a photography class at a local college. I was happy to help out and was flattered that someone would want me as a subject.

 We met to go over details. He brought along albums given to him to use as a guide. They were filled with photos of women in dresses. He referred to some of the dresses as nightwear – long, slip-like gowns. He offered to supply the clothes, if I didn’t own what was needed. We also went over how my makeup and hair should look. I would see the proofs prior to his handing in assignments and, after he was graded, the prints and negatives would be given to me.

Our first photo session was at my home. Sit this way. Turn that way. Smile. I’d change into a new outfit and repeat the poses. It was simple but exhausting. After three hours, I hoped this was the only and last session. But he needed more photos for class. The shoots continued on weekends.

He called to say a friend’s newly-painted house would be a great place to take photos. I was more comfortable in my own home and reluctant. He must have sensed my hesitation, because he began offering reasons for me to say yes. “I’ll bring sandwiches.” “Don’t worry I have the clothes and everything set up there.”

Everything went as promised. After eating our lunch, he showed me that the clothing I was to wear was neatly hung in the bedroom closet. We started taking pictures in the basement, then on the steps and ended up in the bedroom. Then, he handed me “nightwear” to put on. But this wasn’t a long slip dress like I’d seen in the albums. It was a green slip that barely reached mid-thigh.

 I felt like a deer in headlights. Robotically, I walked to the bathroom and put it on. With camera in hand, he met me in the bedroom. First, he had me stand by the bed post. Then, he had me pose on the bed. He must have realized he’d pushed me too far and said we’re done for the day. Still in shock, I went home.

Unsure of how to handle what happened and what I was feeling, I made an appointment with a therapist. That sick feeling in my stomach was validated when my therapist explained that the photo sessions were totally inappropriate. There was no photography class with homework like this. Any nagging feelings I’d pushed aside seemed obvious now. How could I have been so naive? I began questioning everything. Who else saw the photos? Why me? Who were those other women?

There’s something else you need to know about my family friend. He is a priest. He was the one I confessed my sins to, the one who married me and baptized my child.
He’d been “grooming” me for several years. This was a carefully calculated plan to build and take advantage of my faith and trust. By treating me to meals, giving me presents and always going beyond the expected, he’d paved the way for my cooperation in his abuse.

He knew exactly how to manipulate me. I’d always been a giver and felt I owed him my help. Wasn’t I obligated? People may read this and question my reactions instead of his actions. But they should know it can happen to anyone – at any age. In writing this, I hope to give a voice to others – especially those other unnamed women in the photo albums.

Note from the editors:

As the #MeToo movement emerges, people are learning that sexual abusers aren’t usually strangers threatening with guns or knives. They are friends, family or bosses who wield psychological weapons with just as much force. If it’s still difficult to understand how the story above could happen to an adult, consider the following:

  1. Many people have a driving desire to help others and meet obligations – even when it’s at one’s own expense. You’ve probably heard the term “people pleasers.” Have you ever pushed down your own discomfort because you didn’t want another person to feel uncomfortable? Have you ever felt guilty saying no to a request?
  2. Do you believe there are people who take advantage of others for their own personal gain or satisfaction. “The Sociopath Next Door,” a New York Times bestseller, reveals that 4% of people are conscienceless sociopaths. Have you watched an otherwise “smart person” fall for manipulation? Can this rise to a criminal level? Yes, of course.

Put one and two together and that equals an opportunity for abuse, at any age and in any situation. What can you do? Demand better laws and support for victims. One victim shared that the Archdiocese of Philadelphia only offers six months of counseling for victims who suffered clerical abuse as adults. Surely, they can and should do more.

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Did the Beatles Make You Want to Molest a Child?

“Dear Catholic Church Are You Kiddin’ Me?” by Tim Whitaker for Philly Mag’s The Philly Post, May 19, 2011

“Those of us who were around remember those crazy swinging ‘60s. Anomie. Revolution. Acid. Hendrix. Joplin. Time has come today. Give peace a chance. Can I have a hit of that?

Oh, so very stressful, all that stoppin’ the war stuff. It fired you up, made you want to go out and, oh, I don’t know, molest some little boys. You know, just to cut the edge.

You sad sons of bitches. Is nothing too shameless for you Church bosses?” – Tim Whitaker

My two-cents:

There is no amount of stress or isolation that would cause me to sexually abuse a minor. There is no amount of explicit pornography or free love thinking that would make me find a child sexually attractive. Pedophilia or sex abuse has and always will be deviant. Criminals in jail kill other inmates who harm children – even in the 60s and 70s. It’s basic human instinct to protect children. What could over ride that? Money and power, perhaps.

Would the Cardinal Respond on Behalf of Christ?

I wrote a letter to Cardinal Rigali on behalf of the many thousands who have visited and commented here. I respectfully shared your questions and concerns. The following is the response we received on his behalf from the office for communications. This wasn’t a media inquiry. This was a letter from the faithful seeking pastoral answers from our shepherd. We were seeking hope. We got a slap in our faith – not in God; but once again in our Church leadership. Like so many others, our group who according to the diocesan spokesperson “loves their children and their Church,” didn’t get our answers.

Heading into most important week of our spiritual lives, this was an opportunity to restore hope. Jesus hung on the cross for us and yet the Cardinal wouldn’t put his signature on a letter of answers. The way this has been handled shows a fundamental lack of respect for Philadelphia Catholics. It presumes we will settle for below the bare minimum. We won’t.

The Letter On Behalf of the Cardinal:

I write to you on behalf of Cardinal Justin Rigali, Archbishop of Philadelphia, to acknowledge your recent correspondence containing questions regarding Archdiocesan initiatives to protect children in light of the Grand Jury report issued in February 2011. Its release and the resulting actions by the Archdiocese have generated a broad range of reactions and emotions.

We are cognizant of the fact that emotions have been compounded by the limited amount of information available. While the Archdiocese is not able to answer every question from every concerned individual, it is committed to providing as much information as possible to the faithful through a systematic network. In light of this commitment, the Archdiocese recently released the first in a series of periodic parish bulletin inserts designed to provide information to parishioners. A copy is attached. I realize that it does not answer all the questions you posed, but your remaining questions, along with those of other parishioners, will be considered as possible topics for future inserts.

Each document will focus on action steps being taken by the Archdiocese to assist victims, advance the protection of children, and ensure the integrity of the Priesthood.

Again, thank you for your correspondence and your dedication to the protection of children. They are truly our most precious asset and represent the future of the Church in Philadelphia.

Sincerely,

Donna M. Farrell, Director of Communications, Archdiocese of Philadelphia

Letter & Questions for Cardinal Rigali Sent Certified, Express Mail

The following is an edited compilation of many questions received via site comments, the contact form and my personal email. Thank you for your input.

April 7, 2011

Your Eminence, Cardinal Justin Rigali:

In the spirit of Vatican Council II’s Decree on Ecumenism, I ask you these questions on behalf of Catholics4Change. We are a community centered on the desire to respectfully share our concerns on important Church issues. We do not seek to change doctrine or sacred tradition. The change we seek is the creation of a more meaningful system of communication between the laity and Church leadership. In just a few weeks, the Web site Catholics4Change.com has received over 25,000 views, hundreds of comments and hundreds of subscriptions.

We respectfully request your answers by Thursday, April 15th and will publish your unedited answers on Catholics4Change.com by the 16th.

The Laity & Children

  1. Will you direct all pastors to hold meetings that will allow parishioners to be heard and to heal?
  2. Will the Archdiocese announce the names of any removed priests and the nature of the allegations to the entire Archdiocese? Over the course of their ministry, these priests “affected” many parishes, institutions and organizations.
  3. Since the 2002 United Bishop’s Conference Treaty for the Protection of Children, many Diocese have developed additional customized charters of child protection. Why doesn’t the Archdiocese of Philadelphia? Why do we lack “practical policy” for our children’s activities and events?
  4. Why is there disclaimer language in our policy that precedes the Standard of Ministerial Behavior and Boundaries?

The Victims

  1. Will the Archdiocese establish a special collection for victim support groups with all collected money going directly those charities?
  2. To avoid conflicts of interest, will the Archdiocese fund a victim assistance program independent of the Archdiocese and its lawyers?
  3. Will you publicly support legislation that suspends for two years the civil statute of limitations on sex abuse claims? Will you also support the abolishment of the statute of limitations for sex offenses against minors?
  4. Will the Archdiocese use independent providers for the evaluation and treatment of priests accused of sexually abusing minors?
  5. Do you take responsibility for the lapses in zero tolerance that occurred between the 2005 and 2011 reports?
  6. What would Jesus do?

Thank you in advance.

Sincerely,

Susan Matthews, founder of Catholics4Change.com

St. Mary of the Cross…St. Catherine of Siena…St. Gabriel, pray for us.

Archbishop Martin Renews Call to Examine Culture that Allowed Sex Abuse to Happen

By Tom Roberts, The National Catholic Reporter, April 5, 2011 

 

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin,
Ireland, 2009 (CNS/Paul Haring)

MILWAUKEE — In the early years of the priest sex abuse crisis, Catholics often expressed their frustration with how bishops handled the scandal by saying “they don’t get it.” Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin, Ireland, may be a member of the hierarchy who begins to reverse that perception.

In a keynote address April 4 at the Marquette University Law School, Martin described the struggles he encountered in bringing to light the “disastrous situation” of abuse in the Dublin archdiocese, from assembling documentation to facing the resistance of priests and other bishops who opposed disclosing the history of abuse. “I tell these events,” he said, “not to re-open history, but to illustrate just how difficult it is to bring an institution around to the conviction that the truth must be told.”

Martin spoke at the start of a two-day conference titled, “Harm, Hope and Healing: International Dialogue on the Clergy Sex Abuse Scandal.” The conference is the latest the law school has hosted in an annual series focusing on restorative justice, an approach that goes beyond the traditional judicial system’s emphasis on punishment and involves both perpetrators and victims of crimes.

The Dublin archbishop has been a rare voice in the Catholic hierarchy in his blunt description of the damage the abuse scandal has caused and in his call for the church to divulge the details of abuse, to reach out to victims and to examine clericalism and other elements of church culture that may have contributed to the scandal’s longevity.

“Archbishop Martin said what many Catholics want to hear, and they haven’t heard it from their Catholic leadership,” said Janine Geske, a professor at the law school who heads its Restorative Justice Initiative, following Martin’s talk.

“I have not heard anything like that from the American bishops,” said Amy Peterson, victim assistance coordinator for the Milwaukee archdiocese. She said she was impressed with Martin’s deep understanding of the victim’s point of view, his humility and his willingness “to hold the institution accountable.”

“All institutions have an innate tendency to protect themselves and to hide their dirty laundry,” said Martin, who became archbishop of Dublin in 2004. “We have to learn that the truth has a power to set free which half-truths do not have.”

He repeated what he said during a recent “liturgy of lament” in Dublin that was planned primarily by victims of abuse. “The truth will set us free, but not in a simplistic way. The truth hurts. The truth cleanses not like smooth designer soap but like a fire that burns and hurts and lances.”

That observation may have been spoken, at least in part, from personal experience. When Martin took over as archbishop, a complaint about a priest came across his desk. He investigated to see if prior complaints had been made about the priest. Somewhere in the file he found a note: “Father X seems to be back to his old activities.”

“Clearly there was knowledge of ‘old activities’ but no clear understanding that these activities indicated an ongoing serious pattern of grooming which should clearly have raised red flags,” he said. The archdiocese took action, notified civil authorities and removed the priest from ministry.

That experience, however, caused Martin to be suspicious of previous reviews of files so he mandated a review of all personnel files by an independent outside expert to examine whether there were signs of other worrisome behavior by priests.

As that investigation was underway, the Irish government formed a commission known as the Murphy Commission to begin its own investigation of sexual abuse by priests in the archdiocese. The commission “had the power to request discovery of any documentation that the diocese possessed regarding any priest against whom allegations had been made or about whom suspicions existed,” said Martin.

The commission, headed by Judge Yvonne Murphy, produced a report based on a review of thousands of pages of documentation that severely criticized the church for being preoccupied with “the maintenance of secrecy, the avoidance of scandal and the preservation of its assets.”

“All other considerations,” said the report, “including the welfare of children and justice for victims, were subordinated to these priorities. The archdiocese did not implement its own canon law rules and did its best to avoid any application of the law of the state.”

The record keeping in Dublin had been “superb,” said Martin during a question and answer session. The result was “a remarkable archive of criminal behavior.”

He handed over to the commission nearly 70,000 documents. “I believed I was doing the right thing and I was more and more convinced I was doing the right thing the more I read those documents and as I met with some of those who were the victims of abuse and their parents and their spouses and their children.”

When the report was finally issued, he said, the emotion he most experienced was anger — at what had been done to children; at the grief of parents; at the fact that “the church failed its weakest”; and “at those who still seem to be in denial.”

Other church leaders opposed Martin’s willing handover of documents. Martin said some among the clergy sent out a letter that was leaked to the press saying, “Archbishop Martin was out of the country when all this was happening. He has no right to speak. Had he been here, he would have done the same things as we did.”

Martin, a native of Dublin, had served most of his career at the Vatican. In 1976 he was appointed to the Pontifical Council for the family. Ten years later he was named under secretary of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, and secretary of the agency in 1994. In 2001 he was named Permanent Observer of the Holy See in Geneva at the United Nations and the World Trade Organization.

Perhaps he would have acted as the others had, said Martin. Given the “horrors” revealed in the report, he said the least he expected was acknowledgment “that the decisions taken were the wrong ones and that they should be recognized as having been wrong. I still cannot accept a situation that no one need assume accountability in the face of the terrible damage that was done to children in the church of Christ in Dublin and in the face of how that damage was addressed,” he said.

For the church to move toward healing, said Martin, it has to take stock of itself. “The culture of clericalism has to be analyzed and addressed. Were there factors of a clerical culture which somehow facilitated disastrous abusive behavior to continue for so long? Was it just through bad decisions by bishops or superiors? Was there knowledge of behavior which should have given rise to concern and which went unaddressed?” he asked.

“In Dublin one priest built a private swimming pool in his back garden to which only children of a certain age and appearance were invited,” Martin recalled. “He was in one school each morning and another each afternoon. This man abused for years and there were eight priests in the parish. Did no one notice? More than one survivor tells me that they were jeered by other children in their school for being in contact with abuser priests. The children on the streets knew, but those who were responsible seemed not to notice.”

While most of the cases appear to have taken place in the 1970s and 1980s, immediately after the Second Vatican Council, he said, the problem existed “long before the council and some of the serial abusers identified in the Murphy report were ordained and were abusing long before the Second Vatican Council.”

The church’s handling of the scandal may have something to do with a post-conciliar culture that tended toward mercy rather than penalties. But that reaction “was a false understanding of human nature and of mercy,” he said.

In the future, seminaries need to develop formation programs that foster “rounded human beings, not just in the area of human sexuality but in overall mature behavior and relationships,” Martin said.

He said he fears that some seminarians today are more concerned with finding “some form of personal security or status” in the priesthood than a life of service.

Martin said he has begun establishing programs that end the segregation of priests from lay people studying for ministry. The intent, he said, is to have future priests “establish mature relationships with men and women” and avoid developing “any sense of their priesthood giving them a special social position.”

He said he perceives “signs of renewed clericalism” among seminarians and young priests “which may even at times be ably veiled behind appeals for deeper spirituality or for more orthodox theological positions. What we need are future priests who truly understand the call of Jesus as a call to total self giving” based on prayer and “continual conversion.”

The secrecy in the clerical culture that was used to avoid scandal backfired and eventually caused in the church “one of the greatest scandals of its history,” he said.

“It is hard to turn around the culture of an institution,” said Martin. A new culture can be created within the church through a restorative justice approach “which admits and addresses the truth in charity.”