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Hope
Roman Catholic Faithful ^

Posted on 02/06/2005 7:06:21 PM PST by Land of the Irish

I stood there, rooted to the spot, stroking my son’s hair, gently touching his cold face, gazing at my precious child. “Eric,” I thought, “oh, Eric.” Then I turned to walk down the church aisle as the funeral attendants closed the casket. Numb from shock, I joined the rest of my family, clutching my husband’s hand tightly, feeling his arm caressing my shoulder.

Now, three years later, I am sitting at Eric’s computer, the one on which he typed his suicide note, painfully recalling the series of events that culminated in his death. Slowly, painstakingly, our family grapples with the awful truth—our son was sexually abused at the age of twelve by our parish priest. How could this be? Sexual abuse happens to someone else’s child, in someone else’s family, not ours. Then reality hits.

My mind constantly reconstructs the details of Eric’s life; sifting and sorting through memories, wondering what clues I missed, what behavior I didn’t understand at the time. Why, during high school, did he refuse to be confirmed? When I questioned him about his decision, he replied that he didn’t even know if he believed in God. He could not receive this sacrament, he felt, unless he was making a heart-felt commitment. Why, the night of his junior-senior prom, did he drive for hours on the interstate, not arriving home until seven the next morning? Tearfully, he told us that he had wanted to keep driving forever. When asked what was troubling him, he couldn’t tell us. I sensed he was in distress, but felt powerless. As he continued his junior year, he seemed better, so I relaxed, believing that this episode was one of many crises most adolescents go through.

Why, his junior year in college, did he wreck his car as he rounded a curve too fast, hitting some trees? I drove to meet Eric that morning, and we talked for hours in a park close by. Slowly, painfully, Eric revealed that he couldn’t eat, couldn’t sleep, that his life seemed out of control. Realizing he was suicidal, I immediately made him an appointment with a psychiatrist for evaluation. After being placed on an anti-depressant, Eric seemed confident and focused.

Shortly after this, he did a complete turnabout, embracing Catholicism fervently. Daily holy hours, weekly visits to a nursing home, teaching 5th grade CCD, writing to a prisoner in Texas, continuing his pro-life activities, attending a weekly Bible study group on campus, getting confirmed—all these actions filled him with hope and enthusiasm. Easter weekend, he proudly announced to us that he wanted to become a priest. In my heart I knew he would be a good priest, caring, intelligent, and faithful to our Lord’s teachings. After graduation, he headed to the East coast as a candidate for a seminary program. He wrote letters telling of his feeling that this was truly where he belonged. The night before he was to fly home for a short visit, the director asked him to wait in a room, that he needed to talk to him. After waiting three hours, shortly before midnight, Eric was told that he was not being accepted, that he was to take everything with him the next day, and not to tell anyone there that he would not be returning.

On the way home from the airport, Eric stunned us by saying, “They didn’t want me.” My heart lurched, my mind reeled, alternating between anger and disbelief. He was given no explanation, he said, but told us that God must want him somewhere else. Over the next few days, I watched as parishioners asked Eric where he would be studying for the priesthood. Bravely, he told each one, “They didn’t want me,” leaving them puzzled and surprised. After Eric’s death, while going through a box containing his papers, I found a paper dated a few days before his departure from the seminary. At the top of a detailed set of notes in blue ink, he had his perpetrator’s name written in red. Evidently he had revealed his sexual abuse, leading to his rejection by the seminary. How much pain he must have gone through, finally confiding his painful secret, only to be turned away so callously. But he continued trusting in the Lord, continued teaching CCD, and making holy hours.

A few months later, Eric took a teaching position at a Catholic preparatory school two hundred miles from home. Fluent in Spanish, he taught English as a Second Language, Spanish, and religion. After over a year teaching, he had begun fasting, unknown to us, evidently trying to please God and to have a sense of control over his life. By the time we realized that Eric was in trouble physically and mentally, he weighed only about 170 pounds, far too thin for his 6 feet 8 inch height. Entering a hospital psychiatric unit, he attempted to combat his anorexic condition and battle with his psychotic depression. Asked if he had ever been sexually abused, he denied that he had. His psychiatrist was troubled by Eric’s illness, sensing that the root cause had yet to be discovered. Over a month later, Eric returned home, where we cajoled him to eat and to drink, as he had no desire to do so. Eventually, with medication, he grew stronger and healthier. For the next three years, he was a successful computer salesperson, receiving gratitude from his many customers for his courteous, professional help.

Once more, however, his weight began to plummet. Fearing hospitalization, he attempted to regain control of his life by going back on his medication. Deeply troubled, he sobbed uncontrollably one night in our living room, his best friend beside him. He dreaded hospitalization, but we succeeded in getting him admitted for treatment. At a different hospital this time, he had the good fortune of having the same psychiatrist. She was convinced there was a missing link, that some unknown cause lay at the root of his illness.

Two days later, when Becky, Eric’s older sister, visited him in the ward, she told him that we hated his idea of God, a vengeful God Who could never be pleased. We viewed Him as a loving and merciful God. Asking him if he always felt that way about God, she was surprised at his answer, “No, it all changed when I was twelve.” Then he revealed his molestation but didn’t wish to talk about it in detail. Becky consulted with his nurse, sensing that this revelation was crucial to her brother’s recovery. Later, the nurse found Eric in his room, beating his head on the floor and against the sink. After putting him in full -body restraint, the staff heavily sedated him and placed him on suicide watch. A sexual-abuse therapist began sessions with Eric, and we were hopeful that healing could begin with his long-buried secret finally exposed. He returned home about six weeks later, eventually resumed his job, and decided to move in with a friend from work. A little more than eight months after he disclosed his sexual abuse, Eric left work one Friday with no explanation, sat on the porch of his friend’s house smoking a cigarette, and then sometime that afternoon placed a gun to his head. When his friend arrived home from work, he was faced with a nightmarish scene. The police could find no suicide note, but acting on a hunch, Eric’s friend went to his computer, searched among his files, and discovered one entitled “Hope.” Dated six days before his death, the note revealed Eric’s intense struggle to please God, yet always falling short of His expectations. With that, our handsome, intelligent, compassionate son was gone.

Now, three years later, I feel compelled to tell his story. As a grieving mother, I beseech those who read this to risk facing the true brutality of clergy sexual abuse. Abuse victims are all around us—they are our sons, daughters, grandchildren, fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, husbands, wives, and friends. Please pray fervently that survivors may be treated with understanding, acceptance, and love. Let your diocese know how you feel about the clergy sexual abuse scandal. Be willing to support survivors in their difficult task of recovery. Hold diocesan church officials accountable for allowing perpetrators to continue molesting in parish after parish, excusing these actions by saying they received “poor medical advice.” First and foremost should come the needs and safety of children and adolescents. If our Church fails to safeguard our children, where is its moral credibility?

As agonizingly painful as this tragedy has been, we cherish every day we had with our son. If avoiding this pain would require never having had Eric in our lives, then I gladly embrace the pain for the honor of being Eric’s mother.


TOPICS: Catholic
KEYWORDS: catholic; churchscandal; homosexual; priests; scandal
Now, three years later, I feel compelled to tell his story. As a grieving mother, I beseech those who read this to risk facing the true brutality of clergy sexual abuse. Abuse victims are all around us—they are our sons, daughters, grandchildren, fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, husbands, wives, and friends. Please pray fervently that survivors may be treated with understanding, acceptance, and love. Let your diocese know how you feel about the clergy sexual abuse scandal. Be willing to support survivors in their difficult task of recovery. Hold diocesan church officials accountable for allowing perpetrators to continue molesting in parish after parish, excusing these actions by saying they received “poor medical advice.” First and foremost should come the needs and safety of children and adolescents. If our Church fails to safeguard our children, where is its moral credibility?
1 posted on 02/06/2005 7:06:21 PM PST by Land of the Irish
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To: Akron Al; Alberta's Child; Andrew65; AniGrrl; apologia_pro_vita_sua; attagirl; BearWash; ...

Ping


2 posted on 02/06/2005 7:10:26 PM PST by Land of the Irish (Tradidi quod et accepi)
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To: Land of the Irish

"If our Church fails to safeguard our children,
where is its moral credibility?"

It has reverted to the domestic church until the celestial housecleaning is completed.


3 posted on 02/06/2005 7:25:24 PM PST by Domestic Church (AMDG...)
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To: Land of the Irish

By their fruits we know them.


4 posted on 02/07/2005 12:58:50 AM PST by ultima ratio (I)
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To: Land of the Irish; All
So many ruined lives. The little comfort one may have on this is that God is infinitely Merciful, as I pray He is to this victem--and infinitely Just, as I pray He will be to the demons who do this AND the demons who cover it up.

“The floor of Hell is paved with the skulls of bad bishops.”
--St. John Chrysostom
Bishop, Doctor of the Church, born at Antioch, c. 347

5 posted on 02/07/2005 3:03:28 AM PST by cpforlife.org (The Missing Key of The Pro-Life Movement is at www.CpForLife.org)
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To: Land of the Irish

Very sad story. I can relate. As an young adolescent I was sexually abused by a homosexual after he got me drunk. Only by the Grace of God have I survived.


6 posted on 02/07/2005 3:19:09 AM PST by bornacatholic (Liberal traditionalists; the Neo-Protestants of our times)
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To: bornacatholic
May God bless you BC, my prayers are very much with you. I have a dear friend whose life has been nearly destroyed by such an incident. My perspective of you is certainly softened tremendously.

From wherever within the spectrum we dwell, we must cleanse to whatever degree possible, society in general and our Church in particular of this demonic tool (homosexuality) of the enemy.

7 posted on 02/07/2005 4:12:25 AM PST by AAABEST (Kyrie eleison - Christe eleison )
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To: AAABEST
Sometimes I wonder if, in going away from the church from 3rd grade to college, I was simply spared sexual abuse. I really can't think of anything good that would have come out of going my local parish during those years. Idealistically, I would have beneftted greatly from attending Mass, reading Church history and making a study of the lives of Saints, of learning to pray, of making confessions, receiving the Eucharist as is available to me now but nobody I knew believed in any of that and certainly none of my relatives...thay all hate the Church.

Much of the abuse in Boston occurred in towns that bordered mine...it is hitting very close.

8 posted on 02/07/2005 5:02:02 AM PST by Pio (There is no Salvation outside the Roman Catholic Church)
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To: Pio
Sometimes I wonder if, in going away from the church from 3rd grade to college, I was simply spared sexual abuse.

It may very well have been a grace. Glad you are back now. :-)

9 posted on 02/07/2005 5:45:42 AM PST by murphE ("I ain't no physicist, but I know what matters." - Popeye)
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To: Land of the Irish
If our Church fails to safeguard our children, where is its moral credibility?

And if a parish isn't a safe haven, what place is?
If a pastor/priest is not to be trusted, who is?
If a priest's direct report boss (Bishop) cannot be approached with confidence to right a wrong and deal with a miscreant, who is?
If Rome cannot be contacted with verifiable information, to correct a local Ordinary and hold accountabilities, who can?

The answer, of course, is God, but without recourse in human intervention and support, the world is, indeed, a very cold and desolate place. Notwithstanding advice from the bible that tells us to place our trust in Him, and not in humankind, the world is where we must live and die. A valley of tears. May God have mercy on all those who come to Him for an embrace and may Mary's love comfort those who have been harmed and suffer deeply from the sins of this world.

10 posted on 02/07/2005 8:12:45 AM PST by vox_freedom (Fear no evil)
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To: AAABEST

Thanks AAA. Your kindness is much appreciated


11 posted on 02/07/2005 3:05:54 PM PST by bornacatholic
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