In Some Priest Cases, Death Isn't Figurative

Concord Monitor [New Hampshire]
March 7, 2003

Letter to the editor The March 5 editorial "Horrors revealed" states that as "the Catholic Church's long complicity in the sexual abuse of children by priests was first revealed, trust in the institution was murdered."

Clergy sexual abuse and its cover-up may have figuratively murdered, but this deadly duo has literally murdered as well. Through meeting abuse survivors and families of abuse victims around the United States, I have had my eyes opened to the true horror of the combination of denial, cover-up and lies. After our 29-year-old son's suicide three years ago, several months after he revealed his abuse at 12 by a priest, our family began discovering a heartbreaking trail of suicides, suicide attempts and psychiatric hospitalizations with one common denominator: sexual abuse by a priest. Our diocese, the Wichita diocese, has had five suicides by abuse victims from one perpetrator alone. Another of his victims has made suicide attempts, and one other is in long-term psychiatric care. By networking with contacts throughout the United States, we have found many families grieving the loss of a child to suicide coupled with the shock of the child's sexual abuse at the hands of a "Father" figure. Denial, lies and cover-up mask the spiritual, psychological and physical suffering of the abused child or adolescent. Often the life-altering effects of sexual violation are not fully understood by the victim until many years later. Bishop McCormack states, "Out of our pain we are going to be healed." Abuse survivors and their families cannot help wondering whose "pain" is being talked about - that of the hierarchy or that of the abused. The pain felt by the hierarchy pales next to the agony of the violated. Children and adolescents deserve respect, protection and innocence. Until those who aided and abetted these felons name their actions for what they truly were, criminal and evil, true healing cannot begin. Abuse survivors find it hard to "forgive" those who will not confess their guilt and who cannot fathom the agony of the "innocents." JANET PATTERSON Conway Springs, Kan.


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