The Worst Pain Imaginable – God Wants to Heal
St. Monica Parish
November 11, 2015
This weekend a movie was released in the cinemas called Spotlight. It is a dramatic portrayal of a very real and painful scandal in the life of the Church in the Archdiocese of Boston. It depicts the work of The Boston Globe Spotlight Team in breaking the story of the sexual abuse of minors by priests in the Archdiocese in January, 2002. The scandal was amplified by the failure of bishops to remove priests from ministry and in some cases moving them to other parishes and even other parts of the country where they abused more children. Though the number of abusive priests was small as a percentage of the total number of priests, sadly many of these priests had a large number of victims. I am aware that St. Monica Parish suffered tremendous pain, particularly at the hands of one notorious priest. It brings me great sadness to know that parishioners, and their families, have suffered such pain. To my knowledge, St. Lucy Parish thankfully did not suffer the same trauma.
My second year in the seminary 2003-2004, a family friend, roughly my age, called me. He knew I had entered the seminary and he trusted me. He told me that he had been abused by a priest as a pre-teen. I did the best I could to convince him that what happened was not his fault, as he seemed to think it was. I knew he needed far more help than I could provide. I convinced him to go to the office the Archdiocese had established in Newton to help victims and I went with him that day. As we met the staff in the lobby and exchanged greetings I thought I’d be merely waiting for him in the lobby. To my surprise, he insisted that I stay in the meeting with them. Of course I complied with his request as the counselors advised whatever would put him most at ease. He then described very vividly what was done to him, in far more detail than when we had spoken before. It remains, even after seven years of priesthood, by far the most painful and difficult pastoral experience I have ever encountered. It is hard to describe his pain which you could see so vividly in his shaking as he spoke. Knowing that some of you, and your loved ones, have experienced the pain that I saw this man enduring is heartbreaking and something of which I am keenly aware.