Fitzgerald: Despicable among them tarnish innocent priests
By Joe Fitzgerald
July 29, 2017
|NOT REPRESENTATIVE: Paul Shanley, the former priest who was released from prison yesterday after serving 12 years on a child rape conviction, also victimized innocent priests.|
Photo by Mark Garfinkel
Though many columns decrying the blanket indictment of priests reaped anger and resentment here during the scandal that rocked the Catholic Church, they never minimized the horrible things done to young victims by vultures camouflaged in Roman collars.
Indeed, you read about some of them here, like Ron, who was 41 the day he called, weeping.
“I’d like you to hear how my life was ruined,” he said. “I was 11 when it happened. I trusted this man more than you could imagine. Then he reached inside my pants and proceeded to do things to me. Today I trust no one.
“I didn’t get married until I was 36 and my wife still doesn’t understand what’s wrong with me. I sleep on the couch more than I should. I’m not close to her like I ought to be and I’m sure she thinks it’s her fault. She’s the nicest woman in the world. But even now, there’s still so much guilt associated with sex, it’s unbelievable.”
There are many Rons in the files here, all of whom bear painful witness to traumas that haunt them to this day.
But they were not the only victims of predators such as the defrocked Paul Shanley, now 86, released yesterday from the Old Colony Correctional Center in Bridgewater after completing a 12-year-sentence for raping a boy in the 1980s.
Shanley’s name, like those of James Porter, John Geoghan, et al., will live in infamy, but the agonizing testimonies of their victims will never fully convey their crimes because they leave out the collateral damage done to faithful priests whose ministries were shrouded by the scandal.
About the same time Ron called here, another call was received from a very popular parochial vicar.
“Some of our teens started calling me ‘Father Porter,’ ” he said. “Hey, I can take a joke, but I told them, ‘You just crossed a line; that’s something I will not joke about.’ It’s awful. At a bus stop the other morning someone asked, ‘Hey Father, how many kids have you diddled today?’ It took everything I had to keep from punching his lights out.”
Another young priest told of a senior colleague at his rectory.
“He’s near retirement and has been a wonderful mentor to all of us. But I’ve noticed he no longer wears his clerics when he heads over to CVS. When I asked him why he said, ‘I feel ashamed.’ ”
Have these men who once felt led to answer God’s call upon their lives not suffered, too?
Another suggested, “It wouldn’t surprise me if the same people who say, ‘Let’s not profile all Middle Eastern men because a few blew up the World Trade Center!’ now look at every one of us and wonder what we’re all about.”
Indeed, are the good guys not victims, too?