New Book on Alleged Church Sex Abuse Coverups Heart Wrenching (reader Viewpoint)
By Jane Eastwood
Springfield News Republic
October 3, 2018
I've just finished reading "Death of an Alter Boy: The Unsolved Murder of Danny Croteau and the Culture of Abuse in the Catholic Church" by E.J. Fleming. This is a heart wrenching story for anyone to read, but extremely painful for me because Richard Lavigne was a priest in my parish, St. Mary's. I knew him well. I was subjected to one of his rages as an acolyte at Ursuline Academy in 1968. It was terrifying to hear him scream at me while raising his fists in uncontrollable anger. I never forgot that encounter. Reading the book brought back that memory in full force as the abused boys recounted their experiences with Richard Lavigne's rages and physical abuse.
What was most disheartening was how the diocese of Springfield knew from Lavigne's first posting that he was sexually abusing children, mostly boys. I knew the priests who did nothing to stop him. Those who caught Lavigne in acts of sexual abuse and walked away from the child being abused. These men heard my confession, gave me Holy Communion at Mass and sermonized on morality.
As a Catholic I am appalled and yet broken-hearted by what I read. Curiosity was the impulse that got me to order and read the book. I had no idea how truly horrible and pervasive the abuse was in the Springfield Diocese. The Springfield Republican has done an outstanding job of reporting on this story. But reading it all at once drives home the ugly truth of a systematic culture of abuse throughout the Catholic Church. The Vatican has done nothing to change this culture. The Vatican will do nothing because change would require tearing down the patriarchal hierarchy, destroying the old boys network that rewards abusers and allow lay men and women more power within the Church.
I recommend reading this book, especially if you are Catholic. I hope it leads you to seriously work towards change in our Catholic Church. Don't quit the faith, hang in there and remember your faith is in Jesus Christ and not any priest, Bishop, Cardinal or Pope. It is our Catholic faith, the dogma, doctrine and catechism that bring us closer to Christ not the men who are merely administrators.