Bishops Are in Denial on Abuse

By Rev. William Garding
St. Cloud Times (St. Cloud, MN)
February 8, 2003

When I entered the seminary at age 34, I came as a virgin. I never gave "getting raped" a thought. When this happened, I remember how violated and trashed I felt afterward. I felt I was robbed of something I held sacred, my innocence.

Even though I was in my mid-30s, I still felt like this 14-year-old boy who was living with all this shame and guilt because of my sexuality. When I landed in trouble because of it, I decided to write "My Journey Alone."

I thought if I am ever going to experience any healing and peace of mind, I am going to have to get over this thing called "denial" and deal with this issue openly and honestly.

That same philosophy applies to the Catholic church today as it deals with the clergy sex abuse issue.

We are dealing with the root of what is causing the crisis for the Catholic church today. But are we in total denial?

Sadly enough, by the actions U.S. bishops have taken, we still are in total denial.

The approach they took is very much like going to the dentist with a toothache. The dentist looks at the tooth and says, you need a crown, so he caps the tooth. When you get home, you discover the toothache is still there because what you really need is a root canal.

I am not only dismayed but appalled that the bishops allowed themselves to be intimidated by the legal system and turned religion into a business.

By writing their unforgiving charter they have formed a bureaucracy that separates them from the church of Jesus Christ. They left behind the message of Jesus in order to blend in with man's unforgiving frame of mind.

Because of their actions, we are facing three major problems that need to be resolved:

Bishops need to be honest and open in order to win back the confidence of the people, which they don't have.

The legal system needs to stop blaming, always trying to find a scapegoat in order to weasel their way into someone's pocketbook.

The media need to stop looking for a scapegoat they can shred to pieces to sell their magazines.

This past summer when the Times carried the article of why I wrote my story, "My Journey Alone," it seemed to have missed the point completely. I wrote the story for three reasons:

To create a clear picture for those people who are not suffering with a sexual disorder, and what hell it is like to be born with this dilemma.

To educate those people who want to learn and grow and bring about some healing for those people who are suffering from this disorder.

To touch young people so they feel they can be loved unconditionally, and will not be committing suicide because they feel as if they are the lepers of today. I remember becoming so frightened by my fear of being rejected I decided I would kill myself should anyone ever find out about it.

This doesn't mean I didn't form values for myself. I believed in respecting other people, particularly their sexuality. But this fear of rejection creates a tremendous pressure of wanting to be accepted, which always made me feel as if I were this walking "head gasket" ready to blow up should someone apply any additional pressure and reach out for acceptance.

We need to stop all this blaming and deal with the root of the issue openly and honestly.

Yes, nobody should be molested whether they are older or younger than 18. Yes, I know what it felt like to be molested and raped. And yes, I could slap a lawsuit against the church because I was accosted sexually by one of my superiors while I was a student.

But what healing is a lawsuit going to bring? None. For me facing the problem openly and honestly will solve the issue and bring healing on both sides, instead of always looking for someone else to blame.


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