Dr. Rosemary McHugh, a US family physician, has just bravely described her own experience as a victim of an Irish priest predator and the hurt it has caused her. She describes his outrageous and unexpected misconduct when she sought spiritual guidance from him, while she was a young doctor in Dublin following her Jesuit Loyola University (Chicago) undergraduate education. She also describes the help she received from present Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin. Aiming to help curtail priest abuse, Dr. McHugh has generously made available to me for posting here a chapter she prepared on a pro bono basis for an upcoming book on restorative justice. Dr. McHugh’s chapter, set forth below in full, offers much hope and wisdom to abuse survivors and the entire Church community, as they continue to try to come to grips with this terrible and ongoing scandal in the Catholic Church.
CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE IN THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH AND THE PERSPECTIVE OF A FAMILY PHYSICIAN WHO IS ALSO A VICTIM/SURVIVOR OF CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE
BY: Dr. Rosemary Eileen McHugh, M.D., M.B.A., M.Spir.
Introduction In the past, I had always been a great defender of the Roman Catholic Church, and believed the Church when it claimed that it was being victimized by others. If I had not been sexually assaulted by a Carmelite priest myself, I would find it hard to believe that any priest, religious brother, nun, bishop, cardinal, or pope would even think of sexually abusing an innocent child or a vulnerable adult. It took my own personal experience to help me to understand that sexual abuse by clergy and nuns in the Roman Catholic Church is not only possible but it is worldwide, with no need for accountability to civil, criminal, or international law. I believe that there are still many good clergy and nuns in the Catholic Church. I am sad that most of the leaders of the Church have chosen to ignore the command of Jesus to protect the innocence of children and to make the sexual predators accountable to civil, criminal, and international law, like other sexual predators are subject to, thereby putting more children at risk of being sexually abused by clergy in the Roman Catholic Church.
My Background I grew up in a very Catholic family in Chicago. My parents, Thomas McHugh and Rose Ann Moore, were immigrants from County Mayo, Ireland. They met at the Irish dances in Chicago, married, and raised three children. I was the middle child.
My parents had deep faith and every night we were all on our knees to say the family rosary. Every morning my mother and I were at Mass with my brother Tom, who was older and an altar boy. Tom went through the seminary system and was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Chicago in 1967. In his first parish assignment, Tom fell in love with one of the lay teachers in the parish school. He became laicized and left the priesthood to marry. My brother and his lovely wife are happily married and have raised five wonderful children, who are now all married and having their own families. Tom received an M.B.A. from Loyola University Chicago and worked in business for years. Now Tom is the Director of Religious Education in the parish where he and his wife live, and where they raised their family in South Carolina. My sister married and became a legal secretary. There are several nuns and priests in my family.
Educational Background I went to Catholic schools. In grammar school, I was taught by the Franciscan nuns from kindergarten through grade five, then by the Dominican nuns from grade six through grade eight. I was taught by the Benedictine nuns at an all-girls high school, St. Scholastica Academy. I was taught by the Jesuits at Loyola University Chicago and graduated with a Bachelors Degree in Biology, in the Honors Pre-Medical Program in 1966, and later with a Masters Degree in Spirituality in Spiritual Direction in 2013.
After receiving my Medical Degree from Trinity College Dublin, Ireland in 1972, I did my internship and some residency training in Dublin. While working in a hospital Casualty Department/Emergency Room, I came down with severe pneumonia in both lungs and was a ward patient for a month in St Kevin’s Hospital in Dublin(now a Trinity teaching hospital called St James’ Hospital). When I returned to health, I was blessed with the opportunity to train six months in obstetrics at the Rotunda Maternity Hospital in Dublin.
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