These Stone Walls
POSTED BY FR. GORDON J. MACRAE ON FEBRUARY 22, 2017
I had a recent exchange of messages with Jennifer Haigh, a very accomplished author whose critically acclaimed novel, Faith (Harper, 2011), kept me sleep deprived for a couple of nights. It’s a book, of fiction, but for me, the fiction was painfully familiar. It is the story of Father Art Breen, a Boston priest accused of sexual abuse. Cast under a cloud of abuse of another sort – a vague state of priestly limbo called “administrative leave” – Father Art descends into despair as the Archdiocese “investigates” (aka “settles”) the claim.
Father Art’s skeptical younger sister, Sheila McGann, returns to Boston to launch an investigation of her own while younger brother Mike, a police officer, has “already convicted his brother in his heart.” The Archdiocese simply discards its tainted priest and moves on. The book has some surprises, which I won’t reveal, but no one among my family or friends would read it. “The anger and hurt are still too close,” they said.
Some of their anger is at me for not simply caving in. “If you just took the deal,” they say, “you would have been free twenty years ago.” More of their anger is at the accusers who they know, with a moral certainty, rode their wave of priestly scandal all the way to the bank, aided and abetted by the activists and lawyers who were recently unmasked in “David Clohessy Resigns SNAP in Alleged Lawyer Kickback Scheme.”
There is plenty of righteous anger to go around. . Just after that post was published, a priest-friend said it made him very angry. He has never been the subject of an accusation, but having seen the lives of too many priests destroyed, he has become keenly aware of how David Clohessy and others in SNAP exploited accusations under the guise of “survivor support.”
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