Commentary: Fear and Loathing a Catholic Priest

The Public

July 17, 2018

By P. A. Kane

The breach

I can’t remember if my younger brother and I found it strange or if we resisted his request that we sleep in separate beds, in separate rooms. What I do remember, what is burned in my psychic apparatus for all eternity, is him coming into the darkened room where I was pretending to be asleep, sidling up next to me on the sofa bed, and breathing on me. Hot, excited breath that filled me with a paralyzing terror as he pulled down my sweatpants and scrutinized my 12-year-old body by the thin light of a flashlight before gently touching and stroking my genitals.

In that bed, in those interminable minutes under the heat of his wheezing breath and that little flashlight, so alone and afraid, part of me died. Murdered by a priest who had infiltrated our family and played out his repressed sexual desires on innocent boys who thought he was their friend, who thought he treated them well because they were special, who thought he visited their house because his family was special. It was all a ruse.

The setup

We were playing in the street—a game called running bases that simulated a baseball rundown—and hardly noticed him as he walked by and up to the steps to our front door. After a moment he was let in, and my brother and I looked quizzically at each other. We called time on running bases to find out who had just entered our house.

Inside, our dad was in his spot at the end of the couch. Sitting in the chair opposite him, dressed in shirt sleeves and slacks and being served a drink by my mom, was Father Silverio, the new, young parish priest who had baptized my baby sister several weeks earlier at Holy Family Church in South Buffalo.

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