December 3, 2020
By Ricardo da Silva, S.J.
Editor’s note: This article contains descriptions of child sexual abuse and trauma.
On the night before her confirmation, Sue Cox was sexually abused by a Catholic priest at a convent where she was attending summer school to improve her catechism. She was 10. When she was 13, the same priest again raped her in the bedroom of her own home.
“My mother caught him and told me to pray for him and to offer it up,” Ms. Cox, who is from Warwickshire, England, told America. Listening to the advice her adoptive mother gave after she walked in on the priest, “I felt sacrificial,” she said.
“We were told that he could do no wrong,” and that he had “sacred hands,” said Ms. Cox, an award-winning addiction specialist and acupuncturist. “Worse than that, we were told that priests were next to God—that they were ontologically changed at ordination.”
Ms. Cox, who is 73 years old and today describes herself as an atheist, said that this was the belief that her “fiercely superstitious Catholic family” ingrained in her as a young child. “Well,” she added. “I can tell you that a child is ontologically changed when she is abused at that age.”
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