Clergy Sex Abuse Victims Confront Catholic Priests

By Jon Hurdle
The Reuters
September 16, 2006

Philadelphia (Reuters) - Victims of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy told their stories to priests on Friday, describing how years of exploitation led to anger, self-loathing and long-term emotional damage.

In testimony before clergy summoned by Cardinal Justin Rigali of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, two adult victims told how they were abused as children.

Another witness, the mother of two boys who was abused, said their abusers were not "men of God," but people who stripped her sons of their childhood, their adolescence, their manhood and their self-esteem.

The session, broadcast live on the Internet, follows a 500-page report by Philadelphia prosecutors in August 2005 detailing decades of assaults on children by more than 50 Catholic priests. It accused the church of an "immoral" cover-up.

Cardinal Rigali told Friday's hearing that learning about the abuse through the media was no substitute for hearing the victims' accounts of it firsthand. "It's extremely important for us to hear the stories rather than simply reading words on the printed page," he said.

One of the victims, Victoria Cubberly, described being anally raped when she was a teenager by Father Richard D. Dolan in his office while she looked up at a crucifix. "He kept repeating that I was raping God," she said.

Cubberly, also sexually and physically abuse by her father, she said she was raped by Dolan over 18 months, but was unable to break the pattern because the priest seemed to offer her a way out of a desperate domestic situation.

"I wanted so badly to be the good little Catholic girl who is supposed to please the priest," she said.

Dolan later denied the abuse when Cubberly tracked him down in Tennessee, she said. Seeing him punished "would help me greatly," she added. She said she had considered suicide because of the abuse.

Edward Morris, a 44-year-old victim of sexual abuse, accused the church of failing to effectively punish the perpetrators or minister to the victims.

"The central administration was not the way to deal with this problem. The victims were not even on the radar screen," he said.


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