Tom Doyle Can Turn Sex Crimes in the Catholic Church into Comedy, and Deliver the Facts to the Mainstream. but It Is Not Really Funny. . .

By Kay Ebeling
The City of Angels

July 15, 2008

CHICAGO: Patrick Wall was talking about the bishops' "seditious conspiracy to prevent the execution of the countryís laws" when I walked in late for his talk and I hope I can get copies of the slides he used with his speech. They prove the church in America dealt with pedophile priests at least as far back as 1808. When Barbara Blaine said, "They go by the same script, itís the same script in every city" we were both talking at the same time, in unison. However, for me most surprising at the SNAP conference last weekend was hearing Tom Doyle speak live, because I felt like I was at a comedy club.

As he got one huge laugh after another, I kept writing in my notes things like, think how many more people he could reach with this message if he was on Letterman, or Leno, instead of talking in closed depositions and hearings. The more I guffawed with the crowd, the more I realized the surprise element is part of what makes Tom Doyle's delivery so funny. Imagine: This ex-priest, after testifying a gazillion times, decides to chuck everything and start doing standup. Doyle physically is this tiny bundle of dynamism, you could see him standing up in front of the Goliath church, you could do cartoons of him standing up in front of the Goliath church, and since in America most of the real news is reported by comedians anyway. . .

Doyle opened with an off color joke, not the kind of joke your perpetrator priest probably used to wend his way into your family, but a downright Showtime Comedy Special snarling joke. The burst of laughter has a double impact because the joke is coming from this diminutive giant behind the podium, with words coming out of his mouth that make you think more of Robin Williams than Father Doyle.

He says, "Sex abuse in the catholic church goes back at least pre fourth century. Somewhere off in the mist are the people who are harmed." He talked about finally breaking free from Catholic "Magical thinking and superstition about our religious practices. All we need do to see something just as weird if not weirder is look at voodoo and medicine men in Africa."

"I had to laugh when they closed purgatory last year," he said.

Like Angela Shelton showed us the first night, we can use comedy in order to get close enough to look at this stuff. But when you get down to it, itís not funny.

Here are highlights from Tom Doyleís speech that closed SNAP 2008. Itís funnier when he delivers the lines, I'm serious that he could effect a lot more change throughout the country and the world in peopleís knowledge about sex crimes in the Catholic Church if he took his act on the road and worked his way up the comedy circuit.


Highlights from my notes:

Sex abuse in the catholic church goes back at least pre fourth century. Somewhere off in the mist are the people who are harmed.

Thereís not a word in the English language that can describe the enmity about something as hellish and evil as raping children by the most trusted people in our community, the clergymen.

Now because the bishops are pressed to the wall, they have to respond.

Since the beginning, victims have been ignored, they havenít been part of the equation for centuries. We've found absolutely no evidence of anybody in the authority every saying, find out how much damage is done, see what the damage was to the children and families.

All the victims have one or more of:


Substance abuse

Sexual identity questions

Massive amount of isolation, depression.

Iíve seen entire parishes, Catholic communities, respond as if driven by an evil force in defense of the perpetrator parish priest.

I wasnít abused sexually, but I knew something was wrong.

I was flying and saw a priest with a collar on and I had a feeling in my gut of revulsion. Something said, Doyle, you've got something in there going on. And I realized I was being traumatized by the life that I was so much a part of.

In our case we de-mythologize.

Catholics are taught:

God is watching us and sees everything we do

The priest takes the place of god

The church is the only way to salvation

All this magic, all this symbolism

The church galvanized these beliefs and trivialized your trauma by saying these things are more important.

How often have the crime victims asked the bishops not to dress up in the black outfits when they meet with you. They never listen to you, they always wear it.

Toxic beliefs based on magical thinking.

They say everything about sex is evil. So if you feel involuntary pleasure, they can make you feel guilty

Since the priest molesting the child is supposedly beyond sin, the child being sexually molested by the priest thinks, I must be a double sinner. Why am I being punished, maybe I did something wrong.

And you go nuts with the guilt.

I canít tell you how many times I experience profound guilt even today as I leave court or a public event where Iíve said something negative about the church.

This toxicity is so deep in me it will take a lot to get it out.

I realize, Iíve got to do some work on myself.

Their healing attempts end up being for the clerics so they can feel better

I was taught this is Christ coming from the altar in a piece of bread and a glass of wine.

What does it mean to be spiritual?



If they're lying about one thing, itís likely they're lying about a lot of other things.

What I was worshiping was some other human beingís concept of God. I was being told I gotta believe this.

But let me tell you, God or a higher power, or whoever, gave us a brain to think to use, not to be atrophied when we go into church. The winos on South State Street have just as much insight as the Pope.



I had to laugh when they closed purgatory last year.

Donít be told by anybody else how we communicate with whatever that higher power is.

But from the sex abuse thereís a toxic guilt: What do we do with the rage, that goes with the emptiness because of what's been stolen from us.

At the same time itís a painful and curing process.

You have to confront the fear.

Now Iíve been accused of being a dissenter. I had to deal with that fear.

We have to remember, the church is a structure and itís okay to think of it with enmity and anger. But real church is people connecting with a bond of love, not a bond of a dollar bill.

That's people, that's us. People of God, the Christian community, call it whatever you want. In my language we call it a meeting.

We learn to forgive and hope, and not live with intense guilt.

Find a healthy spirituality. Not acting weird and self denial, but a way to be comfortable in your own skin. That's who we are. Whoever created us, who cares, that's who we are.

I was very broken, and on this odyssey I began to question, I questioned the sacraments. Do I believe bread and wine that's Jesus, no. Do I believe when we get together and talk about our lives in Christ and share bread and wine, that's a Higher Power, yes I believe in that.

I'm just sharing my examples.

When I stopped all that magical thinking, I began to feel the real feeling of love.

The church is what the people make it to be.

It may be painful, it is scary, to accept responsibility for your own spirituality. Examine the toxic beliefs one by one, with others, with a friend, but do not be afraid.

I want to be as far away from that toxic structure as I possibly can and I want to take as many people with me as possible. We can share that wonderful gift, serenity. Thank you.


The national review board do they have any practical purpose, do they do anything for us?

They as an institution cannot respond or make amends because they are afflicted with narcissism which is a pathological worshipping of oneself.

One of the healthier things we can do is look at them realistically and lower our expectations. The only way they will respond is to a power higher than themselves.

Catholic hierarchy is a monarchy and as such it cannot treat you and I as equals and it never will.

It should treat you as equals, as that's what Christ would want, but the nature of the beast is they are a self perpetuating monarchy


I grew up believing the church and the people of god were the same. A god who lived somewhere out there and knew everything I did at all time and that in order to experience salvation it was necessary to be a Catholic.

I believed that we as clergy were different and we did have special powers. You were lay people and didn't have the fullness of truth.

I realize now spirituality is intensely personal and how we experience it is different from man to woman to man to woman,

Describes people flagellating, pouring salt in coffee, making themselves feel pain,

In ordinary society called psychosis in religion itís spirituality


The waking process was long and painful

But the end result I can tell you now is unbelievable peace and serenity


Most of us have been taught to believe without question.

Magical thinking and superstition about our religious practices

All we need do to see something just as weird if not weirder is look at voodoo and medicine men in Africa

Magical thinking, and I believed in it.

Forgiveness doesn't mean you put it aside and act as if it didn't happen and treat the guy as your friend, that is absolute idiocy.

The way to forgive is to forgive ourselves for allowing it to happen and allowing it to eat us alive.

You no longer obsess on what he did to me.

If he gets punished, fine, but he doesn't own me anymore.

Going back over my notes from Doyle's speech now I realize a lot of it is in the delivery and the timing. Doyle has a real gift and I wish heíd develop it, get out from under cross examination from church attorneys and start spewing all this out on national television. He could easily fill an HBO Comedy Special.

Next Post, Into The Woods to Uproot the Pedophile Priests, continued.

Onward. . .


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