A Mutilated Reading from the Book of Matthew at My Perpetrator Church Where I Have to Run out of the Building Grasping for Air. . .

By Kay Ebeling
City of Angels

July 22, 2008

"One of the worst faculty offenders was Fr. Donal Collins, teacher and then principal," writes Joe Rigert about St. Peterís College Seminary in Ireland. "In a bizarre manifestation of his perversion, Collins would visit a dormitory at night to measure the penises of the boys under the pretext of ascertaining whether they were growing normally."

The image of a little Irish priest in his night vestment with a nightcap on, maybe shaped like a leprechaun, approaching the boysí dorm beds with his fingertips dancing, a Dr. Seuss villain grin on his face as he sings, "I'm coming to measure your penis tonight" -- that image kept bouncing into my head making me sit upright and laugh, brought me back to life Monday night.

I went to Mass, or tried to go to Mass, at the church my perpetrator priest founded last Sunday. I ended up having to run out of the church doubled up in pain. I sat in the back, knowing I might need to make a fast exit. Every five minutes one of the ushers would come up to me, "Do you want me to deliver to you the Holy Eucharist?" They kept saying that to me like Communion was this mystical magical almost scary thing. I sat through a sermon where the guy twisted the meaning of a Bible passage, I listened to a reading from The Book of Wisdom thinking wha-? Now they even make up their own books of the bible?

All that was fine, I was even daydreaming I could become part of this church, maybe sing in the choir. Then they started the murmuring. Itís right after the collection, or during it, the whole mass of people start reciting the act of contrition, but it wasnít the words, it was the sound. The voices together murmuring, whispering, speaking in low dark voices, repeating words of a prayer -- I started squirming and soon pain shot all over me, everywhere. I had to get out. I said to the two crippled ladies next to me there in the handicap section, "Some days are worse than others," and tried to hobble out the door. But the ushers, the greeters, all the way through the lobby were following me, "Wait, wait, you have not yet partaken of the Holy Eucharist."

Let me outta here I screamed inside as I burst out into the fresh air. I walked to Bartlett Tavern and convinced the bartender make a pot of coffee, so I could sit outside and finish reading Irish Tragedy by Joe Rigert, thinking I would meet other survivors of pedophile priests at St. Peter Damian Church there. I didn't. I have to come back and spend more time in Bartlett to do this right. Those little old ladies who may have also known Father Horne were not here at Bartlett Tavern. How am I going to find the money to come back here for six months and will that even be enough time?

I stayed in my hotel room all the next day with the curtains drawn.

All day yesterday I didn't even pick up the phone to set up appointments I need to make before I leave Saturday. I just took Tylenol PM and slept.

Luckily there was a Linkup meeting that night, they meet here monthly and support each other and listen to each other, in a way that just doesn't seem to happen in LA. In LA support groups don't work even AA doesn't work in LA. So Monday night I sat in a room with survivors and advocates, less than ten of us, we all got to talk, no one shut anyone up and told you to stop breathing out loud.

Good Thing There Was A Meeting as I Was Beginning to Think I Should Quit this Project -

Good thing there was that Linkup support meeting too, because I spent a good part of Monday thinking I should quit pursuing a story about my own perpetratorís parish, St. Peter Damian Church in Bartlett, Illinois.

There appears to be so many happy families with lots of little kids going there. . . .

The church was packed, both masses I got to Sunday. St. Peter Damian in Bartlett is a breathtaking church, designed and architected with quality right up there with the best from home and garden TV shows Iíve worked on in the past years.

As the Mass went on, I couldn't stop the fantasies from returning.

I start thinking I could be part of this church. A soprano began to sing a solo and her voice was shaky and aging. I couldn't help but think, I used to sing professionally, maybe someday I could sing here in this church. It came time for the "people" to respond and I belted out my "Allelujah" in full Hair 1969 Chorus holler, causing heads to turn.

Just once. They got to hear the voice just once.

The pastor then gave a sermon, "Calling to mind a parable from the Book of Matthew." He glared at me, knew who I was as he freely reworded and relayed a part of the New Testament to the parish, didn't even say what chapter in the Book of Matthew he was reading. Catholic priests often assume lay people don't want to read for themselves.

The pastor glared right at me while he sermonized, and I got that feeling again, they knew I was coming. He prepared this sermon knowing City of Angels Lady might be in the audience.

"An enemy has done this," he warbled reminding me of a used car salesman, sleeeezy delivery, "Someone has come in during the night and sowed weeds among the wheat." Then the pastor gave his interpretation, "God will throw them in to the fiery furnace."

I nodded, ah yes, the current Catholic Deny Wrongdoing By Pedophile Priests Talking Point. I get it in my email a lot as well:

"God will judge them. Itís not our place. Yes, there were a few bad priests among us, but God will take care of them. meantime get on with your life.

However in Matthew Chapter 13 the Parable of the Weeds, it doesn't say God will judge them.

It says the harvesters working in the field will make the decision, or in a different translation, itís the reapers working for the landowners.

Either way, the pastor giving a sermon to throngs of parents and children at St. Peter Damian Church got it wrong.

As to the pedophile priest epidemic, a true interpretation of the parable of the seeds would be:

Survivors and advocates could not root out the criminals as soon as we found them. We had to go through a gestation or growth period, what the survivor movement has done for almost 20 years.

Now itís time to go to harvest -- Congressional hearings, rewriting of SOL laws, prosecution of organized crime in the church -- and plain old folks will be harvesters and reapers, finally getting rid of the weeds, the organized criminals in the Catholic Church.

There They Go Rewriting The Bible Again

So there I was, my first time back in a Catholic Church in years, literally decades maybe, and there was the priest up there in a dress giving a warped interpretation of a bible passage to a packed house, insidiously filling their brains with the idea that nobodyís perfect, of course there were some priests among us who sodomized little boys and girls, but they're just a few weeds among the fine buds like the rest of us.

I made it through half the Mass at least. I saw a lot of ladies with hair and wrinkles about the same as mine, so if they were in Bartlett 50 years ago, they knew Father Horne. I have made up my mind to come back here in the fall so I can to find people here and interview them.

But that pain got to me. It struck me like a knife slice through the soul as soon as those people started the murmuring. I had to get outta there. Then Monday I didn't pick up the phone. No wait, I did.

First someone called and said theyíd give me a ride to the Linkup meeting. Then I tried to make an appointment with the woman in Village of Bartlettís historical museum. But it was already after 6 PM.

Okay, Iím back awake today.

Will run the entire passage from Matthew about the bad seeds among the good, but first

SURVIVORSí LULLABY is a personal and intimate little book that documents the experience in Boston when the story broke in 2002, in the words of some of the original warriors. I hope editor and producer of the book, Boston's Ruth Moore starts working on a sequel. Moore is one of the Sidewalk VOTF members who have demonstrated outside the cathedral in Boston every Sunday now since 2002. They are not going to quit any time soon. Here is a segment of Ruth Moore's book: Survivors' Lullaby

"Would you believe your child, if she told you that she was held over an open hole at the local cemetery and threatened to be interred there if she revealed her secret? Or would you believe her if she said she had been placed on the altar in the lower church and was badly hurt by a hooded man? Tragically, both of these situations are details from two separate survivor accounts included within the pages of this book."

So opens the introduction of Survivorsí Lullaby, Giving Witness from Boston to the Clergy Sex Abuse Crimes, a collection of firsthand accounts, writings, poetry, whatever survivors wanted to submit, published in June 2006. Survivorsí Lullaby gives a firsthand view, no agenda, just survivors describing what itís like to survive sex crimes in the Catholic Church. Longtime Boston survivorsí advocate Ruth Moore gathered the material and wrote the introduction which is so moving and edifying we are running it in entirety here at City of Angels, continued here:

"Even today it is difficult to describe what it was like to be in Boston on the sidewalk in front of the Cathedral of the Holy Cross, as the explosion from the sex abuse crimes rippled around the World. Why this explosion began in Boston, we may never know. We do know that this crisis had been bubbling below the surface for many years.

"Spontaneously, strangers, both survivors and their supporters, gathered at the Cathedral in a desperate search for answers, truth and justice. We soon became friends and our friendships developed into several caring and loving communities. People from around the US and Canada connected with us through the Internet and survivor conferences.

"Several of our Internet friends made the trip to Boston to meet with us personally and to take part in regional demonstrations. Joe came in from Colorado and joined the Solidarity march in Manchester New Hampshire, calling for Bishop McCormackís and Bishop Christianís resignations. He held a huge poster with his childhood picture for the first time and proclaimed publicly that he had been sexually abused by a Catholic priest as a child. Elizabeth made the trip from Toronto, Canada, and Linda and Jeanne came from Truro, Nova Scotia to stand with us on a rainy April morning calling for Cardinal Lawís resignation. Their accounts are among those included within the chapters (of Survivorsí Lullaby).

From early on in the clergy sex abuse crisis we were concerned that a record of the turmoil and conversation that occurred on the sidewalk in front of the Holy Cross Cathedral in Boston would be lost. We were certain that over time the Catholic Church would reshape this historical information to minimize the true extent and scope of the crimes that were committed by too many priests and their enabling bishops.

Some of us talked of writing a book, and at first this project seemed to be a matter of collecting life accounts and other written recollections, and then find a publisher. I didn't realize how difficult this project would be until I sat down to write my own story. Immediately my mind flooded with 18 months worth of heart wrenching conversations with courageous survivors. Visual snapshots of contentious encounters with clergy and laity and hundreds of posters decrying our anguish flashed across my mind. This picture was too big to capture with words. No one could put their arms around it and describe accurately what had happened. I did not comprehend how difficult it was for survivors to even begin to record their traumatic accounts.

We slowly collected accounts, formatted email entries, and listed tentative chapters.

Several of the survivor accounts included within the book are shocking and difficult to read. Some details of the sexual, ritual, and childhood abuse are graphic and not intended for younger readers or for those who are sensitive and emotionally fragile.

Many of us will be unable to comprehend the phrase "ritual abuse," understand the scope of this evil or the devastation it causes, especially when performed within the church.

Following are some compelling quotes by local (Boston) survivors:

"Our biggest issue is one of trust."

Bill Gately

"Look at me, listen to our stories, and let yourself be horrified."

Ann Webb

"You need the truth before you can heal."

Susan Renehan

"Your silence is deafening."

John Harris

"I am here personally for those dead victims."

Steve Lewis

"They do not believe in their own God."

Phil Cogswell

"Those of you who have endured, speak truth to power."

Steve Lynch

"Trusting doesn't mean you canít ask questions."

Kathy Dwyer.

Ruth Moore continued:

These truths can be told, and must be told. They must be recorded for all generations to know of the silent terror so many children and innocent adults endured at the hands of the Catholic Church.

ME: Is Survivorsí Lullaby still available to buy?

RUTH MOORE: "Yes the book can be ordered on line at Authorhouse, Amazon, or can be ordered at any book story. I believe we are up to about three hundred copies in circulation."

Recommended reading, the beginning of our short history. And I am convinced again, to keep on going ONWARD with my own pursuits.


The The Parable of the Seeds, Matthew 13:24-30, reads:

"The owner's servants came to him and said, 'Sir, didn't you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?'

ĎAn enemy did this,' he replied.

"The servants asked him, 'Do you want us to go and pull them up?'

"'No,' he answered, 'because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.'"

Where does it say there, leave the weeds for God to find them later and throw them into the fiery furnace, and where the heck is the fiery furnace anyway?

When I left St. Peter Damian I tried to be polite. I even stopped to sign the guest book, "Illegible" was here from Los Angeles. A woman who looked like a nun in street clothes followed me to the door, still repeating, "The Holy Eucharist, you havenít had your Holy Eucharist."

Onward . . .


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