A Drunk, an Exorcism, and a Flippant Seminarian

By Mary Pezzulo
Patheos blog
July 07, 2019

It’s been a rough twenty-four hours on the internet.

It started Friday evening, with a man drunk-friending me on facebook so that he could tag me in a post bragging about how much tequila he’d had and how much he’d enjoyed watching a fight between me and somebody I’d blocked.  Yes, he tagged the blocked person as well. The next thing I knew, someone who has screenshotted my friends-only posts to bully me before was on the thread accusing me of all kinds of nasty things. I blocked the drunk and tried to go back to my writing.

Moments later, a woman who apparently founded a site called “Roaming Catholics” was calling me stupid, telling me I needed an exorcism and that I was in mortal sin; she then tried to give me a grammar lesson:

For those of my readers who are visually impaired, that’s a screenshot of a woman with an American flag for a profile picture saying “exorcism is a verb, not a noun, and you have a blog? lol.” And for those of you who are unsure, “exorcism” is definitely a noun. Yes, she got blocked too.

Then it was Saint Maria Goretti’s feast day, a difficult day for rape survivors. I re-shared an old blog post where I explained what the saint’s virtues were and clarified the Church’s teaching on rape. I always re-share this post on her feast, because a surprising number of people like to go around claiming that rape victims “take the easy way out” and we should all be saintly and just get stabbed to death instead– never mind that that has never been Church teaching, and that many of us rape survivors didn’t have that choice. Some catechists hold up Maria Goretti as a martyr for purity not because she valued her and Alessandro’s chastity and forgave her attacker, but because he managed to fatally stab her before he got his wish of molesting a twelve-year-old girl. As if Saint Maria would somehow be less virtuous if Alessandro had just gone ahead and raped her after she was stabbed.  I think it’s very important that we be clear that that’s wrong, especially in this day and age. Victims of sexual assault and abuse are not the ones who sin. Their attackers are. To say a victim incurs guilt for having something done to them against their will, is heresy. It’s not just me, a hysterical woman blogger saying that; St. Thomas and St. Augustine also stated that a virgin who is raped remains a virgin. No one can sin against their will. And hijacking a saint’s hagiography to shame victims is just one more way to exploit an abused child.

I got the usual trolls telling me that this wasn’t “true Catholicism,” and I deleted their comments and banned them because I just don’t have the time. I got someone who hadn’t read the post telling me I was “slandering Maria Goretti’s virtue,” and I told her that I was actually naming her virtues. I fielded positive comments from people who also felt disturbed by how her story is misrepresented. So far this was all a day in the life.

I went about my business.

When I came back, I found that the post had been reacted to several times– with hearts, and teary face reactions, and plain old regular likes. Just the critique I hoped for.

But two people had reacted to the post with the ha-ha laughy face reaction.

One was clearly somebody’s troll sock puppet account, probably an alternate account to the people who were claiming I wasn’t a true Catholic. But the other, a Daniel St. Hilaire, was a seminarian. His facebook page publicly says he studies philosophy at St. Gregory the Great Seminary. He’d laughed.

I thought that perhaps Mr. St. Hilaire’s hand had slipped, but then I saw that he had ha-ha reacted to commentators saying they didn’t like the victim-blaming either, and heart-reacted to the person who said I slandered St. Maria’s virtue.

For once I desperately wanted a troll to comment. I wanted him to say what he was thinking– to give me something to work with. I wanted to find that it was all a big misunderstanding. But he didn’t comment. And eventually I banned both of the people who laughed, and went about writing other things.

Am I shocked or surprised that a person callous and flippant enough to laugh at a declaration that rape survivors aren’t guilty turned out to be a seminarian? After what the Church has put us through in the past few years?  How could I be?

I’m just tired.

I’m tired of talking about this. I’m tired of something as elementary as “victims of violence are not guilty of that violence” being controversial to people who pat themselves on the back for having the Fullness of Truth. I’m tired as a rape survivor myself and as a survivor of spiritual abuse. I’m tired on behalf of my friends who were sexually abused by priests, and suffered more than I can imagine. I’m exhausted at the prospect that this indifference toward survivors is going to go on for another generation.

I will go to Mass tomorrow– or later today, rather, because it’s after midnight Sunday. I will go to Mass because I still love Christ deeply, despite the fact that His groupies are a disgrace.

I will stand in the foyer, because sitting in the congregation often makes me panic.

I will keep my eyes closed and remind myself that I’m in the Presence of the Just Judge Who knows who is innocent– the Judge Who is Himself the Divine Victim. Nothing is hidden from that Judge.

I guess it should be enough for me that God realizes the truth, but it’s not.  I want fallen humans here on earth to recognize the truth and live it as well. Of course, God is on the record as wanting the same thing.

If only I weren’t so tired.


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