Statement of Mary Doe GS, Widow of John Doe GS

By Mary Doe GS
Posted by SNAP Midwest
March 13, 2006

First, I would like to thank every person who takes the time to listen to this statement. My husband was a victim of sexual abuse as a pre-adolescent. The perpetrator was a Catholic priest, Fr. Romano Ferraro during the priest’s affiliation with St. Joan of Arc parish. Romano Ferraro was known to be a pedophile prior to his affiliation with St. Joan of Arc. My husband sufferedtremendously from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder stemming from the abuse. After enduring the deepest despair, sorrow, shame, guilt, hopelessness, fear and pain, my husband took his own life last summer. Before his death, my husband initiated this petition against the priest, the Archdiocese and the Archbishop. I briefly considered dropping the matter when he died, but realized his illness and subsequent death stemmed from an atmosphere of silence. I choose to honor his wishes and speak for him as he no longer has a voice. My husband left behind our two adoring toddlers, loving and generous parents and siblings, a large extended family, friends and myself. None of us will ever be the same again. I now will raise two children who will never know their father. These two beautiful gifts from God grow and change everyday without their father. They miss and ask for their daddy everyday. I never imagined that I would be a widow in my early thirties explaining illness, death and the absence of their father to my children. Their grief and daily care consume me, but my own loss is deeper than I can possibly communicate.

My husband’s parents and siblings grieve terribly for their son and brother while watching my children and I try to forge ahead with life. Words are inadequate to describe the torment that my husband experienced before ending his life. Before becoming completely crippled by Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, my husband was a bright, charismatic, engaging, loving and generous man. Those closest to him, though, realized that he struggled with something within himself that led to episodic depression. Finally, a few months before his death, he disclosed this abuse. From that point on, he aggressively sought psychotherapy to address his illness. He underwent extensive psychiatric care, endured multiple hospitalizations, tried countless medications and even received upwards of a dozen electroconvulsive therapy treatments in attempt to get well. Everyday was a fight to keep him alive. In hindsight, I watched him slowly die and caring for him was as painful and challenging as caring for any other dying person. When Romano Ferraro abused my husband as a child, he forever broke something inside of the little boy. It took over 20 years for that damage to fully manifest, but it was profound, consuming and devastating.

My husband and I celebrated the sacrament of marriage in the Catholic Church. We baptized our children in the Catholic Church. We were both raised in Catholic families and attended Catholic schools. The special grief of suicide and losing someone so young is complicated by the knowledge that Romano Ferraro and the Church he represented, OUR Church, were responsible for all of his anguish and our family’s pain. No family should ever experience what we have. No individual should ever experience what my husband did.

I ask you to imagine my husband as a little boy from a devout Catholic family. He was ours, but he could have been a member of any of your families. As a civilized society, we are all obligated to protect children. However, the Catholic Church and all who represent them—like any other organization of its kind—bear a sacred responsibility to children because of their influence on them and ready access to large numbers of them. On the contrary, a culture of secrecy, denial and protecting pedophiles surfaced in the church. Protection of the sanctity of life and family are two pillars that the Catholic faith stands on. Our family is an example of how life and family have been left unprotected and damaged by the institution and its representatives. There is no excuse for what happened to my husband. However, by filing this petition, I courteously demand that the Archdiocese take responsibility for protecting this criminal and allowing him access to the little boy who became my husband. Also, I respectfully challenge the Catholic Church to take a stance against the men that changed from priests to criminals the instant they violated a child. Nothing short of denouncing and purging all pedophiles from the ranks of the Church is acceptable.

I would like to applaud the courage and tenacity of my husband and every other survivor of this type of abuse who has come forward. I would like to encourage anyone else who has suffered this type of abuse to have the voice that was robbed from them in childhood heard now by coming forward either publicly or anonymously as we have done. If you are a victim and do not come forward, I implore you to seek appropriate treatment. You are not alone. There is no shame in surviving this type of crime.

It is likely that this statement will reach Catholics who feel that they are unaffected by this type of incident. When the welfare of children is at stake, we are all responsible. We cannot be indifferent or silent. In the words of Elie Wiesel, “…indifference is always the friend of the enemy, for it benefits the aggressor—never his victim, whose pain is magnified when he or she feels forgotten…(to) not respond to their plight, not to relieve their solitude by offering them a spark of hope is to exile them from human memory. And in denying their humanity we betray our own…Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes, we must interfere…” Please talk to your parish priests about what is being done within the church to protect our children. Please write or telephone Archbishop Burke with these questions and concerns. We are not lesser Catholics, but better Catholics, Christians and people for asking questions and seeking information to protect children, life and families.


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