I remember getting an email from my boss the day I was fired. He was at a meeting out of town. He wasn’t supposed to go to the meeting but when I came in to work that day, I found that things were not as I had expected them to be. In addition to my boss being out of town when he had not planned to go to the meeting, I had been ready to greet a new employee that day. I had set up her office and had gotten everything ready for her arrival the week before. But I was told she would be starting the next week. I remember thinking it made sense logically, but something just didn’t feel right.
It may be because I was already on edge that day, having left the week before with my boss screaming at me to get out. I was not quite sure what to expect my first day back after that incident and I was a bit disappointed that he was not there as it made me nervous to think that the first time I would see him would be the day we worked alone together.
But then his email arrived and that was strange. Why would he tell me that he was about to get into his car to head back? It made no sense. Was he expecting me to wait for him?
Within ten minutes, I got the call from Human Resources asking me to come to see them. Basically, I was ambushed.
When I look back at the exchange that went on in the Personnel office, I know now that it was a no-win situation. It was also staged so that I was treated kindly when there was a witness in the room, but when it was just myself and the head of the department, I was shown no respect and was treated as if I had just been convicted of murder and was about to be deloused.
When it became apparent that I had been betrayed and set up by my boss, the holy one himself, and I began to see bits of light coming through the fog of my brain, I tried in vain to explain the situation to the lady in H.R. The person who just the week or so before had hugged me when I stopped down to visit for something.
I tried to tell her what I knew…..that I was not the only woman he had tried to force into a “relationship”; that he had told me not to make him angry; that anything that was going on was not initiated by me…
And the main thing…..that I was afraid of him. I begged her please not to say anything to him about what I was telling her. She told me that he was entitled to know every word that I said. She screamed at me. She mocked me. She told me that I was a danger to priests.
I later took back what I said….I told her I didn’t mean anything I said about him….I was just exhausted and emotional. I have no idea if he was listening in on another line or in what other ways I may have been violated.
That was part of what had happened to me. After that happened, I thought about talking to the bishop, but I was terrified that I might be arrested if I walked into the building ever again.
I thought about writing a letter to the woman from H.R. thinking….if I can just make her understand what happened…..then I thought….why bother? She has her mind set in one mode and for whatever reason it is not going to change, no matter how many words I use.
I wondered about other people. My boss had told me that he had once been sent to Las Vegas to preside over the trial within the diocese to judge a case involving a “bad priest”. He told me he had gone to a couple of shows while he was there and had a great time.
Then I found an article on-line dated 2009 where “my priest” was the promoter of justice at a trial within the diocesan building when a local survivor of child abuse by a priest sought justice. The survivor said there were ice-breaking pleasantries before they began to question him about the layout of the school where he said he was abused as a child….and then he was asked why he did not tell his mother or report the abuse when he was a child.
When there was talk about possible investigations by the Attorney General, the bishop sent out a letter to the parishioners saying that we the church would fight this battle from without …I am paraphrasing ….but I thought…..wow….what a way to use your pulpit to sway the crowd and rile them up against anyone who said anything against a priest. There is no attack. There is no us against them. There is no one with a battering ram coming at the doors of the church. And there are no clear cut sides. The truth is, there are innocent people being persecuted by those in power in the church. And there are good people behind the walls of the church who are being fed the same lies that were once fed to those who now survive their abuse by priests.
Sides should not be drawn by those who have power in the church….the very ones who threw their victims outside the walls once they were done with them. But sides have been drawn and judgments have been made. And those who seek justice from those behind the walls of the church may only find further abuse when it is they who are seen as attackers of all that is good, and they seen as the destruction of all that is holy.
Not everyone behind the church walls is unsympathetic, of course, but for those who have secrets to keep, the name of the game is silence and discredit the victim. And they are not above using the pulpit as a sounding board in order to do so.