It took a long time for me to wake up. Long after my abuse and harassment had ceased, I was still asleep. I still believed it was my fault and that what had happened with Fr. Jade was just the fact that he had feelings for me which he could not deal with. I had an explanation, I thought, for everything. I still missed him. I still thought….maybe if I had done something different, things wouldn’t have turned out this way.
Even after I had joined SNAP (Survivor’s Network for those Abused by Priests), I felt I did not deserve to belong. Even when I was told it was not my fault. It still took time for me to wake up.
First I heard myself saying “It was not my fault”. But I still felt like a hypocrite. He was a good man, after all. And I was told by others that it was my fault. I felt like scum and like I didn’t belong anywhere.
I should have just been obedient and did what I was told and kept quiet. But no, I thought….I couldn’t do that. It was wrong. Slowly I began to stir in my sleep.
And I think about the people who blamed me and I wonder if they too are asleep. It’s so easy and so tempting just to close my eyes and pretend I’m not awake. I wonder if that is what they are doing. Are they just pretending to be asleep, like a toddler at day care?
I was sleeping so peacefully for so many years. I was part of the pack and I didn’t want anything to disturb my rest. I believed the priests and the diocese were good and Godlike. That we were all family. Kumbaya.
That is what you believe when you belong to the church. And if you want to belong and not be labeled a nutcase or an outsider, you keep your eyes closed.
And I have often wondered how much people are actually aware of. How “woke” are most people? I’m guessing not very. Yet, I am always surprised by people who don’t get it. I don’t know why. I was once asleep as they are. Part of me probably always will be.
From the woman in Human Resources who didn’t want to hear anything I had to say and just kept screaming at me as to how could I say these things to a priest (in an email) as he said he has no idea what you are talking about, to the other priest who worked with us who says he never saw or heard anything unusual between Fr. Jade and myself….although I know he heard Fr. Jade scream at me many times, to my co-worker who asked at first why nobody asked her any questions…..and who later said she just wanted to keep her job…..were they asleep or were they lulled into slumber by familiar words of piety and sin….or fear?
People outside of the diocese as well don’t seem to want to wipe the sleep out of their eyes. Even when they know my story. A therapist told me that it was my fault. My mother wants me to give the church their share of money when I am in charge of her will. A good friend said that my priest was a crazy man but surely the exception. They aren’t all like him.
I want to go back to sleep because life was uncomplicated just believing that the church was good and that crazy people possessed by Satan were trying to smear their good name for a few bad apples. We will defend the church. Because the church is God.
This is not about power. The church is not corrupt. A few people are weird and shouldn’t be around kids. The church will take care of that.
I just want to keep my job. I want my bonuses on Thanksgiving and Christmas. I want to go to the Christmas party and win the raffle. I want to do the Lord’s work and help Fr. Jade help our flock.
After all, they cannot be doing God’s work and have evil inside of them. Life doesn’t work that way…..
Like I said, I still feel half asleep and every once in awhile I too need a jolt of caffeine.
I listened to Bishop Scharfenberger talk about how he had a private mass and included priests who had been credibly accused. I heard him say that mass is for “sinners” and even Christ hung on the cross between two sinners. I get taken in. Because I have been conditioned to be taken in for years.
I shake myself awake and realize that they are grooming the public. They are lessening the impact of the credibly accused priests publicly by labeling them “sinners” and “those who have fallen from grace”. He calls for them to come to the mass to be forgiven and to atone for their sins.
And this is what I have been raised with and believed all of my life. Forgiveness. It is right. It is what Christ would do. Really?
Forgiveness for what has been done must come from within a survivor of sexual abuse. And it is only for the purpose of their own healing. It does not absolve anyone or let them….be at peace and go love and serve the Lord.
Because it does not take into account that the only thing these priest are truly sorry for is getting caught. And being absolved and let go by the bishop to go out and sin no more…that is saying that they are truly sorry and have no intention of harming anyone else and are once again on the straight and narrow.
I’m pretty sure that the bishop doesn’t even believe that is possible.
The bishop said he goes to prisons and says mass for thieves and murderers. He also said that 80% of sexual abuse occurs within families and that we just have to kind of live with those people.
One thing, though, that the bishop does not address is how he plans to prevent this from happening to someone else. He talks about sin, money, bankruptcy, selling church property, and his sympathy for survivors….as if he coined that word himself…..but he does not speak about a plan to prevent further abuse.
And those who are still asleep most likely feel that all that can be done is being done. But that is far from the truth.
I figure that the bishop and the pope and many priests have influence and means of keeping people in blissful slumber. And I think that we can keep going around and around the same circle and get pretty much nowhere because we would be wasting energy shooting at windmills while the windmills shot back at us and the villagers remained in slumber.
Unfortunately, “they” as a group have an advantage when it comes to visibility, righteousness, gaining sympathy, seeming in sync with God, etc. So we have our jobs cut out for us when it comes to going up against this giant.
Most people would rather take the easier road and not question anything if it does not involve them. And the church is trying to silence all of our arguments by seeming to look like they are cooperating….therefore making any complaints fall on the deaf ears of the sleeping.
But they don’t have control over everything. And I think even they know this. Don’t despair. One of the things the bishop did was he added the term “harassment” and “adults” not “vulnerable adults” to his statement. A small but significant change.
I believe that things are changing slowly. But they are changing. I think we are beginning to wake up and come together.
And I think we are beginning to wake the world.