SURVIVOR Community News
Bill Gately is New England Co-coordinator
of SNAP (Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests)
and wrote the following letter to a regional newspaper
As the systemic problem of sexual abuse continues to
reveal itself within the Catholic Church, two philosophical
camps have inadvertently been developed. It is the establishment
of a "them vs. us" mentality; "them" being Church leaders
and "us" being victims of sexual abuse and those among
the laity who believe in accountability and responsibility.
This adversarial divide is caused by our insistence
that those who rape, molest and exploit children and
those who harbor them be brought to justice. During
the initial stages of their public relations debacle,
some of "us" naively offered to work with "them" to
develop a cooperative, transparent policy of openness,
only to be told they would take care of it. But instead
of looking into their collective conscience they found
the culprits among the laity. They blamed the sensationalism
of the media, the unscrupulous lawyers, the sex-crazed
Americans and of course the gay clergy. As the "us"
have fought for justice, the pontificating, the finger
pointing and the cries of "Catholic bashing" have been
the response of "them".
The rapists and their protectors continue to be hidden
behind legal loopholes and the pervasive malady of deference
to clergy. The knowledge that priests and members of
the Catholic hierarchy have been raping and molesting
children and vulnerable adults for centuries is still
beyond our ability to fathom. The fact that every American
Bishop has escaped prosecution lies beyond our collective
grasp. However, what is most incredible is the fact
that their blatant moral and ethical failings have become
common knowledge to all but the Bishops themselves.
The recent comments by Bishop D'Arcy at a church in
Brighton are a clear indication of this. These statements
could be dismissed as more ecclesiastical gay bashing
if they weren't so dangerous and misleading. Make no
mistake, clergy sexual abuse begins with abuse of power
at every level of Church hierarchy. To reduce perhaps
the world's largest international child abuse secret
to the simple cause and effect of gay clergy is offensive
to every rational thinking individual touched by this
tragedy. Such remarks present an inaccurate and unfair
picture of this problem, a tact we are all too familiar
with. He also undermines the good work of committed
gay priests, and diminishes the suffering of the thousands
of women who are also victims of abusive priests and
bishops. Given the vast number of emotionally immature
heterosexual clergy who abuse their power through inappropriate
relationships with both sexes, these comments are extremely
irresponsible and disingenuous. Bishop Wilton Gregory,
the president of the National Conference of Bishops
suggested erroneously that the problem is behind us.
Attitudes of Bishop D'Arcy show us otherwise. Inadvertently,
his comments point to a long journey on the road to
Ironically, D'Arcy's comments were spoken at a church
struggling to keep its doors open in light of the recent
series of potential closings. Had the bishops been protecting
children and notifying parents rather than protecting
molesters, perhaps some churches would not be closing.
His comments are of particular interest to me, since
the priest that molested me is a heterosexual man who
is now married and the father of three children; someone
with the criteria D'Arcy considers preferable. The good
work of the Church is dependent on quality leaders with
ethics and integrity, regardless of sexual orientation.
Leadership must include transparency and accountability
on the part of Bishops. Gay bashing and shifting blame
is not the answer.
BOOK ON CLERGY ABUSE - submitted by Gary Bergeron
Arc Angel Publishing announced that they will publish
"Don't Call Me A Victim"- Faith Hope and Sexual Abuse
in the Catholic Church by Gary Bergeron.
"This book was written by an actual survivor of the
current abuse scandal that has rocked the Catholic Church.
The general public has been watching this scandal unfold
through newspaper headlines and television stories.
"Don't Call Me A Victim" - Faith, Hope and Sexual Abuse
in the Catholic Church, will give its readers a
rare opportunity to view this tragedy through the eyes
of someone who has lived it. It is a powerful inside
look into a world most people are not aware even existed.
We are grateful to be a part of it.," said Juliette
Therrien of Arc Angel Publishing.
"If one survivor reads it and finds comfort in it,
I've done what I set out to do," said author Gary Bergeron.
Gary Bergeron has been one of Boston's most outspoken
critics in the sexual abuse scandal. In March of 2003
Bergeron, along with his then 77 year old father, also
a clergy abuse survivor, traveled to Rome and became
the first survivors from the United States to be recognized
by the Vatican in a meeting with the Vatican's secretary
of State. (back
In March of 2004 Bergeron Founded The T.R.U.S.T. Foundation,
Inc. Treatment, Recovery & Understanding Sexual Trauma,
a non-profit foundation formed to aid adult survivors
of sexual abuse in recovery and treatment. A portion
of the proceeds from the sale of each book will be donated
to fund survivor support groups.
The release date for "Don't Call Me A Victim"- Faith,
Hope and Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church, is
September 9, 2004.This date marks the one-year anniversary
of the largest sexual abuse settlement reached against
the Catholic Church. For more information visit www.arcangelpublishing.com
support activist Steve Sheehan reflects on the "The
Healing Tree" - one year later in "The Healing Tree
On the first day of this month, I was walking down
Commonwealth Avenue in Brighton, Mass., and found myself
standing in front of the healing tree. Readers may remember
this tree from an article that appeared in the August
2003 issue of In the Vineyard.
The tree itself appears not to have changed very much.
It may be a little taller, a little fuller, a little
greener, but only the most discerning eye would notice.
What is significant is that its location has changed.
No, it has not physically moved from its former location.
The change relates to its surroundings. No longer does
it flourish in the shadow of the mansion that served
as the imperial residence of the cardinal archbishop
of the archdiocese of Boston. The bishop no longer resides
The archbishop has moved to a rectory on the grounds
of Holy Cross Cathedral, and the mansion and its surrounding
estate have been sold to Boston College to raise funds
to pay for financial settlements to the survivors of
When I first reported on the healing tree, survivor
Steven Lynch had just completed a ten-day vigil of fasting
and meditating in front of the regal residence. One
might have questioned the effectiveness of such a vigil
as the diocesan leadership paid little attention to
him. Nonetheless, Steven Lynch, the other survivors
and supporters from Voice of the Faithful are still
in evidence demanding justice, accountability and transparency
from the hierarchy, while the imposing edifice, which
represented the archdiocese, has ceased to exist as
The message that the healing tree brought to me on
this day, and which I wish to share with you, is that
the seemingly impenetrable fortification representing
the might of the archdiocese and its disdain for our
wounded brothers and sisters has been penetrated by
the seemingly powerless few who have stood vigil over
the past painful years and have refused to be bullied
into silence and oblivion. Truth is strength and speaking
truth to power is always the indicated activity, not
in the expectation that it will always succeed, but
in the knowledge that it is the right thing to do.
The tree still stands. The survivors remain steadfast.
Voice of the Faithful must remain true to our promise
to support those who have suffered and continue to suffer
so much. The Church must change and become responsive
to the needs of the pilgrim people of God, in fulfillment
of the promise of Jesus Christ.
The tree will continue to bear witness.
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