That fact that my father was a preacher didn’t escape your notice, did it? He’s still alive as mentioned in the last post, but retired. Or rather kind of kicked out of the church, losing the vote for a renewal at his last post with subsequent church leads coming up dry being essentially blacklisted in the back rooms of the church leadership. All the facts around these events are hazy as by that time I had left home. But one does wonder. It must be hard to hide everything, completely, over decades.
There is a special kind of sickness in being abused by a man who outside the confines of the walls of the home is seen as an upstanding pillar of the community, a righteous man dedicating his life to helping others, those in need, those less fortunate, to lend his hand to help lift them up out of the mire. You watch that public persona and try to align it with the treatment you receive from them. Without more information and messaging to the contrary the conclusion is that this is what you deserve, and you are bred specifically to believe that. Taking on the responsibility for your mistreatment ensures their protection, and who is possibly going to be in the position to to tell you differently, because you know the most important rule is that your remain silent with your secrets. And so no one knows, no one comes in to protect you.
The word I hate most in the world is hypocrisy. I learned to know its meaning through experiencing its power, suffering at it’s hand. The church is a brilliant breeding ground for such two faced behavior, I can attest to that without a doubt. Not long ago I googled the name of the priest who lead the parish during those years in the remote north, desperate for more information after stumbling across a story mentioning him while researching abuse in the church, in general. What I found stunned me, yet helped make sense of my own experiences. It was a symptomatic approach, the “solution” of the Catholic church to send known abusers, priests, to these remote parishes, where they could be tucked away safe from the threat of being found out. Sick right? But it’s true, it’s documented. But why? The church leadership recognized the mindset of the indigious people living in these regions would keep abusive priests free of reprise; they were known to be reserved society, not a people who would report any misdoings of those in power. A culture raised to respect their elders above all, priests could live out their lives perpetuating abuse after abuse without the risk of anyone coming forward. Until someone finally did. And then the floodgates opened and story upon story began to emerge. It’s horrifying. Yet I get it. I watched it from the outside and the inside, no one speaks. And I have a story to tell about that priest, I saw a strange glimpse into his mind and actions that troubled me when the event occurred but I didn’t understand it all, until reading the reports decades later. What he did to innocent girls and women in this town and other surrounding villages was evil. What was done to me by another man of god in the same city during the same years was also evil, but there has been no restitution. Until now. I’m finally speaking, just like all those other girls finally spoke. But is justice even possible for any woman or girl abused at the hand of someone who places themselves in the trusted role of a man of god?
No. It can never be undone. Such hell on earth.