“How do you get a nun pregnant? You dress her up like an altar boy.”
There is rage that exists somewhere between the rungs of my DNA. It backflips over the very fabric of myself and spills into my cells. From the nucleus outward the rage pulsates, splits and then divides. A mitios of sorts takes place until tumors of hatred cling to my soul and lungs. Then, both the tumors and my body breathe together in one moan a question that has existed since you pulled the dark from the light,
“How can you let this happen?”
I cannot read the news about the priests in Pennsylvania without that rage. I cannot stop myself from asking you this question ad nauseum. Hatred is building up as tall as towers in my chest.
The details belong to the devil, and this is no exception. As each line of text rinses across my eyes, my stomach becomes a tsunami. Over one thousand identifiable victims, and the darkness of my soul knows there to be much more. Over three hundred priests accused from over six dioceses. Over six decades.
Do you have the stomach to read the reports? The way these animals groomed children, that’s right children, into objects to use up. There are accounts of alcohol being used to get the kids into a more “docile” state. One priest molested an entire family of sisters, keeping samples of their pubic hair, menstrual blood, and urine. A seven year old girl, seven years old, was molested in a hospital after she got her tonsils out. There is an account of a girl, who is now a woman, whose abuse started at eighteen months old. The final report is a book. Pages of groping, sodomy, vaganal rape, oral rape, and so on. And on. And on. And on.
One report in particular has hung like a fisherman’s hook in my mind over the past week. A victim told of how the priests would “mark” the boys they were raping so that other priest knew that they were game. They would give these boys a specific golden cross to wear as a gift. As a dog would piss on its territory, they did the same. The shepherds of lambs handing out nooses to wear as jewelry. Does there exist an evil greater than this?
I grew up in a world where the Catholic church was already a child molestation punchline. There have always been kids being molested by priests, and I don’t find it to be unusual. I am numb to it in that way. It was an exercise of discipline to even care about this story. I am ashamed of that. When, however, I decided to read the grand jury report I awoke from my numbness to feel the flame of hell biting down onto each nerve ending in my body.
I suppose, as macabre as this may be, there is an evil that wins the contest. That, of course, is the covering up of it all by your church. Your bride whom you promise to glorify has not only been the cause of this travesty but the perpetrator of it. There is no guttural reaction at first to the logistical breakdown of how these rapists were moved from parish to parish to avoid lawful repercussions. That part of the report reads like a training manual, as strategy guide for those wishing to do the same. A game of moving parts, or musical chairs, while children are gutted for an orgasm and left to live as ghosts.
Hail Mary, full of grace.
I suppose I must acknowledge my own molestation within a church at this point. While it was a nondenominational church, they served the same God. They don’t deal with dioceses or priests, but there is a pattern of moving pastors to different locations. There was still a silencing that took place. My peace has been made to this end, yet I must acknowledge that my propensity to hatred first is there. I am not impartial and I am not fair. In my foolishness, I would extend an olive branch of sorts and claim that I know what they are going through. Just because I was molested does not allow for me to know their pain. If anything, it makes it even harder to understand. Perhaps this drives my hatred higher. More food for my tumors.
Despite our unique differences, I am with the kids who were pavement for your church machine to truck across. The road for men who called themselves something different to walk easily through life on. I am the tithe that paid for their homes, their food, and their entertainment. We are their disposables.
It is my gait that is left with a limp. As I battle through the addictions that held me when you hid your face in the clouds, I blame you more than I blame them. The pornography what he showed was grotesque at first but then it became an escape. The sour drinks or milligram militia were welcome reinforcements. I was eight goddamned years old, what was I supposed to do?
What are we supposed to do?
So here I am, twisted and vomiting out rage from my every end. From the tangled cage of my rage, hatred, and anger I ask you again,
“How can you let this happen.”
Yesterday morning I finished reading C. S. Lewis’s “Till We Have Faces,” and there is a passage from it that has haunted me since:
“When the time comes to you at which you will be forced at last to utter the speech which has lain at the center of your soul for years, which you have, all that time, idiot-like, been saying over and over, you’ll not talk about the joy of words. I saw well why the gods do not speak to us openly, nor let us answer. Till that word can be dug out of us, why should they hear the babble that we think we mean? How can they meet us face to face till we have faces?”
Without getting too much into the book (I suspect I will be writing a full response to it at a later time as it has moved me in a way I cannot express quickly) this passage arrives as the main character has a chance to lay out her claim against the gods. She is, and again this is grossly simplified, basically offered an opportunity to ask the gods, “how can you let this happen?”
I must look at the speech which is written upon my own soul. This is no easy thing to do for it is as selfish and evil as the priest who hands out golden crosses to the boys he is molesting.
If I were to write it out plainly I believe it would read as follows,
“Why did you allow for my molestation? Why did it have to be at a church? Why can’t I just get over it and heal? Why make me go through all of this? Why me? Why me? Why me?”
As I reread what I have written above which I wrote earlier this week I feel a sickness in my guts. The piety of it all. There is not genuine anger for the kids from Pennsylvania. My heart is not for theirs but instead for my own. There is nothing truly genuine about it at all.
Instead I read an echo of hate that has been bounced around my ribs since I was eight. I read the repetition of my claim against the gods being repeated over and over again, idiot-like. My face hidden from God behind a veil as I accuse him of hiding his. I see nothing other than an agenda that has been fixed long before anything else.
The blunt truth of it is that I don’t know how to feel broken for the kids who were used as carnal fodder without hating everyone and everything. There is no beacon I can light for them without burning down the forest first. I’ve been carrying my “whys” so long, my spine is curved from their weight. I am in no position to help. Instead I stand with the scoliosis of hatred firmly on the side of myself. In the same self-deceit favored by those priests, I have fooled myself.
I cannot hold these things anymore.
My anger has been as moths in the closet. They have no more fabric or cloth to eat. I’ve set my daughter down to hold onto my justification. The monolith I have made God into is one bearing foul faces of my own reflection. To have a case against God is to forfeit more than I am willing to. I cannot hold onto these things anymore.
What happened in Pennsylvania is evil. What happened to me is evil. Do not take my confession of selfishness as a conceding of their actions. There should be convictions and the law should prosecute them with a viciousness unique to this occasion. I detest and loathe what has happened. My anger, when towards what was done, is holy and just. There are millstones picked out and chiseled uniquely for those men to wear. It will take an eternity to drag them into the depths of hell where they belong. I feel a horror for what they are going to face. If I can feel this way, how much more so does God?
How much more does God detest what was done? This world, from the depths of the ocean to the peaks of mountains, was created for our enjoyment. All was created so that we may know God. What of the men whose actions aim to ruin that knowledge?
My faith must be this, that God will sort all things out in the end. For if my “why” was answered would it not lead to another one? That one to the next? For if I had the ability to cosmically judge those priests, how would I judge the ones who molested them too? How would I be able to quantify their innocence that was stolen first? If I could punish them with finality, what of the kids they molested? Would that restore what was stolen from them? I must believe in God’s ability to reconcile all these things for that is the only way to remedy the evil. I must have faith in the perfection of it.
My faith must also be this, God’s church is the hope of the world. These words are not easy for me to write and I battle tooth and nail with them even as I write this. There is a reason, while it may be impossible to know, he has chosen us to be a light in this darkness. I have seen miracles of generosity and unnatural love done by the church. I’ve seen the hungry fed and the naked clothed. We are a broken lot, unique in our evils, yet it is only through the church that hope can exist. The church has the ability to do uniquely good things and therefore the power to do uniquely evil things. That duality shall exist until humans do not. We must strive to be hope and not a reason.
Do not pity my faith. Do not assume it sheepish in its nature. I have worked out my beliefs in fear and goddamned trembling while testing it against doubt constantly. I have seen hell and I have seen glimpses of heaven. There is nothing blind nor casual left in its nature.
Beyond this, I fear I offer no resolution. I am not stupid enough to think I can offer a plan of actions for healing those hurt by the church. That, I believe, is not my job at this time. There are many other people much more educated and gifted in those areas who shall determine that. Instead, I offer one more passage from “Till We Have Faces,” that I am resting in,
“The sweetest thing in all my life has been the longing — to reach the Mountain, to find the place where all the beauty came from — my country, the place where I ought to have been born. Do you think it all meant nothing, all the longing? The longing for home? For indeed it now feels not like going, but like going back.”
I long for a place where not only do priests not molest children, but those who have been molested are made new. I long for the restoration of all pain, all destruction.
Perhaps it will be like that calm when waking from a nightmare to feel the steady breathing of those we love slumbering next to us. Perhaps it will be like something I cannot even imagine.