Cruel Irony


I testified before the grand jury that investigated the dioceses that comprise the Catholic Church here in Pennsylvania. Leading up to my testimony, I had finally become angry and disgusted with the Catholic Church's handling of my reports to three, different bishops of sexual abuse by a priest when I was a teenager. For 25 years I tried to get the bishops of the Allentown Diocese to do the right thing and release the name of Paul Puza -- the priest who sexually assaulted me on multiple occasions, as well as other priests removed from ministry for credible allegations of childhood sexual abuse, but whose names were being kept secret by the bishops.

I chose to annul the self-imposed contract of secrecy with my diocese by contacting Pennsylvania's State Attorney General. I was not aware at that time that a grand jury investigation was already underway, but I offered nonetheless to tell my story to anyone who wanted to hear it. I was interviewed, subpoenaed, and testified. What I learned during my testimony, as well as subsequent to the release of the grand jury report, has devastated my faith and crippled my spirituality. I knew it was going to be bad, but the depth and breadth of depravity -- the deviancies -- demonstrated by these predator priests and the bishops and select clergy who are complicit in the coverup of these deviant priests' behaviors have caused me more pain than I could ever have imagined. The harm is far more onerous -- far more painful -- than the pain caused to me by the physical, emotional, psychological pains, and more, caused to me by the sexual abuse.

I wrote this following reflection shortly after reading the grand jury report. It's not a literary masterpiece nor was it intended to be. It's merely a peek into the mind of adults who, as children, were sexually molested by priests and later betrayed by the very institution who was supposed to be their spiritual home.

Cruel Irony
By: Tom McDevitt

I was molested in my uncle's church rectory. It has been difficult at times, in the intervening years since the period of my sexual abuse, to sit in those church pews. It's easy to understand why I'd sit there some Sundays and think about what was done to me merely yards away in the rectory next door. How paradoxical it is that in one house of God, that church, I'm told to conform and follow while in another house of God, that rectory, my innocence was obliterated.

In recent years I've come to understand the greater damage that was done to my church and my ability to invest further in my faith. In the past year or two, I no longer go to mass regularly. But the catch is, my church teaches I must go to church in order to gain salvation, however, I can no longer sit in church without feeling marginalized, dismissed, misrepresented, devalued, and other not so welcoming feelings.

So now I just marvel at the cruel irony that the institution that failed to protect me as a boy is the same institution who, dogmatically speaking, taunts me with the threat of eternal damnation. Simply put, my church is no longer for me a source of renewal and peace.
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I am waiting for the RICO prosecutions of the Church hierarchy (of all faiths it seems,) and the scouts. Surely what they have done to promote, facilitate and cover up crime is as bad as the mafia. RICO brought down the crime families when will it weaken the pedophile rings?