More on Sexual Abuse by Catholic priests

Today’s New York Times

There is another article on the cover of today’s’ New York Times about priests who get away with sexual abuse for years with the assistance of the Catholic Church.

“German Priest in Abuse Case is suspended”

“Munich- The priest at the center of a German sex-abuse scandal that has embroiled Pope Benedict XV! Continued working with children for more than 30 years, even though a German court convicted him of molesting boys.

The priest, Peter Hullerman, who had previously been identified only by the first letter of his last name, was suspended from his duties only on Monday. That was three days after the church acknowledged that the Pope, then Archbishop Joseph Ratzinger, had responded to early accusations of molestation by allowing the priest to move to Munich for therapy in 1980.”

New York Times, Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The article goes on to tell the story of this priest who evidently abused hundreds of children and was never punished. Let me repeat that. Hundreds! The church was made aware of his crimes many times and they simply moved him to another parish where he did the same thing all over again. The future Pope Benedict, who was in charge of crimes of abuse in 1980, moved the priest to another parish in Munich. One of Hullerman’s crimes was to have forced an 11 year old boy to perform oral sex on him. That’s right, eleven years old.

Evidently parishioners still praise this priest, calling him warm and friendly even though the accusations against him have been all proven to be fact. People still find ways to protect priests even after sick, cruel and perverted behavior has been proved.

Why?

Why is Peter Hullerman not behind bars as he would be if he were not protected by the church? Why are priests who do these terrible things allowed to stay hidden behind church walls?

I think these men should be treated as common criminals and after being tried and found guilty, sent to prison for the rest of their lives. I don’t understand why this is not done. In this case the Pope was actually a part of the group protecting him. Hullerman is allowed to live a free life while the hundreds of his victims remain tormented because of what one perverted, cruel and sadistic man did to them.

When is the world going to stop being afraid of the Catholic Church and start to seek out and punish  criminals no matter who is protecting them?

Catholic Priests

There have been a few recent stories about Catholic priests and molestation of young boys. In most cases the boys suffered through not one but many instances of molestation by a priest and remained silent about this abuse for years. I am sure there are many more men out there who were molested by a priest and have tried to put these memories behind them. Perhaps they have confided in therapists or wives, friends or parents, and still the molester lives out his life without punishment for what he did to an innocent child. The lives of these boys who may now be men are not the same as they might have been had this abuse not happened. These boys, now men, are forever damaged by what was done to them by a “trusted” authority figure.

Imagine, if you will, a young and impressionable boy being taken to the rooms of priests and subjected to whatever sick act was in the mind of a priest. Could the boy scream and fight and get out of there? Absolutely not. There was no escaping these men as they were careful to choose boys who they could control and who they could force to do whatever they wanted them to do. I can barely listen to these stories as I find abuse so sickening. I have to admit I have begun to disrespect the Catholic Church as it seems to do little to punish these priests, and in some cases, actually protects them for years. A few cases have come to light where the priest’s behavior was known within the church and the church protected the priests and not the boy.

Let’s imagine how that child felt. Who could he share this event or events with as he had been threatened by the priest to keep silent? Where was he supposed to go with his feelings of fear and shame and betrayal? There was no place to go and no one with whom he could speak. There was no safety. He learned as a child that adults in authority could not be trusted and there was no safe place in the world.

 I think we should have the same trial and imprisonment for these priests as we have for abusers outside the church. I think the Catholic Church should go much further than it does in finding and punishing each person who is guilty of these crimes. It is unacceptable to me that some priests are still abusing children. It is unacceptable that churches often do not seek out their criminal members but seek to avoid public disclosure at all costs. There are those who believe church goers are in some way better behaved than the rest of the population. Some believe the authority of the church should be revered and preserved.

 The older I get in life the more I see that we must do our best to create lives for all of our children that are safe and happy and free of any kind of fear. It is up to all of us to do this whether we have children or not. Sometimes we have to speak up when no one else will back us up if we see that something is amiss. It is better to investigate a situation that seems not natural than to lift the corner of the carpet and sweep up everything around you under it.

Roman Polanski and Mackenzie Phillips

I have been pondering the news over the past week and am disturbed by what is going on in the world. Not only have we had alarming incidences of violence in nature,  we have also heard from Mackenzie Phillips  and Roman Polanski. Perhaps these two names might not be connected in some reader’s eyes, but to me there is a deep connection: the connection of abuse. Mackenzie Phillips chose to reveal the details of her childhood abuse by her father. She recounted a story of  sexual abuse by her father including drug use and abuse. She describes her father  as saying he wanted to move to a country where their “relationship” would be accepted. She grew up believing that sex with her father was all right.

Roman Polanski has evidently moved to a country where his admitted rape and sodomy of a 13-year-old is accepted and forgiven. There are editorials in the news from people in the film business stating Polanski should be released and  has paid for his crime. Polanski should be forgiven for supplying alcohol laced with Qualudes to a thirteen year old and then raping her. As if raping her was not enough, he subjected this young girl to sodomy for his own twisted pleasure. The girl ,who is now a woman, states she has forgiven him. What other choice does she have in a culture of forgiveness? There should be no forgiveness for sexual abuse, no tolerance for taking advantage of the innocence of children and no acceptance for any behavior where people are abused or tormented.

I find these two cases alarming examples of what can happen in a culture of forgiveness. I think there should be no forgiveness for crimes like these.  I think Polanski should go to prison for the remainder of his days. I think Mackenzie Phillips is a genuine hero and should be treated as such. Bringing out into the light stories of abuse is a good thing for all of us. It reminds us of what can happen if there is no one paying attention to the lives of our children. It reminds us to pay attention to the forces of power in our lives and to watch diligently the lives of our children to ensure there is no possibility of abuse of any kind. If the parents of Polanski’s victim had paid more attention perhaps this terrible thing would not have happened to her. If someone had listened to Mackenzie’s thoughts as a child perhaps she might have had a voice to cry out with. To say, “Stop! You cannot do this to me.”

A bully will keep on bullying until he or she is stopped. We need to focus on developing a strong voice in our children of what is right and what is wrong by ensuring we set an example of engaged parenting and examples of boundaries being set. Every child deserves to have parents who respect their physical and emotional boundaries and encourages children to learn to respect themselves. Forgiving Roman Polanski or John Phillips  is not acceptable. Both of these men are criminals and one is alive and should be punished. Lets start setting better examples now by condemning acts of abuse and punishing them even if years have passed. The crime will never be forgotten in the minds of these two women.