Story #3 – I dont need to carry the guilt
I was a young mother when my child was molested by a priest in our parish. I felt like I was sweet sixteen with a dirty dress. That's how I was treated by other priests, nuns and school teachers after confronting Bishop X at that time in the early eighties.
I fought hard and talked hard about this and finally got free counseling for all my family. I also warned of other priests who were in question as they did strange things for my husband and another priest would try to arm wrestle when one of my children worked in the parish house. I wrote letters to Bishop X and went to see him several times...and finally went to see an attorney. When no attorney would take my case because they were all friends of Bishop X, I fought alone. My husband couldn't deal with it and it made his stomach sick when we met with anyone on the subject. Later I found out he too was molested and never told.
At any rate, SNAP came alive for me and I joined that and VOTF and spoke in Columbus at a House of Representatives meeting to lengthen the statute of limitations...Nothing seemed like a big deal and all seemed a day late and a dollar short. Even my children said leave it go...you did everything a mother could do
but of course it was all still eating at me....and always will.
I did meet with our new Bishop for lunch around Mother's Day a few years back when he first got appointed here. He caught up on what happened to my family and knew that we were very close to the church. So getting back to the new Bishop, he said one thing that helped me very much: you don't need to carry the guilt for us...we are responsible for Father X molesting other children not you....just because nobody would prosecute him for you...its not your guilt....that he went on to other children, it is OURS...nobody else's but our own...but I guess I did imagine I carried the guilt for the church...and felt like I was dirty because that happened and I didn't clean it up.... priest after priest never relieved me of that but the new Bishop did that much, simply by admitting everything and now saying that they have a clearer picture any future child molesters will be removed from the priesthood as long as he is in charge.
I, after all the years with no respect, told him I would call him by his first name because I no longer have any respect for anyone in the church...I have to say HE was most respectful to me....and that I have never received nor my family from any church clergy. Honestly it truly did help me right from the horses mouth talking about Bishops, Priests and all I knew and all he knew....and I don't feel like a sweet sixteen in a dirty dress anymore... But Bishop X sure did take a lot of dirt with him to his grave!