Rome--Victim of just-restored convicted perp priest blasts Francis
For immediate release: Friday, February 19
Statement by Megan Peterson, abused by Fr. Jeyapaul in MN, [email protected], 218 684 0073
Yesterday, Pope Francis added insult to injury when he said a bishop who transfers a predator should resign and asked "Is that clear?" Just days ago, the Vatican lifted the suspension of my perpetrator, even though he was pled guilty to child sex crimes. So, no, Francis, you are NOT clear. Your words do not match your actions.
And let me be clear: Just this past week, Catholic officials decided to put the priest who raped me back into ministry. A bishop referred his case to the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and the office lifted his suspension from church office. Now Joseph Jeyapaul will be assigned to a parish somewhere.
It has left me feeling abused and degraded. The Vatican’s decision and the Pope's recent comments reopens wounds that have barely begun to heal; it tells me and other survivors that our suffering matters nothing to them. It’s hard for me to separate the cruel assertion of power and authority that my rapist used on me from the cruel assertion of institutional power and authority that can put a rapist back into ministry. They both show complete disregard for the humanity and wellbeing of others.
I hope actions, like Jeyapaul’s reinstatement and the Vatican’s announcement earlier this month that new bishops have no obligation to report sexual violence by clergy to civil authorities, will speak louder than the pope’s rhetoric about this crisis.
We know the problem of sexual violence in the church is systemic, and we know that the culture of impunity within this institution is what perpetuates it. How many more lives have to be ruined before real changes, like mandatory reporting and removing confessed abusers are instituted? How much more evidence is needed before those whose duty it is to protect us finally act on the fact that the Vatican cannot be left to police itself on this issue?
I have literally spent my entire adult life fighting to ensure that other children in the church won’t have to experience what I and so many other survivors have been through. Placing Joseph Jeyapaul, back into ministry is not only a catastrophic misuse of power but a grave injustice to myself, the other victim, and the future victims. Even though he has not been placed back into ministry yet, The Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Bishop in India's, decision alone has already started to victimize people and ensure future victimization. The decision alone, has already targeted, affected, and victimized me.
How many more injustices must be faced and lives must be ruined before real change is given to us? I cannot and will not walk away from the inevitable abuse of others. So for now, I will pick up my pieces and continue this fight. I am reminded that the road to justice is still long and that along with my fellow survivors we must continue finding the courage to relive our trauma every time there is another detour.
SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. SNAP was founded in 1988 and has more than 20,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)