Tom Unger: Preaching morality while encouraging sin

On July 26, the Archdiocese of St. Louis published a list of 61 members of the clergy with verified allegations of sexual abuse of a minor against them, and an additional three with verified allegations of possession of child pornography. Two priests on the list had been stationed at the church I attended when I was growing up, and I knew two others through another parish. One was a close family friend for decades.

The focus of clergy sexual abuse is usually, and rightly, placed on the offenders and direct victims of the abusive behavior. But the radius of the effects is much larger.

For me, the grooming began around fourth grade, as soon as I became an altar boy at our parish church. I went to the grade school connected to our church, so the segue was a given. My path into the inner circle was all but guaranteed since my older brothers had taken that route. It wasn’t long before a close friend and I were favorites of the priests — being pulled out of class to be altar boys for funerals, getting calls to serve weekend weddings, etc.

Showing 4 comments

  • Frank Unger
    commented 2020-10-27 06:02:56 -0500
    This guy Tom is my brother. After decades of our family reaching out to him he still refuses our embrace. It’s been over 40 years that he was at the church. I also grew up in the same church with the same priests. His wife is a book author and undoubtedly helped him write it eloquently. My advice is to heal and seek professional help that works. Amen!
  • Richard Kensinger, MSW
    commented 2019-08-28 10:39:20 -0500
    You are absolutely correct about the protracted grooming in most instances. And it is the persisting cover-up that is also traumatizing and criminal.
    Rich, MSW
  • Daniel "Buddy" Robson
    commented 2019-08-27 14:22:37 -0500
    The “grooming process” is ingrained into the catholic culture. It always starts out innocently enough as “friendship” and then progresses to “exploitation”…The mind and methods of a predator are always the same with the goal of gaining the trust of their victims and then using that trust to further their sick and disgusting agenda.
  • Richard Kensinger, MSW
    commented 2019-08-14 10:33:33 -0500
    Sexual abuse allegations continue in the Altoona-Johnstown Diocese, PA. One involves a teacher at Bishop Carrol HS. He is now suspended. His inappropriate comments and touching has endured for years.
    The other is a clergy member, this makes 51 clergy now accused. I divorced the Church over 3 yrs. ago & provide free clinical consultation to victim survivors in my area. I have published article about youth sex abuse. If anyone is interested, I will send them to you. Contact me “[email protected]” or “[email protected]”.

    So many in the Church are complicit in these crimes. And BTW Atty. Richard Serbin for decades is a fierce advocate in my area.
    Rich, MSW

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