It has been some time since I have put pen to paper, or at least finger to keyboard. It seems fitting that I should pen something on a night when magic fills the air, and the year draws to a close.
It is December 24th as I sit here looking at my screen. For many it is Christmas, for others it is simply another Monday night. I suspect many small children are driving their parents crazy with questions and theories as they prepare to make an attempt to sleep while NORAD tracks Santa across the skies.
It’s Christmas Eve – a night for magic and for reflection. Tonight the impossible is possible, if only one believes. I believe.
I spent the day in quiet reflection as I occupied myself with menial tasks. Tomorrow is the agreed upon date to celebrate the arrival of Christ. It is a cause for celebration among Christians. It is also a day that families get together (those that are fortunate enough to have families to celebrate with) to celebrate each other and remember those that have departed for the great unknown facing us all eventually.
The past several months has been hard on the Catholic church. Scandal after scandal has surfaced, and the degree to which priests have molested and raped innocent children with the flock continues to grow to incomprehensible numbers. The officials pay lip service to each new revelation. The same tired clichés abound. The media has a burst of interest with the headline of the day, but then what? The whirligig of sensational news spins on.
More and more people are speaking out about the abuse they encountered while in the care of pedophile priests. But what of this? Does anyone care anymore? Are survivors of abuse just becoming white noise amongst the flood of news that floods our media every day? Do people who are not victims of abuse fully understand what it is like for a survivor to carry on in a world that seems to increasingly not care about putting an end to such horrendous crimes?
Maybe. Maybe not.
The town I grew up in refuses to come to terms that the beloved Church that so many of the local sheep blindly flock to has protected pedophiles within the organization for decades. Anyone who speaks out about it is quickly labeled as someone who is obviously an enemy to the Church. I call bullshit.
What gives any organization the right to exert terror and evoke pain to all who come to it? Nothing. A person who is abused by a pedophile (priest or otherwise) deserves to be heard. Even to this day survivors stories are quickly buried. Citizens who should be outraged at the extent of abuse in our society instead try to comfort themselves with the mantra “not in my neighborhood”. I hate to burst your happy little bubble, but sadly there are victims of abuse all around us. There are pedophiles near us. There are powerful organizations that protect pedophile employees from being brought to justice.
The curtain that protects pedophile priests is being slowly pulled back, revealing the disturbing truth the church as wanted to deny for so long.
It is Christmas Eve. Instead of attending a midnight mass, I will be writing. I will be remembering. I will continue to spread the word of a survivor. What should be more shocking to people is that every day more stories break about abuses by the Catholic church. Of course there are other organizations where abuse is hidden, but it seems not nearly to the extent of that particular church.
It’s time for a Christmas wish.
I wish that the abuse would end. It’s a fantastical wish. However, the only way it will slow down and be taken seriously is if survivors continue to speak out. Remember the saying that every time a “bell rings, an Angel gets its wings”? Well, how about every time a survivor speaks, a pedophile priest loses his dick? I know that is harsh, but think about it. It’s Christmas Eve. Children are going to sleep believing that in the morning Santa will have made it. Santa will have used his magic to make wishes come true. Think about the innocence and the wonder of believing. Now, take that same innocence and place it in the lair of an adult who only wants to defile and exert power over such innocence. The priest plays the conduit between God and human. The priest is charged with many community duties that bring communities together. They celebrate life and grieve each death in the community. We put our faith in their hands. It’s no longer “only a small handful” that have abused their positions. The scope and extent of the abuse and supressing those who wish to speak out will continue to mount for years as more and more become empowered to speak out. My Christmas wish is for survivors to be heard. Yes, I am a survivor of Catholic sex abuse. There is not a day that goes by without me facing another demon that has manifested itself as a result of the physical and emotional terror I endured. However, I am blessed to have a voice. Each day I am empowered to speak out about the abuse, and I know that other victims hear me. Other victims eventually become survivors. Survivors gain strength in sharing their stories. The curtain that has been hiding the pedophile priests is beginning to fall. It’s time for our communities to embrace survivors. Their strength and resilience is what needs to be commended in every community – not the selfish acts of personal gratification that in a matter of seconds, minutes, or years – has the ability to shatter souls.
I do not mean this as a poor me rant. I want to speak out as I have done before. I will continue to speak out. It is time for survivors to stand together – we have the ability to regain our strength and our dignity. We are not the ones who need to be ashamed. It is the actions of the weak adults who subjected us to our torment. Our suffering and shame was the result of their selfishness. The institutions who allowed this to happen need to be held accountable.
Each year I think about how nice it would be to step inside a church and listen to stories of caring, sharing and community. I think about how beautiful the voices would sound in the ancient walls of the cathedrals as they sing carols and songs of peace, love, and goodwill. I think about this from the outside. I was raped and beaten in a church – a place that is supposed to be a sanctuary – a safe place. I feel safer outside, in the cold. For I am free to run if I need to get away. I am not trapped when I am outside. Nature is my goddess. The North star guides me home. In the dark I close my eyes and breath. I can feel the Force around me. In the trees. Between the rocks. The Force flows through me and all living things. It creates us and it binds us all together. No gods separate us. We are all children of the Force. This is what makes me happy – that we are all connected. We have the ability to be a force for change. We can protect each other and stand up for one another. If I know you, know this – I am here. I will listen. I will feel your pain. I will be with you. For I am a child of the Force.
And I believe.