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Parishioners Express Outrage at SURVIVORS of Priest Abuse

Parishioners Express Outrage at SURVIVORS of Priest Abuse



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Published by Jane Gilgun
Parishioners at a Santiago church rallied around a priest four men have said sexually abused them for years and some expressed outrage at the men. "It's devil's work," a parishioner said. A politician got a big round of applause when he declared the priest "absolutely innocent."

This article shows how common it is for people not to believe that a beloved person has sexually abused children and how often children are shamed for speaking out.

Sometimes survivors themselves have a hard time believing that such nice people can do terrible things.

It's time to believe it.
Parishioners at a Santiago church rallied around a priest four men have said sexually abused them for years and some expressed outrage at the men. "It's devil's work," a parishioner said. A politician got a big round of applause when he declared the priest "absolutely innocent."

This article shows how common it is for people not to believe that a beloved person has sexually abused children and how often children are shamed for speaking out.

Sometimes survivors themselves have a hard time believing that such nice people can do terrible things.

It's time to believe it.

More info:

Published by: Jane Gilgun on Apr 25, 2010
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reserved


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The OBS Express 1 (8)Page 1 of 5
 A Special Issue on Enablers of Priest Abuse
The OBS Express
A Newsletter of the Call Them Out Society, Ltd.,Minneapolis, Minnesota, USAVolume 1, Number 8 April 25, 2010
 Parishioners Angry at SURVIVORS of Priest Abuse:“This is the Devil’s Work” 
By Jane Gilgun
SANTIAGO, Chile. After suffering in silence for decades, four men filed a criminal complaint against a“living saint,” Father Fernando Karadima, alleging that the priest had sexually abused them for years.When the news became public this week, members of Karadima’s parish arranged a special mass to showtheir faith in him. The church was packed. At the mass, the bishop of the diocese expressed support for the priest. Most of the parishioners did, too.“This is the devil’s work,” one parishioner declared. “I have known Father Fernando for 30years. He has never done anything wrong.” After the mass, a congressman told a large crowd that the priest was “absolutely innocent.” He got a big round of applause. While some parishioners arewithholding judgment or believe the allegations could be true, most say that such a respected man couldnot have done what his accusers say he did.The four men filed complaints with Father Fernando’s superiors in 2009, but received noresponse. One of them had filed a complaint seven years ago with no response. This past week was thefirst time they had spoken publicly.One man, Juan Cruz, now in his 30s and an industrialist in the United States, said he was a 17year-old seminary student whose father had just died when Father Fernando began to sexually abuse himwhile he was saying confession. The priest touched his genitals and kissed him on the mouth. At thetime, Mr. Cruz was confused about his sexuality, and the priest used this information to threaten him intosilence.“This man had total control over me,” Mr. Cruz said. “I just wanted to commit suicide, but Iwasn’t brave enough to do it. I didn’t want to do that to my mother.”Mr. Cruz said he has recovered after years of therapy. Father Fernando’s sexual abuse was anopen secret.The survivor who filed a complaint seven years ago said that Father Fernando had such a hold onhim that the abuse continued into his adulthood. He, his wife, and his children would go to mass everynight. Father Fernando often invited them to dinner at the parish house. After dinner, under the guise of saying he had a medical condition, Father Fernando would ask for a medical consultation. The survivor was a medical doctor. While his wife and children waited in another room, the sexual abuse continued. Heinformed Father Fernando’s superiors about the sexual abuse in 2004 and began therapy soon afterward.The four men who filed the complaint said they do not want money. They simply want the truthto be known.
Myths Protect Perpetrators
Myths about who sexually abuses children protect perpetrators and may result in rage at child andadult survivors who state a beloved person has sexually abused them. Family members and friends simply
The OBS Express 1 (8)Page 2 of 5
cannot believe that someone they know, trust, and even love would do such things. “Not my son.” “Myhusband would never do that.” “It’s a lie.” These are typical responses. In the case of Father Fernando, people are saying “not that saint.”Some people think abusers are dirty old men in overcoats who have weird looks on their facesand who stand in dark street corners or scurry down alleys. In fact, these false images protect abusers.People do not expect perpetrators to be someone they know, like or even love, and respect. Certainly notthe parish priests who dances the poker or a priest revered in Chile for his work in Catholic Action, ayouth group that attracted thousands of children from Chile’s wealthy classes.Father Fernando is so revered that the Vatican secretary of state visited Chile to discuss with bishops how to handle the accusations against the priest. Now 80, the bishops have to contend with their own reverence and loyalty to the elderly priest while at the same time obeying recent Vatican directivesthat priests accused of child molestation be treated like any other alleged perpetrator.A look at what perpetrators say about their public images may show how powerful disbelief can be.
Joe Wonder Dad
George, handsome, charismatic, and married to a high-salaried professional woman, explainedhow other people thought he was “great and wonderful.” They had no idea he was sexually abusing hisdaughter while she slept and spying on his daughter and her friends when they had sleepovers.I was a stay-at-home dad. We saved a ton of money on daycare and transportation and just allkinds of stuff. I was really into it. I volunteered at all the schools. I was a Cub Scout den leader and softball coach and would go to the schools and read and volunteer on the school play. I wasreally into being the stay at home dad. I loved it, absolutely loved it….On the surface I was like, you know, just Joe Wonder Dad. I’d have neighbor kids come over inthe morning because their parents would be leaving, and so I would, ‘Yeah, sure, come on over.’We’d all hop in the minivan, and I’d take all kinds of kids. Everybody at the schools knew me ona first name basis. I volunteered for the national night out block parties. I was very instrumentalin the church and all that. So everybody thought I was great and wonderful.
Mothers May not Believe at First
Angie had a typical response of disbelief when her daughter told her that her father had sexuallyabused her. She saidWhen my daughter told me her father was touching her sexually, I didn’t believe her. She wassuch a wise-ass kid, and this man was the love of my life. He was my high school sweetheart. Wehad been together twenty-two years.Eventually, she believed her daughter and divorced her husband. She felt so terrible about not believingher daughter that she got training as a rape crisis counselor and got a job working at a rape crisis center.She felt understood and at home there.When a court social worker told Loretta that her husband had sexually abused her daughter for four years, Loretta described her reactionI just didn’t believe it. She [the social worker] says, ‘Is there anything I can do for you?’ I says, ‘Ididn’t even want to be sitting in this room. I just want to get out of here. I just want to get away fromit. I don’t want to believe it.’
The OBS Express 1 (8)Page 3 of 5
Eventually, Loretta came to believe the abuse happened. Her husband admitted immediately, spent a year in the workhouse, had work release, and received 20 years’ probation
The children and the parents hadtherapy and psychoeducation. Treatment professionals concluded that her husband was at low risk toabuse again. The courts agreed. Loretta allowed him to return to the family.Sonia did not believe that her ten year-old son Anthony had sexually abused her six year-olddaughter Danielle. She saidMy child came up and said that her brother had done something to her. I didn’t believe her.Sonia had not believed Danielle four years earlier becauseShe had said something in the past about it that something had happened between her and her  brother like when she was two. I was, like, you don’t even know what that is. So I didn’t believeher.In response to Danielle’s more recent disclosure, Sonia asked Anthony about it and he said, “No, no, no.”Sonia believed him. Things changed, however, within days, when teenage girls told her Anthony hadsexually abused Sonia.Four days later I found out through girls in the neighborhood that something happened betweenthe two of them. The neighborhood girls were out on the trampoline, and a fourteen year old girlwas saying [to Danielle], ‘You really need to talk to your mommy.’ That’s why I found out. So,like all the neighborhood kids knew about it before I did.Sonia said the second time Danielle told her about the abuse was different.She was older. She had more experience of what sex would be, meaning with TV andconversations with me and stuff. So she’d have more of an idea of what it was. When she starteddescribing it, there was no doubt that something had happened to her. She was able to describehis penis trying to enter her vagina and how difficult it was and how it hurt. That, to me, was justsomething she wouldn’t know.Sonia realized that if she had believed her daughter four years earlier, the abuse would have stopped then, but it continued for four more years. Neither she nor her husband had any idea that one child was abusinganother.
Children’s Disbelief 
Children may not believe that someone they love has committed child sexual abuse. When tenyear-old Ronnie learned from his mother that the uncle he idolized had sexually abused his own daughter,Ronnie ran into his bedroom, slammed the door, and yelled, “You’re lying to me.”Some survivors understand how hard it is to believe that someone you love abuses childrensexually. Marietta, fourteen, saidI don’t blame parents for not believing their kids. I could hardly believe it when my stepfather raped me. He is such a nice guy.Andy said something similar about his father, who sexually abused him one time when he was ateenager and he and his father shared a bed in a motel while they were on vacation. His father masturbated him, after waking up in the middle of the night. Andy saidMy father is such a good person. How could he do that? It makes it harder for me to believe it, but I still know that it happened.

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