Come out Virginia, don’t let me wait
You Catholic girls start much too late
But sooner or later it comes down to fate…
-Billy Joel, Only the Good Die Young
A friend very close to this situation sent me this and wondered if I might post a link to it: Come Out, Virginia. It’s a blog written by a woman who experienced more at parochial school than a religious education. It starts like this:
Beginning when I was seven, the pastor of my Catholic school and parish sexually abused me just as he did a large number of children, mostly girls, during the 60’s and 70’s. I testified at a grand jury hearing in 1992 bringing charges against him that culminated in his guilty plea in 1993, just days before his criminal trial. I was scheduled to testify at that trial, and the fact that I had to cut short a Carribean vacation for nothing is one of the many, many reasons I wish him ill to this day.
Stories like this are anything but rare these days, but the writing here is very good, and it gnaws at the Great Riddle. The Great Riddle concerns anyone who has weathered evil or suffered grave misfortune. Whether that evil comes by parochial school or a thousand other paths is not the point. Here is the problem: in passing to the other side of that evil, blinking in the daylight as it were, most of us want to put the shadows away. Let them not be named, both now and forever. But… we have eaten what we have experienced; we are what we have endured.
One cannot be whole and reject a part of oneself. To love oneself is to accept the intrusion of the horrible. There’s no getting around it. This is the Great Riddle. With or without the help of religion, it is a life’s work to sort it out.
As the anonymous blogger closes one post after rattling off a list of (since departed) problems:
Were all these problems caused by what Monsignor did to me so long ago? It’s a question I have been asked in legal settings and have asked in therapeutic settings, and the answer is pretty much the same: Of course. Maybe. Probably. Who knows? But it for sure didn’t help.