PENANCE: Pope Lays Hands On Abuse Survivors


CNN: Bernie McDaid was an 11-year-old altar boy when his priest began molesting him, one of some 50 boys who have said they were molested by the same man. Like so many victims of abuse, McDaid’s young life spiraled. He turned to drugs and alcohol in his teen years, struggling to cope with what “Father B” had done to him.

On Thursday, he finally got a chance to do something he’d hoped for decades: He met with the Holy Father and told him about the abuse he had suffered.”I basically told him that I was an altar boy … a young boy praying to God at the time that I was abused,” McDaid told CNN. “It wasn’t just sexual abuse, it was spiritual abuse, and I want you to know that.”

“And then I told him that he has a cancer growing in his ministry, and needs to do something about it. And I hope he hears me right, and I touched his heart. And he nodded.” McDaid was part of a small group of victims of the sexual abuse scandal that rocked the Roman Catholic Church who met with Pope Benedict XVI on Thursday. They shared their stories with the pope in a Washington chapel in what the victims called an emotional, frank and ultimately hope-filled meeting.

Faith Johnston clutched her mother’s rosary beads as she tried to speak to the pope. But her emotions took over. “I didn’t end up saying anything. I got up to him, and I burst into tears,” said Johnston, who at 14 was molested by her priest. “I think just my tears alone spoke — just spoke so much.” MORE

PriestSexAbuseParishPredators_ph_2.jpgRELATED: Although discussion has raged since this afternoon regarding Benedict XVI and his past Nazi affiliations, I find his present to be slightly more worrisome. As Tim Boucher points out in this blog entry: Ratzinger is also the author of a May 2001 letter to bishops stating that the “Crimine solicitationies” law (regarding strict secrecy in sex abuse cases) is still in effect. The law to which Ratzinger’s letter referred was issued by Pope John XXIII 40 years ago (a link to the PDF of the document can be found in Boucher’s entry). The law itself is chilling, as it describes a mandatory condition of secrecy for both the perpetrators and victims of sexual abuse by Catholic priests. The 69-page Latin document bearing the seal of Pope John XXIII was sent to every bishop in the world. The instructions outline a policy of ‘strictest’ secrecy in dealing with allegations of sexual abuse and threatens those who speak out with excommunication. They also call for the victim to take an oath of secrecy at the time of making a complaint to Church officials. It states that the instructions are to `be diligently stored in the secret archives of the Curia [Vatican] as strictly confidential. Nor is it to be published nor added to with any commentaries.’ MORE

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