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| You Are Not A Man of God

The Magdalene Sisters

Last week, the dismissal of my lawsuit against the Diocese of Rochester, New York and Bishop Matthew Clark was upheld by the 4th Department Appellate court. They reasoned that I knew I was being molested by O’Neill at 12 and should have told someone. This runs counter to experts of sexual abuse who know it takes years, often decades before a child comes to terms with his or her abuse.

But let’s for a second pretend I did tell my parents Robert O’Neill sexually abused me at 12. Picture the scene – I have just come back from a weekend trip with Father O’Neill. Keep in mind I have to see him at school with him at St. John’s the Evangelist the next day.

Dad: “How was your trip son?”

Me: “Great Dad, we went to Canada. I also got shitfaced on gin and Father O’Neill had sex with my friends and me during confession! What’s for dinner?”

There should be no statute of limitations against sex crimes against kids.
Thanks Bishop Clark for doing absolutely nothing to protect my friends and me. And I am sure your heartfelt apology got lost somehow in the mail. . . Hey, it happens.

But dear reader, in a lot of ways I am luckier than most. In 2002 I was fortunate enough to travel to the UN in Geneva, Switzerland to present testimony on the devastating impact of clergy abuse. We also went to Rome to demand the Vatican discuss the issue. On that trip I met an attorney from Ireland – Simon Kennedy.

Mr. Kennedy represents those abused by Roman Catholic clergy in Ireland. The crisis is horrible in the United States – in Ireland, it is even worse. Mr. Kennedy represents several women who were forced by their parents to enter the convents of the Magdalene order. Often times these girls were unfortunate enough to have had teenage pregnancies or caught in some other sexual acts with boys. Sometimes being raped was enough to get you sent there. Instead of helping their daughters, strict Roman Catholic parents would try to save their own souls by outcasting their children and sending them to Magdalene convents. Here, through harsh labor conditions, these girls where tortured and sexually abused. They were locked in their rooms at night and any escape attempt was treated with severe punishment. Many women were forced to spend their entire lives in these “Catholic prisons”.

Last year a movie was made on the plight of these women in Ireland -- The Magdalene Sisters. I highly recommend the movie. I must warn you though it is horribly depressing – but I believe it is important to watch. We need to open our eyes to the devastating impact the Catholic Church has had on children.

My wife did not want me to watch this movie. She felt it would be too triggering for me. For the most part I was ok. One scene got to me. A girl who was being molested by a priest finally snaps one day and starts screaming at the priest:


Over and over: “YOU ARE NOT A MAN OF GOD!”

I started crying – how I wish I had the courage to scream this at Bishop Matthew Clark and Robert O’Neill. . .

But I don’t. . .

And the girl was sent away to the insane asylum for having the courage to speak her truth.

I think it would be well worth you, dear reader, renting the movie.

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