I was happy editing the latest story I had for publication……..I received an email where the person concerned tells me NOT to publish her story. This has been happening quite a long time. Why are victims afraid to have their story published?

This is common for all victims of criminal activity. We consider the fact that a priest who abuses his position of authority and trust, on the same level as that of a policeman who forces his victims to commit any illegal act under coercion.

One of the first steps is make the victim aware of what kind of action is she victim of. Victims, because of various reasons, cannot comprehend the seriousness of the act committed. As a defence mechanism in fact, in many cases they blame themselves rather than blame the man of God. Maybe it will be more devastating to their faith to admit that the man of God commits such criminal acts!!! Some of them try to camouflage it as ‘love’. In most cases the priest might be called a serial abuser of women. In most cases these women are in a vulnerable position (most probably emotional one) who simply cannot refuse some form of attention/cuddling/kisses etc.

The priest knows that as a public person he is at a very high risk if his story comes out. Living such high risk cannot be tolerated so he turns the tables by turning the abused person into a terrorised one. This game cannot be understood by the abused person as in her situation she feels too weak to react. She tries to console herself (mistakenly) by thinking that he is the only one who pays attention to her. In some cases the priest allures the victim by buying some expensive gifts.

The abuser, ie the priest, inflicts a sense of guilt or that of fear in his victim in order NOT to talk (like all criminal people), or write. The victim most probably lives in a highly inflated sense of fear. She is enslaved with this sense of fear. Maybe she feels sorry for him. In most cases it’s true that the congregation, again because the truth is too hard to handle, they might opt in for labelling the woman as a great sinner (they use another much stronger word!), when rumours start to surface. But this is another proof that a relationship based on fear is no relationship at all and there is no sign of love at all. How can we speak clearly to so many women who fell victims to their pastor?

We are all for support and education to ALL our victims. We need to make them aware of the game being played by their priest. We need to empower them to take action. Obviously, it’s easier said than done. But this is an important part of our pastoral outreach to such victims. We are not here to judge but rather to accompany these people in their spiritual walk of life.

We are all in favour of publishing such stories (although changing of names, places etc. might take place), because the people attending churches need to know what kind of priest do they have mingling with their families. They have the right to know. We cannot take away rights. Nothing to add nor delete. Secondly, it would be an eye opener for many others including some who are already passing through such experience. Thirdly, it would help our cause to press for married priests. Most of the priests, because of the celibacy promise, have become sexually dysfunctional. We have to make it very clear though that we don’t intend to push all priests to get married. We do acknowledge that not all people should be married, for various reasons. But married priests are a welcome change in the church in order to bring subsequent changes in the parish.

Finally let’s all remember that when one is doing a journey there are people at the beginning, half way through and those who are at the very end of it. In the spiritual world we’re in a journey. It doesn’t mean that one is better than the other. It means everyone is on different levels. Let’s remember that maybe before passing through a love experience with a priest, most of the readers would have condemned such women. Now after a personal experience they have walked further in their spiritual growth. Now they see a lot of hidden aspects that were hidden previously from their understanding. Let’s realise that everybody is progressing through such spiritual walk. Nobody is perfect. Nobody can feel superior to anybody. Let’s welcome everybody on our blog without the fear of being judged or labelled.