In the wee hours of the morning, when I cannot sleep, I take great comfort in listening to the BBC World Service. Last night, however, I was disheartened and dismayed by a documentary, Guilt, Repentance & Forgiveness, [ 28 minutes. Click here to listen.] which tells the story of an Irish boy, Colm O’Gorman, who was abused as a teenager by a priest.
What was, perhaps, most discomforting about it all was the calm and dispassionate way in which Mr. O’Gorman related the horrors that were visited upon him [for decades after the rapes ended.] He has learned to forgive himself and even, to some extent, his abuser [who committed suicide as his trial was beginning] but he cannot forgive the Church which knew of the abuser’s predelictions while he was still a seminarian and which ignored repeated reports about him from concerned parishoners both to his bishop and to the Papal Nuncio.
I struggle sometimes to feel compassion for those who sexually abuse minors and have to keep reminding myself that most abusers are themselves victims of abuse. It is “the sin that keeps on sinning” from generation to generation and the harm that it wreaks is incalculable.
Government figures suggest that clergy are responsible for approximately 3% of the abuse in Ireland, but that means that the other 97% of the abuse is virtually unreported. I assume it pretty much the same here in the United States. A psychotherapist friend of mine is convinced that 25% of us were abused as children. Talk about evil run rampant…