Monday, April 26, 2010

Dutch Victims of Catholic Priest Sexual Abuse Speak Out. Please, Catholics, Listen!

     When I was abused, it was against the altar.  The priest was riding up to me, and then you are standing with your back to the altar. And that is holy, you are praying there. As an altar boy you see the father, you see the cross and think about God. And afterwards, all that was holy and sacred, yeah, suddenly it fell down.
-Janne Geraets, victim of a Catholic priest

     A new article by NPR reveals the horrendous experiences of Dutch victims of sexual abuse by Roman Catholic Priests

     I continue to observe in my own life that those who've not experienced abuse don't understand how devastating and reality-altering abuse is to a child, how it stays with a victim throughout his/her life courtesy of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and how it's incogitable that anyone would support a religious figure who enabled that abuse.

     Hear the stories of those who were abused by priests.  Put yourself in their shoes.  If you are a parent, put your child in their shoes. And then, go out there and demand change in your institutions and withhold funds until your leaders change.

     NPR reports:
     Dutch musician Bert Smeets, lead singer for the band Bedroom Monkeys, says he was one of the sexually abused at a boarding school in the early 1960s. He sips black tea outside the 12th century Our Sweet Lady cathedral in Maastricht, one of the oldest Catholic churches in the Netherlands -- and a place Smeets hasn't stepped foot in for years. He recalls running to one of the head priests at his school and telling him what happened. Smeets says that priest promptly beat him severely and told him he was lying.
     “They made me believe I was making it up," he says. "I was 10 years old. I was really shocked. Nobody was allowed to talk to me. I wasn't allowed to talk to anybody. It gets really isolating. That was very hard."
     The abusive priest repeatedly violated him, Smeets says. In his teen years, he tried to channel his confusion and rage into music and writing songs -- like "Answer, No Answer," which he penned at 14. “I felt very lost,” Smeets says. “There [were] questions, and I was asking for help in this song. But I didn't realize what really was the meaning of it, at that time. I just sang it."
     Now 58, Smeets launched a blog, Mea Culpa, to bring Dutch victims together. So far, he's received more than 1,000 e-mails and phone calls from people in the Netherlands who say they, too, were abused by priests. His efforts were helped by recent reports on Radio Netherlands and in a Dutch newspaper that detailed similar sexual abuse at Dutch boarding schools in the 1950s, '60s and '70s.
     Listen.

     Learn.

     Change.
Images:
Cartoon from MeaCulpa

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I was molested by a priest when I was a boy, but I don't hate the church or priests in general, because they are separate from CERTAIN priests and CERTAIN officials in the church. There are MANY good Catholics, priests, nuns and lay people. To paint the lot with a singular brush is a ludicrous as saying that all members of ANY group are "like that".

- Hans