The Forgotten Victims of Clerical Abuse

me and my dad

Summer, 1961, visiting my father at the psychiatric hospital

“He heals the wounds of every shattered heart.” Psalm 147:3

The recent revelations about Cardinal (now Archbishop) McCarrick, and the newly- published Grand Jury report from several dioceses in Pennsylvania, are disturbing, especially to the most devout Catholics.  Some members of the Church are leaving in disgust.  I haven’t yet read the PA Grand Jury report, but from what I can gather through social media, it will take someone with a strong stomach to endure the entire document.

The most recent announcement that homosexual networks existed within seminaries and dioceses has caused some Catholics to have a crisis of faith because numerous seminarians tried to alert higher-up prelates, to no avail. It’s unacceptable that a bishop – or as in the case of McCarrick, the cardinal – would be complicit.  Pope Francis has now made a public statement promising justice for the victims.

For every abuse that was reported, there are hundreds, maybe thousands over the past 70-plus years, that were not – and have never been – reported. There are many victims who will never see justice.

Whenever I hear a story about clerical sex abuse, it opens a wound, not only because I’m Catholic, but because my father was abused over 70 years ago. He is one of many who never reported the (likely ongoing) abuse.

My father’s abuser was indeed a priest, who happened to be one of his teachers in high school.  This information was something that my siblings and I didn’t find out until after my father died in 1978 as he had only told my mother about the abuse.

Back in the 1940’s, priests were placed on a pedestal. My father couldn’t go to his parents or other teachers or anyone because he was ashamed, and he didn’t think anyone would believe him. At the time, my father was discerning the priesthood.  To say the abuse confused him is an understatement.  I can’t imagine having to attend school and see your abuser every day and not be able to say anything.

Dad later met and married my mom and tried to settle down into married life. But his troubles were far from over.  He dealt with depression and other mental illness on and off for a few years before he had a mental breakdown in 1961 and was committed to the local psychiatric hospital. I remember visiting him there and, despite the odd surroundings, I was always happy to see my dad.

He was eventually diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and manic depression (now called bipolar disorder) and was prescribed a regimen of medication.

My dad continued to battle with mental illness for the rest of his life.  He eventually became an alcoholic and died tragically at the age of 49. His life ended not unlike many other abuse victims.

It wasn’t easy to lose my father. But the first time I saw him in the casket after he had passed away, he looked more at peace than I could ever remember.  I felt confident that God would take care of him.

When I first found out my own father had been abused, I was angry, but my father’s troubled life made a lot of sense in light of his abuse. Of course, I wanted to strangle the priest who traumatized him.

There are many like my father out there, some living, and some already deceased, who are/were unknown victims of clerical abuse.

But we as a family were (are) victims too.  As a family, we watched my father’s struggles and suffering.  We watched him go through drunken stupors and depressive episodes. We watched him get on and fall off the wagon too many times to count. It wasn’t unusual for him to break down and cry. I know that there are many factors that cause someone to have a mental breakdown or become an alcoholic, but I believe the abuse contributed substantially to his ongoing despair.

So with the recent allegations, what is the way forward?  First, I’d like pass on encouragement to the many faithful and virtuous priests with the words of Dr. Janet Smith when she said: “To all you wonderful, faithful, chaste, devout, self-giving priests out there, my heart goes out to you. Thank you for answering the call and thank you for staying. The temptation to leave will be great. Please stay. We need you now more than ever. And please know I am praying ardently for you!”

Second, many of the links below give detailed ways the Church can move forward. One thing is for certain: leaving the Church is not an option.

Did my father ever leave the Church of his youth?  No.

Following his example, I will do the same. Why? Because my faith is not dependent on the pope, any priest or any human being. I’m Catholic and will remain so because of the Eucharist, because of Jesus Christ and because I believe God’s Word.  My faith also tells me I must forgive: the priest who abused my father, anyone who tried to cover it up, and any past and present priests, bishops and cardinals who have been guilty of any wrongdoing.

As Frank Sheed said in the early 60’s: “We are not baptized into the hierarchy; do not receive the Cardinals sacramentally; will not spend an eternity in the beatific vision of the pope. Christ is the point. I, myself, admire the present pope (Paul VI), but even if I criticized him as harshly as some do, even if his successor proved to be as bad as some of those who have gone before, even if I find the church, as I have to live with it, a pain in the neck, I should still say that nothing that a pope (or a priest, Bishop, Cardinal) could do or say would make me wish to leave the church, although I might well wish that they would leave.”

And there is always hope.  I believe very much what Fr. Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI) predicted in 1969: “From the crisis of today the Church of tomorrow will emerge — a Church that has lost much. She will become small and will have to start afresh more or less from the beginning. She will no longer be able to inhabit many of the edifices she built in prosperity. It will be hard going for the Church, for the process of crystallization and clarification will cost her much valuable energy. It will make her poor and cause her to become the Church of the meek… But when the trial of this sifting is past, a great power will flow from a more spiritualized and simplified Church.”

As we pray and make reparation in the days ahead, I ask you to pray for all those forgotten victims (like my father) who never reported the abuse, and for all families of abuse victims.

Let’s continue to pray and fast for all victims and their extended families.  As much as we yearn for a renewal of the Church and the defrocking of any cleric who chooses not to live a chaste priesthood, let us also continue to pray and fast for the conversion of the abusers.  As difficult as it is, we are all called to forgive.

Read more about the Grand Jury report here.

Read more about the homosexual subculture in the Church.

Read more about another victim

Read more about the root of the crisis.

(Opinion) Read more about why men with same sex attraction shouldn’t be priests.

Dr. Janet Smith’s Message to the Bishops: Save the Church, Tell Everything

Another excellent article from Dr. Janet Smith: McCarrick, Dissent from Humanae Vitae and the Sensum Fidelium

Sex Abuse Scandal Saps Trust in the Church, but Not in Church Teaching.

Chastity for All is Central to a Life of Holiness

Novenas and Prayers

Novena to the Holy Spirit for the Church

A Novena to the Saints for a Church in Crisis

A Novena for the Abuse Crisis

Copyright 2018 Ellen Gable Hrkach

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Charlotte’s Honor Cover Reveal

Charlotte's Honour Front Cover sm

Coming in November!  Charlotte’s Honor: Great War Great Love #2

Synopsis: After her brother is killed in action during the Great War, 21-year-old Charlotte Zielinski enlists as a medical volunteer. She eventually begins working in the death ward of the field hospital near Soissons, France, holding dying men’s hands and singing them into eternity.

Dr. Paul Kilgallen is a Canadian surgeon working at the field hospital. During a siege by the enemy, everyone evacuates except for Paul and Charlotte, who volunteer to remain in the basement of the chateau to care for the critically ill soldiers.

During those three days, Charlotte sees a side of Paul that very few have seen and finds herself falling in love with him. Just before Paul leaves for the front, he abruptly tells her that he cannot love her, and it would be best to “forget him.”

Just when Charlotte seems to be losing hope, the war is coming to a close, and two astonishing events will change her life forever.

First Review for Julia’s Gifts (Italian edition)

Julia's Gifts Italian Cover FrontGrazie, “Leggi con Ely!”  Thank you, “Read With Ely!” Thank you also to translator Daniela Mastropasqua and editor Adelia Marino. The Italian edition is available here on Amazon.it and here on Amazon.com.

The first Italian review for Julia’s Gifts (Italian edition), with English below:

Un inno alla vita, alla gioia e alla speranza visti dagli occhi della protagonista che matura pur rimanendo nella sua indole da sognatrice.Un esempio di donna realista ma con i piedi per terra.
Consigliato. Voto 5/5

A hymn to life, joy and hope seen by the eyes of the protagonist who matures while remaining in her nature as a dreamer. An example of a realist woman with her feet on the ground.
Recommended. Vote 5/5

Julia’s Gifts (French) and Stealing Jenny (Italian) coming soon!

Special thanks to Marie Duval, translator, for the French edition of Julia’s Gifts and Daniela Mastropasqua, translator, and Adelia Marino, editor, for the Italian edition of Stealing Jenny!

Humanae Vitae and the Benefits of NFP #HV50

Josh sky III

Photo courtesy Josh Hrkach

My latest post at Catholic Mom: This year we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Blessed Pope Paul VI’s encyclical Humanae Vitae (On Human Life). It’s a beautifully written (and very short) encyclical that upholds Church teaching on marriage.

There are still dissident  theologians who proclaim that Catholic couples are not bound by Humanae Vitae. However, these theologians obviously have not lived a married life in obedience to the Church and to Humanae Vitae. They have also not experienced the benefits of such obedience.

Pope Paul VI wrote:

If therefore there are well-grounded reasons for spacing births, arising from the physical or psychological condition of husband or wife, or from external circumstances, the Church teaches that married people may then take advantage of the natural cycles immanent in the reproductive system and engage in marital intercourse only during those times that are infertile, thus controlling birth in a way which does not in the least offend the moral principles which We have just explained. (HV 20)

Natural Family Planning (NFP) is the method of birth regulation that Pope Paul VI was referring to. While he may not have known the all the benefits of such a method, with Humanae Vitae, he confirmed and proclaimed the 2000-year consistent teaching of the Church that artificial methods of contraception were immoral.

NFP provides many benefits that not only promote healthy living, this remarkable method of birth regulation fosters authentic married love and is also environmentally friendly.

NFP is safe

There are no harmful side effects for either the husband or wife. It is completely safe, 100 percent natural, and involves no potentially harmful devices or drugs.

NFP is healthy

There are no pills, invasive procedures or long-term drugs. Women who use NFP know more about their bodies and can discover health problems sooner.

NFP is effective

Used and taught properly, NFP can be 99 percent effective in avoiding pregnancy. In our experience as an NFP user couple, we have never had an unplanned pregnancy in 36 years. NFP can also assist some couples in achieving much-wanted pregnancies without chemicals and operations.

NFP costs very little to use

In this economy, NFP is very cost effective. Other than the cost of the course, materials, and the replacement of thermometers, NFP costs very little to use over a couple’s 20 to 30 years of fertility, compared to purchasing condoms, diaphragms, pills, and other chemicals or operations over a period of 20 to 30 years.

NFP is environmentally friendly

NFP does no harm to the environment like some of the chemical methods of contraception. There are now software programs (like Cycle Pro and Kindara) that keep track of all pertinent information on a woman’s iPhone, Android, iPad or computer. If using paper charts, they can be recycled and there are no chemicals or other devices used.

NFP is marriage insurance

One of the most incredible benefits is that NFP is marriage insurance. In a study done by the Couple to Couple League, couples who used NFP had a less than two percent risk of divorce compared to the national secular average of 50 percent. On average, couples who use NFP have better communication than couples who contracept.

NFP is morally acceptable

Married couples who use NFP are spiritually healthy because NFP fosters authentic marital love and allows a couple to love as Christ loves: freely, totally, faithfully and fruitfully.

NFP works with irregular cycles

NFP is not like the old rhythm method, which depended on regular cycles. NFP’s charting system works with a woman’s present signs of fertility.

For more information on NFP:
Couple to Couple Leage International
Serena
WOOMB.org
CreightonModel.com

Lesscostsmall

Image copyright James and Ellen Hrkach. Please do NOT use without permission.

An Open Book – September 2018 #openbook

Open Book

I’m joining with Carolyn Astfalk and Catholic Mom for An Open Book.  With the recent allegations about Bishop McCarrick, the PA Grand Jury and the Vigano letter, I’ve been reading a lot to escape the news! Here’s what I’ve been reading this past month:

Perfect

  The Perfect Blindside by Leslea Wahl

Amazon Synopsis: Fresh off a championship medal, Jake Taylor’s parents have dragged him to a middle-of-nowhere town in Colorado, far from where he wants to be. Smart and savvy, Sophie has spent the summer before her junior year of high school avidly following Jake Taylor in every article she can find, but now she sees the “truth” behind the story — he’s really just a jerk. When the only thing they can see is each other’s flaws, how can Jake and Sophie work together to figure out what’s really been happening at the abandoned silver mine? Follow Sophie and Jake into secret tunnels as they unravel the mystery and challenge each other to become who God wants them to be.

My review: This is one of the books I received at the most recent Catholic Marketing Network Trade Show and Catholic Writers Conference. The Perfect Blindside by Leslea Wahl is a delightful story about Jake, an Olympic silver medalist in snowboarding, and Sophie, the only girl in town who’s not impressed with Jake’s celebrity. Add a mystery about the town’s mines and a little romance and you get a delightful and entertaining book for the entire family. Highly recommend!

Mary and TOB

The Virgin Mary and the Theology of the Body by Fr. Donald Calloway

Amazon Synopsis: The Church’s Marian beliefs have constantly shed light on other teachings, and the Theology of the Body is no exception. In this compilation of essays, some of the world’s most foremost Mariologists and experts on the Theology of the Body share their insights on how Mary illuminates the message of the Theology of the Body in a profound way.

My review:  This is another one of the books I received at CMN and CWCL.  It’s a moving collection of essays from TOB experts on how Our Blessed Mother brings forth TOB in a beautiful and deep way.  It’s easy to read one or two essays per day.  It can be a bit dry, but the message is profound.

Islam

From Islam to Christ:

One Women’s Path Through the Riddles of God by Derya Little

Amazon Synopsis: Born and raised in Muslim Turkey, Derya Little wandered far and wide in search of her true home. After her parents’ divorce, she rejected her family’s Islamic faith and became an atheist. During her stormy adolescence, she tried to convince a Christian missionary that there is no God but was converted to Christ instead.

Derya’s story provides a window into both Islam and modernity. It shows that the grace and the mercy of God know no bounds.  Rather, the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ reaches souls in the most unlikely places.

My review:  This was well written and quite interesting.  I didn’t know too much about the Muslim religion so it was educational.  I recommend this book for anyone who is interested in one woman’s conversion from Islam to Christianity.

Cain

Sons of Cain by Val Bianco

Amazon Synopsis: An ancient group of twelve unspeakably powerful men are prepared to implement mass medical suicide in the United States. Already in control of the Congress and the Presidency, all that they lack is the Supreme Court. The only thing standing between these SONS OF CAIN and the lives of the Court is a small group of dedicated warriors.

Wealthy ex SEAL, Nick Rieper and his dozen “Knights of Longinus” have pledged their lives and fortunes to battle international Satanism. Battle is joined as they engage the Cainites and their demon leader, Namon, in mortal combat.

My review: I’ve already read this book a few times, but always enjoy going back to it and reading it again.  Powerful story, given the current crisis in the Church. Highly recommend.

Forgiving Mother

Forgiving Mother:

A Marian Novena of Healing and Peace by Marge Fenelon

Amazon Synopsis: Do you want to be well? Believe it or not, our answer to that question is often no. We want to be vindicated, excused, hidden, and even at times patronized for the wounds we’ve suffered. Our complex elationships with parents can be especially difficult to resolve. Marge Fenelon uses her own experience with her mother to guide us to desire authentic healing.

Mary is the answer to our need for healing. She cares about the pain we bear because of the way we’ve been treated and hurt by our mothers. She cares not only about the fact that the pain is there, but also about how to help us heal from it.

My review: Coming soon

Pond

From Across the Pond by Linda Goodlin

Amazon Synopsis: When Joseph Millward loses his job in Wales, he decides to join his brother in America. Joseph and his wife, Anna, make the long journey “from across the pond” to begin a new life in the coal patch town of Rocktown, Pennsylvania where Polish, German, Slovak, Irish, Italian, and Welch immigrants assert their indomitable spirit. A mine explosion has dubious consequences; is it an accident or murder?

My review: Coming soon

Our Lady’s Work Has Finally Begun

From Lisa Mladinich: This simple and accessible 22-minute talk provides information about the origins of the devastating corruption in the Church’s corridors of power and influence (most of which I had heard before from totally reliable sources), as well as enormous inspiration related to the plan for Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart to triumph–and raise up great saints (that’s us, with God’s help).

Thank you, Fr. Altier, for sharing the truth. God bless you.  Our Lady’s work has finally begun.  We all need to be faithful.  We need to pray and fast because this kind of “demon cannot be expelled without fasting.”
An excellent homily from Father Robert Altier.

Below is another excellent homily from Fr. Lankeit from the Phoenix Diocese. Thank you, Father, for your powerful sermon and for not mincing words. “We must cut out this cancer of dissent at stage one when it’s still treatable rather than waiting for it to hit stage four…again, so we are not forced to deal with this same sex scandal again sixteen years from now.”

And…How many times have priests, bishops and cardinals been “Fr. Iscariot?”

Thank you, Fr. Lankeit, for sharing the truth!

This is the Homily Catholics Need to Hear

This has been a difficult month for Catholics. First, allegations about Cardinal (now Archbishop) McCarrick, then the PA Grand Jury report and now credible allegations about the Holy Father.  Priests, bishops, cardinals and the Holy Father need to speak up.  This is a decisive time for the Church and the Holy Father’s vague response is not what we need from the spiritual leader of the Church.

This is the sort of homily Catholics need to hear right now.

Please pray for the Holy Father.