SNAP Judgements Part I: Catholic Priests Among the Public Ruins

NOTE: This is Part 1 of a 2-Part Series.  Please click here for Part 2.

The darkest days of the American Catholic priesthood crisis are behind us, but concerns linger for the justice without mercy it unleashed.

“These are the times that try men’s souls.” (Thomas Paine)

In my recent post, “If Night Befalls Your Father,” on These Stone Walls, I wrote of a terrible tragedy in our Church. In the United States alone, some 28 Catholic priests have taken their own lives since priests became a favorite target of Satan and the news media. I wrote that I have personally known five of them, and three others who were murdered. In 1994, just months before I faced trial, I received a call from a priest asking for help. I had met with him previously and I knew he had been depressed. I also knew his depression had become critical, but he resisted seeking treatment. I’m telling this strange story without his name, of course, but with his permission.

I, too, have lived in darkness, and know its grip on the human soul. On the day this priest asked for help, he had made a decision to end his own life, though I did not know this fact until he met with me. He spent the previous two days planning this out and putting his affairs in order. He decided that using a firearm would guarantee finality. His plan was to hike as far as he could into the Northern New Mexico mountains where he would not be discovered for months or even years, and he would take his own life there. He saw no light at all beyond his dark night of the soul. Like most priests, however, he did not own a gun. New Mexico law required a waiting period for gun dealers to sell to private citizens, but private sellers were exempt from the law at that time. So my friend scoured the newspaper for a private sale, and found a prospect.

An Albuquerque man had a 9mm semi-automatic handgun for sale for $500. My priest-friend arranged to purchase the gun that evening at 6:00 PM. after retrieving the funds from his bank. So the priest drove to Albuquerque, and on the way to the seller’s address he stopped at the bank. The required $500 was just about the sum total of what he had in his account. The bank had closed for the day so he went to an ATM machine near the bank’s front door. With his mind made up and his plan in place, my friend inserted his card into the ATM to withdraw his funds as he had many times before. This time, however, the machine ate his card, then printed out this message:

“Your card has been retained for an unknown reason. Please consult an account representative during business hours.”

My friend looked incredulously at the printed message. His plan was ruined, and he drove home feeling defeated. The next morning he called the bank. An account representative told him she had no explanation for why the bank’s ATM retained his card. “It shouldn’t have,” she said. “There’s absolutely nothing wrong with your card or your account.” She offered to mail the card back to him immediately. After hanging up from talking to his bank, he called me and agreed to let me bring him to a center for priests in crisis. He interpreted the incident with his ATM card as a sort of divine intervention, and, in a strange way, it gave him hope.

Clearly, the last two decades have called upon Catholics and the Church to pay some attention to the quality of life for Roman Catholic priests. We are seeing the problems of priests – and especially the sex abuse crisis – with blinders on, addressing them only as personal failures of the priests involved rather than as a systemic failure within the priesthood. This has added to the tragedy, and the Church’s response to date – which includes the draconian policy of zero tolerance – has signaled every priest to keep his problems to himself.

In the June, 2011 issue of Catalyst, Fr. Michael Orsi has a superb reflection on the folly of the U.S. Bishops’ present course (“Reconsidering the Dallas Charter“). Zero tolerance and the climate of blame and scapegoating have made the problems of priests far worse. As the recent John Jay Report on causes and context of the crisis has pointed out, sex abuse by priests is almost entirely a thing of the past. But the crisis of spiritual leadership it exposed is still very much in the present.

As I mentioned in “When the Gloves Come Off on Catholic Blogs,” others in the Church have used the problems of priests to further some agenda of their own, sometimes with abject cruelty.  Some have used the crisis to demand sweeping changes in the priesthood, blaming the crisis on the tradition of a celibate priesthood – at least in the U.S. where celibacy itself has become suspect in a narcissistic culture.  I pointed out in “Are Civil Liberties for Priests Intact?” that the thousands of convicted sex offenders in this one state are predominantly married men.  Clearly, celibacy does not cause sexual abuse.

LETTING PEOPLE DOWN

father-corapiAfter I posted “Good-Bye, Good Priest” on These Stone Walls, I learned an important lesson as the Father John Corapi story unfolded. For me, it was the most important lesson. I was left with no doubt about the ripple effects of my own response to injustice in these dark days for the priesthood in Western Culture. I sometimes think of how easy it would be to just walk away. In some strange way, I envied Father Corapi for having the means to do it. But I certainly didn’t envy him for the vast number of people who felt hurt by his decision to leave ministry without  fighting to let the entire truth unfold. Some of the more cynical among us thought this pointed to his guilt, or at least partial guilt.

Others seemed to think his decision highlighted the flaws in the Bishops’ approach to accused priests, and the fact that Father Corapi may have found the whole process to be futile. This had a ring of authenticity. I understand the feeling of futility, and face it almost every day. It’s where my friend was when he called me from Albuquerque on that awful day. He felt that life was futile and when even his plan to end it fell apart, he ran out of options. It was only then, with no options left, that he accepted the fact that he is not the author of his own existence, and the end of that story is not his to write. It was then that he surrendered. People often ask me how it is that I still have faith – in God, in the Church, in anything or anyone – after seventeen years in prison for a crime that never took place. The levels of betrayal are too many to count, and I cannot make sense of them.

I wrote of one in “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables,” and Ryan MacDonald recently wrote of another – this time from the “helping profession” – in “How Psychotherapists Helped Send an Innocent Priest to Prison” at his new blog, A Ram in the Thicket. In prison, I get out of bed every day, sit in front of this barely functioning typewriter, and write the truth, but often it does feel futile. People need hope to fight on, and I am no exception. Please don’t mistake me for someone who brings to every hardship a spark of faith. I hope I’ve never given that impression. I find no hope at all in my circumstances, and faith is a daily challenge for me, as it is for most of you. But I have become convinced that the very existence and impact of These Stone Walls is such an unlikely thing – it really is when you think about it – that I have come to believe God is using what feels like futile and hopeless circumstances toward some end. So I surrender to it. Every day. And it is in that act of surrender that hope generates itself, and faith becomes its own evidence. At least, that’s what the Letter to the Hebrews says. “Faith is the substance of things hoped for; the evidence of things unseen.”

As my friend, Pornchai has pointed out to me, “Giving up is just not a luxury you have. There is more at stake than just you.”

Justice is an end in itself, and its apparent futility does not excuse us from calling the Church, and all of society, to justice. Neither Saint Maximilian Kolbe nor Saint Pio saw much in the way of human justice in this life. Yet here they are, the inspiration behind These Stone Walls. Faithful Catholics have to stop reeling from the very idea of scandal in the Catholic Church, and have to stop trying to find a place to point fingers. As I described in “Inherit the Wind,” scandal broke out in the Church before it was even ten minutes old, and we have lived with scandal ever since. But after 2,000 years of both scandal and grace, grace prevails, and the Church still stands.

NEWS FROM THE FRONT

It’s time for a concerted effort to call the news media – including the Catholic media – to live up to its first and foremost responsibility: the whole truth. “The Scandal of Catholic Abuse of the Catholic Abuse Scandal” has nothing within it that calls us to walk on a higher road. It’s just empty and pointless. I mentioned in “Holy Hostility, Batman!” that one of my less-than-noticed posts on These Stone Walls this year was “Cable News or Cable Nuisance: Gloom and Doom in America’s Newsroom.” I had a mild rebuke for CNN’s Anderson Cooper for an incident on one of his evening news discussions last November. His guest that night was John Walsh, host of the recently cancelled “America’s Most Wanted.” Mr. Walsh got away with telling the CNN cameras:

“Last month, 100,000 victims of sex abuse by priests were denied an audience with the Pope to tell him how their lives were shattered.”

It made a neat sound bite for CNN, but there was just one problem with it. It wasn’t true. It wasn’t even close to the truth. TSW reader, Dorothy Stein fired off this email, without response, to Anderson Cooper:

“The truth is that on October 31, sixty people gathered to protest near the Vatican in Rome. Sixty, not 100,000, though one can see how easy it is to confuse such numbers. Of the 60, approximately 30 claimed to have been victims of abuse by Catholic priests in decades past. The others were activists using the spotlight for some other agenda. The “victims” were outnumbered by reporters two to one. For the news media to later say there were 100,000 people there is a gross distortion, and an example of using the media as a weapon against the Catholic Church. It must not go unchallenged.”

Once again, I was rather proud of Dorothy Stein. As a non-Catholic, most of what she knows about scandal in the Catholic Church, she says, comes from two places: the mainstream news media and These stone Walls, two almost polar opposite sources of information. She tells me that she is thunderstruck by how completely the mainstream media shuns the story of falsely accused priests in favor of the story it wants. That’s the nature and scope of the problem we face as priests, but it must also be the problem we face as Catholics. Extreme examples of gross misconduct in the priesthood – like that claimed in the cases of Father James Porter, Father John Geoghan, and Father Marcial Maciel – are freely held up as the norm.

When other priests are accused, the door is open for multiple accusers to score unquestioned settlements citing these cases of serial sexual abuse by priests as precedents. It’s time for Catholics to challenge the mainstream media on this.

THE SNAP JUDGEMENTS

Angry-Mob-3It’s also time to cease giving any credence whatsoever to groups using “victimhood” to mask a devious agenda. In just about every news account of Catholic scandal since 2002, the news media gives the last and loudest word to representatives of SNAP – the Survivors’ Network of those Abused by Priests – whose spokespersons stand ever ready to condemn the Catholic Church, the priesthood, the bishops, the Pope, and even Catholics in the pews for still being Catholics in the pews.

SNAP has become an inexhaustible source of the story the news media wants – and the media has discovered that SNAP will never tire of condemning the Catholic Church for still standing even in the face of SNAP’s self-serving rhetoric. It’s a marriage made in . . . well, certainly not Heaven. SNAP is now a part of the problem and should be treated as such. Its sole goal is to denigrate me, you, and our shared faith, and it plans to do so until the entire Church is bankrupt. It’s time to stop listening to SNAP. This group surrendered its moral credibility when it confused justice with vengeance by promoting only the latter, it advocates for a never-ending state of victimhood for its adherents.  That is not true advocacy.

KILL THE PRIEST!

I have many examples of how the news media has helped create rather than just report the priesthood crisis, but here’s one that was particularly vile. On August 24, 2003, a news van parked in front of this prison in Concord, NH while a reporter for WMUR-TV News in Manchester pondered for the camera whether I could be kept alive in prison. I can’t say I much appreciated the WMUR News reporter’s new-found concern for my safety. I had already been in prison for almost nine years at that point, and no one had shown any such interest before then. At least one station official had close family ties to a prison official, and knew – or should have known – the possible impact of that news story and the way the station went about reporting it.

At best, it was grossly irresponsible. What prompted the story was this: The day before, on August 23, 2003, 68-year-old Father John Geoghan was beaten and strangled to death by a prisoner half his age about seventy miles from here at the Sousa-Baronowski prison in Shirley, Massachusetts. It was a gruesome event, not in the least because of the conflicts it created among local Boston Catholic “reformers” in SNAP and Voice of the Faithful (VOTF) who didn’t know whether to cheer or feign concern.

It was largely their own rhetoric, after all, that led to the murder of a priest they relentlessly vilified day after day in the local news. John Geoghan became the “Freddie Kruger” of clergy sexual abuse, and a prime target in the Massachusetts prison system. Only three people in this prison even mentioned the WMUR-TV non-news story about whether I will live out the week. One prisoner asked me if I was at all concerned. I wasn’t. Two others told me they thought that I faced far more danger from that news reporter than from anyone here. No one else ever even mentioned it.

I was left to wonder whether all of WMUR’s news accounts had such an impact. It was hard to take any of it seriously. New Hampshire news outlets have a penchant for borrowing news stories from neighboring Massachusetts on slow news days in NH. The WMUR news team motto is “No one covers New Hampshire like we do.” That’s true considering that no one covers New Hampshire at all except during the presidential primary season every four years. What could one really expect from a TV news outlet that has a camera on a pole overlooking the Interstate, and calls it “Sky Cam”?

There’s more to be written about Father John Geoghan, ground zero of the sex abuse crisis in Boston which in turn was ground zero for the crisis in the rest of the nation. Please bear with me as this painful chapter unfolds in future posts. Meanwhile, I thank you for having minds and hearts open to the whole truth, and patience in its long telling. A reader recently wrote to me saying that These Stone Walls is “inspired.” Trust me, please, on this one huge point: If this is so, its inspiration is not in me, it’s in you. Like a Zen Buddhist monk once famously asked, “If a tree falls in the woods and there’s no one there to hear it, does it make a sound?”

I could knock down entire forests with words, but if you’re not there to hear it, well . . . then we’re back to futile again. If I haven’t asked you recently, please do help by sending a link to TSW to others. The viral effect of faithful Catholics in the public square can be a force to be reckoned with. I offer each day in prison for the readers of These Stone Walls, and I offer Sunday night Mass for you as well. Being there to read what I write is a source of immeasurable hope, and I thank you. In prison, hope is the only reason to face each day.

“To suffer with the other and for others; to suffer for the sake of truth and justice . . . these are fundamental elements of humanity, and to abandon them would destroy man himself . . . Does truth matter to me enough to make suffering worthwhile?” Pope Benedict XVI, Spe Salvi (On Christian Hope) ¶39.

Editors’ Note: Part II of this post is slated for September 14. Please join us next week for TSW’s first ever “Stuck Inside Literary Award.”

CLICK HERE to read the Catholic League’s Just Released Report on SNAP

Father MacRae is brought up at the 41:00 mark, and the actual segment begins at the 32:14 mark.

 

About Fr. Gordon J. MacRae

The late Cardinal Avery Dulles and The Rev. Richard John Neuhaus encouraged Father MacRae to write. Cardinal Dulles wrote in 2005: “Someday your story and that of your fellow sufferers will come to light and will be instrumental in a reform. Your writing, which is clear, eloquent, and spiritually sound will be a monument to your trials.” READ MORE

Comments

  1. Judy Stef says:

    Father, I pray for you and all other priests accused, regardless of innocense or guilt. I happen to have met one of the priests from Phila who was accused and has been unceremoniously dismissed by the former Bishop/Cardinal Rigali. He too has suffered deep depression and began to drink heavily. After hearing his story, not from him, but from someone else, I feel he was unjustly chosen because of something said by an admitted/and accused criminal and liar. I am with you Father! and will spread your blog, it needs to be read.

  2. pierre matthews says:

    Fr.Gordon:
    I wholeheartedly second Mrs Sheila Ryan of adopting a priest.

    They need our uncompromising support in fulfilling the task they have accepted following their willingness to answer Jesus’s call.

    We do not pray enough, if at all, for our priests; we so often ignore their solitude and our total lack of esteem for what they are and do for us.

    The story about the would-be suicidal priest and the ATM is a providential sign we cannot ignore. I thank Padre Pio, I am almost certain he was the super sophis-
    ticated technician gobbling up the ATM bank card and saving this priest’s calling.

  3. jamil malik says:

    A priest, of all people, decides to take his own life, then on his way to purchase the gun that will do it, his bank’s ATM eats his card for no reason and ruins his plan. The story is just too strange not to be true. I will never forget that i read this on These Stone Walls. Every Catholic newspaper in America should follow the Catholic League’s advise and urge it’s readers to read this blog. You hit a home run every single week.

  4. Mary says:

    Dear Father G,
    I rejoice in the ay new people are becoming aware of your blog.Your ministry is reaching an ever widening “parish” and the light is spreading .
    Always in my prayers

  5. Susan says:

    Dear Father MacRae,

    We’re relying on you to continue to inform us of the unfolding and untold events re the priest abuse scandal. Without this site, most of us would be ignorant of the “priests being abused” scandal.

    You must continue what you’re doing. Many lives depend on it.

    Susan

  6. Ann G. says:

    Dear Father McRae – This afternoon I heard a re-broadcast of Raymond Arroyo’s interview with Bill Donohue on The World Over. Your name was mentioned and your story has touched me deeply.

    I won’t go into my own story except to say that as a child, in response to unhealthy family dynamics I assumed the role of “family scapegoat”, I had no way to put things into perspective and no supportive adult, so my response was to become angry and rebellious. I eventually left the Church and was away for over 40 years! I became reconciled to the Church 5 years ago, and “forgiveness” continues to be one of my own challenges.

    I will offer rosaries and Divine Mercy chaplets, Holy Hours and Masses for your intentions (as well as donations to the defense fund, on the material side).

    Dear Father McRae, I extend to you the blessing of God the Father’s paternal love and the Virgin Mary’s motherly blessing.

  7. Trish says:

    Thank you once again, Fr Gordon, for a thought-provoking and ‘well-worth reading’ post. Be assured you are in my prayers. I have given quite a few people your website address, notably those very disallusioned by the whole priest abuse scandal. I pray that priests in deep despair do not give up, do not lose hope – even though ‘despair’ means precisely that. Let us pray for the Holy Spirit to fill you and them with hope and a spirit of tenacity, to cling onto life and keep believing that there is much more to life than the here and now….
    Unfortunately there are still some people who believe that everything they hear on radio/TV or read in newspapers is the true account of events – I too know from personal experience that is not the case!

    God bless you and fill you and all priests with His Holy Spirit as you share in the sufferings of His Son.

  8. Robyn says:

    Father,
    I hope someone will tell you about this.. Tonight on The World Over on EWTN, Bill Donahue was on talking about SNAP and he talked about YOU and your case and even gave out your website here! Hopefully that will drive more people to TSW and they can then see what is happening.. God Love you Father..
    Robyn
    South Carolina

  9. Sheila Ryan says:

    Forty years ago, I started spiritually adopting Priests. It came to me after reading a book on the life of St. Therese, the Little Flower. Perhaps those who read Father’s Blog would start doing that as God knows they need our prayer support. When I was a young Nurse, the Chaplain of our Hospital was found hung. Nobody figured it out until depression was a defined as more than “Down in the Dumps.” Father spent his nights in the lunch room and as each group of Nurses came down for a break, he was always there. Nobody thought about it other than we loved him. Father was fun. He was not sleeping and we didn’t put that into a probable serious problem. We didn’t have the knowledge to understand. The Vocation of the Priesthood is awesome and we MUST help pray them through,protect them, love them, appreciate all they do for us. It is hard work in many ways. Please, adopt at least ONE Priest today and pray for that Priest as if he was related to you. After all… He is FATHER!

  10. Dear Precious Father MacRae, I just finished reading your latest article on Snap-judgements Part I. It was gripping and naturally I am compelled to read part II, as I wait in anticipation. What you speak of I hold dearly because I feel exactly the way you do when it comes to truth in all matters. I have to say that I almost never look at “my yahoo” a page of my design showing what is important to me, but I post almost exclusively on facebook. So I know that things don’t just happen by coincidence as did for our anonymous priest at the ATM. I know all things happen for a reason and that is why I found myself reading your article this day and I will absolutely share this on my facebook page of which I have nearly 7,000 friends. Id’ say 95 percent of them are Catholic. I cannot guarantee they are all traditional, I have a good guess many are liberal Catholics, who really can’t be Catholic if they are so liberal, because a vote for obama is a vote for abortion and so on. I just wanted to share my solidarity with you as I do for Father Corapi and all our Priests, living and passed. Especially for those who have taken their lives. God be with you Father MacRae, as I am sure he is. Thank you for reading. +++ clarita glomski, with Christ and his love. +++

  11. Bob says:

    “Oh, that today you would hear His voice: Do not harden your hearts as at Meribah, as on the day of Massah in the desert. There your ancestors tested me; they tried me though they had seen my works.” Psalm 95:7-9

    The problem with many is they take things to literally… What does the Prophet mean when he says ““Oh, that today you would hear His voice:”? Do you expect that the great King of the Universe will audibly converse with you? Do you really want to hear what He has to say, if that were so?

    Listen, He speaks… He never stops speaking… His Word is continuous… It never ceases… If you draw near to Him, He will draw nearer to you…

    One day while in Memphis and elderly African-American shoe-shine vendor said: “let me shine your shoes”… I said: “see, they are suede”… He said: “I see sit down and let me clean them up”… When I was seated, he looked deeply into my eyes and said: “you know, God speaks through men – don’t you”??
    So, I said: “speak to me Prophet”…

    Sadly, many Priests, Deacons, and Bishops don’t seem to know the Lord… You see that’s a real shame that a man would give up his whole life for Religious vocation, yet never come to know the Master… I have met Priest who lived, spoke, and acted as if Jesus were a historical figure… Some seem to totally miss the message…

    Reflect on Jesus… Have the courage to ask him to explain why the King of the Whole Universe would choose to submit to His Passion and Crucifixion??? He will tell you… He defied the Pharisees, Scribes, the Priests, even the High Priests – because they led the people astray… He knew well they had the power to cause Him to be crucified… He knew they would not tolerate His challenge to their authority… But His integrity is impeccable…

    So, when I see Bishops and Priests cowering under the threats of the media and secular authority, I know they could not know Him… If they really knew Him, I think they would be afraid to be less than courageous… Remember, every Apostle, save Saint John – was a martyr…

    Remember history, Priests risked their lives to say Mass in the England of King Henry the VIII, Where many were condemned to be hung, drawn and quartered – for saying Mass…

    How can the clergy of this age bear the thought of facing the Master – as we all must someday – if they are any less than courageous???

    If today you hear His voice, harden not your hearts…

  12. Lupe K Gwiazdowski says:

    Fr, I am sad that the fight for hope is so hard for you. Sometimes I feel despair in smaller things and one insight that helped me very much was hearing Fr Groeschell on EWTN radio define hope as the virtue that gives a meaning and purpose to everything that happens in our lives because it is shared by Christ. (He said it better.) Maybe even though there seems to be little earthly hope for this injustice, still it is a great battle you are winning for the Church Millitant. I am sure of it. And I am very hopeful that this injustice will end before too long. I will keep up prayers for you and send the link around as you requested.

  13. It is incredibly sad to know that our loved priests are attempting, and completing, suicide. The Upper Room Crisis Hotline was founded for all priests, deacons, and religious brothers in need. It is a crisis hotline and is open 24/7/365, served by trained volunteers from the Diocese of Joliet in Illinois. The hotline offers counseling, information and referral, suicide prevention, and reassurance calls to the elderly men. As we pray for, and serve our priests, especially those in trouble, please pray that our volunteers continue to help the men in need. Fr. Gordon, pray for us as we do for you.

  14. Karen says:

    Dear Father Gordon,
    Please be assured of my prayers for you and my appreciation of your prayers for me as a reader of your blog. Your words reach out to so many of us who thirst for authentic Catholic teaching, and I pray that there is a special place for you in Heaven alongside of the other Martyrs for the faith. That said, I also pray for your full vindication and for a greater reaching out to you by fellow priests.
    Thank you for all you do.

  15. David says:

    Hello, Father – I’m a newcomer to your blog. There was a dreadful discussion on the National Catholic Register about the abuse scandal and one of the commenters suggested we take a look here for another perspective. So I’ve added your blog to my Google Reader and I’ve been keeping up on your posts.

    Well, what can I say? You have my undivided sympathy and support. I cannot imagine the depth of the suffering you have experienced since you were accused years ago. Maybe the worst of these sufferings is facing the reality that our society, as it is today, is coldly indifferent to the terrible injustice that has been done to you. You’ve spent years in prison now, and who cares? Where is justice for you? Where is your flock? Well, I stand with the others here when I say: I care, and I want to help. So I will be looking out for ideas about how I can offer that help.

    In a more general way, it’s always seemed to me that not a small dose of narcissism has come to pervade our parishes, at least with respect to the way we treat our priests. We are always thinking about what we want from them, what they are or are not doing for us, whether we like them, how they spend their money and time, whether they meet some nigh-unattainable standard. In short we dehumanize and objectify our priests. Our mindset is almost pornographic in that sense. What about the fact that these men are human beings, who have feelings, needs, and concerns of their own? Do we make sure these men have the support they need? Do we give them the chance to ‘let their hair down’, so to speak, so they can let us know how *they’re* doing for a change?

    I think these are things that we, the laity, need to spend more time thinking about. We are a family and we are all responsible for each other. If our priests are having a hard time (and I really think they are) then we the laity are largely to blame for that. No, not the bishops, not some lofty ecclesial office in Rome, not the hierarchy – us. You don’t leave it to some government office to take care of your father. I’m sure we can handle reaching out to our priests and letting them know they have a welcome place with us as human beings, even as we continue to count on them as fathers and spiritual leaders. This sort of thing has been in the back of my mind for a long time now but your blog really drives it home for me.

    Anyway, your strength and courage in holding on to your faith in the midst of this darkness is a real example to me and an inspiration. I’m further impressed by the integrity you show in maintaining this blog – by the fact that you continue to speak out against the injustices you and other priests are facing. You are fighting a hard battle, but you are fighting it, and that’s something I’ll always keep with me as I face my own (and admittedly easier) struggles. Thank you for that, Father.

    Certainly you have my prayers. And again, I look forward to finding ways to join you in your mission.

  16. Helen says:

    Hello, once again, Fr. Gordon….

    There’s a famous saying, pretty popular, about raising kids.
    “It takes a whole village to raise one child”. Well.. to paraphrase on behalf of Catholics..maybe we could say:…
    “It takes the WHOLE Body of Christ to support each priest”!!

    How busy we are, pointing fingers…when all along, could we possibly be trying to avoid notice and direct it to others? Are we, the lay-people guilty of notdefending LOUDLY, our Priests, who NEED our support?

    YOU always make me check myself, Fr. Gordon… and I can remember, on some occasions, feeling the heat of disgust when reading about some priests… (men, in my circumstances..having been assaulted, by men, (NOT priests) as a small child, more than once) and then… as if by way of mental telepathy, I hear my own voice saying… ‘how dare I’. How dare I think that I have the right to mentally ‘accuse’ anyone when I don’t know all the facts. How dare I!! What will our Heavenly Father say to me, if this isn’t worked on and checked each time I feel it building again? Being defenseless doesn’t give me the right to be offensive.

    The Lord makes me think, via YOU, about my own guilt in life. Not that I ever sexually assaulted anyone but I AM a sinner. One clear message the Lord has taught me..is; NEVER pray for justice for Yourself..because You may just get it!!! We have ALL fallen short of the glory of our God!!! We ALL deserve Hell…. but… in His Mercy… Lord Jesus.. You came to set the captives free, for the sake of Your Sorrowful Passion, in Mary’s intercessions…. set Your INNOCENT and Holy Priests FREE!! Forgive us…strengthen us, give us wisdom to know, love and do YOUR will.

    AMEN!!

    Love and appreciate You, Fr. Gordon,

    Helen

  17. Edward.Fullerton says:

    Fr Gordon Last night 1830hrs ,GMT, I prayed for you during an adoration hour and during Mass. Also the hour after the reception of the sacraments as St Teresa of Avila advised so long ago. I will continue to petition St Anthony of Padua too! Yours in, Mater Dolorosa, Eta ad Joseph, ss Anthony, Michael, Jude & the whole court of heaven. ps, Know also that includes all who write on this page. pps Plus those priests who you have just described on this page.

  18. Marguerita says:

    Dear Fr Gordon,

    May God be with you, and may he give you hope.

    I met Michael Voris of Real Catholic TV in London yesterday, and told him about you, and he has asked me to email him when he gets back home with some more details.

    God bless,

    Marguerita

  19. Michael says:

    Father MacRae: I’m a newcomer to TSW. I agree with the many others who have commented here that you are living something quite extraordinary. It is a trial, a great trial and I think that many will benefit by what you have suffered and continue to suffer.

    Keep writing. The world needs your voice.

  20. LaVern says:

    Well written, Gordon, and gives us all a lot to think about. You know you are in my prayers, and hopefully, someday soon things will change. We will all then, have a lot of thanksgiving to celebrate and send heavenward!
    Your friend, LaVern

  21. Evelyn lajot says:

    Dear Father ,
    As a catholic and reading your story from afar (Malaysia), it fills me with great sadness that this had happen to you. I guess following Christ as a Christian is always through the Cross, each one with his own cross to carry. However, we can all be united through this cross by our continual intercessory prayer and I have always reserve a decade of the rosary to pray for priest especially priest like you that have a heavier cross to carry. Be strong and may Mother Mary hold you closer to her heart.
    Evelyn

  22. Sr. Mary Dismas says:

    Fr. Gordon,
    I am truly convinced that your carrying your cross beside the Almighty Lord will grant you unexpected advantages from your trials. If the consequences of your adversity is that which was intended by God, if it turns you aside completely from creatures to give yourself unreservedly to your Creator, I am sure that your thanks to Him for having afflicted you will be far greater than your prayers were to remove the affliction.

    If we could discover the designs of Providence it is certain we would ardently long for the evils we are now so unwilling to suffer. We would rush forward to accept them with the utmost gratitude if we had a little faith and realized how much God loves us and has our interest at heart.

    The misfortune which has befallen you will soon do what all your exercises of piety would never have been able to do.

    Trusting in the Divine Providence of God must envelope every facet of your life.

    May our Dear Lord give you the grace to accept this cross without reserve. Please know of my prayers for you.
    God Bless you.

    To Jesus through Mary,
    Sister Mary Dismas, F.T.I.

  23. Ann Couper-Johnston says:

    If the fact that a priest is called to be “another Christ” makes the betrayal inherent in abuse by priests particularly scandalous, then that same calling makes abuse done to priests by false accusation scandalous in like manner.

    Those who accuse priests will, like those priests who abuse, have to answer for their actions.

    God protect all priests falsely accused from despair!
    St Thomas More, pray for them!
    Holy Archangel Michael, defend them!

  24. SteveD says:

    Some time ago, I asked SNAP to re-consider their presumption of guilt in all cases in a situation where a successful but false accusation results in a large cash windfall and where the normal requirements of proof appeared to have been abandoned or, at least, relaxed to a worrying degree. I asked them to consider that their own credibility and influence would be enhanced if they adopted a more realistic attitude to accusers. I received no reply but I think that someone’s heart may move if enough people make similar and polite appeals to them.

  25. Mary says:

    Father,

    As a resident of N.H. I can attest to the fact that the newspapers here are extremely biased when it comes to accusations against priests – trial by media is an ugly thing indeed. While researching your case I read many of these articles (you are correct in saying that much of our news comes from the larger Boston newspapers and TV stations) and found the vast majority slanted against priests in general, most likely due to the scandals that had erupted in Massachusetts in the couple of years before your case went to trial.

    By the time your case went to trial public opininon had already been swayed strongly against you and a fair and unbiased jury is almost impossible to find in this type of atmosphere. During my research into various documents concerning your case I began to notice many disturbing details emerge that were inconsistent with what I found when I read media coverage of your case and if a person digs deep enough they begin to become aware of this fact. In one particular document I was appalled at the “I don’t remembers” of the man who accused you.

    Almost every other sentence contained this statement. That he was “cued” and drugged during his testimony shocked me too. I read most of this information BEFORE reading your Affidavit and other articles on your site. I won’t even get into the consternation I felt upon reading various letters from the diocese concerning your case. You received very little help from those you had every right to expect it from the most.

    They failed in their duty toward you and their duty to put aside their own fears of public repudiation due to their own past failures. “Thrown to the wolves” is the expression that comes to mind here. It takes a very strong person to stand up and speak rather than bow down under pressure from the crowds. I guess peer pressure continues to afflict most of us well into adulthood. I have been guilty of this too.

    I love my Church but I am not unaware of her failings in regard to the abuse scandal and this goes both ways – there are men walking around free despite far more evidence than that presented in your own trial and there are likely a good number who are imprisoned and innocent. Neither is acceptable.

    I have joined some of my fellow bloggers in a Novena for you. God can do what may be impossible for man so please don’t lose hope despite the seemingly insurmountable walls you are continually faced with. God bless you, Father.

  26. Dear Father Gordon:

    As I continue to read your writing and that of folks like Ryan MacDonald in your defence, I came to the conclusion “How Can This Be?” It is all so incredulous, as to defy logic. It is in essence the perfect storm, as I wrote today:

    http://freethroughtruth.blogspot.com/2011/08/how-can-this-be.html

    I continue to be shocked and horrified at what has been done to you as alter Christus, and only looking at what was done to Our Saviour, in His Innocence, provides any solace at all.

    You remain in my thoughts and prayers, Father.

    God Bless You

    Michael Brandon

  27. Veronica says:

    I’m sure you know this, Father, but some of us haven’t much more outside of prison than you do within one. “Hope is the only reason to face a new day. ” Hope that maybe, just maybe, today something will break and things will begin to get better. If it wasn’t for Padre Pio and Lourdes, France, at this point in my life I would have put the entire Catholic Church down as a sham that got lucky all these centuries.

    Courage! Confidence! One day we will find out the “why” of it all, but by then, it won’t matter so much. Still, it will be nice to know.

    Thank you for praying for your readers too. I am certain that I am not the only one that could use those prayers.

  28. Karin says:

    Dear Fr. Gordon,

    Often when I read your posts, I have this picture in my mind of your arrival in heaven one day (not that I am looking for you to have that day any time soon, mind you) where you will see the wonderful ripple effect you and this blog have caused.

    Please be assured that more and more of us are spreading the word not only about this blog, but about the injustice being done to many of our priests and the priesthood as a whole. It is time for the mindset of Catholic priest = sexual predator to stop.

    More of us need to follow Dorothy Stein’s example and know the real facts and challenge the media when they distort the truth or just flat out lie.

    My prayers for your priest friend from Albuquerque and all priests in crisis.

    Please know that you are always in my prayers and there are many more praying for you this week as one of our fellow bloggers began a Marian Novena for you this past Mon. (8/22) which many of us have joined.

    One last thing- very wise words from Pornchai.
    God bless you and all the men there.

  29. Dennis Danko says:

    Father: On this Sunday, Aug 28, 2011, the 22 nd Sunday in ordinary time, I am lector at the 11AM Mass I will be thinking of you, and know that I will have trouble getting through the readings.

    You are Jeremiah, duped and the object of laughter, but still with a burning in your heart to proclaim the peace of our Lord.

    You are Paul, a living sacrifice transformed by God to discover what is good, pleasing and perfect,

    You are Jesus, taking up your cross as prescribed by your elders, chief priests and scribes, reminding me to love and take up my cross too!

    Thank you for being Jesus to me! PEACE

    Dennis

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