> Sacrificed > Trailer
Archdiocese of St. Louis Mass of Reparation

I've always REMEMBERED it.

No, not the WORST of it.

But the MAJORITY of it.

I just didn't UNDERSTAND it.

I'm looking at the latch
Of a door.

A screen door.

The screen door
On the West side
Of the rectory.

Of the
Church of the Immacolata.

It's a muted silver color.

And I push on it.

And I'm free.
But not yet.

The Church of the Immacolata

I've stepped out
Into a tunnel.

Whose length, in reality,
Isn't more than 100 feet.

But it LOOKS like a mile.

But HIM could be behind me.

So I start to run.

And float down the tunnel.

As I do,
my eyeline jumps up
and then back down.

As I hurdle something?

Terrified, I glance
Back over my shoulder,
To see if HIM is following me.

I turn back around,
And I'm out of the tunnel.

Running along the curve
of the back of the church.
In the long, thick grass,
Which grabs at my legs.

I follow the curve around
until I'm running West.

I clear the last of the grass
and run to the corner
where the driveway
on the West side of the church
joins up with the sidewalk
on the South side
of Clayton road.

I run past the entrance
to Berkshire  and reach
the intersection of McCutcheon
and Clayton roads.

I cross at the stop sign
and dive through the branches
of the right pine tree
in front of the house.

I'm panting.

Gasping for air.

Hoping my chest won't explode.


And my ass feels like it's on fire.

If you've seen the movie SPOTLIGHT — and, if you haven't, you should — what do you think happened next?

After the reporters of the Boston Globe's SPOTLIGHT team published the first, of what would turn out to be hundreds, of articles about the Catholic sex abuse crisis?

After, with the best of intentions, yes — and, to be clear, out of supreme necessity — the SPOTLIGHT team, and the writers who followed their lead, effectively tossed grenades into so many lives and families?

After survivors went to our dioceses and archdioceses for help understanding what was being said about men who, for us, were the living embodiments of Jesus Christ?

After, in my case, at least, I received a definitive, clean bill of health from a trusted member of the Catholic Church?

And then got sick.

The fact is, the aftermath of SPOTLIGHT is far different — far UGLIER — than I think people, and especially Catholics, realize.

And want it to be.

A reality that is encapsulated, perfectly, by the picture that serves as the cover art for this podcast.

"How could this be happening?
"Is it happening?
"Do they not see me?
"Do I even exist?"

These are the thoughts
that come to, crush,
and, in truth,
begin to possess me.
As I stand there
on the steps
of the Cathedral Basilica.

Archdiocese of St. Louis Mass of Reparation

CREDIT: Robert Cohen | St. Louis Post-Dispatch

It's September 2018.

Just weeks
after the release
of the Pennsylvania
grand jury report.

A survivor of the Catholic sex abuse crisis.

Holding pictures of myself as a child.

Fr. LeRoy Valentine

With my abuser.

Father LeRoy Valentine

At the Mass of Reparation.
For the Catholic sex abuse crisis.

And the priests arrayed in front of me not only won't acknowledge me, or TALK to me, they won't even LOOK at me.

They've all — quite literally — turned their backs to me.

Exactly as the picture, that serves as the cover art for this podcast, shows.

Sacrificed Podcast

I'm ignored,
shunned — stunned — my heart breaking.

Tears welling up in my eyes, as I take one deep, on the verge of sobbing, breath.

Then another.

Because the pointed,
public without fear of question
or accountability, ignoring — the out in the open, callous, arrogant, utter indifference — is all so familiar.

I'm being sacrificed.

Once again.

Talk is cheap.

That's the phrase that has echoed in my head, ever since that horrible day on the steps of the Cathedral Basilica of the Archdiocese of St. Louis.

The New Cathedral.

That phrase and my home state of Missouri's customization of it.

Show Me.

Regardless of which version you're talking about, the point is the same.

It's EASY to talk.

To tell people what they want to hear.

What's harder — and FAR more important — is action.

And it's action, when it comes to survivors, that's where the Catholic Church is failing, as the picture that serves as the cover art for this podcast makes clear.

What happened in the aftermath of SPOTLIGHT? The reports and the movie?

To the survivors?

Those of us who, as children, had to live, without understanding, the memory, of bailing out of and fleeing our parish rectory after having been sexually exploited, abused, and even assaulted by a priest.

Were we helped? Or not?

Or worse.


What happened to our abusers?

To the priests who preyed upon and attacked us? Were they locked up? Or, at least, secured and supervised? Safeguarded? So they couldn't hurt anyone else?


What happened to the enablers?

To the people — men, mostly, but not all — who were told about what happened and did nothing in response?

And worse.


What happened to the blind eyers?

To those who saw things with their own eyes — testing, grooming, exploitation, and worse — and turned a blind eye to it.

Were they punished?

Or rewarded?

For keeping their mouths shut.
Putting the church first.

(Just) following orders.


More fundamentally, WHY did it happen?

Was it just bad luck?

A one in a million shot?

Or is there a deeper — and darker — explanation?

Were we deliberately sacrificed?

As I've come to suspect.

And was that a result of incentives?

Status? Prestige?

Resulting from and related to vocations?

Or canon law?

If so, then, and again, how have things changed?


Perhaps you think you know the answer to those questions.

But do you know? Know know? Or just think know? Are you assuming? Trusting? Hoping?


I'm a survivor of the Catholic sex abuse crisis and there's a reason why I'm not satisfied with the answers and solutions that have been produced to date.

My Friend The Cardinal

While the Catholic Church has done many things to address the sex abuse crisis, there are clear limits to what can and will be done.

Starting with accountability.

My story involves and implicates just such a man.

A blind-eyer.

A "fixer."

My friend the cardinal.

A man who, as a diocesan priest, from 1977 to 1979, witnessed, and turned a blind eye to, my and our testing and grooming and sexual exploitation, if not abuse. How could he not, given that he spent two years living and working in the same rectory and church as my abuser?

The places where much of it happened.

A man who then did worse as an auxiliary bishop in 2002. Who lied to and Gaslighted me. And others. Who "fixed" the problem. Made sure that we — and the problem — just went away.

Rather than helping us, as children and then as adults, he protected the church.

And himself.

And he is now one of the select few who are running the Catholic Church. The pool from which the next Pope will be drawn.

He seems to have been REWARDED for turning a blind eye to my and our abuse.

And worse.

So how, exactly, is that progress?

And this isn't about him.

Not just.

He's a symptom.
A consequence.

Of an institution and a system that, despite all the talk, remains largely unchanged.


The fact is that too much, if not the majority, of the talk about shame and sorrow and contrition and healing is just that.


How can I POSSIBLY say that?

Given the Dallas Charter, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops promise of Victim Assistance Coordinators, Protecting God's Children, and Vos Estis Lux Mundi, the Pope's bill of rights for survivors?

I can say it because I lived it.

Because I AM living it.

I've tried to get help.

Many times.

Both before and now under Vos Estis.

I even managed to get a letter — an attempt to blow the whistle on my archdiocese and a plea for help — placed on the desk of the Pope by one of his senior advisors.

Another, different, man who may be the first American Pope.

But, sixteen months later, I've heard nothing in response.


Talk is cheap.

For Pope Francis as for all.

The fact is that, when it comes to the Catholic Church, the sex abuse crisis, and the response to survivors, at least — and, I fear, children, as well — things are not as they SEEM.

Archdiocese of St. Louis Mass of Reparation

CREDIT: Robert Cohen | St. Louis Post-Dispatch

But are exactly as they are SEEN.

If you'd like to help support my efforts to create this podcast, and expose the Abuse of the Abused by the Catholic Church, as well as The Program — or to just help me to eat and pay my bills while I'm spending my time on this project — I've set up a GoFundMe...