|ChrisOLeary.com > Sacrificed > Episode 5: Abuse of the Abused|
Ten years ago, to the day, in 2011, I made the biggest mistake of my life.
I went BACK to the Archdiocese of St. Louis for help trying to understand my memories of Fr. LeRoy Valentine.
Because I was starting to wonder if, despite what I had told by my friend the cardinal, and an "independent" psychologist — who actually worked with if not for the Archdiocese of St. Louis — whether something had indeed happened.
For a couple of years, starting in 2009, I'd been seeing and working with a Christian therapist, originally to deal with the break-up of my marriage.
He was something like the 8th therapist I'd seen and just one of a parade of 12 or so people I've talked to over the years — psychologists, therapists, counselors, doctors and psychiatrists — as I've tried to come to terms with...
This darkness — this shadow — that seemed to follow me, especially when I was in St. Louis.
He helped me come to terms with the dissolution of my marriage and the loss of my family. Then, in 2010, we shifted our focus to what I labeled...
There wasn't anything I could do about my now ex-wife. All I could do was work on me.
And I was struggling.
To get things done.
And, sometimes, to just function.
Or, even, to leave the house.
Especially during certain times of the year, the Summer in particular.
Particularly when I wasn't with my kids.
I don't remember everything I said, starting in 2010, but one theme I established — one way I put it — was that it felt like I was, "Allergic to St. Louis."
The thing was that more time I spent in St. Louis, the sharper the contrast became between how I FELT when I was in St. Louis and how I felt when I was ANY-where else.
Texas, Arizona, Florida, or anywhere.
There was also this thing where I noticed that I felt YOUNGER when I was in St. Louis. Not all the time, but at certain times of the year.
There was also my thing with board games...
That had cropped up a few times, including once when, while I was still married, we had another couple over to play board games and hang out and I behaved increasingly obnoxiously. And I wasn't able to control it, despite knowing it was inappropriate.
What WAS it about board games...
One theory I had explored was Autism Spectrum Disorder. I'd even seen a specialist for an evaluation. However, while she seemed to find the idea plausible, the therapists I talked to after her didn't. In fact my two most recent female therapists simply laughed and shook their heads when I advanced the possibility. They said that wasn't it.
Which was something I'd already mostly figured out.
The male counselor I was seeing in 2010 also didn't buy into the Autism Spectrum diagnosis so, desperate, and having run out of other possibilities, I started throwing what I considered to be "random" things at him.
Things I did — compulsively — that didn't make any sense to me but that he might be able to make sense of.
Including sexual stuff.
Weird sexual stuff.
That, in retrospect, had a rape-y vibe; that was repeated ritualistically and, eventually, started to feel like a re-enactment.
That then led to this strange reversal, in late 2010, when it was clear that he was starting to wonder if the sexual stuff, and a few things I had told him about Fr. Valentine, weren't nothing — that they might, indeed mean something — but I was in denial, leading to a exchange I'll never forget.
"How could something bad have happened to me if I don't have any addictions?" I asked.
He replied, "You do. You just don't SEE them as addictions."
Which just rocked me.
And led me to start to reconsider my memories of my time with Fr. Valentine such that, by the early Spring of 2011, I felt the need to go back to the experts of the Archdiocese of St. Louis to ask them one basic, very simple, but to the point question.
"Are you SURE this stuff doesn't mean anything?"
Abuse of the Abused
This is Sacrificed, a survivor's eye view of the Catholic sex abuse crisis that picks up, as my story does, where the movie SPOTLIGHT left off, providing a no punches pulled, no holds barred, and, above all else, no enabling look at the crisis and its aftermath.
What happened and why and how.
Both back then and now.
My name is Chris O'Leary and I'm a survivor of the Catholic sex abuse crisis.
In the late 1970s and early 1980s, I was sexually exploited, abused, and assaulted — raped — by a Catholic priest.
Then, when I went to my archdiocese for help in March 2002, and my friend the cardinal — and not the baseball kind — called me back, that's when things got REALLY bad.
When the Abuse of the Abused began.
Epitomized by my treatment at the Mass of Reparation for the sex abuse crisis, in September 2018, held mere weeks after the release of the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report, where I was ignored — shunned — by all the priests in attendance.
As captured by the picture that serves as the cover art for this podcast.
Why would my archdiocese and the Catholic Church do that?
HOW could they do that?
Treat a survivor in a way that might be Catholic, but is anything but Christian? And gives the lie to the promises of the Pope and the rest of the church?
In order to protect certain powerful, connected men.
And the church.
To conceal a crime.
And larger truth.
That some survivors — including myself — were simply thrown to the wolves.
The Catholic Church knew.
And did nothing.
Not only did they MANAGE my and our abusers, they PROTECTED them.
As for VOS ESTIS LUX MUNDI, Pope Francis' bill of rights for survivors, which was supposed to — finally — end the torment and ensure we're helped?
It's a sham.
A false hope.
A cruel taunt, directed at survivors.
All of which raises what for me is the big question.
If the Catholic Church can do what it's done to me, a survivor, over the past 20 years, and what it allowed to be done to me, and us, first as children and then as adults — sacrificing us, then and now — what else can it justify?
When it comes to children, above all else.
I'll be damned if I allow what happened to me to happen to anyone else, so I can't and won't stop until I figure out what happened.
And ensure it CAN'T happen again.
If Jesus Christ can do what he did, entering Jerusalem on Palm Sunday to a certain and KNOWN fate, then I can do this.
What's it like to be a survivor and to get help from your (arch)diocese?
Or try to?
In my case at least — but I doubt I'm alone — it wasn't at all like I imagined it would be.
Or how it's sold.
Despite SPOTLIGHT and VOS ESTIS and everything.
The Abuse of the Abused is the term I use to refer to the series of incidents and, in truth, betrayals. Most of which deserve their own episodes, and which I will discuss in detail in later pieces. But, here, I'd like to give an overview of what happened so that people can see the pattern.
The common thread that connects these incidents are two things...
The Hypocrisy is bad, but it's the False Hope that cuts the most deeply.
In part, because I kept falling for the lies.
I assume because, at my core, I'm still that 11 year-old boy who believed everything he was told about that Jesus guy and how the Catholic Church was the one, true path to Him.
By Easter 2011, I was starting to wonder if my memories of my time with Fr. LeRoy Valentine might mean something. No, I didn't remember the worst stuff, still, but I was starting to suspect that what I DID remember didn't mean nothing.
Maybe even something.
Such that, over the prior few months, I had asked my therapist a number of times if he thought I should contact a lawyer, a question which, according to the laws of the state of Missouri, was enough to create a problem with the Statute Of Limitations. And which he always replied to with something to the effect of, "What you're describing doesn't explain your symptoms and struggles."
Not all of them.
However, I knew what I was fighting, so I decided I needed to talk to the people at the Archdiocese of St. Louis, given that they were the experts in the subject and were there to help people who needed it.
The result was a long, consequential, and ultimately devastating meeting, such that I could and, some point will, devote an entire episode to it. However, let me give you an overview of what was discussed and explain why, in retrospect, I've come to view what happened as abusive.
First, in reviewing the document that explained the process of seeking help from the Archdiocese of St. Louis, it was immediately clear that this was NOT a legal process. Rather it was pastoral in nature. No lawyers were to be involved, as was spelled out by the archdiocese. And I quote...
The Archbishop, the Vicar for Priests, and the archdiocesan attorney may meet with the Review Team, but shall not be members.
Imagine my shock, then, when, as I entered the room, I got a distinct, lawyer vibe.
Given that my whole family is lawyers, and wanting to be prepared, I had reviewed the guiding document from the Archdiocese of St. Louis, wanting to know if I should bring a lawyer of my own. However, given that it was obvious that the Archdiocese of St. Louis was prohibited from having lawyers at the meeting, I decided that wasn't going to be necessary.
The meeting was gong to be about what happened and how it had affected me.
However, as I entered the room and the people around the table introduced themselves, it turned out that not one but TWO of the people there were lawyers.
This shook me, but what was I supposed to do?
I could have walked out, but then I wouldn't have been able to ask the question I needed to ask, "Are you SURE this stuff doesn't mean anything?"
I was trapped.
The second problem was that, when I introduced and gave some context to my story, including my conversations with my friend and the cardinal and my meeting with a female psychologist, I was told, "We have no idea what you are talking about. We have no record of your having talking to anyone in 2002."
That made me worry I was going crazy.
Such that, when the meeting was over, I drove to downtown Clayton and drove around for 30 minutes or so, trying to find the office building I had met the woman to whom my friend the cardinal had referred me. Despite driving past the building countless times, I simply couldn't see it, and wouldn't be able to for another five years.
It was right in front of me, but hidden.
The third problem was how the meeting concluded.
Despite the fact that I had only just met the people from the Archdiocese of St. Louis, my contact, Deacon Phil Hengen, the head of the Office of Child & Youth Protection, gave me a diagnosis.
He told me all of my problems were my dad's fault.
He told me I should read a book called, "Man Enough," by Frank Pittman, which I did. However, despite reading through it something like a hundred times, there was NOTHING in it that resonated with me.
During my meeting with the Review Team from the Archdiocese of St. Louis, on May 9, 2011, I was given a sense of their timeline, which seemed to me to be in the order of weeks. They mentioned things happening the following week and then in a couple of weeks.
It was a surprise to me, then, when July rolled around and I still hadn't heard back from Deacon Phil Hengen.
Impatient, I ended up calling him towards the end of July 2011, and he replied with the old, "Hey, I was just about to call you!"
He first told me that Fr. LeRoy Valentine had denied it all, which he seemed to find significant, but was hardly a surprise to me.
As a result, I blew past that, and asked about next steps.
At which point Deacon Phil Hengen did the first of several things that were to secure his nickname.
"Just tell me. Did you call Deacon Hengen? Or not?!?"
It was a year or so after my 2012 meeting with the Review Team from the Archdiocese of St. Louis and my relationship with my therapist was dissolving, in large part because of what happened after I met with the Review Team.
When I talked to Deacon Phil Hengen in July 2011, and asked him what the next steps in the process of getting help were, he told me he wanted to talk to my therapist, so I gave him his name and phone number and told him I would authorize my therapist's talking to him.
I hung up the phone and IMMEDIATELY jumped in the car and drove up my therapist's office. He was in a session, so I couldn't TALK to him, so what I did was fill out a release authorizing him to talk to Deacon Hengen. I remember this clearly because, when I next met with my therapist, he took out and tore up the release form I had filled out — in which I had given him a blanket permission to talk about anything and everything — and filled out a second release which limited what he could discuss, my therapist told me in order to protect and preserve our therapeutic relationship. I then gave my therapist Deacon Hengen's name and phone number and asked him to call him.
But they never talked.
That frustrated me to no end, and led me to confront my therapist, I think in late 2011, who then told me, and I quote...
In 20 years of doing this, I've never had someone, who truly wanted to get in touch with me, fail to get in touch with me.
It wasn't until March of 2019 that I came to understand what I suspect is the real reason why they never talked — why Deacon Phil Hengen never called my therapist — and which I'll get to in a bit, but what I don't and still don't understand is this.
If he wasn't going to talk to my therapist, then why did Deacon Hengen tell me he wanted to talk to him?
Was he just leading me on?
By 2013, I was getting increasingly frustrated as a result of my efforts to get help from the Archdiocese of St. Louis.
I was remembering, and making sense of, stuff in therapy.
And Deacon Hengen wouldn't DO anything.
He never did talk to my therapist.
And I was getting worse, not better.
That was a problem because, as I started to struggle, it became harder and harder to pay for therapy, which I was paying for out of pocket.
Because the Archdiocese of St. Louis still wouldn't DO anything.
Maybe the problem was that Fr. Valentine had denied what I said? So the Archdiocese didn't believe me?
Perhaps, but then why didn't they simply tell me that?
And why did they do what they did next, in May 2013?
As I had done with my older son's class, I was helping out the director, playing what I guess was the Stage Manager role for the 8th Grade Play, working to get the back stage area and everybody organized, when my phone rang.
It was my therapist calling.
Not the one I discussed before, but a new one; a Forensic Psychologist I had started seeing on the recommendation of a lawyer and because I wanted a second opinion on my memories and what they might mean; I didn't want to make accusations against the church, the archbishop, and Fr. Valentine without being sure.
Of my memories and everything.
"Did you see it?" she asked me.
"See what?" I replied.
"OK. Are you in a safe place? Maybe sitting down? Because the Archdiocese of St. Louis just announced that they have permanently removed Father Valentine."
"What?!?" I replied.
"I just heard on the radio, and there are pieces that just went up on the web sites of a couple of newspapers, that the Archdiocese of St. Louis has removed Fr. Valentine."
I had my head down, preparing for the play, so I hadn't seen or heard anything. And I hadn't been notified, much less warned, by the Archdiocese of St. Louis.
I remember exactly how the weekend went.
How it felt
I was stunned.
And felt abandoned.
I even started to question my existence.
How could the Archdiocese of St. Louis know what they knew about what I had said about Father LeRoy Valentine and, presumably, ACT on what I -- and, I assume, others -- had told them, and do nothing to help me?
It was completely, thoroughly devastating.
And that one day affected me for years.
It took me years to shake the feeling that I didn't exist; that the reason the Archdiocese of St. Louis wasn't helping me was because of something I had done.
Because, just as they had failed to call me BEFORE the announcement that they were permanently removing my abuser, the Archdiocese of St. Louis never called to offer me help AFTER removing him.
To tell me that they believed me.
I don't know a whole lot about the Catholic Church and the hierarchy, but I do know that a Monsignor outranks a Deacon.
As a result, when the church where our athletic fields are located got a new administrator, a man named Monsignor Richard Hanneke, and I got to know him over the course of the baseball season, I started to formulate a new plan.
Deacon Phil Hengen never did call my first therapist, the one whose name I had given him in July of 2011. That didn't surprise my second therapist, who apparently either knew Hengen or, at least, knew of him.
Also, while Hengen on a couple of occasions asked me to send him a Treatment Plan, he never offered to pay for the creation of it, making such an offer a non-starter; I was struggling to feed myself, and didn't have the money required to finance such a speculative effort, especially when it involved a man and an institution who seemed completely uninterested in helping me.
But, during the Fall of 2013, I came to realize that Monsignor Hanneke wasn't just any old monsignor; he was Vicar for Priests, which meant that it was possible that he reported directly to Archbishop Carlson.
As a result, in November 2013, I suspect triggered by the anniversary of the Risk & Pizza Party, I approached Monsignor Hanneke one evening — I think I was working the field and he was walking his dog — and told him the broad outlines of my story.
He responded sympathetically and had me visit him a few days later in the Rigali Center, the main offices of the Archdiocese of St. Louis. I gave him more details about my story, including the involvement of my friend the cardinal, and Hanneke replied that he would do some investigating.
I didn't know the organization chart of the Archdiocese of St. Louis, but my hope was to go over the head of Deacon Phil Hengen and, assuming that Hengen was either acting on his own to stymie me or was simply incompetent, get the attention of someone higher up who might both care and be in a position to make things happen.
What I didn't know was that Monsignor Hanneke was Deacon Hengen's boss.
And Deacon Hengen was simply doing what he was told.
By Monsignor Hanneke.
And, presumably, the Archbishop.
What I was going through with Deacon Phil Hengen — the whole Runaround Phil thing — wasn't a screw-up.
It was a strategy.
Designed to make me just go away.
Already devastated by the dawning realization that my struggles and frustrations getting help from the Archdiocese of St. Louis weren't due to a single, malevolent, lazy, or incompetent employee, but were instead part of a strategy, I received another gut punch — and flash of insight — in January 2014.
The Archdiocese of St. Louis was involved in litigation involving another predator priest and, despite their best efforts, in January 2014 were ordered by the court to produce a spreadsheet — that soon became known as "the matrix" — covering every allegation received by the Archdiocese of St. Louis over the course of the prior 40 or so years. That meant it would cover any allegations involving Father LeRoy Valentine; including the allegations I had made to my friend the cardinal, and the "independent" female psychologist he had referred me to, in March 2002.
Imagine my surprise — and growing, stunned confusion — when, going through the matrix, over and over and over again, I couldn't find my own allegation.
It was like I didn't exist.
The matrix was anonymized, hiding the names of the Accused Individuals — the priests — but I knew who else had made allegations against Fr. Valentine. In particular, I knew one set of allegations had been made by three brothers in 1995, and knowing those two facts was enough to identify Valentine as Accused Individual #107.
But there was a problem.
There was no allegation, against Accused Individual #107, that would correspond to the allegation I had made to my friend the cardinal in early March 2002.
Which didn't make sense.
There were plenty of entries that were listed as "unsubstantiated" so, if they hadn't believed me, then why not list my allegation and chalk that up as a win for the good guys?
And this was 2014, and I had told the Review Team about my conversations with my friend the cardinal in 2011, so they had YEARS to update their records. And get my allegations into the matrix.
What were they trying to HIDE?
From the COURT, no less?
While it likely made sense for the Archdiocese of St. Louis to conceal my existence — and, I now know, at least two others' existence from the court and the world, I assume because they knew many would agree with the decision — my exclusion from the matrix devastated me, psychologically.
As a result of what Fr. Valentine did to me, I already had a problem with dissociation — with the feeling that I was disappearing, and might not actually exist — and reading through the matrix, and not seeing my allegation, only reinforced that sense, sending me into a deep depression.
The Archdiocese of St. Louis never did help me so, in October 2015, I was forced to file a lawsuit. As I said in the statement I issued that accompanied the lawsuit...
“I approached the Archdiocese multiple times for help and tried to get assistance without getting lawyers involved. Filing a lawsuit was my last resort and due to their inaction.”
The mere fact of being forced to file a lawsuit to try to get help — from the Catholic Church despite Jesus and all that — was bad enough. What was worse was how the lawyers for the Archdiocese of St. Louis treated me during the final hearing during which the terms of the out of court settlement — which was forced by the Statute Of Limitations law of the State of Missouri — were accepted by the judge.
What was the big deal?
The lawyers for the Archdiocese of St. Louis — who were the only representatives of the Archdiocese who bothered to attend — wouldn't acknowledge my existence.
Or even look at me.
That caused me no end of distress, all of which was picked up by the (female) judge.
The judge noticed, and appeared bothered by, the dynamic — by the lawyers for the Archdiocese ignoring me and treating me like I didn't exist — and made a point of noting my presence for the record.
A small gesture for which I will be eternally grateful.
In September of 2017, I received $9,000 as a result of settling my lawsuit and used that relatively tiny sum — I was fighting Cancer at the same time I was fighting the Archdiocese of St. Louis, and owed thousands of dollars for my surgery — to buy a computer and launch a social media campaign against the Archdiocese of St. Louis and the Catholic Church, of which this podcast is just the most recent product.
I spent the Fall of 2017 trying to figure out how to tell my story, and where to start, and was given the answer to that question on December 20, 2017, with the death of Cardinal Law, one of the central figures of the movie SPOTLIGHT.
What triggered me was a line in the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' announcement of the death of Cardinal Law...
If you have been abused or know of someone who has been abused, contact the local diocesan victims Assistance Coordinator.
That spurred me to action, leading me to put together, and actually finish, my first substantial discussion of what happened to me, a piece entitled Assistance Coordinators & Other Lies. It's a piece, and a subject, that also deserves its own episode, but let me sum it up by saying that the reason why that quote triggered me is that I've been trying to get help from the Archdiocese of St. Louis since 2002, when I talked to my friend the cardinal, and again in 2011 when I spoke to a Review Team, and in all that time I was never told of the existence of, contacted, or helped by an Assistance Coordinator.
Taking the USCCB at their word — that they were serious about offering survivors the help of a Victims Assistance Coordinator — in early 2018, I attempted to alert them to the fact that the Archdiocese of St. Louis wasn't honoring their promise.
To blow the whistle on the Archdiocese of St. Louis.
Assuming that the USCCB cared about the treatment of survivors because of, you know, that whole Jesus thing.
While that did prompt one good, unexpected response from the Archdiocese of St. Louis — they admitted it happened, albeit privately, in an e-mail, and only sort of — my attempts to press them on the issue led to a massive retaliation in the form of their making false allegations to the police, alleging that I had made terrorist threats again them, which was only part of the Smear Campaign the Archdiocese of St. Louis launched against me.
It was late February 2018 and I had just gone public, putting my name and contact information on my @IvanDOesnot Twitter account, something a number of survivors advised, and one warned, me not to do, prompting me to put out a few tweets expressing my willingness and ability to defend myself. If some vigilante didn't like what I was saying or doing, I wanted to make sure they came after me, not my family or relatives.
And then two detectives from the Shrewsbury police department showed up on my doorstep.
On March 29, 2018.
And then it happened again; police again showed up on my doorstep, after receiving a call.
That's also a story for another time but, suffice it to say, I received the message.
And couldn't have cared less.
In fact, I was emboldened.
Though little did I know that there was worse to come.
At the same time the Archdiocese of St. Louis was falsely accusing me of having made Terrorist Threats, and trying to intimidate me into silence, I was also working with a reporter from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on a short profile in which I would go public.
As a survivor.
Of course, the Archdiocese of St. Louis couldn't let me have my status as a survivor — I assume because my story involves and implicates my friend the cardinal — and started a public Smear Campaign, lying about and slandering me in a quote in the piece.
Again, a story for another time...
However, and again, rather than intimidating me, it only emboldened me.
It helped to no end that most of this — the False Allegations and the Smear Campaign — happened around or during Lent, and even Holy Week, and I was able to see in it the same thing the Pharisees had done to Jesus Christ.
I got it.
Or was starting to.
His burden was mine.
And mine was His.
If Jesus Christ could do what He did, then I could do this.
Of all the things you could do to a survivor — to re-abuse us — the WORST POSSIBLE thing you can do is to ignore us. As I was ignored, by all the priests in attendance, at the September 2018 Mass of Reparation for the sex abuse crisis. As the cover art for this podcast documents.
Fight or Flight.
Those are the two possible response to trauma.
The problem is that, too often, it's not possible to either Fight or Flee; if, for example, you are a woman being attacked by a larger, stronger man.
Or a child being abused by a priest.
In that case, Flight means retreating into your mind.
It means Freezing.
As you would when being attacked by a grizzly bear.
The problem is that, if you Freeze, you're still there. To hear and feel everything that's happening.
Fortunately, your body has a way of dealing with that.
But into yourself.
Into your mind.
By fleeing into your mind, you find or build a corner or room into which you can retreat.
And not exist.
Not in the present, at least.
The problem is fleeing into yourself, and your mind, creates a trigger that leaves you vulnerable to being ignored and shunned, as I was at the Mass of Reparation.
Disappearing into yourself — into your mind — helps you hide from the world, but feeling hidden from the world, as when you're ignored or shunned, can also work in reverse.
Leading you to question your existence.
Which is exactly what I was feeling — how I felt — on the steps of the Cathedral Basilica at the Mass of Reparation and I was ignored, shunned, by all the priests in attendance.
How could this be happening?
Was this really happening?
Am I even real?
I don't know what the intention was of the priests at the Mass of Reparation.
Whether it was intended to be abuse.
But that's what it was.
What it did.
And, really, how could they see it as anything else?
Shunning is such a primitive, unsophisticated gesture.
A cowardly, Mean Girls approach to problems.
And so very revealing.
Reflecting an underlying fear.
But of man, not God.
After the horror of the Mass of Reparation, I knew not to expect much when I met with my archbishop. I went in with an open heart and mind, but I recorded the meeting.
Just in case.
I'll go through that recording in a later episode, because I think a lot of people want to know what it's like to meet with one's (arch)bishop, especially in a post 2019 Vatican sex abuse summit world.
But, for now, let me make three points based on what happened around that meeting.
First, and as you can hear in the second clip of the introduction to this podcast, Archbishop Robert Carlson of the Archdiocese of St. Louis made one thing clear.
He wasn't going to help me.
And he said it, right up front.
His then immediate offer of spiritual help caught me off guard; why would — HOW COULD — I accept the spiritual help of a man who could acknowledge, to my face, what had happened to me, and then refuse to help me. I thought, rather than said, this because this statement was made right at the beginning of the meeting, and I had facts I wanted to make sure the archbishop was aware of.
If he hadn't been aware of them PRIOR to the meeting, I could at least be sure he was aware of them AFTER the meeting.
Second, it was revealed to me during that meeting that the reason Deacon Phil Hengen didn't help me — the reason he played the role of Roundaround Phil — was because it was, and remains, the policy of the Archdiocese of St. Louis that the ONLY thing they do for survivors is they will give them the name of a therapist if they don't already have one.
And that's it.
They don't pay for anything.
Deacon Phil Hengen didn't help me because I already had a therapist.
Not that they ever told me that.
Third, I went into the meeting with my eyes open, which is why I recorded it.
Trust but verify.
As a result, when I tried to follow up on the promises that were made during the meeting — and which I have on tape — I was met with only further Stonewalling.
Not only were the promises not kept, but when I pressed the issue, and then, after three months of inaction, released the recording of the meeting, the Archdiocese of St. Louis made a threat against me that, quite literally, scared the shit out of me.
The problem with the response of the Catholic Church to the sex abuse crisis isn't just the actions of the church, but the enabling that is done by what I call Remainer Catholics.
Catholics who have decide to stick with the church, despite everything.
And who, I suspect, have to do certain things in order to manage the resulting Cognitive Dissonance.
One such Remainer Catholic is Eric Schmitt, the Attorney General of the State of Missouri and an at least faithful, if not devout, Catholic.
MO AG Schmitt came to my attention when he took over the investigation of the Archdiocese of St. Louis from the previous AG, Josh Hawley, who moved on to the U.S. Senate.
The investigation of the Archdiocese of St. Louis was a frustrating sham under now Senator Josh Hawley — they never talked to me, or to any other witnesses, as far as I know — and things weren't much better under Schmitt; the only way I could get Schmitt's team of investigators to talk to me was to go to the press and inform them what was going on, forcing Schmitt's team to call me.
What worse — when and how it turned abusive — is what happened after I talked to Schmitt's team a second team in late July 2019 and, metaphorically speaking, told them where the bodies were buried. I told them EXACTLY where to look, and what to look for, if they wanted to uncover misconduct, including by my friend the cardinal.
Instead of triggering an in-depth investigation of my allegations, the investigation was instead wrapped up.
Then, at the wrap-up press conference, and release of the report, which was held in September of 2019, the worst act of abuse by an entity other than the Catholic Church occurred.
The Missouri Attorney General isn't the only government entity that has attempted to protect the Archdiocese of St. Louis, at the cost of survivors.
I contacted, but never heard back from, the St. Louis circuit attorney's office in March 2002. While a call-back would have been nice, I suspect there was nothing nefarious there, just that there was a statute of limitations problem that prevented them from acting.
However, I can't say the same about the FBI.
As a result of the Jeffrey Epstein case, I came to learn about something called the Mann Act. It's a federal law that prohibits the transportation of minors across state lines for, and I quote...
any sexual activity for which any person can be charged with a criminal offense
Remember my story about the Mud Cave Trip? As far as I know, that took place entirely within the state of Missouri, meaning the Mann Act wouldn't apply.
However, the March 2002 article in the New York Times, in which my abuser was first named, describes how Fr. LeRoy Valentine, when stationed in the northern parts of St. Louis, would take guys on similar trips.
To Pere Marquette Park.
Which is in Illinois.
Making such a trip a violation of the Mann Act.
However, to my knowledge, no investigation was launched of Mann Act violations by Father Valentine in 2002, despite the New York Times article providing clear evidence of such a crime.
And even the name of a witness to interview.
All of which makes the case that the abuse of the abused isn't just a problem of the institutional Catholic Church, but extends to and includes various municipal, state, and national government entities.
Which, needless to say, makes speaking up, as a survivor, a daunting task.
I assume by design.
But, again, on this Palm Sunday, I'm reminded that, if Jesus Christ can do what He did, then I can do this.
Is the Pope Catholic?
But that's not the important question.
Rather, the important question, prompted by Vos Estis Lux Mundi, the Pope's supposed bill of rights for survivors, is this.
Is the Pope a Christian?
I ask that, not to be disrespectful or pointlessly provocative — or to make a tired insinuation about how Catholics worship Mary, not Jesus, blah blah blah — but because of a bigger, deeper, and far more troubling, question.
Could a Christian — a committed follower of Jesus Christ, rather than an organizational loyalist — do what the Pope HAS, and has NOT, done for and to survivors of the sex abuse crisis?
Yes, everything I and we endured was terrible.
But didn't Vos Estis Lux Mundi, the law Pope Francis signed and put into effect in June 2019 change everything? For survivors, especially? And finally?
That's the perception.
But it's not the reality.
The reality of Vos Estis is that it's a sham.
A cruel taunt, directed at survivors.
Because it's not being enforced.
And is thus a whole new level and kind of abuse.
I've written the Pope nine times — NINE TIMES — since VOS ESTIS went into effect in June 2019, letting him know about of violations of VOS ESTIS by the Archdiocese of St. Louis.
Letting him know the Archdiocese of St. Louis isn't living up to the promises the Pope made in Vos Estis.
I've even received a promise from Cardinal Sean O'Malley, the Cardinal Archbishop of Boston and one of Pope Francis' closest advisors, especially on sex abuse, for help, and ++O'Malley promised me — in writing — that he would put one of my letters on the desk of the Pope.
All of which was so horrible because it gave me HOPE.
A false hope.
Which is the common thread connecting all of these episodes of the Abuse of the Abused.
So is the Pope a Christian, and not just a Catholic?
I think he is.
But I also think it's obvious that the Pope is in a battle with Satan.
And Satan is winning.
I don't even know why I'm on Twitter...
OK, I do.
It's to try to understand what people are thinking and saying about the Catholic sex abuse crisis.
To see whether things are changing.
The problem is, it isn't always fun. And it's often depressing. Especially when it becomes clear that people so obviously don't want to hear about the false hope that is the reality of too much — if not the majority — of the response to the Catholic sex abuse crisis.
The cruel taunts, directed at survivors.
And, thus, an entirely new level of abuse.
Which, ultimately, is the result of the lack of a de-Nazification process.
Of a de-SATAN-fication process.
I don't say that lightly.
I know that Catholics chafe when I suggest that Satan could be at work within the church.
HOW COULD THAT BE?
How else would you explain what was done to me, and others, as children, and now, still, as adults?
Everything I've discussed in this episode and this podcast.
Which sure didn't, and still doesn't, feel like love.
Or Jesus Christ.
And, it's when I press that point and what it implies — what the abuse of the abused suggests — that people bring up Matthew 16:18.
And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
But what strikes me is that they inevitably fail to take into account one word.
The gates of hell shall not prevail...
Which is a ten dollar way of saying, "Win."
As in a war.
But, as we know, wars are made up of battles, not all of which are won. And, at the beginning of the war, at least, are usually lost by the group under attack.
Until people wake up.
And start taking things seriously.
I'd submit, that is what we have here; a war with and against Satan.
And Satan is winning.
He's calling from INSIDE the church.
That doesn't mean he's going to prevail, but he is winning.
As the — very much still on-going — abuse of the abused, and the failure of the Pope and the church to respond to it, honestly, makes clear.
So what are we going to DO to turn Christ's prophecy into a reality; to ENSURE that Satan does not prevail?
It certainly does NOT mean continuing to abuse as adults those who were abused as children.
It also doesn't mean denying — and thus enabling — the abuse of the abused, as too many Catholic and papal loyalists and defenders and faithful do on Twitter.
People who know about, but refuse to discuss, the experiences of survivors.
The abuse of the abused.
And the failure — and worse — of things like the (Victims) Assistance Coordinator program and Vos Estis.
For fear of being, or being seen as, disloyal to the Pope?
Again, that's not helping, supporting, protecting, or whatever.
Next time on sacrificed, some detail about my friend the cardinal, the man who, while then just a father, saw and turned a blind eye to at least some of my and our sexual exploitation and abuse. How could he not, given that he lived and worked with my abuser, in the same rectory, for two years?
A man who is now one of the men running the Catholic Church.
And who seems to have been rewarded for his silence.
And his willingness to do ANYTHING to help protect the church.
Finally, and again, if you'd like to — or would rather — read what I have to say, go to chrisoleary dot com slash sacrificed. Those pieces also include photographs that document what happened to me and that, I hope, help to prove my words and story.