ChrisOLeary.com > Sacrificed > Some Questions
Archdiocese of St. Louis Mass of Reparation


May 20, 2021

Hi,

This is Chris O'Leary.

I wanted to thank you for taking a chance and listening to my podcast.

In SPITE of the subject matter.

And, to that point, I want to make clear — to PROMISE — something right up front.

You do NOT have to worry about my bringing up the really bad stuff. The worst of what was done to me as child.

While I'm a survivor of the Catholic sex abuse crisis, and I WAS sexually abused as a child, I DO NOT talk about the worst stuff. You don't want to hear about it and, let's be honest, I don't want to talk about it.

Instead, the focus of this podcast is what's happened since 2002 and the original SPOTLIGHT articles.

What I call the Abuse of the Abused.

When I DO talk about what happened back then, it's only to explain the Testing and Grooming and how that led UP to the worst stuff. The mistakes the adults who were responsible for protecting me and us made that left us vulnerable. Whenever, right as things are about to get graphic, I just kind of wave my hands around and say, "And then some REALLY bad stuff happened."

I COULD talk about it. I REMEMBER enough of it to, as a result of years of therapy. But I CHOOSE not to.

Not in this podcast.

And, probably, not ever.

Because, in part, and as I'm suspect many women can relate, I've had the creepy as hell experience of telling my story to people and getting the sense that certain people — certain MEN — were getting off on it. Which, I suspect, is why they kept pressing me for completely irrelevant details.

NOPE.

I refuse to give them the pleasure.

I've also had the experience of Bloody Dismembered Baby Catholic Twitter and I find it just as horrible and jarring and disturbing as you do.

And, just like you, I block those accounts.

And I don't do the equivalent in this podcast.

I didn't need to see color pictures of the Holocaust to know how horrible it was. And you don't need to know about the worst stuff to know how bad it was for me.

So, as Stephen Spielberg did with Schindler's List, I'm gong to make this, when it comes to the worst stuff, a desaturated, black and white podcast.

Again, my focus is on what I call the Abuse of the Abused; what happened to me after my own personal SPOTLIGHT. After I saw my abuser named and came forward to get help.

Or tried to.

As for what this podcast may do to your faith, which I think is another concern for people, let me be clear.

I haven't been to mass, and taken communion, since Easter 2014, because of a series of flashbacks I had.

So, am I still a Catholic?

I know so much about the hierarchy of the Catholic Church, up to and including the Pope, and their hypocrisy, and worse — what they've done to me and my family — and it's DEEPLY influenced my view of the church.

So I just don't know...

But I do know that

 

THE SAINTS

MARY

JESUS

 

But you know what it HASN'T done?

It hasn't led me to question my faith.

Instead, my faith is STRONGER.

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.

In truth, the aftermath of SPOTLIGHT is FAR uglier than I think people — and, especially Catholics — realize.

Or want it to be.

And that, I can only assume diabolical, reality is encapsulated, perfectly, by the picture that serves as the cover art for this podcast.

And the underlying event.

"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.

Some Questions

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.

And WHY.

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.

Archdiocese of St. Louis Mass of Reparation

Why would my archdiocese and the Catholic Church do that?

HOW could they do that?

Still?

Despite the events of 2002, with SPOTLIGHT and the Dallas Charter, and 2018 and the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report? Treating 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.

Abuse profiteers who benefited from the crisis and their willingness to "fix" things.

Including, I suspect, Pope Francis.

And conceal a crime.

And larger truth.

That some survivors — including myself — were simply thrown to the wolves.

Abandoned.

SACRIFICED.

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?

Rationalize?

STILL?

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 WHY.

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 happened in the aftermath of SPOTLIGHT? Both the articles and the movie?

Actually.

Survivors

To the survivors?

Those of us who, as children, had to live with the experience, and sometimes 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.

Abusers

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?

Enablers

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.

Profiteers

What happened to the profiteers?

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.

WHY?!?

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?

Why Ordain Him?

 

ANOTHER QUESTION

WHY DID THEY ORDAIN MY ABUSER AND NOT EXPEL HIM?

 

WANT

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?

WANT-ing?

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 some 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 an abuse profiteer.

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.

For protecting the church.

Rather than children.

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.

Unrepentant.

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

Talk.

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.

Nothing.

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.

Next on Sacrificed, SPOTLIGHT & Me & Since; what happened to me, and I don't know how many other guys, in the aftermath of the publication of the original SPOTLIGHT articles, events portrayed in the movie of the same name.

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