I was listening to the Catholic radio on Sirius XM the other day on my way back from work. they were talking about the abuse in the Church. I don’t know which radio program was. I don’t listen to that station that frequently. But once in a while I catch some topic that sparks my curiosity and I stop browsing stations.
Anyway, they were having these deep conversations and analysis as of why the Church acted the way they did, about how some survivors of abuse who were in some sort of commission had stepped down, and other things that I’m not familiar with. They did emphasize the need for the Church to not bury things under the hatchet and to confront what had happened. They also started to talk about forgiveness.
At that point, I could clearly see that none of the people in the show had ever been exposed to abuse. I don’t think I need to clarify that they were talking about the sexual abuse perpetrated by religious people towards children and minors, as it has been of the public domain for several years by now. Either way, something one of the women on the show said got me a bit angry. I can’t completely recall her words. But I kept on thinking, ‘What do you know about being abused? It’s easy to talk from behind a microphone and be so religious and spiritual about it when you have no idea what it’s like to be in the victims’ shoes.’
I had to switch the radio station at some point when they started to talk about healing and forgiveness. I just couldn’t take it anymore. If you want to know the main reasons for my being upset about this, you can read my previous post on forgiveness.
I’ve been a Catholic my entire life, both because I was raised as one, but most importantly because I decided to stay a Catholic after a long absence from the Church when I was questioning a lot of the teachings and beliefs, period after which I made peace with many things due to some events that took place in my life and that I’ll keep private. I cannot imagine myself not being a Catholic. But with that said, I have experienced the Catholic Church in 4 different countries and I am amazed at how different it can be depending on culture, the parish social status, socio-economical position of the country in general, and other factors.
I’ve come to the conclusion that, regardless of whether it is a first-world or developing country does not affect how the Church acts in some areas. And I wish they would change their attitude because that’s how they end up losing a lot of followers and members. I have heard similar stories from other Christian denominations. By the way, I cannot speak for other than Christianity. Just what I’ve been exposed to.
I don’t understand why priests do not touch the subject of abuse when giving their sermons. They seem to stick to politics or certain types of abuse described in ancient times. Once in a while, a priest might talk about the abuse within the church. But that’s it. Now, what about when a husband beats his wife? What about the mother who neglected to feed her children, put them under a cold shower in the middle of winter, just to teach them some lesson for something that didn’t even require such punishment? What about the drunk coming home and beating the crap out of his children and spouce? What about the cheater? And what about the narcissist playing mind games and emotionally hitting his or her partner on a daily basis? But most importantly, what about the sinner who confessed these types of sins to you and you sent him or her home with one Our Father and three Hail Mary’s? Furthermore, what about the beaten up victim who came to you seeking help and refuge and you sent them home to work on his or her marriage, sending them back to the lion’s den and the very place where the abuse takes place, making them feel that they are not praying enough, trusting in God enough, not trying hard enough, not fighting enough for their marriage?
It doesn’t seem to me that the Church likes to talk about certain types of abuse. I would like to give them the benefit of the doubt and say that, like most therapists who are not trained to distinguish a victim of Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) when they have him or her in front of them, the clergy doesn’t seem to understand or even have the tools to help, unless the priest or nun was a victim him or herself at one or another point in their lives.
But with that said, NPD affects the mind and the soul of the vitim. People turn to church for their minds and souls. They don’t go to church to ask the priest for help with a heart condition, high cholesterol, or any other bodily illness. While they do turn to God and the church for a speedy recovery by means of prayer and attenting Mass, they still go to the doctor when it comes to their bodies. Many people turn to psychologists and therapists when it comes to the mind. While psychologists and therapists might also help the soul to some degree, people who have faith in God and the Church turn to priests for spiritual guidance and healing. And when a doctor fails you, you may seek for a new doctor. When a therapist fails you, you look for another one. When a priest fails you… well, my experience has been that other priests will also fail you.
This has mostly happened to me in the United States. It has not happened as much where I come from. I guess that priests in other developing countries do have more exposure to people’s realities. However, they may still send you right back to the lion’s den.
While I don’t expect them to have the tools professionals who went years to college to become experts in their field have, I do expect them to have compassion. If the faithful is telling you that his partner rapes her, his father beats him, hid wife cheats and lies, her husband plays mind games with her and abuses her mentally, why do they insist in forgiveness of the abuser and not providing the support the victim needs? If the victim is opening to a priest, they are doing so because they feel safer with a priest due to the vow of silence. The victim is already traumatized enough and fears reaching for the authorities, professionals, or even family. That’s why they go to a priest, instead.
Others, like me, had already tried other options and those failed them. So we try the Church, who is supposed to be trained in spiritual matters. Since the source of my abuse was in my marriage, a marriage that took place in the Catholic Church, it only seemed natural to me to seek for advise, guidance, and support with them. Instead, for my penance, I was told to try couples therapy yet again, right after I had just said that tried that and not only didn’t work, but it got worse.
I have not tried to talk to a priest again. I remember getting out of there crying more than when I got there. It’s as if parishes were embarrassed that a marriage fails. At what price are we supposed to save a marriage because Catholic marriages are not supposed to be dissolved?
Everything that I had been through in my marriage and with the knowledge I now have about NPD tells me that I may have grounds for annulment. Why do I day that? Because a narcissist lies through his or her teeth for most of the relationship, especially at the early stages (idealization phase.) The way I see it, my husband lied during our vows because he never really promise to fulfill them. He was deceitful from the beginning and most especially on oir wedding day.
However, I have a strong feeling that I may not be granted annulment because of what I’ve seen happening in the Church. It’s like “Save the marriage!” regardless of the price the people living said marriage might end up paying in the long.
One thing that I keep on reminding myself is that the Church is imperfect because it’s comprised of human beings, imperfect creatures by default. And that’s when I end up trying to let go of my own impressions of the priests and parishes and making an effort to force myself to keep the faith. However, with everything that has happened to me and what is happening now while going through the divorce, I feel that I have lost my faith in God, as well; not just the Church.
It is not the first time I am dealing with hardship in my life, with testing times. But these times are by far the hardest ever, most especially when I see my husband using our daughter to get at me and to build a case against me in an effort to prove to the court that I’m an unfit mother. Why would a loving and caring God allow for such things to happen? I have questioned my faith and the Church before and I’m doing the same now. I am not sure I can overcome it this time. Last time, it took me 4 years and I emerged victorious and with a stronger faith. Now, I’m not so sure. I want to believe that God has a better plan for me and my daughter. But it’s difficult when things keep on happening.
I may regret what I’m saying, all of it or in part. I don’t know. I came out of the narcissistic fog only to walk right into a religious and faith one. At least I had felt that I could rely on those during past hard times. Now, I’m not so sure considering that every time I pray to get passed something that’s happening, either my husband and his attorney, or the court system does something that makes me doubt.