Without a doubt, it is the priest. The psychiatrist is, indeed, a powerful authority figure, but secular. The priest is a conduit to God. He is there to help one facilitate a relationship with the Almighty.
Has the Church ever had the courage to ask its victims, who received compensation, the big question, “Do you believe in God?”
The collective conscience of the American society is printed on every coin and dollar bill: “Trust in God.” That’s how powerful the concept of God is in the United States. One would need to go back very far in European history for this kind of sentiment. In fact, it was last expressed by Germany in World War I when the country sent soldiers into battle with the words “God With Us” on their belt buckles.
The person molested or raped by a priest has lost the ultimate safety-net or in religious terms “Comforter”—God. The victim of sexual abuse at the hands of a secular person can still go to God for comfort, healing, and personal salvation instead of drugs, alcohol or other self-destructive acts.
It’s not surprising that Ms. X has become a beacon of strength for others who feel guilty about taking the money. They rally around her determination for real justice and for emotional support. By refusing financial compensation, Ms. X removed herself from the category of victim, while the others, unknowingly, reinforced this identity.
It is a complex situation to justify for those who live in emotional pain. Financial compensation is only one part of the solution to easing their suffering. Ms. X’s request of her Church Archdiocese to open the records of the abusers and to acknowledge its wrong doing would begin a dialogue for real reform and real healing.
Thank you Ms. X for your brave heart.