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Letter: Malone should mandate retreats to help heal victims

I wanted to share some thoughts having been sexually abused several times by Father Joseph Friel, at St. Aloysius parish as an altar boy about 1962 (10 or 11 years old). I have researched in the area of child abuse for many years. One of the facets of child abuse, is most often the predator is protected and not the victim. For example if the abuse is in a family, and there are siblings, the rest of the siblings protect the member of the family that is accused.

There are two major problems with the church of the 1940s to 1970s. Priests were considered as being God. Therefore us victims felt God was part of the abuse. We felt we were mistakes in creation. So the church saw the Priest as “their own” and protected them, hid them, sought treatment for them, transferred them, etc. The major sin of the church, is they did not see us victims

!

In every instance the simple solution would have been to call the police. I believe the charge for child sexual abuse should be “murder,” because a part of the victim dies, their brains are changed forever. The church simply had too much authority and power back then. It created an environment where clergy child sexual abusers felt safe to act their evil out.

Some people have expressed the fact that there are many good priests, and the sexual predator priests were a small percentage. I fully agree with that. However when speaking of percentages, it should be remembered that for the victims, that was 100 percent of their Catholic experience.

What Bishop Richard Malone should instruct the diocese to do is have retreats assigned to various parishes for victims and families. Have a speaker versed in childhood sexual abuse speak about the abuse, its predators and how they became predator priests.

Then have a priest speak about the fact that God loved us before, during, and after the abuse and grieves for us. Perhaps including the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and a mass all with its focus on healing. It could be like five hours long. Also the victims questions could be entertained.

Mike Stockmeyer

Tonawanda

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