This story is by an adult victim of a Jesuit, of what happened when she sought action from the church hierarchy.

I've been negotiating my own settlement with my perp's superiors and have realized some degree of success -- if you can really call it that -- in the process. No attorney would take my case, but I was determined to pursue this anyway. Though at one point my therapist egged me on when I truly wanted to quit instead. She said I need the "completion" of finishing the process even if I don't get what I want out of this.

First of all, I had to concede (to myself) that no amount of money or therapy will ever truly make up for the damage done to me. From that perspective, I worked back to thinking about what was minimally acceptable to me in terms of securing meaningful compensation. But, I swiftly found out one thing, these so-called men of God aren't at all interested in providing "meaningful" compensation! I was, in fact, willing to settle for non-financial compensation on several points and was told, "We don't want to deal with all that. We want to keep this pragmatic." Pragmatic meaning: Write a check payable to me in exchange for me signing a non-disclosure/hold harmless agreement that would disallow me revealing the name of my perp at the public level and release the Jesuits from further liability. They were otherwise quick to assure me that I could speak about the circumstances and situation all I care to, just leave Father Doublecross's name out of it when I'm dealing (if I'm dealing) with the press and media.

The trouble with the amount they were willing to offer is, all they did was take whatever I asked for in the way of monetary compensation and add about 20% more to that total. I have since gone back and indicated that the non-financial terms actually represented the greater value to me. But the fact they reduced it to a money-only deal means they'll have to pay more to compensate for not being willing to even consider the non-financial terms.

First, I was sexually exploited by a Catholic priest who destroyed any opportunity he ever had to convert me to a faith that claims to be "the most correct and complete Christian faith" on the planet. Then his superiors bypass the opportunity to vindicate the image of the church, in my perspective, by acting more like businessmen negotiating a fire sale than pastors ministering to an emotionally wounded person. I should note, the Provincial did apologize profusely, in a generalized and unspecific way, for any harm and suffering I'd gone through. But, no, thank you, he does not want or need SNAP members advising him about how to implement anti clergy abuse education. He's got that all under control, even though he did write down the name of a book (THE BETRAYAL BOND, Patrick J. Carnes, Ph.D.) I strongly recommended. And as for my request for an apology letter from Fr Doublecross to my daughter and her family for the secondary abuse he caused them to suffer, that was just not something the Provincial was willing to ask my perp to write.

Then I scheduled an appointment with a Mormon bishop, purely to talk, so I could purge myself of some of the bad taste this entire process left me with. Over the course of an hour, I spilled my guts to the man concerning my frustration and disgust with the fact my perp is still a priest and his superiors are only interested in paying me enough money to keep his identity anonymous at the public level. The poor bishop, father of four boys ages 19 to 10, looked stunned at times, but otherwise weathered my diatribe well. While I'm not about to return to the Mormon fold, I at least came out of that meeting feeling somewhat cleansed of my meeting with the Jesuits. All this man did was listen to me and that was all I really needed. Though I couldn't help noting additionally that if my perp had simply adhered to that fundamental tenet of ministry, of acting only as a sounding board for those he counsels, I wouldn't be here.

What really irked me most is the fact these guys -- the Jesuits -- didn't appear to understand how much this is really about morality with me, along with striving to adhere to ideology. Before the meeting, they gave me a tour of their newly refurbished office and conference facilities with trendy taupe walls and recycled (teak and mahogany) wood furniture and mezzotints of the Vatican Basillica, circa 18th century. And as they did I mentally racked up the likely costs of the makeover. I thought: Wow, if this is living in poverty, I'd like to be this poor. Plus, it made what they initially offered me an insult and bad joke. Obviously they spent more on the paint job. What additionally galled me is the fact that it didn't even occur to them that showing all this off to me before our meeting was, at best, in poor taste and poor timing.

The overriding impression I left with is: There is absolutely nothing "of God" about these men or the way they minister to people. I felt more like I was dealing with unctuous CEOs, thinly disguised as do-gooders. But that's as far as what's good about them goes. While he wasn't as sophisticated as the Jesuits, with the lay Mormon bishop I derived more of a sense of dealing with a man who has a better intuitive grasp of how he is supposed to represent God than his more erudite Catholic counterparts do. Although the Mormon bishop was quick to acknowledge the existence of "bad apples" (abusive religious) in that faith as well.

Additionally, the Mormon bishop conceded that most of the reasons underlying my dealings with the Jesuits are beyond the realm of his clerical experience. And he expressed the most surprise over my assertion that Fr. Doublecross's sexual exploitation of me was no different than a psychologist or doctor having inappropriate sexual relations with a patient. He said, "You know, I hadn't thought of it that way before, but I think you're right." We also talked about how separation of church and state laws tend to frustrate prosecution of sexually abusive clergy. Yet how, in turn, churches' failure to voluntarily minister to victims and expel perp clergy from pastoral duties compels most victims to seek recourse through civil courts.

Most surprising to me -- as the Mormon Church tends to strongly discourage suits of any kind in preference to working out other solutions -- the bishop expressed no condemnation of the fact I'd filed a complaint with the Jesuits nor of the fact that included asking for monetary compensation. He only asked me if the fact I'd been abused (by both my father, a former Mormon elder) and a Catholic priest, had caused me to come to disbelieve in God, as well.

I told him, emphatically, that I still believe in God, in large part because I was never taught to worship through a human intermediary in the first place. While Mormons worship collectively, they are also taught that "ultimate responsibility for developing a personal testimony concerning the divinity of Jesus Christ and God, lies with the individual." Thus, I was never taught to believe that any person, beside myself, is responsible for my (lack of) belief in God. While I've suffered from problems that are a direct result of having been abused, loss of faith in God has not been among them. In my mind, God is as far removed from my incestuous father and perp as Salt Lake City is from Vatican City.

I additionally told the Mormon bishop about SNAP and how pervasive the religious abuse problem actually is. I also mentioned that I'm going back to school to attain a degree in law, in large part, so I can fight this entire issue more effectively. He grinned when I said that, adding, "I'll bet the Jesuits are going to wish they never made you mad. I have a feeling you're going to go back to haunt them."

The only advice he offered was of the sort I would ordinarily expect from a clergyperson. He recommended that I continue to work on my spiritual healing and upkeep, so I can get on with my life and hopefully bypass being compromised in a similar (or worse) way again in the future. Beyond that, he simply wished me well on my pursuit of law studies and then invited me to the church's annual Fourth of July picnic. Lovely! No guilt trips, no pious lectures, no salacious jokes, no inappropriate come on. I left thinking well of the man instead of feeling like I needed a shower.

 

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