The miracle John Paul II has yet to accomplish

Saint Clerical Abuse Coverups

Title: The miracle John Paul II has yet to accomplish

Author: Peter Isely

Publisher: National Catholic Reporter NCROnline

Date: 29APR2011


Official history, Camus once observed, is written by those who make history, not those who suffer from it.

Almost 20 years ago, A group of some 30 survivors of childhood sexual molestation by priests and I wrote to Pope John Paul II in painstakingly and excruciating detail of our harrowing experiences of being raped and sexually assaulted as youngsters while attending a boarding school for boys operated by the Capuchin Franciscan religious order in rural Wisconsin. The school, St. Lawrence Seminary, was one of a vast network of such Catholic seminaries across the United States. John Paul was keen to see a massive resurgence of places like St. Lawrence, in which priests raised children to become priests like themselves. Timemagazine at the time dubbed our story “The Sins of Saint Lawrence.” It’s hard to imagine anymore when this kind of headline was novel, but it was. We delivered our letter, along with newspaper clippings, supporting legal documents, and videotaped depositions to the papal nuncio in Washington.

What we received instead was a certified letter from the nuncio curtly informing us that our letters and documents had been acknowledged. We never heard anything more from either him or the pope. Since then, at least two of my seminary classmates, assaulted by the priest who molested me, have taken their lives waiting for papal justice. One shot himself on Christmas Eve 2002 in his parked car under a desolate freeway underpass.

It is likely John Paul, during his long tenure as pope, received hundreds, if not thousands of such letters. Not one survivor, in writing or in person, was ever known to have received a direct reply from him.

According to figures tabulated yearly by the American bishops, the number of priests who have sexually assaulted children over the past several decades, the vast majority committing their crimes while John Paul was pope, is just shy of a staggering 6,000 clerics. If the figure for the percentage of U.S. priests involved in the scandal is extrapolated worldwide, one can conservatively estimate that at least 30,000 Catholic clerics around the globe have sexually molested children.

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