Cardinal O’Malley Offers Abuse Victim Testimony

Given to Seminarians and Received by Pope Francis

2020 Child Protection Report
© Vatican Media

Cardinal Sean O’Malley, President of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors introduced the testimony of a victim of abuses given to seminarians and received by Pope Francis.

“In this time of pastoral renewal and conversion, in which the Church addresses the scandal and wounds of sexual abuses, inflicted everywhere on so many children of God, our Holy Father has received a courageous testimony offered to all priests by a survivor,” said the Cardinal.

“On sharing this testimony, offered to us by a victim whose name has not been revealed for reasons of anonymity, His Holiness Pope Francis wishes to accept the voice of all wounded persons and show all priests that proclaim the Gospel the path of genuine service of God in benefit of all the vulnerable,” he adds.

Here is the full testimony.

* * *

My name is (…) and for years I was mistreated by a priest whom I had to call “little brother” and I was his “little sister.”

I have come here because I would like “the kind truth” to win. I am also here in the name of the other victims, of the children who were profoundly wounded, whose infancy, purity and respect was robbed from them, <by> those that betrayed and took advantage of their limited trust . . . of the children whose hearts beat and breathe alive, but whom they once (twice, several times) killed, and whose souls are torn in small bloodied pieces. I’m here because the Church is my Mother, and it hurts me a lot that they wound and sully Her.

The adults that experienced this hypocrisy when they were children will never be able to erase it from their lives. They can forget it for a time, try to forgive, try to live a full life, but the scars will remain in their souls; they won’t disappear.

I try to survive, to be joyful, but in reality, it’s an incredibly difficult struggle. I have a dissociative identity disorder, a grave post-traumatic complex disorder (TEPT), depression, anxiety, fear of people, errors and I don’t sleep and, if I am able to fall asleep, I always have nightmares. Sometimes I have states in which I am “outside”, I don’t perceive the “here” and “now.” My body remembers every touch . . .

“I’m afraid of priests, of being close to them.”

Lately, I’ve been unable to go to Mass. It hurts me a lot . . . The Church, that sacred space was my second home . . . and he took it from me. I have a great desire to feel safe in the Church, to be able not to be afraid, but my body, my emotions react in a completely different way . . .

I would like to ask them to protect the Church, the Body of Christ!, which is all full of wounds and scars. Please, don’t let those wounds be deeper and new ones inflicted!

They are young and strong men. Called! Men called by God, to serve God and, through Him, to serve men . . . God has called them to be His instruments among men. They have a great responsibility! A responsibility that isn’t a burden, but a gift. Please, treat him according to Jesus’ example . . . with humility and love!

Please, don’t hide things under the carpet, because then they will begin to stink, to rot, and the carpet itself will decompose . . . Realize that when we conceal these deeds, when we are silent about them, we hide the filth and so we become a co-operator.

If we want to live the truth, we can’t close our eyes! To live in the truth is to live as Jesus, to see things through His eyes. And He didn’t close His eyes in face of sin and the sinner, but He lived the truth with love. . . With kind truth, He pointed out the sin and the sinner.

“Please, realize that you have received an enormous gift. The gift of being an ‘alter Christus,’ of being the incarnation of Christ here in the world. People, especially children, don’t see in you a person but Christ, Jesus, in whom they have unbounded trust. It’s something enormous and intense, but also very fragile and vulnerable. Please, be a good priest!

Translation by Virginia M. Forrester