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Broken Rites Australia helps victims of church-related
During many years of research, Broken Rites Australia has encountered a number of cases in which young men were sexually abused in seminaries while studying for the Catholic priesthood. The abuse has been perpetrated by some older priests who have taken advantage of their position of authority while they are supposed to be mentoring the young students.
In 2011, Broken Rites has noticed another case of this behaviour. The Australian journal Eureka Street (22 March 2011) contains an article by prominent Catholic academic Neil Ormerod, who for many years has lectured in theological courses for trainee priests. Professor Ormerod says he has been contacted by a former seminary student, who dropped out some years ago. This young man has finally revealed how he was abused by an older seminarian who went on to become a priest.
Professor Ormerod (who is a layman, not a clergyman) writes:
"While the older seminarian went on to ordination, a position of trust and responsibility in the Church, the younger man's life fell into a spiral of self-destructive behaviours, symptomatic of post-traumatic stress. While the abuser is an honoured member of the Church community, the victim has been shunned by his family and church community."
Professor Ormerod says that the Church's system has no intelligent and responsible way of dealing with the abuse that occurs. From Church authorities down to the local community, he says, there is simply an inability to enter into the perspective of the victim of abuse.
"One priest on hearing from a victim of a fellow priest's repeated sexualising of his pastoral relations with various young women cried out, 'The poor man, struggling with his celibacy'. No sense at all of the trail of destruction caused and the faith damaged. Immediately it became a problem of personal spirituality, narcissistically appropriated, 'poor me/him'; not anger at the spiritual violation of another person.
"I cannot recall ever hearing a priest express anger at the actions of an abusive priest (except perhaps Geoffrey Robinson), and the damage they do to their victims, as well as to their own ministry as the trust of the community towards all priests evaporates. Rather, what I pick up is a sense of shame and tacit complicity. Shame is disempowering."
"Something more than platitudes are needed. The Church is dying on the vine, and tinkering with liturgies and translations is not going to bring it back to life. Its credibility is shot to pieces every time abuse occurs."
Footnote by Broken RitesBroken Rites knows the full details of the above-mentioned case. We can reveal that the alleged offender, who is twenty years older than the alleged victim, was still listed as a priest in the mid-2010 edition of the Australian Catholic Directory.
Broken Rites knows of another former seminary trainee who alleges that he was sexually abused by a senior priest while the trainee was studying at the Corpus Christi College seminary in Melbourne. This complaint went to Dr George Pell (the former director of the seminary who later became the archbishop of Melbourne) and also to the Melbourne archdiocese’s commissioner on sexual abuse, Peter O’Callaghan Q.C., but the alleged offender is still a senior priest. The young trainee, on the other hand, left the seminary and entered a different occupation. (Corpus Christi was not the seminary referred to in Professor Neil Ormerod's article.)
In addition, to complaints about ordained priests, many other church sex-offenders include non-ordained members of religious orders such as the Christian Brothers, the Marist Brothers, the De La Salle Brothers and especially the St John of God Brothers. Regarding seminaries, one of the biggest Broken Rites cases was about young trainee Brothers who were abused while they were in the custody of the St Gerald Majella Brothers .