"Holy Water-Gate" by Priest Abuse Survivors
It's been years since I've had anything worthy of taking your time to post. Now that I have something, I hope you will bear with me while I detail it for those who cannot access it:
I've just finished reviewing filmmaker, Mary Healey's, "Holy Water-Gate," which I found on the Documentary.com channel. Allow me to start by stating that I was very pleased to see the 2002 veteran Soulforcee vigilers in the 42nd minute of the film, in DC in front of the Hyatt during the US Catholic Bishop Conference. It was just a casual glimpse of us in the background of a mass media scramble of the priest abuse survivors' march; but, there we were holding our cardboard "Stop Spiritual Violence" signs, looking very organized and peaceful.
Since I haven't taken up any of the space here or your time in over 3 years, please permit me to wax on about this marvelously well done documentary, "Holy Water-Gate: Abuse Cover-up in the Catholic Church."
This film documents quite a few major points that I have not viewed in other films on the same topic:
1) Jason Berry, an investigative journalist, discovered that 135 priests in the US Catholic denomination had been removed for committing acts of sexual abuse. He attempted to publish an article about the cover-up in what he calls "the hierarchy," in 1985. Magazines he names that refused to publish his article are "Time," "Vanity Fair," "Rolling Stone," & "The Nation." Only two weekly newspapers would publish his story. By 1992, Berry published a book entitled, "Catholic Priests and the Sexual Abuse of Children." Following that, the likes of Phil Donahue, Oprah Winfrey, Connie Chung, Cokie Roberts & Ted Koppel are shown broadcasting television shows on this topic. The media broadcasts had the effect of bringing survivors together in the nation's largest support group (4,600) led by survivor & attorney, Barbara Blaine. She is the group's spokesperson who was being interviewed by the mass media while Soulforcee's were vigiling in the background at the Hyatt in 2002.
2) One of the priests who sexually abused children, Father William C., is interviewed by Ms. Healey. He details that he was 1st reported, in June of 1979, to Oakforest, Ill. police, for raping 2 children (ages 12 & 13) while at his retreat home where he often took groups of parrish children. The officer who stayed up all night writing the report told the filmmaker how his report was 'disappeared', after 2 Catholic church officials showed up & promised that Father Wm. C. would "never work with children again." The police officer (wisely) kept a copy of his report & allowed the filmmaker to read it. After promising the parents of the molested children what the church officials had, Father Wm. C. tells how he was swept out of sight, in November of 1979, into a retreat type of church 'clinic', treated for depression, released, then assigned to 6 more parrishes. He believes this may have been the beginning of the US Bishops' cover-up of priest sexual abuse. By the late 1980's, Father Wm. C. was appointed the "Youth Minister." He was never put on canonical trial or US court trial for molesting youths. Since he knew he would continue to molest children for as long as he was a priest, he decided to resign.
3) Father Tom Doyle, who served in DC at the Vatican Embassy from 1981-1986, held the office of screening candidates for Bishop. In 1985, he & medical doctor, Rev. Michael Peters, co-authored a report, "The Problem of Sexual Molestation by Roman Catholic Clergy: Meeting the Problem in a Comprehensive & Responsive Manner." This academic paper warns that "sexual abuse of children is a life-long illness...and the most appropriate treatment is life-long psycho-therapy." The paper's co-authors cite the Canon law 1342, stating that 'if an allegation had any possible merit or truth, the cleric should be immediately suspended. No trial or extra judicial decree is necessary to do so'. In fact, they also warned that, US laws require clerics to report allegations or suspicions of sexual abuse of children and that "failure to do so could expose the church to widespread civil lawsuits." After Doyle & Peters submitted their report to the church hierarchy Doyle reports he was contacted & told it was being "deep sixed," without being given any explanation whatsoever. The following year Doyle's job at the embassy was not renewed. Father Doyle became an Air Force Chaplain. In Boston, in 2002, after serving survivors of priest sexual abuse for many years, Father Doyle was honored "Priest of Integrity." Four months before reaching his 20th year of service with the church, Doyle was removed from his position as an Air Force Chaplain. He has continued to serve as an expert witness for "victims of priest sexual abuse cases."
4) In film footage of Bishop Wilton Gregory, head of the US Bishop's Conference in Dallas, in 2002, the bishops created a charter "for the protection of young people." Only six months later, at the annual US Bishops Conference in DC (where Soulforcees stood in vigil), the Vatican ordered Bishop Gregory to revise that charter so that it would protect priests' rights. The bishops did so.
5) Although survivors were prevented by Wisconsin courts from bringing charges against sexually abusive clerics, citing that churches had a 1st Amendment Constitutional right not to release any of their records, by 2007, the Wisconsin State Supreme Court ruled that 'abuse victims' "could pursue claims against the Wisconsin Catholic Church" for "fraudulent concealment," of the records that document the church's cover-up of sexual abuse by clerics.
6) Names of abusers are revealed & media photographs of the clerics are put together with the priests' identities. The people who do the revealing are the survivors themselves: adult women and men, including one priest who is a survivor. The filmmaker herself reveals that Rev. James Silva, of Providence, RI, was not only her abuser, but dozens of other survivors'. His bishop transferred him to 12 different parrishes to cover-up the long history of allegations against Silva for over 16 years.
7) Preposterously, and laughing part of time while he's being filmed and speaking about this, Joseph Cardinal Bernadin, in 1994, gave a speech stating the church's position on allegations of priest sexual abuse was that these "psychological expressions" were not "based on a fundamental psychological disorder." So, the church hierarchy chose to deal with each priest following an "administrative route purposely," in order "to avoid trials." Father Doyle retorts, "They didn't follow an administrative route; they didn't follow ANY route! They used the geographical cure; sending them to another parrish; disappear the guy for a while."
I found this film to be fascinating, well researched, right on point, and loaded with much more information than I can elaborate upon here. I am writing about it to recommend it to viewers. The footage of the US bishops in this documentary is so familiar to me since I was filming at the same time. Any Soulforcee who was vigiling in DC outside of the Hyatt, on the night of the surivors' march, would be quite likely to recognize the film segments of those scenes (if not themselves, as well!).
What I did not realize & learned from this film is while I was vigiling outside of the Hyatt, Bishop Gregory was leading the US Conference of Bishops inside to change that charter to protect children, as ordered by the Vatican, to protect the rights of priests, instead. While that was not one of the specified purposes of my participation in the vigil, I feel even more glad I was there in support of survivors. I recall that more than several of us marched with the survivors that night. I also cannot forget the glass & brass Hyatt turnstyle doors packed with US bishops, most of whom were acting as if they were ignoring everyone who was standing outside in the cold to help make our points by giving them human faces.
ęCopyright 2010 m~d No Copy or distribution without my handwritten consent.
Last edited by m~dgray; 11-30-2010 at 09:57 PM.
Reason: typographical errors