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© 2018 Dear Pope Francis: Letters from survivors, family and friends

 

If you are writing to the Pope, there are two addresses:

His Holiness, Pope Francis (his work address)
Apostolic Palace
00120 Vatican City

His Holiness, Pope Francis (his home address)
Saint Martha House
00120 Città del Vaticano, Vatican City

In Canada, you may also write to: 

Most Rev. Luigi Bonazzi

Apostolic Nunciature

724 Manor Ave.

Ottawa, ON K1M 0E3

Email Pope Francis: 

You can send an email to the Pope via: info@salastampa.va 

 

Letters from survivors,          family members and              friends 

The letters being shared here are uncensored, raw stories that may be uncomfortable for some readers. Thank you to the authors for being so brave.

London Canada

On December 12th a group of supporters for Irene Deschenes delivered a letter to the  Bishop to ask the Church to stop fighting Irene in court and instead use the money to support her healing process. It is time for the Church to take responsibility for all of the suffering caused by predatory priests and to begin making honest amends. 

Read the letter 

We owe a great debt to Irene and other survivors who have found the courage to come forward and call the Church to account. Without them there would be even more victims. In spite of repeated calls for reform and accountability for decades now, the Church continues to persecute victims by forcing them to litigate and by begrudging every dollar paid in compensation. The Church owes a lifetime of support to the people and communities it has hurt.

Canada

Christina Lepore

 

THE LETTER FROM THE POPE WE DIDN'T GET:

 

We are guilty. Guilty of not keeping our flock from harm. Guilty of unspeakable crimes against the most vulnerable. We are guilty of sexual abuse and sexual exploitation. We are guilty of conspiracy to commit these heinous crimes and in hiding the crimes of others. We are guilty of protecting predators instead of victims. We are guilty of long term irreparable damage to the health and welfare of the children. We have failed!

 

We take ownership in our roles of destroying the lives of many of parishioners and their families. We acknowledge the consequences of such vile crimes. We have read the studies and know the that trauma causes irreparable damage. We have stolen both lives and souls. Therefore just as Jesus did in John 2 13-19, we will leave no stone unturned to clean out the evil in our Father's house. Effective immediately, every priest who has any allegations against them shall be removed from their positions pending an investigation. Every file shall be handed over to authorities for a mass 3rd party investigation.

 

We vow to do everything within our means to rebuild your trust. We begin the process of pulling down every strong hold of clericalism in our church. Hierarchy and power has led to corruption. We admit that although celibacy does not cause abuse; we must change our celibacy requirements, so that there are a greater number of people drawn to ordination. We vow to no longer discriminate against women. Both men and women, married and single will be welcomed. Misogyny will no longer be allowed to govern our Faith.

 

To the 1.8 BILLION Catholics in the world, we know you are distraught and grieving and angry that your weekly offering has enabled this conspiracy, moving predators from parish to parish and even the so called " treatment " centres for these criminals. Be assured, from this day forward, your money shall be directed to those abused and to prevent further abuse. If we have to sell off every church and all of Vatican City, we will. We will preach from the hilltops like Christ if need be. In Jesus' day, his place of worship had become corrupt and as he addressed the high priest he said " Tear this place to the ground and I will rebuild it in 3 days. " IT'S TIME to tear down and rebuild! We recognize that the magnitude of our depravity and know that this time of crisis; can be the end of us, or a revival of faithful!

 

Finally , we expect you to hold us accountable for these changes until they come to fruition. Until then feel free to #stayhomesundays. PS : Bishops are free to copy and paste.

Love Francis

Canada

Gemma Hickey

Pathways Foundation 

Newfoundland and Labrador

www.pathways-foundation.com

Sept 6, 2018

Your Holiness,

A priest sexually abused me when I was young. My case was settled outside of court. The diocese in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, “lost” my file, and as a result this priest was placed back into active duty. Two bishops were alerted as to the identity of this priest, but did nothing. This priest has since “retired”, yet I am unable to retire from the damage that has been done to me and my home province of Newfoundland and Labrador. But when we are faced with adversity, we are also presented with the unique opportunity to create profound change. This is why I write to you today.

 

Read the letter on Pathways website

Your Holiness, just as I made a choice to respond differently to my experience of abuse, surely you have the capacity to respond differently to this global crisis. While you are taking some personal time to reflect on the recent accusation asserting that you had prior knowledge of clerical misconduct, I respectfully welcome the opportunity to speak with you by phone or in person to discuss this urgent matter further. Until then, I wish you well and remain hopeful for your kind reply.

Gemma Hickey

Canada

Letter by Dr. Patrick Milroy, St. Thomas, Ontario Canada

Pope Francis Apostolic Palace
00120 Vatican City

 

Pope Francis,

 

I am not a childhood clergy sexual abuse victim.

 

At the age of 24, I was subdued, transported, drugged, threatened with death, placed in bondage and raped by a Roman Catholic priest and his accomplice, an Episcopalian Minister.

 

The crime took place in Suffolk, Virginia in 1986 during a solo bicycle tour from my parents home in St. Thomas, Ontario to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. My path crossed with the Priest and Minister at a retreat center, Chanco on the James, in Scotland Virginia. Ironically, the bicycle tour was undertaken because I was questioning the strict Roman Catholicism that I was raised in. 

 

I was suicidal after the assault. My relationship with Jesus was destroyed. I survived in a dissociated state for the next 20 years. Interpersonal relationships, especially two failed marriages, depression and low self-esteem have underscored the turmoil that the trauma from the assault wrought.

Read more...

The church must be cleansed of predators and their protectors. Require that the remaining Roman Catholic church leaders stop the revictimization of clergy abuse survivors through the legal system which is inherently adversarial. Grant that restitution to survivors be open, honest, and fair to the survivor.

Pat Milroy

Canada

Anonymous, September 14, 2018

Dear Pope Francis

When I was 10 years old, in grade 5 at a Catholic Elementary School in London Ontario; I confided in a priest during confession that my teacher had been sexually abusing me for months. Shaking and weeping I begged God (aka Father) to forgive me for being involved in this mortal sin with my teacher because I was told by my parents that if you died with a mortal sin on your soul you would not go to heaven.

Upon hearing about what was happening to me; I was invited to the priest's side of the confessional to " pray "... Instead I was shamed, persecuted and violated. I was told I had a " dirty mind ' and that if I didn't stop having these " fantasies " I would grow up to be a " slut ". When I begged that He believe me, he insisted I sit on his lap and SHOW him what was happening sexually with my teacher. 

 

Read more...

I pray for everyone who has kept these kinds of secrets for decades. I know the depth of the heartache. I too, feel the loss of what life could have, would have and should have been. I understand the fear of judgement, speculation and betrayal. But I am also learning of late, that the lies I've told myself in order to survive are far more painful than the truth itself. And I believe that when the truth becomes air, I will breathe again. I will shout from the rooftops even if my voice breaks and my knees shake until every victim can stand unashamed and say "me too." 

Anonymous

Canada

Letter by Sheila Stevenson September 13, 2018


As a member of the Roman Catholic faith I am appalled at the revelations on child sexual abuse that have been coming forth over the last several years. I myself was sexually abused by my biological father, and blamed and punished for it by my biological mother - both upstanding church people. Secrecy is what has allowed child abuse and child sexual abuse to flourish for centuries. It is now time for institutions that have previously to this date covered over their sins and crimes.re to add your own text and edit me. It's easy.

Read more...

The most important things are: the child needs to be believed - and comforted; the child needs to get help from 'trauma-informed' and compassionate therapists - and those costs need to be borne by the involved; and, the child - and their family - need to receive both verbal and written sincere apologies.

Sheila Stevenson

United States

By Mary Dispenza 

Dear Pope Francis,

Time is begging you to do the right thing. There have been too many apologies from you and other Popes through the ages with little to no significant reform. The Catholic Church remains seemingly unable to conquer its demons. And yet, if you don't, the Catholic Church may perish - never becoming the great Church it could be. 

Neither you, your bishops or priests appear serious about ending the torture and clergy sex abuse of children, minors and vulnerable adults. The silence of so many priests and bishops including yourself speaks complicity in one way or another. 

Read more 

There is so much more I wanted to tell you, Pope Francis, about my own journey from childhood priest abuse to healing and justice - how the parish priest, Father George Neville Rucker, raped me and how he was passed on from one parish to another for over four decades to rape and abuse over 35 little girls in Los Angeles and surroundings. All the while Cardinal James McIntyre, Cardinal Timothy Manning and Cardinal Roger Mahoney and at least 5 Popes knew this. I wanted to tell you about the window of opportunity that saved my life. I wanted to tell you about the loss and betrayal of the Catholic Church that broke my heart. You still have time to do something about the mess the Catholic Church is in. You can be a different kind of Pope. Change the trajectory. Make a different history. It's still not too late. 

Mary Dispenza

United States

Maureen and Paul Petro

Dear Pope Francis,

I am a sexual abuse survivor. I was sexually abused for 15 years, (my entire childhood), by both of my parents and others who they allowed to abuse me. My father was a very strict catholic and friendly with the priests at the church my family attended- St Joseph's Parish in North Plainfield New Jersey. (Metuchen Diocese).

 

When I was 10 years old (1978), I courageously told a priest in confession at St. Joseph's church these words "I don't like the things my parents do to me, and make me do." The priest responded to me with these words "It is a sin to have sexual relations before you are married. Say these prayers... for forgiveness." I was re-victimized by the priest and never spoke about the abuse again until I started having flashbacks in my early 30's. I don't know the priest because I couldn't see him during this confession. I do remember how he made me feel as a 10 year old victim of horrific sexual abuse- deep shame, guilt and humiliation.

 

All clergy sexual predators and the ones who have enabled them MUST be held accountable by our Justice System. Pope Francis, are you choosing to help victims/survivors OR are you choosing to enable the sexual predators? We NEED your support. It is what Jesus wants you to do.

 

Sincerely, Maureen Petro

 

It's time for us to demand action....

 

We speak 'truth to power'

Comments to the website

Below are comments submitted to the website and petition. 

Virginie Warluzel

Pour je sus crie

 

James Mulholland

I say name them and shame them for what they have done especially the priests so they cannot abuse anymore of their flock, ie young children

Marion Wilson

Such a disgrace, I am not a catholic but this is all over. It has to stop.

Marianne Park

Never too late to do the right thing.

Leona Huggins

My parish priest abused me during my adolescence. Despite going to jail, he was later reinstated in another parish. If it weren't for my efforts to reveal his past, he would have spent the past 7 years with people still thinking he was the "only good priest out there." This is his obituary:  http://ottawacitizen.remembering.ca/obituary/john-mccann-1067556952

Vivian Farmery

As a social worker who started and ran an organization that helped youth who are sexually abused, I have known and worked with, hundreds of survivors of priest abuse. It’s time for the church to stop trying to cover up, to make excuses for and shuffle around priests who abuse, and to compensate survivirs without putting them through hell again.

Brandy Paltrinieri

I want to see justice for those affected by abuse from Catholic priests and those who hid it for year's!!

Lisa Widdifield

Please Pope Francis. Read and heed.

Dawn Radford

Time for change. Time for action. Compassion and reconciliation are action words.

Carolyn Dillon

There needs to be more accountability....so many lives damaged or destroyed. Those responsible need to acknowledge the horrors they helped perpetuate.

Lori Englert

I am the daughter of a survivor. My Mom passed away in 2016. I will not allow what happened to her as an innocent little girl be forgotten. She was a shell of the person she could have been. As her daughter, I too was wounded by what happened before I was even born. I continue to suffer. I am now her voice. I will not be silenced.

Elizabeth Bonar

Because this needs to change and I also believe this may deter anyone from believing in God and attending church.

Brian Martin

I'm signing because this abuse needs to stop immediately. It's time to take quick and decisive action to hold perpetrators accountable so the victims can heal. Do something!!!