top of page

Why Am I Not Surprised?

So the Illinois Catholic Church vastly underreported clergy sex abuse. See above. Now if the

headline had read, “Illinois Catholic Church Complies With Sexual Abuse Investigation,” now

THERE would be a surprise.

If you want to surprise me, you’ll have to work a lot harder. Or pick another audience. I’ve

been fighting to raise awareness about sexual abuse almost 30 years. Not many surprises left.

I’ve worked with victims who have been raped and molested by parents, teachers, friends,

doctors, and oh yes, clergy. I have two male cousins who were molested by priests.

One memorable weekend when I was running Awakenings, and we’d just done a digital launch

of our monthly literary magazine (add link here) Laura Kinter and I read over 80 submissions to

the magazine in two days. Each and every one a harrowing story of sexual violence. I

sometimes say I’ve heard it all, but I never say that too loud, because I worry that I still haven’t.

Maybe I should have chosen an easier issue to build my life’s work around. Like teaching new

tricks to old cats. Or painting the Sistine Chapel. But I didn’t choose my mission. It chose me.

Some of the sub-headlines to this story are pretty amusing. Like, “Did Church Officials lie?” and

“There Could Be More.” Duh. You think?

And least surprising of all, THE W

HINING. Cardinal Cupich stating his belief that the Church is

being singled out because it is a “trusted religious organization.”

Yes, you are being singled out, and rightly so. You present a much bigger threat than the creep

down the street. You have developed obfuscation and cover-up into an art form. If you are

being singled out, it’s because you are, by far, capable of doing the most damage.

These days, I wonder how many priests and other protected clergy members are answering a

call, and how many are where they are because there Catholic Church has, historically provided

the safest place to do what you like to do.

I’m totally and completely aware that most sexual abusers were abused themselves. Do they

deserve compassion? Yes. Treatment? Good God yes. Protection? No.

Applause to our new Attorney General for shining a light on an issue that seems like it will

never go away. Now go one step further. Call for, and support, an amendment to the state

constitution extending the statute of limitations for reporting.

When I read that headline, maybe then I’ll be surprised.


bottom of page