SAN DIEGO (ChurchMilitant.com) - In the latest listening session, a former victim of child sexual grooming by priests gave Bp. Robert McElroy a mouthful.
McElroy of the San Diego diocese has been hosting listening sessions where people can ask questions and express their concerns about the priest sex abuse scandal.
The third listening session Thursday night got off to a rocky start. As someone tried to calm down the crowd so they could start the event, one man stood up and shouted a story from his childhood of how priests and other grown men at a summer camp in southern Illinois groomed him and a few other boys for abuse, having them strip naked to slide down a rock formation into a river with them. Some of the other boys later got raped by those priests.
The man was about to be removed from the hall just moments into his testimony, but members of the audience started shouting, "Let him speak!"
He was allowed to speak, and what began like an outburst morphed into a prepared speech lasting about eight minutes. At one point, he said to the bishop, "Bishop McElroy, you received a letter from Dr. [Richard] Sipe detailing his concerns about McCarrick, and you ignored it."
"I think Dr. Sipe was a man who wanted to help us," he opined.
The man said a few minutes later, "I can't believe a reasonable man would ignore Dr. Sipe's letter to you. If someone sent me that letter, I'd make it my life's work to (one) disprove this crazy man's theories or (two) rid this evil from the roots of my church. It's worldwide!"
Church Militant obtained an audio recording of Thursday night's listening session. A source close to the matter commented on the man's story of sexual predation, "Horrible!!!"
Near the end of his speech, the man again spoke to the bishop, saying, "Bishop McElroy, I have no faith in your will or character. I've emailed you — twice. And I believe the thought of losing more money from lawsuits is more than enough temptation for you to keep everything hidden."
He continued, "That's why I'm appealing to you, my fellow Catholics, to stop giving money to the Church."
After blowback from some in the audience, the man explained, "If he stands to lose more money by lack of donation than by lawsuits, that could be enough to force him to bring this to the light of day."
"Maybe we can't pay our electric bill, and have to have Mass by candlelight," he added. "I think that would be a good penance for us all, for what we have allowed this Church, excuse me, this leadership of this Church, to do."
The man said he thought the bishops' response to sex abuse scandal in 2002 did a lot to protect children, but still had some major flaws:
However, it did nothing to address the continued problems of rapist predatory clergy in the Church leadership that moved and covered for these sick men, as is obvious from the Pennsylvania grand jury report. This was supposed to have been dealt with years ago. My gut and common sense tells me that if they keep the congregation in the dark, and do not talk about it, it won't go away.
He added, "It won't [go away] until everything is exposed in the light of God."
He asked rhetorically, "How are we supposed to trust the bishops? The same bishops that were supposed to fix this before, we're supposed to trust you again to fix it now?"
Near the middle of his testimony, the man began crying as he said that his 15-year-old daughter recently told him she wanted to become a nun, and he replied, "I can't support that."
An audience member encouraged him to let her become a nun, because it might help him find healing.
The man spoke highly of his daughter, saying "She has kept me in my faith. If it weren't for her, I wouldn't be here right now."