Much has been written about the now-worldwide phenomenon of predatory pedophile Catholic priests who molested young boys, but it is important to note that priests also molested young girls and older teens. These girls and young women (how many?) were also impregnated by these priests.
A recent NPR audio caught my ear on Tuesday, April 20, 2010’s Morning Edition: “Priest’s Dual Legacy: Transgressions And Money”. The transcript can be found here: http://www.npr.org/templates/transcript/transcript.php?storyId=126116570
NPR hosts Steve Inskeep and Renee Montagne use these statements to introduce the story:
STEVE INSKEEP, host:
Father Marcial Maciel built the conservative Legion of Christ into a
powerful Catholic order. Over several decades, Maciel raised millions of dollars for the church. Some estimate the order’s assets are worth $20 billion. After Maciel died in 2008, his order revealed that he had fathered a daughter. Others have come forward claiming to be his sons.
RENEE MONTAGNE, host:
There were years of allegations ignored by the Vatican that Father Maciel sexually abused seminarians as young as 12. Our next guest has reported that Father Maciel hid his secret life by buying the protection of key Vatican officials.
The fact that Father Marcial Maciel fathered children does not seem to be an issue; discussion of the money and assets followed. The adult children get an “honorable mention”, but the mothers of these children get NO mention at all. The story focuses on the MONEY but is missing crucial details.
While this story focuses on just one priest, it raises the as-yet-not-publicly-addressed topic of what happened to the children of these predatory priests? What happened to the mothers of these priests’ children?
I’ve recently been told by a friend, Mary L. Foess (Bonding By Blood, Unlimited) that this a major reason why The Catholic Church and its organizations oppose the opening of birth and adoption records to adoptees. This makes sense, but is not addressed by main stream media — not even NPR.
The main reason which I believe is responsible for lobbies for adoption agency, owned by Catholic Church organizations, ones which keep blocking the release of original birth certificates to persons formerly adopted as children, is this: Once the mother is found by this adult who was adopted, she will then tell her adult ‘child’ who his/her father is. This may lead straight to the priest. There are adoption agencies funded by Catholic church sources; they have powerful lobbies. The Associations for Lawyers, too, block these bills, too, by opposing them when they speak in committee meetings (public hearings). Some birthdads, too, are ‘married men’ who had an affair with these birth mothers.
The Catholic Church’s opposition to unsealing birth and adoption records to adoptees is based upon the unspoken and unacknowledged problem that many, possibly thousands, of priests are indeed fathers — and not just “men of the cloth” religious fathers. The Church wants to keep under wraps the identities of priests who sired out-of-wedlock babies.
For the girls and young women involved, the cover-up means that they remained silent for decades because they conceived outside of marriage. The shame of conceiving through the rape of a priest is even more horrifying. These girls and young women were, of course, forced into relinquishing their illegitimate children, sentencing both the mothers and their adopted-out offspring into lifetimes of shame, degradation and guilt.
But that shame, guilt and degradation doesn’t belong on the young mothers and their children. Let’s put the shame and blame where it belongs: on the not-married fathers — priests — who, not only molested children, but broke their vows of celibacy, destroyed trust, mocked their vocational priesthood and took away the innocence of thousands of children, and their own children.
A very long time ago, I watched the romantic movie series The Thornbirds, about a priest and his love for a woman. Romantic and melancholy, this story tugged at my heart. That was when I was much younger than what I am now. Now, decades later, the thought turns my stomach. Not because I don’t think priests ought to be married, but because if marriage were allowed, perhaps some of the sexual problems of priests might be solved.
We have real-live adoptees who want their birth certificates unsealed, who want their adoption records unsealed, and who want to know who is responsible for giving them life. Because the Catholic lobby is so strongly opposed to opening these records, these adoptees will never know the truth. Correction, these specific adoptees — and millions of other adoptees not produced by predatory pedophile priests — are forced to live life not knowing the truth of their births because protecting the identities of these flaky fathers is more important than fessing-up, telling the truth, admitting to the sins committed and going about the business of rectifying the wrongs. Opening birth and adoption records would help millions of adoptees answer their questions of personal identity, but the Catholic Church says no.
Perhaps the reason the world has not heard about this issue is because The Catholic Church cannot cope with more public scrutiny.
I want to know why more Senior Mothers, and perhaps younger women who were impregnated by priests, do not step forward. The shame is not on you, the shame belongs on the perpetrator. Your adult children need you to step forward and step up to the plate to rally with adoptees to open birth and adoption records. Let’s start naming names of the priests who first committed the rapes, and then causing pregnancies, and who then forced the relinquishment of thousands of their own children.
Father Marcial Maciel of the conservative Legion of Christ is not the only priest to have fathered out-of-celibacy and out-of-wedlock illegitimate children. Who are the others?
~ ~ ~ Joan M Wheeler, BA, BSW, author of Forbidden Family: A Half Orphan’s Account of Her Adoption, Reunion and Social Activism, Trafford Publishing, Nov 2009.
~ ~ ~
By coincidence, the following was sent via Adoption News Service about the fight for open records in New Jersey where adoptees are being held back by the Catholic Conference:
At adoption standoff’s center
Regarding Contributing Editor James Ahearn’s “Battle to open adoption records” (Opinion, Page O-2, April 18):
The true battle is the adoption community (to include birth mothers) against the Catholic Church.
Ahearn has written on priestly abuses in the past, so it is especially frustrating that he did not make the connection that the church wants secrecy in adoption to protect clerics who are, well, fathers.
Ahearn goes on to say that there are Democrats and Republicans on each side. Really? That’s funny. In the state Senate, only one Democrat voted against the bill to give adult adoptees access to their birth certificates and family medical histories of their birth parents.
The adoption community longs for a brave editor or reporter who might think it a bit funny that the Catholic Church is advocating for secrecy over transparency.
Peter W. Franklin
Haskell, April 19
The writer is associated with the Web site AdopteesWithOutLiberty.com.