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Barry Crimmins

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Cath-22 pt 4: Good News for Postmodern Man! Thursday, August 26, 2010

Cath22 pt 4 Good News for Postmodern Man

Above- Priests Party Down!
Below- R -Thomas Neary -- Serial rapist
Below L- Charles Bailey and his photo as a kid
Below C- Bad news, Pontiff, some of the kids are starting to fight back

By Barry Crimmins

Anyone who has read the previous three parts of this series has likely surmised that my enmity for the Catholic church is personal. It certainly is.

A problem I have with most church critics is that they almost always stop and genuflect at the altar of “all the good people in the church.” These "good people" are often well-intentioned but they serve as the phony front for a corrupt organization -- they run the flower shop in front of the bookie joint. Some know what they're doing, some don’t but they all help provide a smokescreen.

As I stated earlier, Catholic clergy either participated in the abuse of children, participated in the coverup of crimes against children or knew of the crimes and coverup and remained silent and therefore became accessories during and after the fact. The few priests who didn’t know what was happening, must know by now. If they are truly men of conscience, they need to raise hell about this, which will get them excommunicated - a good and righteous place to be.

The same can be said of nuns and other church workers and volunteers. They either participated, helped cover-up, knew of the crimes and conspired in silence or now know and must take a stand.

This is also true of the rank and file membership of the church. Forever the so-called "faithful" have looked the other way at blatantly sinful behavior by their spiritual leaders. When the church is obviously wrong, they unquestioningly accept whatever weak alibi clerics provide. They don’t bother to challenge the church over its ridiculous dogma and edicts, although some take or leave the church's tenets as the so-called cafeteria Catholics do.

The faithful have turned a perpetual blind eye to the abuse of children at the hands of the clergy. I know. I was abused on the altar, during mass, before the assembled faithful almost every day for three years before anyone spoke up. Even then the church wasn’t challenged. The problem was simply brought to my parents’ attention.

What upset me last Palm Sunday wasn't the fact that it marked the 39th straight year I would fail to make my Easter duty. This meant, according to church teaching, an extension of my sentence of eternal damnation. Fortunately, I long ago saw such threats for the utter bullshit they are.

What bothered me were all the parishioners who were interviewed outside St. Patrick's Cathedral after Bishop Timothy Dolan’s intellectually and ethically bereft defense of Pope Benedict’s role in the clerical child abuse scandal. They aped Dolan's unjustifiable outrage at anyone who would question the pope about a scandal Ratzinger had facilitated via coverup for many years. 
Rather than running as quickly as they could to escape Dolan’s twisted take, the parishioners stood in line to bleat things before cameras and into microphones such as, "It's about time someone defended the Holy Father!"

And, "This stuff happened years ago, when will these people get over it?" 

These pope-protectors are are exactly kind of “good Catholics” who ignored my suffering as I dealt with one of the worst predator
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priests ever to visit a child's waking nightmares. His name was Father Thomas Neary and I served most of the weekday masses he said at St Mary's of the Lake in my hometown of Skaneateles, NY for somewhere around three years.

Twice Neary began to put his hands on me in the privacy of the sacristy. Twice I threw an elbow, squirmed free and fled. I had already been raped when I was much younger by a man the babysitter brought into our home so I guess I had developed emotional antibodies to rapists. Otherwise, I think, Neary would have had his sadistic way with me.

Once he realized I wasn't a good bet for molestation, he made my life a living and public hell. He wanted to drive me off so that he could have a fresh supply of boys to prey upon. So every day, on the altar and in the sacristy, he heaped abuse upon me. This came at that difficult period when childhood is passing and adolescence is blooming. My days began with an emotional pummeling by a spiritual authority on the altar right in front of the most devout of Catholics. Good morning!

He couldn’t force me out because as a good Catholic boy, I was terrified to go home and tell my parents that a priest despised me. I was sure my mistreatment was deserved. I’ve written about this experience on this blog in a 2007 piece entitled Mea Maxima Culpa. 

In the years since writing about Neary, I've been amazed at how deep and painful the memories of his emotional and verbal abuse remain. To relive this period of my life is to dredge one of the darkest corners of my soul. It sends me into unfathomable funks. Then I think of the boys who weren't as lucky as I. The ones Thomas Neary sexually terrorized for months and even years. 

I wonder how many of those innocent kids could have been saved if someone stood up in the church and told him to stop his daily humiliation of me. I wonder how much more emboldened Neary became when he saw no one make the slightest move to defend me in my defenseless innocence.

Then I think of those assholes outside of St. Patrick’s expressing relief that someone has finally defended the pope. They are quick to run to his defense but when I was just a child, alone on an altar with a cruel priest who subjected me to malicious humiliation again and again, they didn’t so much as clear their throats. They left me alone in my agony to do the Catholic thing and decide I had it coming.

The church already knew what Neary was long before he got to Skaneateles. He'd already been reassigned a few times, always finding a new comfortable seat before the pipe organ stopped in the sick game of musical chairs the church employed as a policy for predator priests.

The man who hated me and questioned my common decency on the altar so many mornings was among the worst of the worst of the child abusing priests. His sexually criminal behavior against children and adolescents included some of the most unimaginably vile conduct that has come to light in this scandal. For instance:

He would orally rape a boy and then order the child to swallow every drop of semen because as God's representative on Earth, he was sacred and his semen was the equivalent of the eucharist so it must never be spilled onto the ground.

He would anally rape boys while praying very loudly in Latin so that a child's screams of pain could not be heard above Neary’s counterfeit spiritual petitions. 

After raping boys he would make them confess their sins to him so he could absolve them for having been raped. This of course served to underscore the lie that the kids were complicit in their own degradation and not hapless and helpless innocents who'd been overwhelmed by a serial rapist. It also fortified Neary’s coverup, which was reinforced by threatening the boys that they'd never see their parents again if they disclosed what really went on during the supposed educational sessions.

On his way out of many victim's homes, Thomas Neary would collect payment from boys' mothers for the “special instruction” he had given them because he was sure the kids had vocations to become priests. That’s right, he raped kids and charged their parents for it. Are you puking yet?

Ever the preemptive pervert, the diabolical Neary told boys' mothers to be unconcerned if their children acted oddly or expressed a desire to end
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their tutelage under the savage priest. He’d explain that it was a tough road to the priesthood. He said almost every kid would beg to turn back sooner or later. That's why it was incumbent upon parents to order the child to continue the “instructions.”

Neary was confident in parental gullibility, especially considering how he would rape some boys in their own bedrooms while their mothers knelt dutifully praying the rosary in their living rooms, per his instructions.

Neary didn't just rape kids in their bedrooms, he also violated them in church sacristies, rectories and basements. He assaulted children and adolescents in cars and private homes, in schools and anywhere else the monstrous urge overcame him.

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Having already suffered several assaults, ten year-old Charles Bailey was once dragged kicking and screaming from under his family's porch and handed over to Neary as his mother beamed, "You're going to be my little priest." Despite his protests, Charles was set back on the hard road Neary described again and again.

Charles Bailey never entered the seminary but he did, after a lifetime of anguish, overcome post-traumatic stress disorder and a great deal of understandable trepidation to blow the whistle on what the abominable Thomas Neary had done to him. In fact he literally wrote the book on Neary. It's called In the Shadow of the Cross and you need to read it.

Thanks to my friend Charles Bailey's brave public disclosures about the horrific crimes Neary committed against him, I’ve gotten to know several of the rabid priest's victims. Actually I already knew some of them, I just didn't know he had assaulted them until they disclosed their stories to me after reading my 2007 essay on the matter.

The truth is slowly unwinding. I’ve learned that among his Skaneateles victims, one suicide by shotgun and another by drugs and alcohol can be traced directly to Neary. The young man who killed himself with a shotgun was a dear friend of mine. The other fellow was enough older than me to only be a passing acquaintance but he left behind a devastated family and scores of heartbroken friends.

Charley Bailey and I decided we should form an unofficial organization for those of us who survived Neary. We call it the Hell Alumni Association -- Thomas Neary Branch. We fought the same war, against the same enemy, just not together.

I can't tell you how much these people mean to me. Some are middle-aged, some nearly senior citizens but all of us are children when we discuss the human jackal who terrorized us when we were young. It's such a relief to be in touch with these folks. Neary is dead and we're alive. Hurray!

Charles Bailey is everyone's hero -- he broke the conspiracy of silence and dozens of us have benefited from it. When the church attempts to spin the scandal into an opaque tapestry of lies, he is there to shred it. In Central New York when the church speaks about child sexual abuse by priests, people immediately wait for Charley's reasoned and knowing refutations. He never lets them down.

Charley and his wife Sue are tremendous people. Neither would blink an eye in a hurricane if it meant it might allow the church to slip past with a lie. The Baileys have directly confronted mental reservation -- the church's clause that allows priests to lie for the supposed good of the church.

Charley emailed this to me the other day:
My experience with mental reservation was when I asked the bishop [Moynihan of the Diocese of Syracuse, now retired - BC] to see neary's "secret archive" file. I was sitting in his office with Sue and asked to view his secret archive file.

I was told by the bishop, "There is no such thing."

I said, "The one mandated by canon law."

He said, "There is no such canon law to my knowledge."

I said, "I know you have two files on each priest. One 'public' record personnel file and then the 'secret archive' file that you store in the basement and only you have the key except for one other undisclosed person."

He said, "I am confused by what you are saying, I know of no such file."  

So, I open my paperwork and lay the below article in front of him. [it  quoted the canon law that mandated the documents Charley demanded - BC]  After he reviewed it he said, "Oh, THAT Secret Archive. No, you can't see it. Anyway we destroy them after a priest dies"

(an aside to this -A Philadelphia grand jury found 45,000 pages of secret archives in the basement of the bishop's office, I don't think they are ever destroyed)

Faith is just another word for loyalty and loyalty must be earned and then maintained. When loyalty is betrayed all bets are off. The Catholic church has betrayed its membership to the point where the institution is, in my opinion, beyond redemption. What person with a child could be foolish enough to ever leave that child under the care and influence of a church that is responsible for a crime wave against children? People who are still leaving their children in the hands of this derelict organization have no one but themselves to blame if and when their children are harmed.

They say a church is really just the people who attend it but the Catholic church is nothing more than a 2,000 year-old corporation run by the equivalent of an unresponsive, absurdly greedy and distant front office. In other words, it's the world’s first and worst multinational. It deserves no more loyalty than Verizon or General Electric.

The Catholic church cares about our well-being about as much the average corporation cares about leaving us on hold for 40 minutes while we attempt to straighten out a bill. Even if you do get through to someone, they are arrogant and impolite and treat you as if their mistake is your fault. Corporate is as Catholic has done for centuries.
There is only one way for the Catholic church to make a perfect act of contrition for all of its misdeeds. It must open up its finances, including an audit of its vast treasure trove of precious art, artifacts and architecture. Then it must put ten billion dollars in escrow for the victims of its predator priests (and nuns and administrators). The rest must be turned over to the poor people of the world via churches and institutions that rightfully belong to them anyway.

Of course this is never going to happen so there is no hope of redemption for the odious institution. Therefore it is incumbent upon all Catholics and former Catholics of actual good faith to break for good with the church that claims to be embodied by the Vatican. The Vatican isn’t a church, it’s a vault. We should not worship vaults.

There is the one and only mercy I beseech the Catholic church to bestow upon me -- formal excommunication. Let me out and make it official. Granted I am already what they call “silently excommunicated” because I have violated church laws concerning church attendance, sexual behavior and blasphemy. According to its rules, I'm doomed to hell. But that threat doesn’t work on me because I've been to hell and it is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Roman Catholic church. So those robed frauds better watch themselves when they threaten my soul. It has beaten them before. It was my soul that allowed me to endure them in the first place and I will be damned if I ever let them lay their greasy paws on it again.

If these psycho-sexually criminal creeps and the wealth-worshiping frauds who cover for them think they can threaten me with banishment, all I can say is, “Please don’t throw me into the eternal brier patch!”
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I beg for formal excommunication because I have standards to maintain and a reputation to uphold. I have sinned mightily in my day but my sins were human and I have worked hard to rectify my mistakes. I’ve made a lot of progress. To continue my reform, I need to disassociate myself from certain negative influences from my past. Among them there is none more negative than the Catholic church. It was a large minus sign that hovered next to me for far too long.

So I am out and haven’t an iota of guilt over my departure. I still have a conscience but it is a sensible one that operates on its own and not at the behest of a demonstrably sinister organization. Now that my conscience holds me responsible for my own behavior, I can no longer alibi that I looked the other way because I was just following the rules set down by some arcane and fraudulent institution. It’s a little more work but a much lighter load to carry.

I walked out of the church long ago but only recently have I come to understand what it is all about. Only now do I see how it implanted self-loathing in me so that I would remain in fearful compliance with its edicts, or failing that, at least maintain a scared silence. Well no more.

This scandal is far from over. We are just beginning to learn about priestly abuse of children in Europe. Some stories have filtered in from Central and South America. Asia, Africa and various far-flung islands will chime in sooner or later unless the church’s propensity for reassigning perpetrator priests knew some boundaries and you know that it didn’t. The church leans so heavily on its phony nationhood because it knows that it will need to continue to employ diplomatic immunity to avoid prosecution as a criminal cabal. We’ll see how long the world puts up with that bullshit.

I won’t put up with it at all. I’ll go in peace only if and when the Catholic church goes to hell. Until then I promise to tell the pope or any of his minions they are liars whenever a falsehood slips from their mentally reserved tongues. You should, too.

updated: 12 years ago