Huffpost Religion
The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Alice Carey Headshot

Another Memo to Pope Francis

Posted: Updated:

Ah, Pope Francis you've struck another bad cord with me. It was condescending enough of you to say that atheists can go to heaven -- myself included. But now, as it's Holy Week, you're doing your Jesus bit by donning a crown of thorns and taking the rap for your employees -- priests who abused children. Dead ones as well, I presume.

In my last missive to you, "A Memo To Pope Francis," I called you Frank, which I'll continue to do because of Bob. Father Bob, precisely, my uncle the priest, long dead, and I presume in Heaven, with his other child-abusing cohorts.

What you need is a cue in from one who knows. What Father Bob (that's what I called him, never Uncle Bob) did to me happened long ago. I don't talk about it much. What's done is done. What's the use of hanging on to something you can't do anything about.

What isn't done is this construct called "the healing process." Get on with it. I did. I do. One does. What's not healed, nor never will ever be, is the PTS of being abused by a priest, let alone a relative, and have no one, no one at all to tell it to back then.

Not that it's fucked me up completely. Just enough to recognize that myself and countless other survivors belong to a unique sodality. Being abused is as much a part of my existence as being Irish. When someone edges in really trying to get to know me, I want to say, "My name is Alice and I've been abused." But I don't.

That would be clear. That says it all. But no one wants to hear it. The vision it conjures up is not nice. And what you did Frank, isn't nice either. What you don't seem to get is, your Papal apology rings hollow. Then again, apologizes in general seldom work.

Take what happened to my mother. When I was a girl she was mowed down by a "hit and run." The driver was never found. But say, right now, that person contacted me to apologize for driving off into a December morning and leaving my mother dead on the street.

Would that help me? It wouldn't. Apologies are shallow words uttered to cover one's ass. And honey, yours isn't any different. Come on Frank, be brave and tackle this situation head on. Put those red slippers back on and change Canon law. Why don't you humiliate all the pedophile priests who've been put out to pasture? Humiliation is the way to go. De-frock them all, once and for all.

When I was a child it was shivery to hear the old saying, "Once a priest, always a priest." I remember being in an airplane going over to Ireland with my mother, and her wondering were there were any priests on board to give us Extreme Unction if we crashed. Even bad ones, she explained, because "once a priest, always a priest."

Frank, if you really want to strike a mark that will mean something in your Papacy do this: De-frock the rotten lot of them. Take away their Sacramental powers. If the plane goes down or the bomb goes off, let these evil men feel like helpless shams. This will hurt more that shutting them away in a nice retirement home in another state or country.

Don't you see, it's all vanity -- Father this, Father that. Bless me Father for I have sinned. You must know that laicized priests incessantly refer to themselves as Mister, knowing full well they are not Mister. They're still in the club.

All the old boy Cardinals will scream, "Heresy, heresy! Your Holiness, we cannot change Canon law." Oh yes, you can. You're the Pope. You have the power. You must do it.

Father Bob is long dead. Yet, I can imagine were he alive today and I charged him with abuse under "changed" Canon law. He'd have to get rid of the dog collar and learn to wear civvie clothes. I never saw Father Bob in civvies. From the moment his feet hit the ground, 'till his head hit the pillow, my Uncle was all decked out as a priest so people could greet him and smile at him and give him deference.

Were Father Bob defrocked by the Pope he'd be just a guy. A nice touch would be a badge with the Papal seal stating: "I was once a priest," that he'd have to wear day in and day out for the rest of his life. That'd kill him and I'd love it.