The fall down – Part 2

20 06 2021

Almost a couple of years ago, I wrote an autobiographical post on an abuser priest I had the misfortune of knowing. I kept the names and details fairly anonymous because no one had ever come forward openly as a victim. Well, that changed recently, and I just found out about it. I know everyone that Mrs. Victoria McQuade is talking about in the video above, in fact, I knew Victoria herself by sight fairly well, and saw her every day. I also know the friend she refers to, or at least I have a pretty clear idea of who it is. From her testimony, the now defrocked priest, Benedict “Ben” Vanderputten, had been grooming her and harassing her for years, as well as perhaps a dozen other young women. I highly encourage everyone to watch to her interview, both to know the full scope of the Society of St. Pius X’s cover-up for their ex-priest’s crimes, as well as an amazing testament to keeping one’s faith in an almost impossible situation.

I really don’t want to write too much as I think the gravity of teenage girls being sexually assaulted by a priest warrants a great deal of silence from my end, but I will only add a few details for some context. All of the things described here happened only a couple of hundred feet from where I was sleeping on any given night. I can still envision these spaces and rooms in my mind. It should be said that, even though women and girls were on the grounds at times, we men who were living there and helping out didn’t fraternize with them. We lived in separate spaces, we didn’t eat with them, and we certainly didn’t sleep near them. All that said, it still feels horrible knowing that these girls were being victimized right under our noses, and even those who suspected something maintained a criminal silence.

Mostly I am disappointed with the priests mentioned here. I looked up to them, I counted some of them as my friends. I even wrote obituaries for a couple of them who passed on this blog. Now, honestly, I don’t know what to think. Was it really worth the innocence and faith of young women, barely out of girlhood, to keep everything covered up for decades? Was it really necessary to guilt and blame the victims? To not be on their side? Girls who they saw every day, girls whose confessions they heard, girls they gave Holy Communion to, are they just collateral damage to preserve the reputation of their precious Society? It’s deeply sad but also infuriating. You priests were supposed to protect these children, and you didn’t! You think you won’t have to answer for that?! Perhaps a couple who have passed to the other side already have. Pray for their souls.

The other interview I would like to point out is of a woman whose family I got to know during this time, Julie Swehla. You should listen to that one as well, for the same reason as you should Mrs. Victoria McQuade’s. Somehow, miraculously, Mrs. Swehla has kept her faith even though almost all of her eleven children, including her husband, lost it entirely. And who can blame them, considering the scope and depravity of Mr. Vanderputten’s predations? Words indeed fail me. I really don’t know what else to say.

Most of my adult life, I have defended the Society of St. Pius X. Like Victoria, I don’t think its faithful should abandon it entirely. But accountability and an apology are more than warranted. The rest of the Catholic Church is going through a crisis in this regard, and the Society of St. Pius X has shown that it should not be exempt from this reckoning. In the past few days since listening to these accounts, I have really been reassessing my past. Part of me thinks it was all based on a horrible lie, one that stole vocations, destroyed Faith, ruined childhoods, and made priests I trusted lie to everyone’s face to keep up appearances. I am not a victim here, I didn’t suffer anything. But I can’t remember these days fondly any longer. Knowing now the atmosphere of pain and suffering I was walking in, I will have to file those once fond memories as something else. I pray for the victims, and hope they find peace in this life, or at the very least in the next.



2 responses

23 06 2021

I know

22 06 2021
Brian M

“Was it really worth the innocence and faith of young women, barely out of girlhood, to keep everything covered up for decades? Was it really necessary to guilt and blame the victims? To not be on their side?”

I don’t want to engage in whataboutism, and I agree that the Society should be made to answer for its sins, but I feel like you need to acknowledge that his could have been written, word for word, about ISKCON’s gurukulas.

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