My heart almost broke this morning when I woke up to the news that two large provinces of American Jesuits (West and South Central) released the names of Jesuits credibly accused of sexually abusing minors. (The Midwest province will do so shortly, and the merging Northeast and Maryland provinces have at least indicated their willingness to do so.) I was a Jesuit seminarian from the ages of 17 to 26 and in my 2015 Memoir (Unsuitable Treasure: an Ex-Jesuit Makes Peace with the Past) I tell the story of that impressionable phase of my life). I was never then sexually abused, and I make clear in that book how high a value I placed on the Jesuits both then and now. I have known for some time that the Jesuits were not exempt from the seemingly innumerable cases of abuse that have affected American dioceses over the past 60 years or so. But to see in stark print just one name of an abuser (now deceased) who once belonged to a Jesuit community I lived in and whom I had respected made my heart sink. That priest betrayed the trust of whoever he abused, and now that I am aware of that, I feel my own past trust in him likewise betrayed, though by no means as seriously as that of his victim. No doubt I will have more such feelings as I learn of more Jesuit abusers whom I once knew and admired. I just hope my faith and my continuing admiration for the Jesuit order are able to withstand them. (The photo is of me as a seminarian in 1957).
Published by ronwendlingoutlookcom
My life has had three phases: one as a Jesuit seminarian, recorded in my 2015 memoir (Unsuitable Treasure: An Ex-Jesuit Makes Peace with the Past, Oak Tree Press); another as a college teacher and scholar of 19th century British Literature, best recorded in Coleridge's Progress to Christianity: Experience and Authority in Religious Faith (Associated University Presses, 1995); and finally my current phase as a retiree given to social media posts and photo commentary on my travels with my wife, Mary. View all posts by ronwendlingoutlookcom