Before I left the Roman Catholic Church, I used to hear some former Catholics say that they had left the church because they had a run-in of some sort with a priest. I used to think it was a stupid reason to leave the church—priests are mere human beings and of course you aren’t going to be fond of every priest. Priests are not infallible. They are people, and there are good and bad priests in the system, just as there are good and bad politicians running this country…so my logic was, if you don’t like the president, it doesn’t mean you are no longer an American. So leaving the church due to an issue with a priest seemed incongruous to me.
Of course, it no longer does. Unless you have been on the receiving end of religious abuse of any sort, then it really is impossible to know what you will do, no matter how staunch your loyalty to any institution.
"The greatest persecution of the church doesn't come from enemies on the outside but is born from the sins within the church."—Pope Benedict XVI, May 10, 2010
I watched Deliver Us From Evil when I was still a practicing Catholic. I thought the pedophile scandals were as horrific then as I do now, and it’s an interesting side note that many or most of us “ex-Catholics” hold the same or better values than we did before we left the RCC.
The movie centers around 3 of Oliver O’Grady’s victims, one boy and two girls. I watched this about 3 years ago (but have since read many articles about it) so I will comment on what I remember to be the most memorable and shocking to me. Indeed, the entire thing was shocking—but there were specific gut-wrenching moments in the film that really strike many of us as uniquely horrific. Universally, of course, it’s unbelievably insane that the bishops would allow O’Grady to transfer from parish to parish knowing full well that he was raping children. It’s obviously grotesque that O’Grady would receive such a mild sentence and be allowed to return to Ireland, where he is a free man today. And that he would—even jovially—recount his crimes on air in this documentary is borderline personality disorder.
However, the thing that shocked the hell out of me about this film, was Ann Joyno’s tearful commentary that she remains a steadfast practicing Catholic, despite being raped over and over as a child by this monster, despite her once-devout parents’ vow never to set foot inside a church again.
Because the moment in the film that leaves us feeling kicked in the stomach as we watch it, is her dad’s heartbreaking display of agony over the fact that he allowed a monster into his home for years—years that he now knows a monster was raping his daughter over and over. That he worked hard to pay tuition for his daughter to go to a Catholic school to receive a wholesome spiritual atmosphere, but instead was being raped That he trusted. That he can never forgive himself for his lack of judgment in not seeing, for years, that this man he held on a pedestal was a devil in his home. That because of this, his daughter suffered the worst of crimes throughout her childhood. That even now he knows this man is alive and well and thus able to continue committing these horrors.
Grief like that, so raw and wrenching, was the heart of the film for me. And Ann’s tears, that if she ever marries, her father will not walk her down the aisle because Bob Joyno will not—can not—enter a Catholic church ever again.
For Ann, I suspect, the indoctrination during her formative years when her parents were extremely devout Catholics, this indoctrination and the only spiritual life she’s ever known, has taught her that O’Grady was just a man, not the church, not the institution. Her spiritual life, despite the horrors she suffered, was never separated from Catholicism—after all, she knew about the abuse nearly all of her life. But for Bob Joyno and his wife, the rug was ripped out from under them to discover that their house of cards had not been made of brick, that everything—their church, their priest, their daughter’s upbringing and well-being—was all a lie.
Where are They Today?
It would be interesting to find out where Ann, her parents, Nancy Sloan, and Adam are today. But I have not been able to find any information about them. Are they still Catholic? Did they all leave the church? Did the pope’s apology affect them? And what of O’Grady? He seems to have disappeared altogether. Except that he is still out there.
And so are many others.
Here's a link to an article from last year regarding O'Grady's arrest...
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