Monday, June 5, 2023

The Unbreakable Child

 Has anyone wondered where all the sadism of World War II came from when many of those engaged in brutality had grown up in Christendom, and some were even Catholic? I have read a number of things about abuse in the Church before Vatican II. It confirms what I was always told by old nuns and priests that the problems that have almost destroyed the Church since 1970 did not just come out of nowhere at the time of the Council. There were problems around that the public was not aware of. Yes, even with the Latin Mass and all the traditional devotions, novenas, processions, etc. there were several now notorious cases of abuse on the part of clergy and religious. And there were horrifically abusive family situations that spouses stayed in in order to keep the family intact. And some of the men and women who were admitted to the priesthood and religious life who became abusers were people who had been abused at home or at school. They should never have been around any children or put in charge of the well-being of others. My theory is that there was more terrible stuff going on than we realize which is why people so easily fell away from the Faith at the time of the Council, and why so many were willing to embrace heresy. Physical and emotional abuse can lead to clouded judgment as well as passivity. 

From The Northern Kentucky Tribune:

If you want to read about genuine courage, about the fabric of a real champion, read The Unbreakable Child, a memoir about forgiving the unforgivable, by Kim Michele Richardson. Richardson spent the first ten years of her life in the St. Thomas/St. Vincent Orphan Asylum, in Anchorage, an hour or so from Florence. Those were harrowing years.

In her book, she describes the continual abuse and outrage shown to her, her three sisters, and others as wards in an orphanage administered by the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, under the auspices of the Archdiocese of Louisville.

I will not repeat the kinds of daily torture-disguised-as-discipline Richardson describes in her book. I will only say it was dangerous, callous, physical, sexual, and demeaning to the human spirit. Surely, it was far from the kind of nurturing and pious perspective one finds in Bing Crosby’s Father O’Malley in Going My Way or Peggy Wood’s Mother Abbess in The Sound of Music.

Children in the St. Thomas/St. Vincent Orphan Asylum needed love and compassion. Instead, they got slaps in the face and raps on the knuckles. They were brutalized physically and sexually, and made to work in harsh and untenable conditions. They encountered mental abuse, too. All of this, in the name of things divine.

Richardson succinctly describes her experience: “I am a survivor of clergy abuse. Abandoned to a Catholic orphanage as an infant, for nearly a decade I was exposed to unspeakable abuses by Catholic nuns and a Catholic priest.”

In an ‘Afterward’ in The Unbreakable Child, attorney William F. McMurry (he represented Richardson and others) writes: “Kim’s story is a grim but consistent account of the young lives of countless Catholic children unfortunate enough to be abandoned by society. With nowhere to turn for comfort, few children would survive their childhoods without major depression, drug addiction, dementia, or imprisonment.”

Kim Michele Richardson, blessed with a survivor’s instinct and the courage imbued in her DNA, made it out of the quagmire of despair. Others never did or perhaps never will. (Read more.)

The worst form of persecution is when the innocent are tormented by those who should not only have been physically protecting them, but also guiding them to love of God. The nuns who committed such terrible crimes were evil and crazy. But I want to know why the civil authorities kept sending generations of children to live at an orphanage were there was evidence of wrongdoing. 

More about the lawsuit, HERE.

The Unbreakable Child is available, HERE.



Nancy Reyes said...

Abuse? Exaggeration? Or just the latest version of Maria Monk?

elena maria vidal said...

No, the allegations are credible and the nuns paid millions of dollars to the plaintiffs.