I do not know where to start.
My head is still spinning with the events of the weekend.
People told me it was narcissistic of me to be traumatized by the Morrier case, and they’re probably right, but I can’t help it. I was already suffering from religious trauma before hearing the news of his indictment last April, and my situation is getting worse now. The only thing I know how to write about is me: my experiences, my life, my day, the things I’m passionate about. I wish I had another person here to show you. But that’s just me, one of the thousands of victims of the Charismatic Renewal, unable to talk about what I should be talking about, traumatized when I shouldn’t be, never healing, never doing what I I should. And religious trauma is all I can think of today. I’ll try to give you something more enlightening tomorrow. Today is all I have.
I keep thinking about going to confession and I feel guilty for not going to confession.
My pastor during my teenage years was a Dominican priest, Father France-Kelly – definitely NOT a Charismatic, but we loved him anyway. He once preached a sermon that it was blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, the unforgivable sin, to be too afraid to go to confession. “The only sin that God cannot forgive, though He wills, is the sin that you will not bring to Him in confession.” I can’t stop thinking about it now that I’m too scared to go to confession. Maybe I blasphemed the Holy Spirit and I’ll never be forgiven. Of course, Father France-Kelly was removed from the priesthood towards the end of his life, on a credible charge of abuse. But this is another story.
But anyway, I keep wondering if I blasphemed the Holy Spirit by being afraid of confession this year.
I had been referred to Morrier for confession by the famous Father Mike Scanlan, whom I saw for deliverance prayer and spiritual direction. Father Scanlan said that I had demons in my family tree that oppressed me, and that’s why I suffered from anxiety. He believed that most mental illnesses were caused or exacerbated by demons. And he used to refer directed women who had such “demons” to Morrier, because he believed Morrier understood “spiritual warfare.” He told me that was the reason, when he told me to talk to Morrier. I’m not saying that Scanlan deliberately gave vulnerable girls to Morrier, knowing what would happen. I don’t know if he did or not. Maybe Scanlan just had really bad judgment. But I know that’s not the only time he’s been responsible for the vulnerability of women at Franciscan University to abusers.
Scanlan was famous for re-victimizing the victims of this school, but that’s another story.
The Franciscan University doesn’t have many confessionals, and Morrier was never one when he heard my confessions. When I met him, he was one of the priests who heard the confessions seated on the pews of the chapel of Christ the King where the penitent and the priest could see each other. I used to sit knee to knee with Morrier on the pews of the Chapel of Christ the King, telling him all my sins. I could see the fiery look in his eyes as he led me through a deliverance prayer forgiving my rapist, releasing my rapist, praying for my rapist. He said that this prayer was important so that I would not fall prey to a demon. I didn’t understand why his expression looked like it did then, but I think I understand now.
Reading the statement of this wonderfully courageous victim, I think I understand a lot.
This is the only abuse I personally suffered from Morrier: the spiritual abuse of being forced to forgive my rapist before I was ready and threatened with demonic oppression if I didn’t. I was not the victim of sexual abuse by him, nor of these horribly abusive clandestine exorcisms. I’ve spoken with other people from Franciscan lately, and they said they know abusive amateur exorcisms are also going on while they’re at school; a lot of people knew they were happening, but we didn’t talk about them. That didn’t happen to me either. I got out of it very easily. But I haven’t confessed since I unwittingly sat so close to Morrier again on the bench outside the courtroom during the arraignment. I want to confess, but I panic every time I think about it.
And then, last Friday, I found out from the victim impact statement that it was a lot worse than I thought. On top of everything, Morrier broke the seal and revealed his confession to other students. And I remembered that the fantasies my catechists had told me about confession being perfectly private are just that – fantasies. Everything can happen. Priests are humans, and humans do terrible things when you make yourself vulnerable to them. What is whispered in silence could be shouted from the rooftops, and there is nothing I can do.
Yesterday we went to mass, at another church across the river, outside the Diocese of Steubenville, and I found myself in the hall having another panic attack.
I can’t remember the last Sunday Mass where I didn’t have to spend most of it in the foyer or out on the sidewalk having a panic attack.
I dread Sundays because of the Sunday obligation. I hate weekends more than anything.
I’m sorry this writing is so inconsistent and clumsy. I have a hard time organizing my thoughts.
It is exceptionally difficult to have this form of religious trauma: to be a victim of the Charismatic Renewal who still believes in God and would like to know God and to love God, and to share God with my daughter and with others. I’m no better than people who have completely lost their faith, just different. I always want to be with God. But I do not know how.
It is torture to look back at the filth and corruption of people and institutions that I had to revere as the only possible portals through which God could come to me. It is agony to feel that Christ must be angry with me for not absorbing Him and coming back to Him in the way I was taught. I hope it’s the agony of a bandage coming off, but it’s like the agony of dying.
The other day, while I was driving errands, I was singing to myself like I do. The song I sang was a kitsch hymn to the Holy Spirit that we used to sing in the Charismatic Renewal. And when I got to the verse about “Holy Spirit, glorify your name”, I changed it and sang it differently, like I did recently. I sang “Holy Spirit, purify your Name,” because that’s what I want to happen. I want the Holy Spirit to come here and cleanse the name of the Holy Spirit. I want the Holy Spirit to make it clear that Charismatic Renewal, the absurd charlatan of deliverance prayer, has nothing to do with God. I want everyone who has been trapped in this horror to understand that we have been cheated and abused and tortured in the name of the Holy Spirit, but the Holy Spirit has nothing to do with it .
If there is such a thing as blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, it is not something we have done. It’s something that was done to us.
That’s all I have today.
I usually share my tip jar at the end of my posts, but today, if you want to help David Morrier’s brave victim get a fresh start, here’s his gofundme.
Image via Pixabay