An Open Letter To Pope Benedict XVI From A Survivor

April, 2010

Dear Pope Benedict XVI:
I was deeply troubled when I read you were ‘weary and sad’. I, too, am weary and sad. Let me explain. I’ve been answering letters and emails from countless victims of child clergy abuse for over a year now – letters and emails YOU should be answering. So I thought I would send a polite reminder: apologies and accountability are due.
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. It was only last year these horrific abuses were publicly exposed after I was finally able to write about the long nightmare inflicted by those who hid behind His cloak to mask their evil deeds.
I wanted to forgive them and I did; however, I wonder and I am often asked: how can you offer forgiveness to those who hide behind their righteousness, behind ill-conceived surety of their place in heaven and on earth, those who have not asked for forgiveness because they do not think they need forgiveness.
Along with tens of thousands of victims globally, I am still waiting. We are waiting for an apology and an admission of accountability from you and the Church’s hierarchy.
You concealed and enabled decades of child abuse by predator clergy.
... Let me tell you about the CEO, also a former orphan and victim of clergy abuse who has to lock himself in his office because he’s having a ‘bad day’. His ‘bad days’ happen when the memories of physical and sexual abuse become too strong for him to function as a regular working adult. He writes to me hoping I can offer him strength. Hoping I can make sense of crimes committed against him as a child that were the most heinous crimes committed in history.
Then there is the former priest who writes to tell me of rape by his ‘own.’ There’s a nun too. There is also the woman who suffers from crippling PSTD because of her abuses by clergy. She writes she may not be contacting me for awhile because she will probably be back in a ‘dark place’ and she will have to seek mental health institutional care for her ‘latest bout’ -- a bout directly caused by child clergy abuse. She prays she’ll be strong and not be tempted again to commit suicide like she’s tried so many times before.
And before I forget, there’s the strong advocate for victims of clergy abuse. He was not abused, but sadly, he is now ‘religious empty’, this man from a strongly connected religious background. I worry about him and his children.
There’s also the daughter (one of five). Her mother, now deceased, a childhood resident of a Catholic orphanage, she was severely abused and raped by your clergy. The daughter says her mother’s former clergy abuse touched everyone in her family and continues to cause trauma and discord so intense, they have all sought counseling.
See, Pope Benedict, you and your hierarchy have created a scatter bomb. Abuse. The abuse of one does not just stop with one, it also affects and harms their families, friends, co-workers, society and on and on ... So serious that it must be diffused. To do this, it is you that must be willing to publicly help these deeply wounded still-suffering victims and survivors. Start the cleansing by reaching out to us and also disclosing the records of predator clergy that have been protected by you and yours for decades.
My name is Kim Michele Richardson. I am waiting, along with all those voices around me. Let’s chat.
Kim Michele Richardson