One of the most serious things I will be looking at in the near future is the poor practices Holy Cross uses now for reporting sexual abuse by Jesuits. It is yet another sign of the catastrophic deterioration of ethical and pastoral practices under the leadership of Philip Boroughs. I asked Fr. Boroughs to address this problem, and if he does not, then I am going to make this a top priority for discussion on this blog and every single thing I do or say at the Vigil for Justice.
The imperative is meeting or hearing from victims of sexual misconduct and sexually inappropriate behavior by Jesuits at Holy Cross. I asked Fr. Boroughs’ administration what information I should give to victims of Jesuits about how to report it. This is what they said to me: tell our lawyer, who I know to be a hard headed litigator and fighter.
That is the process Holy Cross wants to use under the leadership of Fr. Boroughs for reporting sexual assault. Tell the lawyer for Holy Cross, who if the experience is anything like mine, will seek to put you through hell. No pastoral sensitivity at all.
I know I am in the right place at the right time in my life to address these things, and my ability to do this keeps growing and developing. Among all the other things that have made a difference that I already mentioned, there is also the experience of listening to the stories of women and men who were sexually assaulted in the military. In the military, just like the Catholic church, just like Holy Cross, there is retaliation, conspiracy and cover up. And the victims of sexual assault in all these places not only deal with the sexual assault, but also the hell caused by poor reporting practices.
Today WGBH public radio concluded a week long series Serving Those Who Serve by looking at sexual assault in the military. A military nurse with experience with rape victims is quoted saying, “I am more afraid of my own soldiers than I am of the enemy.”
Not only do you deal with the perpetrator of the original crime, you deal with the perpetrators of indifference, institutional control, cover up and unending retaliation for reporting what you experienced. I am confident that Holy Cross under Fr. Boroughs is looking at more ways to retaliate.
I am in the right place at the right time in my life. Holy Cross has some very serious work to do to clean up its practices.