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I don’t post here very often anymore. But when an email arrived in the early morning hours this past Friday with a link to a story on PennLive.com about the death of a prolific Archdiocese of Philadelphia pedophile I felt the need to pass the information along.

brzyskiJames Brzyski, alleged to have had more than 100 victims while a priest in the Archdiocese during the 1970s and 1980s died in Texas a few days ago.   The Archdiocese sent him to “treatment” (read that as hidden from civil authorities by the Archdiocese) after being credibly accused of sexual assault.  He walked out of treatment and left the ministry.  The Archdiocese only told parishioners that he departed for “medical reasons.” Like most predator priests in Pennsylvania, he was neither charged or prosecuted for his sex crimes against children because of the statutes of limitation.

Brzyski was living in the Dallas, Texas area when an investigative reporting team from The Philadelphia Inquirer found him. He declined a request to be interviewed.  Within a month of being discovered, he was found dead at the Super 7 Motel in Fort Worth.  You can read the article from the Inquirer here.

I want to send my condolences to his victims.  The truth and extent of his crimes may have died with him.   I know from personal experience that the death of the priest who raped children brings a broad range of emotions for a survivor.  There is relief that the monster is dead. There is also anger that he made it out of this life without having to answer for his sins,  face his victims or pay for his crimes.  What may be potentially worse for survivors is the knowledge that the Archdiocese is breathing a sigh of relief that another of the pack of wolves they have protected and supported for years is no longer causing a scandal for the church.

When  Robert Gibson died in 2012,  I was numb, confused and angry.  Not so much at him, but at the Diocese of Scranton for choosing to shield him, deny the truth and not make the simple decision to protect children.

The death of James Brzyski tears the scab off the wound for all his victims and their families.  His death does not make the pain any better, it just makes it different. If you were one of his victims, reach out.  Don’t shoulder this burden alone.  What he did to you was not your fault.

I do not believe in heaven or hell. I don’t have the option of wishing he would burn in hell along with the rest of the Roman collar criminals.  I would like to see the wrath of the survivor community come down on those in the hierarchy of the church that protected monsters like James Brzyski.  I really don’t care if that justice is awarded in a courtroom or on the streets.

Link to the section on James Brzyski in the Grand Jury Report on the Archdiocese of Philadelphia

Dallas News Report on Brzyski’s death

 

 

 

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A friend from high school wrote to me recently and offered some thoughts on ways that I could stay connected to my faith.  One of the more interesting and thoughtful of the people I have been fortunate enough to reconnect with, she has afforded me the benefit of being blunt with her thoughts.

She reminded me  of something she remembered being taught that Catholics believe.

“We believe that a Catholic should practice their faith through three avenues: prayer, acts of service/charity, and participation in the sacraments.  Given the understandable aversion to priests, the sacraments would prove to be problematic.  But you can still practice your faith in other ways.  Prayer, whether it be formal prayer or an informal dialogue with God, can offer you the comfort of practicing your faith.”

As for  my relationship with God, I think my experience with Gibson and some of the things I saw while deployed to the Iraqi theater of operations has led me to question everything about God.  I cannot grasp  why a deity, if one does exist, could be benevolent and allow the things I have seen to happen.   I have been asked about “losing my faith”,  I don’t think I ever had a faith to begin with.  I am sure there is a point for those who truly believe, when faith manifests itself out of all the memorization and repetition of Catholic tradition we are put through as children.  About the point where that was jelling for some of my contemporaries, I was dealing with what was happening to me and the realization that things are not really what they appear to be.

Intellectually, I understand Catholicism and Christianity.  I attended the University of Scranton, (a Jesuit University) where I was required to take theology courses,   I think I actually enjoyed them as an intellectual exercise  I have read the bible and I have been to church services all over the world from the chapel at Notre Dame High School to St Peters Basilica in Rome.  I can honestly say that I felt nothing, I was not moved nor did I find anything spiritual about the experience..  This is all theoretical to me.  I know that sounds harsh, but that is my reality.  I think I am just a flat line when it comes to religion.  I tried in college, I went to church almost every week.   But there was nothing there for me.  And there still is nothing there for me.

I know my wife prays,  I don’t think I even know how to anymore.

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Michael Baumann


Credit: Michael Baumann at "Off My Knees"

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