Sue Cox

Sue Cox

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Letter to Archbishop Nichols and the Catholic Church Worldwide

Dear Sir,
I am sure you won’t remember me, but I was dealing with the CPO in Birmingham just prior to your move to Westminster.
You very kindly wrote to me with your thoughts and prayers, after presumably learning some of the details of the serious sexual abuse I suffered at the hands of a Catholic priest, Father John Nicholson, when I was a child.
It transpired that this rapist, who is now dead, had belonged to the Sacred Heart order and so they are now dealing with my complaint. However, the fact remains that this rapist was part of the larger church, despite everyone preferring to transfer responsibility.
As an abused child, I knew nothing of “orders” or “dioceses” or anything hierarchical, all that I knew was that a priest, of the kind who I had been brought up to revere, seriously sexually abused me when I was ten years old, on the eve of my confirmation, and then raped me when I was thirteen, in my own bedroom in my own home.  He then hid behind his office, and the fact that my Mother, who had caught him in the act, was too “Priest obsessed” to protect me or seek justice on my behalf.
It ruined my life. It left me with the legacy of Alcoholism, addiction, serious self harming, eating disorder, fear , shame, guilt, unworthiness, inability to form relationships, trust anyone, feel anything more than an outcast, and on occasions be suicidal.
It took away anything in my life that could have been Good, or wholesome, or Spiritual, and it destroyed most of my prime years,  my teens and twenties, which I can never replace.
It left me with impediments that I have had to work hard on for my entire life, and even now, aged 62 it has the ability to bring me to my knees with sadness, and make me wake in the night with terror.  Despite any of my successes.
The point of my letter is by way of a “PRIMAL SCREAM”
I am so sick and tired of being patronised,  anonymised and disregarded by the Church.  And the recent obsequious apologies that have come from your offices are doing nothing to help people like me, they are simply making matters worse.
None of the announcements pay any regard to the people like me, the VICTIMS , of these greedy, criminals who have often been hidden and protected, and have destroyed so much.
The emphasis as ever is on “healing” and “forgiveness’ but that for the Church, not for me. How can it be when you have no idea what I need!
I have been clean and sober now for over thirty years, I have become a respected professional in the field of addiction treatment, and in fact received a “Lifetimes achievement award” at the Royal Society of Medicine last month for my contribution into the field of addiction.
The work that I do has no doubt been fueled by my imperfect past , it has indeed given me a unique ability to help others.
When I first got sober,it was with the help if the twelve step programme of Alcoholics Anonymous, and it, and other addicts in recovery saved my miserable life. Since then I have been privileged to help others in the same way.
Part of the programme that we feel very strongly about is the steps which tell us we should “make amends” to all the persons we have harmed. We take that part of our programme very seriously, and as newly sober self pitying sniveling wretches that we often are at that stage, we are told very quickly that “making amends” does NOT just mean saying “SORRY”! that is easy!
Making amends means trying to put things right! trying to put things back to where they would have been before we damaged them!
If we are serious about recovery, we are told to be painstaking about this part of it, not to presume what would help our long suffering families, but to humble ourselves and ask THEM.  And then to do everything in our power to make these amends, with no thought about our own selfish needs.
So perhaps you should now consider the REAL humility of the recovering addict, often shunned by society, but who have discovered the capacity to be honest.
MAKE AMENDS!! stop praying for us, thinking if us, asking God for forgiveness, that is exactly the the self pitying ,self ingratiating lip service that drives us mad. Stop trying to find any legal loophole to wriggle out of.
Make financial recompense where it is requested, certainly, for me, the Church has nothing else I want.  And be seen to be doing it! Show that somewhere you have a real desire to put things right.
You say that the priests in question are a “minority” so presumably you would consider that there are only a minority of victims too? so why are you not bending over backwards to help us?  Why are you not asking me what I need? Why are you not seeking us out and making those amends?
Read my story, listen and absorb every ghastly detail, and THEN tell me what you are prepared to do. Do not anonymise me I do not want to be hidden away any longer! Recognise me personally, and publicly and allow me to show my wounds.
I will continue to strive to have a voice, and use my relatively high profile professional position to help give others a voice, either with your help or without it.
But I can hardly believe that the Church is so stupid that it cannot see that there is a real opportunity here to show some of the compassion and humility that it preaches so fervently.
The sorrow you say you feel about the criminal acts should be extended to the sorrow you should be feeling for the way it is all being handled. Work with us and FOR us!
Stop talking the talk, and WALK THE WALK.
I will await some response
Sue Cox Bsc.Lic AC.M.B.AC.C.

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