My History of Church Abuse

Christ The Wall Hermitages Clery Abuse Keri Burnor

I was abused by a monastic priest around the context of the sacrament of confession. Although there was an indecent assault and battery that took place, my experience of how the abuse devastated me was when I brought the allegation forward to ecclesiastical authorities. 

Here are some of my reflections which might better illustrate the impact the abuse has had on my faith and vocation. 

What I went through was a "spiritual gang rape" (I characterize it as institutional abuse) by those who promised to be spiritual guardians to me. The betrayal shook the very foundations of my faith and all that I knew of God and Church would be called into question. Although my faith in the institution has diminished, over time it has become more solid in God Himself. 

I thought that my having served the Church (for over a decade) and expressing to church authorities that I did not wish to bring my allegation into a legal forum while reiterating I was not interested in a monetary settlement that they would "do the right thing". Soon I became aware they were not operating on a spiritually wholesome level, but plainly a demonic one. 

The trauma experienced in all cases of abuse (in this case adult sexual abuse) is compounded not merely from the abuse experience itself, but from the length of time the abuse is concealed and covered up. 

My story is like so many others in that the Church authorities have sought to ignore their responsibility towards victims while protecting the offenders. Many were complicit in this orchestrated cover-up involving both religious and state officials of the highest rank within Massachusetts and even national figureheads as well. 

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Rev. Joseph Chu-Cong- a monk from the Spencer Abbey faced trial for the sexual assault of a hermit nun on the Abbey grounds. Rev. Chu-Cong was found not guilty in a jury trial in 2003. Not revealed publicly or during the trial was that another woman had come forward to the State Police and reported she was also sexually assaulted by Rev. Chu-Cong in the same manner.  A formal complaint has been filed alleging Worcester District Attorney John Conte failed to act in good faith during the trial and his failure was the primary reason for the failed conviction.