Thursday, 7 April 2011

My Letter to the Chief Prosecutor at the ICC regarding the Charges Against The Pope

To : The Prosecutor
The International Criminal Court
Dr. Luis Moreno Ocampo
Maanweg 174
NL-2516 AB Den Haag
The Hague, The Netherlands

From : Corneilius Crowley

Regarding the Charges of Crimes Against Humanity, brought by two German Lawyers, Dr. jur. Christian Sailer and  Dr. jur. Gert-Joachim Hetzel  against  Dr. Josef Ratzinger, The Pope and Fiduciary Leader of the Roman Catholic Church :

1. the preservation and leadership of a worldwide totalitarian regime of coercion, which subjugates its members with terrifying and health-endangering threats,

2. the adherence to a fatal forbiddance of the use of condoms, even when the danger of HIV-AIDS infection exists, and

3. the establishment and maintenance of a worldwide system of cover-up of the sexual crimes committed by Catholic priests and their preferential treatment, which aids and abets ever new crimes.

I write to give witness to my own story with regard to the first and third charges.

Charge 1.

One of my earliest and most clear memories is of being left at a Convent Boarding School, called Killeshee, Which was operated by the La Sainte Union Nuns, at the age 5 and a half or so, dressed in sandals, socks, short pants, white shirt, a grey jumper, transfixed, terrified to my very core:

I am listening to a Nun who towers over me, as she reveals to me that there is a God who knows everything about me, that I was befouled with the stain of Original Sin, I was tainted by Adam and Eve’s transgression against God, and their weakness before the Devil in the form of The Snake, and that my very soul was eternally damned, and that unless I obey the Laws of God I would be cast forever into a burning tortured Hell.

She explains to me the meaning of venial sins and mortal sins, and their consequences with regard to the meaning of purgatory, of hell, of limbo. I do not understand the full meaning of her words, nonetheless I feel utter terror seep into my very core. I feel as if I am in peril.

She appears to me to be livid with rage, her face contorted, encased in her nuns habit, and to me she is as an immense and all powerful force, a dark brooding monolith standing above me and I felt that woman’s rage penetrate me as a complete body shock.

I froze. I was literally terrified rigid. The thought of hell seemed as real to me as her assumption of my sinfulness and guilt, my worthlessness as a person utterly proven.

I knew there was no escape, no possible salvation, and shame, guilt and fear surged through me,

I stayed frozen in that shock and fear for a long, long time.

I am standing in the back of a classroom, in the months that followed, ashamed and terrified, tears streaming down my faces, trying desperately to not move, trying not to not speak but I have to, so I stand out from my desk … because I have just defecated on myself, and there’s urine and faeces seeping out of my pants, running down my leg, onto my white socks, onto my brown sandals …

I am in a state of shock and I do not know what to do.

I am also excruciatingly embarrassed. And frightened. Terrified. I move, and the teacher, a nun notices the ‘disturbance’, and immediately starts shouting at me, she is disgusted with me and makes it plain for the entire room, the shame deepens as I become aware that they are all aware… ….. I am pulled and pushed out of the classroom, and I am made to stand outside the door. I wait.

Standing in my own faeces, encased in a stench of my own making, as I see it at that time.

I am the one who is to blame. I am the damned sinner. I wait. I shiver and await my punishment, utterly alone.

I write these words at age 52, after a life long struggle with low self esteem, a life long struggle with a background paranoia, that was largely instilled through the indoctrination processes I underwent in 5 Irish Catholic Boarding Schools, for 12 years. I still experience moments of sheer terror and paranoia, in spite of myself, in spite of knowing that these things happened in the past, are not happening now.

Back at Killeshee, 1966.

I am standing in purple frilly underwear, like a girls swim costume …. Only there are no girls, just boys and nuns. It’s sunny, and I am standing in the middle of a quadrangle, with children walking around me, jeering me, spitting at me. They are being directed to do so by an raging Nun, I am, like General Custer, surrounded on all sides. Unlike Custer there is no glory, I have no weapons, I cannot go down fighting. And I am feeling a visceral combination of obstinate silent rage and unutterable shame. Rage at my powerlessness, shame at my humiliation. This is what one Nun devised as a punishment. I do not recall what it was for, though I am told my brother, later on in life, that I fought quite a lot. Apparently I was a ‘troublesome’ boy. A ‘difficult’ child.

I am standing in a line-up, with other boys, and I am once again, silently terrified, and we young boys, at age 6 and 7, are standing on the polished wooden floor of our dormitory, which from memory included a wooden panelled hallway, leading to wooden panelled bathrooms and past a nuns bedroom, a room that was ‘guarding’ us.

I am in line, and I am holding up my underwear for inspection by a nun. There is a small poop mark on my underwear. An angry shrieking voice confirms my fears, and I get roughly pulled out of the line, I am slapped and publicly told off about the poop mark, shamed once more in front of everyone else; I am sent to wash my underwear…. This was a regular experience, and obviously, given my previous traumatic shitting experiences in class, I am being targeted – however at the time I don’t see it that way. I believe that the nuns are right and that I am wrong and I accept their judgement of me as defining me.

I am in a large assembly hall, with all the other boys. We are all wearing white arran jumpers and shorts. It’s a weekly gathering, it’s a Sunday. We are lined up in rows. The Nuns are listing the crimes of individual boys, and punishing them in public. Ritual humiliation for the benefit of our souls. MY name is called, and I am expected to walk up to nun at the front. I do so. She reads a piece of paper, she declares some offence I have committed, like a hanging judged, her loud pious and angry voice denouncing my crime to the entire assembly.

And then she gives me a sound beating with a cane, ten times or so, across my naked rear. I stifle my cries and try to not show any feeling… at age 6 I can master myself to mask the true emotions and feelings. After all this is for my own good.

I recall being totally convinced that, yes, there is a God, and that I was a sinner and damned and that no matter how ‘good’ I tried to be, I was doomed to endure Hell after death.

I lived in Fear for most of my life. Even when I rejected the teachings of Catholicism, the fear and paranoia remained.

I know now that these indoctrination practices are cruel, meditated, intentional and that the Hierarchy of The Church UNDERSTANDS the utility of these practices, and has done for a long, long time. That speaks to the criminality, the intentionality of these practices.

Charge 3.

I am in my bed and there is a priest at the end of my bed. I am in a cubicle. I am about 8 years old.

The priest, Father Murphy, or Murchu, the Irish version of his name, is my music teacher, and he is here, again, to question me. We have already had confrontations, because I wanted to try out ALL the instruments in the School Orchestra and of course that led to an altercation with him.

Father or was he a Brother, I can’t recall, Murchu/Murphy also teaches us swimming and PE. He was the one who threw me into the deep end of the swimming pool, fully clothed, plus my Pyjama bottoms, to ‘teach’ me how to swim, and how to save myself by removing my trousers and tieing the ends to make an air trap to support me. He forced me into the water, physically, after shouting at me and all this in front of the entire class and I was absolutely sure I was going to drown. I was being called a coward by this beastly man.

“Crowley, are ye a man or a mouse?” he says, with a barely disguised disgust. I know the routine.

If I answer ‘man’ he beats me for standing up to him, for being ‘cheeky’.

If I answer ‘mouse’ he beats me for being a coward.

This happens every few days for a few months. I tell no-one. There is no-one to tell. I am utterly alone.

This was typical of the mistreatment I endured throughout my time at these Boarding Schools. I was regularly assaulted by very exercised men, mostly clergy, who used a lot of force in administering punishments, most often with a ‘leather’ or with the cane, across my bare buttocks, or across my hands and wrists, or my knuckles. Occasionally I was struck on the side of the face with the hand, or on my legs. In class dusters, books, rulers, fists were used on a regular basis. All of this is brutal abuse.

I remember being in the room of a priest, Father Flood, he was the school bursar at Willow Park Preparatory School, the feed school for Blackrock College in Dublin.  His room is across a hallway from Father Stanley, who is the Head of the School. I have been in both priests rooms from time to time. These visits are deemed a privilege.

My trousers and pants are down and Father Flood is fondling my testicles and my penis….

He is smiling, sitting in his chair as I stand before him…. I am terrified,… I can see another boys penis and testicles, they are brown and smooth and I am sitting on Father Floods lap.. … but I don’t remember being in the room, the details of the room, and seeing the faces of the other boys… I just remember the smell of the room and the other boys  genitals. Father Flood takes my genitals and 'caresses' them smiling at me ... I don't understand what he is doing, I think it is a medical inspection, that’s what he tells me, I am about 9 years old.... I am unsure of what to do. Of course there is no-one to tell.

Fleeting memories haunt me from time to time:

This is a memory that still haunts me. It is all I can recall of this. Truth be told, it is all I want to recall of what happened. Something is shut down within me.

I am pretending to sleep in my bed. I am holding my breath. I am trying not to be here. I am petrified. I am trying to almost not breathe, because there are four dark shapes looming over me. Four priests, brothers, dressed in black cassocks. I can hear their breathing. I smell their breath. This is a boarding school. I am alone. This is a recurring memory. With it comes an existential fear, a wish for darkness, for silence. I have never been able to go beyond this point.

My hope is that it is merely a nightmare, and that nothing abusive occurred.

My story is but one of many. The details I have recollection of are, in many ways, far less traumatic or brutal than those witnessed and testified to by so many others of serious sexual assault, often with brutality, repeated over time, The truth is that the living Survivors who speak out are a tiny minority of the living witnesses who were assaulted, and that both these groups together are the tip of the iceberg that is ALL the children, across the Earth, who have been assaulted and abused within the confines of Institutional Church care, with the confines of their own homes and churches.

The truth is also that Dr. Ratziner was part of the committee that drew up the Crimens Solicitationis Document in 1962 that became the Churches Policy regard the handling of ‘allegations’ of Child Abuse. The suppression of knowledge of these crimes is a crime in and of itself, and the fact that the Vatican, it’s officials and Bishops all over the world complied with and perpetuated this suppression is a much larger crime, and deserves the title of a Crime Against Humanity.

The systemic abuse of children is also a Crime against Humanity.

I urge you to take this case forwards, to not only bring Josef Ratzinger to account for his actions, but to impress upon the Catholic Hierarchy their collective and individual responsibility to all Survivors, be they living or dead and to their families and communities where the adverse affects of these crimes continues to undermine psychological and physical well-being of real people.

Restorative Justice means that the full truth is told, such that all Survivors can tell their stories, be heard and understood and support in all ways possible to recover as best they can such that they can live without the stigma, pain, confusion, shame, low self-esteem and psychological distress that emerges as a direct consequence of abuse they have needlessly endured.

Yours Sincerely

Corneilius Crowley

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