Mama was right. She always told my sister and me that in Basilicata in southern Italy, where her side of the family is from, it was common for priests to have children. At the time I didn’t know whether to believe her or not. I knew Mama wouldn’t lie about something like that, but it sure went against the image I had of the nuns and priests in the South Philly parish where we lived.
Now comes word that Rita Milla, a medical assistant in Southern California, has been granted $500,000 as part of a global settlement reached between the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and a multitude of plaintiffs who say they were sexually abused by priests. The total amount of the settlement is $660 million, quite a chunk of change even for the Catholic Church, which has untold numbers of bank accounts and assets here and in other countries.
What makes Milla’s case particularly interesting is that she claims a priest, Valentine Tugade, fathered her daughter, Jacqueline. DNA tests in 2003 apparently confirmed his paternity.
According to news report, Father Tugade wasn’t the only clergymember who took advantage of the very religious, teenaged Milla who aspired to be a nun. Seven other priests allegedly did as well. All of the priests have disappeared except for one who died in 1999. Milla says that he apologized to her just before he passed away.
The ordeal has made Milla stop believing in God. “I thought that the church would make everything OK, that they would punish them (the priests),” she told the International Herald Tribune. “After the church showed me that they didn’t care about what happened, I realized what they were really about, that they were more like a business.”
Milla isn’t the only one disillusioned by her church’s inaction. According to the New York Times, the head of the LA Archdiocese, Cardinal Roger Mahony, was recently physically attacked by an angry man upset over the church sexual abuse scandals. Church officials would not confirm the story.
As much as Catholic apologists try and blame the sexual abuse on gay priests, the liberal attitudes of the 60s, “a few bad apples,” or the imperfections of past seminary screening processes, the reality is that the church hierarchy has been sweeping this problem under the rug since Christianity began. The mainstream media never mentions this fact. Coverage of the issue generally makes it appear as if reports of sexual abuse by priests are a very recent phenomenon.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Throughout the centuries, even as the church was jailing or executing queers and others for non reproductive sex, it was shielding its own clergy who were engaging in all sorts of activities, including rape. These days, the church lobbies against gay marriage as well as condemns contraception and premarital sex, at the same time that it’s shuffling around its sexually active priests.
The Roman Catholic Church: Hypocrisy honed to a science.
Tommi Avicolli Mecca is a radical Italian queer atheist with a website: www.avicollimecca.comFiled under: Archive