I don’t talk about my experience with Catholicism very often, and that’s because it fucking sucked. I think a lot about Scientology and I understand what some of the kids growing up in that “religion” might feel, because I grew up Catholic, this is going to be a long, and a triggering post for some so please be careful when reading it.
Trigger warning for bullying, child abuse, sexual abuse, and emotional and spiritual trauma. Please practice self care when reading this post. I do not want to cause more harm but I feel it’s important I put my truth on the record.
My mom wanted us to have a sense of community when we were growing up in Calgary, and so she joined the Church I think in part because she wanted a community too.
In this article you will hear about some of the things that I experienced when I was a part of the Roman Catholic church. Now I think it’s important to note that I am in no way affiliated with the Indigenous community. I am not Indigenous, and I do not have anyone in my life that is, but I will say that I understand their complaints…deeply.
I remember the Priest who preformed my baptism slipping his thumb under my diaper when I was a baby. I was at least two or three.
I was sexually abused by a Priest when I was around my early teens, I feel like 13 but I may have been younger, I honestly cannot remember the “age” I just know that it happened. In the vault inside Saint James Church, which sat beside the Priest’s office and four steps across from where my mom used to work.
I saw girls who were sexually abused by teachers at our school who bullied me, get away with the abuse they perpetrated. One even tried to light my hair on fire – I was told it was my fault for not fitting in. When the police were called the principal at Saint James at the time refused to let them talk to me. I was tripped while on crutches, beaten up, and abused in every possible way at that school/church, and I couldn’t say anything because my mom worked there.
More than once a Principal or vice-principal held the threat of my mom losing her job over my head so I wouldn’t say anything.
More than one teacher got “too aggressive” with me. I mention the teachers because they were not Priests, they were lay Catholics who worked for the church, helping to uplift the abuse that we went through at the direction of a church who deliberately ignored their crimes against children.
When we went to a school trip to Fort Calgary I was – the only Black girl in the class – forced to wear the antique “dunce” cap, because the teacher wanted to make it clear to the entire white class that she thought I was an idiot, and she wanted them to think the same. Some defended me, but not many – mainly because I think they didn’t understand what was happening…neither did I really.
The Catholic church abuses children at an alarming rate, children of all races, creeds, nationalities, sizes, colors, and orientations. But never more than they have abused, murdered, and destroyed, the lives of the Indigenous folk of North America.
To date the Pope has refused to offer reparations for the unforgiveable harm that the Catholic church has caused throughout it’s entire existence. As one of the richest and wealthiest organizations in the world, the Church absolutely could offer to pay it’s victims.
It does it for white people all the time – millions of people who can “prove” they’ve been abused by Priests have been paid billions of dollars, (I have never received a single time or an apology, neither would change what happened for me, so I’m good…keep your blood money.) so why can’t they offer to repair some of the damage for the Indigenous communities of the world?
The Indigenous community has generations of trauma that I will never understand, for so many various reasons, but what I know is if that my talking about what I went through helps them in any way then I won’t stop talking about it.
I won’t stop talking about the soul crushing darkness that comes with being a Catholic, if it’s not your mother’s job, its the threat that if you don’t do as you’re told, even and especially when it feels wrong, you’ll rot in hell, because God only listens to the priests.
I have long thought that people should have the right to choose whether or not to join the Catholic church but I honestly can’t understand why anyone would want to.
I don’t know what other kids went through because we were trained and brainwashed not to talk about it, not to share stories, and so we took out our anger, our frustration, on each other – I mean if I’m being honest they mostly took it out on me, but I gave back plenty when I was strong enough.
I do know that the teachers, the assistants, and the principals got away with a lot of heinous shit, they got away with crimes most people would be jailed for. Not just because the Catholic church protected them, but because they too, were trained not to talk about it.
It’s easy to say that I was only abused in 1 school, but there was plenty of teacher bullying going on at Saint John’s Fine Arts School, the kids that didn’t fit in. Awkward, weird, nerdy, Black, and Indigenous kids got a lot of shit for existing. LGBTQ2+ kids didn’t have a fucking chance.
There was a lot of competition in these schools, “I’m better/smarter/faster/prettier/stronger/wiser than you” bullshit that was ingrained into our heads by teachers that wanted us to fear everything, embrace nothing, and destroy ourselves so that they could write some special note that only God could see about whether or not we were going to hell.
When I was 11 I remember laying on the grass and looking up at the Angels wondering if “this” was the Church that Jesus had been talking about. Did he want us to suffer like he had? Was he angry that he had died so viciously for our sins? Was he pissed at us? Was that why the teachers and Priests were so mean?
It occurs to me that I only just realized that everything I learned in Catholic school was the precise opposite of what Jesus preached, and wow what a mind fuck THAT is.
The freedom in understanding that the message, and the messenger were two different creatures. My mom tried to teach me this a lot during those years, and I often didn’t understand what she was saying, because the Church represented God, (so they say), so that must mean that he was okay with what was happening, right?
I had to learn – and I am still learning – to take “The Church,” away from the “God”. Not because God doesn’t deserve a church, but because this is NOT the church that Jesus built.
He was beaten, tortured, and probably raped before he was forced to carry the symbol that would be a constant reminder of his death and his path.
When the KKK light crosses on the front lawns of Black folk – and yes that shit still happens – they don’t do it because they are supporting Jesus, they are telling Jesus to go fuck himself.
They are sacrificing “his symbol” so that they can gain power over other folks, this is not done out of love, it’s done out of pure undiluted hatred for everything that Jesus stood for, and THAT is why he was hung on a fucking cross. Not because Pontius Piolet loved Jesus, but because he wanted everyone to understand that if you followed Jesus you would die.
Now you say “how can that be, the church preaches love, acceptance, joy,” because power.
For thousands of years Popes were chosen through murder, through bribery, through manipulation. It was only later they came up with their “sacred ceremony,” only later that they decided to put it to a vote and STILL there is corruption in that process and if you think there’s not you are lying to yourself.
The church is steeped in evil, in blood, and they call it love, they train you to believe that their acts of hatred, that their crimes are out of “love”. “If you do this God will reward you in Heaven,” “if you stay quiet you won’t go to Hell, your mother won’t lose her job,” they operate out of fear and abuse, NOT love.
Now all that being said, I still believe in God, I still believe in Jesus, and I still believe that the symbol of the cross is representational of the fact that he died, and because he died I exist as I do, my love for him is greater not because he was a martyr but because he was a victim of abuse, and evil.
He didn’t have anyone to advocate for him, for his pain, instead we celebrate his pain as if it was a choice, as if it was a gift. As if because we benefit from his pain, we should lift him up higher, and although that’s partially true, the Roman Catholic Church and many “Christian” organizations of the world use our love for Jesus as a weapon, often so that they can get our money. Our our pain, whatever appeases their true Gods.
The God that the Roman Catholic Church and I celebrate are not the same, MY Gods don’t believe in hurting children. MY Gods do not believe in hurting people because of the color of their skin, or their nationality, or the symbols they wear. MY Gods don’t hate anyone, they love all of us and they want us all to be the best versions of OUR TRUE selves, regardless of where you come from or what you believe.
MY Gods teach me to be the best version of myself by allowing me to stretch my wings as far as they will go just so that I can see what’s beyond my current state of vision. They understand that I am only trying to be as wise/strong/powerful/smart/kind/loving as they are, and they know that I am going to make mistakes but that I will always try to do better.
These are NOT the God’s of the Roman Catholic Church, these are the Gods and Goddesses that the Church wants to ignore, “don’t look over there, look over here, evil there, goodness hear,” when often times the exact opposite is true.
Decide for yourself but if you’re looking for a church community there are millions of stories as to why the Roman Catholic Church is in all of it’s various forms is the fucking Hydra that Stan Lee warned you about.
Sending all my love,
Devon J Hall
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