“Father Porter is coming!” a terrorized child would shout. Within seconds the hallways of St. Mary’s Grammar School would empty, its children fleeing in abject terror, knowing there was no one to protect them, no one to stand between them and a serial rapist and pedophile priest. A pedophile priest who loved to feast off their youth and innocence like a hungry vampire. A vampire who had been placed in their midst by a church seemingly, amazingly, shockingly unconcerned with their welfare.
A church that would move Father Porter from one parish to the next, from one hunting preserve to the next, for the next 14 years, putting hundreds of unsuspecting children within his sights and suddenly at risk.
Father Porter’s sexual crimes against children began before his ordination in 1959, but stepped up to epidemic levels in April 1960 when he was assigned to St. Mary’s Church and its parochial grammar school in North Attleboro, Massachusetts. By March 1964 he had been removed from his pastoral duties after molesting anywhere from 30 to 100 children—depending on whose estimates you believe—many of them repeatedly, some on a weekly basis.
After a year of treatment that included electro-shock therapy, Father Porter’s cure was accepted as a matter of faith, his transgressions were forgiven, and he was reassigned to Sacred Heart Church in New Bedford, Massachusetts where he would molest another 28 children before being removed to a different parish in just a year’s time.
And on and on it sadly went…
These days, stories of the Catholic Church shielding and enabling pedophile priests are so common it is easy for the mind to focus on statistics—the tally of children violated, names of parishes afflicted, millions of dollars paid to victims—that we often lose sight of the nightmare the victims endured or the young lives that were destroyed one after another by one rapacious priest after another.
Imagine what it must have been like for 11-year-old Paul Merry to be fondled by Father Porter on a weekly basis for three years. Or to be viciously sodomized, as happened to an 11-year-old girl who tried to intervene in Father Porter’s rape of a six-year-old child. And think what a living hell life was for two hundred boys who were repeatedly molested in a Wisconsin school for the deaf. The priest this time was Father Lawrence Murphy, and he regularly violated defenseless deaf boys in his office, his car, on class excursions, at his mother’s country house, in the confessional and in their dormitory beds at night. There was no safe haven from Father Murphy, no “Get Out Of Hell Free” card for these deaf and vulnerable children of God.
Father Murphy, who was never charged with a crime or defrocked for his sins, had been promoted to run the school in 1963 even though students had complained about his predatory behavior back in the late 1950s. Documents show that three successive archbishops in Wisconsin were told of Father Murphy’s crimes against children but never reported it to criminal or civil authorities. Instead, the not-so-good Father was eventually transferred to the Diocese of Superior in northern Wisconsin where he spent his last 24 years working unhindered with children in parishes, schools and even a juvenile detention center.
Anyone who reads a newspaper knows these events aren’t isolated, nor are they anomalies. Given the large number of children molested, the many years those crimes were kept hidden, the long list of bishops and cardinals involved in the cover-ups, the number of dioceses and countries affected, it’s shockingly clear the leadership culture of the worldwide Roman Catholic Church is corrupt. So corrupt it could foster the commission and concealment of unspeakable acts against two generations of children. So completely corrupt it would take outsiders and lawsuits and a rising sea of outrage to force the church to finally start valuing the safety of children over the privileges of priests.
When you read how blithely and indifferently the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church responded to the savaging of children by priests, when you watch with disbelief as archdiocese after archdiocese, country after country, joins the list of the vampire priests’ feeding grounds, you realize those who stand guard over the Vatican long ago abandoned Jesus’ precepts in order to protect and perpetuate their own power and privilege. Even when local church officials took action, as did Archbishop Weakland of Milwaukee who asked his superiors to defrock Father Murphy, requests were almost uniformly met with an indifference that resonated all the way from the inner walls of the Vatican.
How strange then that this enabler of pedophile priests, this destroyer of childhoods and lifetimes, this institution too-tightly-held by the corrupters themselves to ever really change, should tell others how to live their lives, how to vote, who to like, what to think.
That these men who kept sacred the freedom and hunting privileges of priests who feasted on children could lecture the world on the inviolate rights of the unborn! What hypocrisy, what sham morality!
When will someone tell them they have lost their moral authority?
When will someone tell them they gave it up long ago on an altar of sacred vampires and broken childhoods?
And when will they ever change?
My apologies to any Roman Catholics who take offense at what I’ve said. My anger and disgust is not with them, nor with their religion, but with an institution that could so grievously abandon its responsibility to its flock. Jesus said, “Suffer the little children to come unto me.” I can’t imagine what he would have said about predator priests who cruelly suck the lifeblood and innocence from little children.