Voiceless Victim

A survivor of clergy child sexual abuse speaks out for those who can't speak for themselves

RIP Father Kevin Lee – a disobedient priest and a good man, punished for his honesty

The sad news is filtering through about the death of Father Kevin Lee in last week’s massive typhoon in the Philippines.

This was no doubt a very great tragedy for his friends and especially his young family, with whom he had spent so little time.

Kevin saw his daughter Michelle born in late September, knew her for a few short weeks, and will never see her grow up. But he was satisfied and happy, writing prophetically in his blog,

“I am watching you Michelle and I never want to feel regret that I did not love you enough. I want to know that whatever happens, I am grateful to God and Josefina for giving me the best treasure in my life. I don’t know what the future holds. I don’t know how long I have with you. But.. every day…grateful … that you are my daughter…”

This terrible tragedy will also touch survivors around the country, as Father Lee was one of an extraordinarily rare breed. A catholic, and a priest, who eventually found the courage to put truth and justice before personal expediency and protecting the crimes and the criminals of his institution.

Father Kevin Lee was an Australian catholic priest who was in a loving and committed relationship with a woman.

It is not unusual for catholic priests to have sex with adult women. At least amongst those priests who are not gay or who don’t find it acceptable, convenient or exciting to rape children. What was unusual about this relationship was that it was consensual and loving, not abusive and exploitative.

If he had preyed upon a vulnerable young woman like so many of his colleagues, and forced her into both a sexual relationship and the secrecy made necessary by the catholic church’s celibacy requirement, he would have been in less trouble with the catholic hierarchy.

The point of the nonsensical celibacy rule is that, like in Orwell’s 1984, it is designed to be broken. Priests are human beings, very very far from divine and certainly not asexual. But once the celibacy rule is broken and the hierarchy or fellow priests have knowledge or evidence of it, they suddenly posses leverage, power and, most importantly, control over those who lapse in this way.

Consequences are threatened but rarely eventuate.

This blackmail, often mutual, is the oil which greases the many cogs of the Vatican machine.

You don’t tell my secrets and I won’t tell yours

It makes for some very strange bedfellows.

But Kevin went further. He committed what was, in the eyes of the hierarchy, a very great crime. A far more serious crime in their twisted thinking than raping thousands of children or vulnerable women and leaving behind a trail of immense suffering and death.

His heinous crime?

He married a woman.  While still a priest.

Strangely enough, the earth didn’t open up and swallow him.

He got on with his role as a priest and did some good for his community. For a whole year. And no one noticed the difference.

Now to remain a “good priest” and a “good catholic”, all he had to do was to keep up the lie. As long as the deceit and the fiction is maintained, no one has a problem.

But Kevin chose to be a moral and authentic human being instead, and told the truth.

Only he didn’t stop at the fact he had been married for a year and it hadn’t interfered with his ability to perform his duties as a priest.

He also told the truth about the widespread criminal coverup of systemic child rape within the catholic church.

Any up to date, reasonable, responsible, well managed organisation would welcome the information provided by Kevin, assess what it meant and revise their policies and procedures accordingly.

But no one except the seriously deluded has ever accused the catholic church of being up to date, reasonable, responsible or well managed.

Instead church officials refused to listen to Kevin and kicked him to the curb.

Now they had every right to do that.

What he did was not wrong, evil or unlawful in any way. Quite the opposite.

But he broke their stupid, senseless rules and they grabbed at the opportunity to terminate him.

What makes this so sinister is the comparison with the fact that thousands of other priests serially, systemically, routinely break the law by raping, in many cases, stupendous numbers of defenceless children, ruining hundreds or even thousands of innocent lives each, but they suffer little or no consequences, and in some cases are promoted.

And this is still the case.

Australia has now provided numerous examples of priests being swiftly (for anyone, not just the glacially slow church machinery) evicted from their ministry and the church altogether for what amounts to, if we stick with the Orwellian 1984 theme, thoughtcrime.

Hold the wrong opinion, or even worse express it publicly, and a priest can expect the most stringent penalty in the canon law arsenal enacted with lightning speed.

We are not talking cruel, discriminatory, vicious opinions here. Rather we are talking about not supporting the Vatican’s political and power seeking agenda, the fantasy of papal infallibility, and the cruel, discriminatory, vicious dictates insisting on blind, mindless obedience to the immoral, harmful, impoverishing and perversely intrusive sexual, marital and reproductive policies of these out of touch, obscenely wealthy, dysfunctional, childless old singletons.

By comparison, if a priest destroys the lives of thousands of innocent children, including the murder of those who suicide from their assaults and subsequent mistreatment by deceitful officials,  every excuse not to act will be rolled out, and every support and assistance provided to hide and protect the criminal and obstruct secular justice.

Look at this situation outside of the distorting effect of religious belief. Is this a world you want to live in, where this is what routinely happens, is widely acknowledged to happen and yet no-one in power does anything to change it, or even thinks they should? Do we really live in a democracy? Do we really have rule of law? Or are we already in a vicious theocracy by stealth?

Kevin Lee was not prepared to live in that world. He tried, using the power of the truth, to change it.

And it has changed. Thanks to Kevin, along with the efforts of so many others, we now have a National Royal Commission investigating the handling of child rape in the catholic church and other institutions.

I certainly hope before he died Kevin had a chance to give his evidence to the Royal Commission. Or perhaps they can question the officials, including Cardinal George Pell, to whom he reported his evidence.

Though what are the chances of Pell actually telling the Royal Commission what Kevin told him?

I can hear another few hundred “I can’t recall” moments coming on.

The battle is not won yet. Those same church officials who ignored Kevin’s evidence will try to hide the truth, undermine the Royal Commission’s efforts, and lobby to ensure no recommendations are implemented.

For those who are, like Kevin was, ministers of the catholic church and have knowledge about the coverup of these very serious crimes, now is the time to honour Kevin, and the victims and survivors, by continuing the fight to let the truth be known by the Royal Commission. To let an understanding of the full truth shape how we deal with this issue in the future.

The strategy, quoted by so many who consider themselves “good” priests or bishops, as a reason for staying put and keeping quiet, to try to “change the system from within” will never work.

Because unless you are part of the hierarchy, unless you are listened to and exert influence in the corridors of Rome, you are not really on the inside.

You are one of a cheap and largely powerless labour force, treated with utter contempt by those with real power, and used to milk as much money as possible from, and usurp the moral authority of, the mindless millions of lay catholics.

You are on the bottom of a pyramid of narcissists and sociopaths, who will never let people less cruelly self absorbed, less damaged or less obsessively ambitious than themselves climb the ladders of influence, nepotism and corruption.

But you are also likely to be a witness to many serious crimes.

You may have been told that to fight the church’s inquisitors and face down criticism for others’ actions is courageous and honest.

But the catholic church does not value courage or honesty. It punishes them.

It perverts them and mislabels them. Calling the cowardly brave and the liar an honest man.

Now is the time to utilise these very real, very human attributes.

Now is the time to rediscover your humanity.

Now is the time to stand up to the bullies and the liars and the criminals.

Now is the  time to tell the truth.

Just like Kevin Lee did.

RIP, and thank you, Kevin.

Stay safe everyone.

VV

7 responses to “RIP Father Kevin Lee – a disobedient priest and a good man, punished for his honesty

  1. voicelessvictim November 14, 2013 at 5:00 pm

    Additional comments by Father Kevin Lee from his blog:
    “I was always unafraid of death prior to meeting Josefina. Now I am afraid of what impact my death would have on her. Now that we are expecting a baby, my desire to stay alive increases (although I do believe that if I died right now they would be better off financially).

    I think it is people in our lives that give us less confidence in the future…”

  2. Mary November 17, 2013 at 7:12 pm

    Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends JOHN 15:13.

    Rest In Peace Kevin Michael Lee. A truly holy man.

    Many of his close friends believe that he was murdered. This was the perfect crime especially as the Thypoon was predicted in November last year. It was just a matter of waiting for the right time to strike. To remove this ex. Priest who knew too much. Would not be quiet. And would not go away. So he had to be silenced.

    Kevin Lee was committed to help the helpless/voiceless victims. He wanted these “men in frocks” to be punished for their crimes, and be removed from the protection of the Catholic Church. How could these “sick” men distribute Holy Communion? Why should they be protected and be allowed the luxury of being in the Catholic Church? and continue their crimes against other children and other women/men?

    The fact is Kevin Michael Lee was the only Catholic priest who was not afraid to speak up against his fellow priests and the Catholic Hierarchy. Most of us like to bury our heads in the sand. But what these priests are doing to young children, plus pretending to be what they are not, is truly frightening
    The other question is having both parents alive, nine other siblings, plus their spouses and children, and being an Australian who has dedicated 20 years of his life to the Catholic Church plus his countless number of friends and acquaintances, WHY IS HIS BODY NOT FLOWN BACK TO AUSTRALIA FOR A BURIEL! AND WHY IS THERE NO AUTOPSY?
    Doesn’t anyone care? Josepina has only known him since 2011. It would have been less selfish of her if she would have flown back with her teenage lsons and the baby she had with Kevin to bury him where he belongs.

    Anyway, it is time now for all you victims to come out fighting. Please stand together. GET YOUR VOICES back. Fr. Kevin Lee stood up for all of you. He believed and trusted you all.

    Now please honour his memory and stand up for justice, please finish what he can’t finish.himself. He will be watching you all from heaven.

    BLESSINGS

    MM

    • voicelessvictim November 17, 2013 at 7:27 pm

      I do not believe those who cover up and enable widespread child sexual exploitation by clerical sexual predators to be above murdering an inconvenient ex priest, or having him murdered, to protect themselves.

      Odd that the only other priest, Father Maurie Crocker, who stood up for victims is also dead, and his evidence missing.

      There are certainly unanswered questions about Kevin Lee’s death.

      Can I suggest you, and all his friends, report in full to the Royal Commission everything you know. About his evidence. About church officials he spoke to about his evidence. And anything strange about his death.

      They have very strict rules about any evidence given to them so things cannot fall through the cracks and cannot be accused of having fallen through the cracks.

      We survivors are tough (we have to be) and we will not let this opportunity be stolen from us.

      VV

    • Thomas November 17, 2013 at 7:40 pm

      I agree with Mary, knowing Kevin since birth. He was truly a great role model, incredibly pious and a true priest. He married Josefina to prove a point, that the catholic hierarchy turn a blind eye when it comes to their priests’ indiscretions. I love God, the blessed Virgin Mary and Jesus but when it comes to priests, can you really trust them? Everyone that has been molested by a priest, should borrow from the courage displayed by Father Kevin Lee and speak up in his name, as he’s given up his life for what he believed in.

      • voicelessvictim November 17, 2013 at 8:05 pm

        I will just mention that many survivors are extremely fragile and do not yet understand the strength they possess. Only they can decide if they are able to take this step. And they must first look after themselves and their healing.

        But if they feel up to it, now is certainly the time to do so.

        It would be helpful if ordinary catholics could also see the evil of the policies of their hierarchy clearly, and tell everything they know to the Royal Commission.

        How sad, and how indicative of the upside down morality of the catholic church, that this burden must fall on the most vulnerable, most damaged, and in some cases, those least able to survive this task. But one thing we do have, is a very clear understanding, formed from our own first hand experience, of what is the right thing to do, and how to stop this evil.

        VV

  3. delightful December 5, 2013 at 3:34 pm

    Cardinal Gilroy would have covered up. George Pell was not even in Sydney and a young priest at the time of these alleged assaults. still cannot understand how all these children spent time hanging around priests. I do not believe in any compensation if any priest is deceased.

    • voicelessvictim December 5, 2013 at 4:47 pm

      Delightful,

      I sincerely hope one day you possess both the wisdom and the grace to be utterly ashamed of such a cruelly smug and self serving comment.

      VV

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