January 17, 2011

Teresa Pitt Green sat in her car in the church parking lot. She watched parishioners walk up the steps to Mass. It was so easy for them, she thought.

Unable to follow in their footsteps, she sat in the car and longed for the Eucharist. Men who consecrate the bread had betrayed her.

Authorities in the Church, who had entrusted the sacrament to the men, had failed her. From age seven to 19, Green was sexually abused by multiple priests in her diocese. Her abusers worked at her school and visited her family in the evenings.

In an interview, Green recently recounted how, though she “left the Catholic Church forever many times,” her love of the Eucharist endured, and, with the support of Arlington, Va., diocesan priests, Office of Victim Assistance programs and Arlington Bishop Paul Loverde, she was able, eventually, to enter a church without fear and receive the body of Christ.

Last year, Green published Restoring Sanctuary (Dog Ear Publishing), a book part memoir, part spiritual reflection and part impetus for healing. The book immerses the reader in the Church’s painful wound through the eyes of a victim, but Green does not give explicit details of abuse.

But she is explicit when she defines the nature of the crime: “Sexual abuse of children is violence by sexual means by predators who seek to dominate another person by destroying their spirit.”

For “predator priests,” there is “a meticulous grooming of the mind to prepare it to be broken,” she said. “They make themselves a false idol, the dominant power. As a sapling, it cuts to your core.”