The dolorous mission of my soul bears the wounds unhealed. I give notice to the Archbishop of San Francisco: you are responsible to contain the fallen Father Miles Riley who retired after the accusation of a soul who said he sexually abused her as a minor. Now you have paid for 6 months of therapy for me after I called the Archdiocese and asked about counseling for victims when I had been given no recourse whatsoever and the attorneys who represented me were told the statute of limitations had run out. So it had, and your attorneys did their job of protecting the assets of the Archdiocese. I was out of luck. Or so it seemed.
I decided to call on the phone and talk to the victim’s representative. I still had some of the skill set I was taught at Stanford where I studied to become a reporter. It took a lot of years for me to get through college because I kept having breakdowns and lived in group homes for the mentally ill. I put myself through school with scholarships, loans, and grants, but my parents paid for my books. My first breakdown came right after the fallen Father Miles Riley sexually abused me at Mission Dolores in 1976. Instead of giving into his advances, I went insane instead, which was preferable to becoming his pet. In case you wondered, I was not looking to corrupt a priest and was wearing a high-necked dress and was practically covered from head to foot and had a veil on. The thought that a man of the cloth would prey upon me would not have occurred and it did not sink in for many, many years because I would rather be crazy than face the fact that a fallen priest sought to defile me.
I was not baptized and was not likely to ever be, as I was raised without religion at all. My parents were non-practicing Jews and I had never set foot inside of a synagogue. I had found a path of meditation through a yogi who introduced me to Christ Jesus and before each meditation we were instructed to give a prayer which included Jesus Christ as Master. When I spent my last year of high school in Sacred Heart High School, I used to go to meditate in the chapel at lunch time. There, I felt the peace of His Sacred Heart. What I thought was a metal urn of ashes at the front of the chapel instead had hidden inside it the Source of the peace I felt. It is only recently that I learned that it is the Tabernacle that was at the front of the chapel. The strange thing is, that in the many years since then when various mental health workers have taught those of us psychiatric patients to “go to a safe place in your mind—wherever that may be,” I would go in my mind to that chapel, which I now know did actually contain the Prince of Peace in the Host inside the Tabernacle.
I tried for many years to get through RCIA, the process by which one becomes a Catholic, and I would always have breakdowns. I did not think much of it, because I was usually in some aberrant mood state or other. When I finally made it through the last time, I was the only one in the small parish in Montana and the instructor was amazed that he did not have to explain about the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. I knew He was there. I had no doubt at all. I also had the strong sense of Him overshadowing the priest at the Mass in that parish, as well.
You see, He wanted me to become a Catholic. I have often wondered why, and I said so this afternoon to the priest during confession. I really wondered why because, as I said to the priest, I had not been to Mass for a number of Sundays because I have such a difficult time with the priest sex abuse crisis in the Church. I said it makes me crazy to go and what I did not say but have said before is that I see no reason why I should knowingly put myself in a situation which is triggering to my psychiatric condition when if I have to be hospitalized, the State has to pay for my care. That does not seem fair at all. All psychiatrists and therapists have advised me not to become a Catholic and when I did, now they say to not try to practice because it really does bring out the madness in me.
So, why do I keep going back? Is it like the proverb that speaks of a dog going back upon its own vomit? The psychiatric community might agree with that assessment. I have a tendency to shoot myself in the foot a lot.
There is another part of me, though, and that is the person who got herself through college when Vocational Rehabilitation deemed me not college material. Well, in truth, I wasn’t when I took their assessment when in a state of madness.
I am very fond of the holy rosary and have prayed it most every day of my adult life, even in psych wards. I also am a real fighter–a prayer warrior–and I still can write a bit. Today, I want the Archbishop to know that the Diocese where I live in Montana is emerging from bankruptcy due to predatory priests. It may be a preview of coming attractions for your Archdiocese, as the climate is changing with the courts and statutes of limitations. Just so you know, I have written letters to the editors of the San Francisco Chronicle and the New York Times, suggesting they investigate the whereabouts of Fr. Miles and see what he is up to. They may or may not do so, but I think that if something were to surface about him in the future and it was shown that you did not contain him somehow, you would be liable.
Six months of therapy for a lifetime of psychiatric disability is not a great testament to the commitment of the Archdiocese to victims’ reparation. It is fortunate for you that I have read my Bible and in it I learned that Christians should not take other Christians to court in the world’s courts. All I know is that everything you hold dear as a Catholic priest is in jeopardy if the Church does not find a way and a will to address this issue. Most importantly, you need to contain these predatory priests. I know that during the Inquisition, there were more than a few prisons. St. John of the Cross spent some very hard time in one and he was innocent. Surely, the Church can find a way to either fix the problem, preferably, by making all priests join the Angelic Warfare Confraternity and make sure they give the daily prayers—or start incarcerating the unrepentant predators. Is it really too much to ask that the Church turn to Scripture for the solution to this problem, as in “this kind goeth out only by prayer and fasting?” I am very fond of Daniel Fasts and have used them and bread and water fasts to help heal.
The alternative is not pretty. I have passed my expiration date, as people with severe mental illness who receive care through the public mental health system die statistically 25 years earlier than the average citizen. Those are government statistics. I think you do not want to have the stats on those of us who have been sexually abused by priests, because as you probably know, many have either committed suicide or become severely addicted and die in their addictions. Those who do survive certainly tend not to have any faith whatsoever in God. I may be the only one who has actually become a Catholic after the abuse and a reporter to boot, albeit a handicapped one.
So, I wish to assure you that I intend to do the best I can to thrive in spite of this, my past, so I may live on to tell the tale to other survivors that it is indeed possible to get better. I do not expect anything at all from you. I truly do not. My Vocational Rehabilitation counselor has told me not to have expectations, in general.
In writing this, I am fulfilling a direction from Fr. Patrick Collins who was then the exorcist in Ireland. He told me to report my abuse to you and to get an attorney to do so. And he told me to write.
He came to Billings, Montana to give a retreat on the Holy Spirit and I wanted to see him. I drove an hour up and back each day, while still having to doctor my therapy horse and give him some messy medication with my jeans stained with the muck. Fr. Patrick was an enormous blessing and from him I felt for the first time in my life, what “caritas” is. I often gave a scriptural rosary with the scripture on Charity but it was still a just concept after all those years. He embodied it and I will be forever grateful because it took something to get me in a small room with him to talk with him in a private audience. I was not afraid, but that was only because of him. In general that would have been a living nightmare for me because of what happened to me with Fr. Miles in a private audience in that room behind where Mass was said.
I believe that men such as Fr. Patrick ought to be able to live consecrated lives as he does. He truly has the Holy Spirit. I can attest to that fact. He prayed over the group of us when I first walked into that parish during that retreat and started praying about someone who has a severe trauma and went into detail no one would know. He had never met me. He said later, “there are spirits of possession and spirits of oppression; you have spirits of oppression.” What I took from that, is that is the source of my madness.
So, this will be a public record. I give full permission to my attorneys to disclose any and all aspects of my case and especially to the media, which is how the Spirit of Truth is cleansing the desecrated temple now.
This will be able to be used in a court of law, as well. Let it be a goad to you to do whatever it takes to make sure that you have Fr. Miles contained. I am grateful to have completed my penance today and am in a state of grace, as defined by the Church, to write this. I believe I am called to become a lay Dominican nun and pray for priests, as Our Lady Queen of Peace has repeatedly requested. I am also supposed to write, and I pray that He use me, by the grace of God. Whether I do or do not do any of these things, the most important thing is that I leave this life as a Messianic Jew. I cannot say that I will ever be a true Catholic, as I just do not have that gene that is very deferential to priests. Perhaps that comes through here. I surely am still of the stiff-necked generation. Whatever happens in my future and that of the Church, I am determined not to lose faith in the Messiah, so help me God. Come what may, I pray to continue to cling to the holy rosary, which is the one constant in my adult life.
Respectfully in Him,
Caroline Victoria More Ritter
(St. Thomas More, the patron saint of lawyers and a true Man for All Seasons, is my patron saint and I believe it is he who got you to give me the 6 months of therapy, and he is quite determined to get justice for victims)