The Church Sex Abuse Story that Makes “The Keepers” Surprisingly Good

Have you seen this documentary, “The Keepers,” on Netflix? It was released back in 2017. It’s promoted on IMDb as, “A seven-part docuseries about the unresolved murder of a nun about the horrific secrets and pain that linger nearly five decades later after her death.”

Yeah, there’s way more to the story. I watched it thinking it was going to be an interesting crime series about a nun getting killed but it gets into a whole lot of the church sex abuse scandals. I find this fascinating because #1, I grew up Catholic and it was always such a secret and #2 I always want to hear people’s stories, especially ones hidden for over 40 years. One thing I will note is that I am not one to peruse television apps and watch whatever. In fact, most of it just makes me more aware of all the strategies of the devil on this earth right now. But this one, caught my eye.

One other note. Even though I was raised in the Catholic church, went to Catholic school growing up and even college (twice) at Notre Dame, I am no longer a practicing Catholic. I met Jesus over 15 years ago on the floor of my apartment at Notre Dame in the depths of multiple addictions while pursuing a graduate degree. It was in that space that I went from religion where God felt far, to relationship where I got to know Jesus and started to read the Word.

For a long time I still went to Catholic church, but the Lord kept drawing me closer in a new way and started prompting me to go to a different church.

There was a lot of, “God am I okay?” and nervousness about being shunned in the Catholic church. But He just kept drawing me and I could feel His love more everyday. Today, I am at peace with God, with myself and even with the Catholic church. In fact I walked into church with my Mom over the Christmas holiday and was just fine. THAT is only by the power of God in my life. (Zechariah 4:6 says, “not by might, not by power, but by (His) spirit.”

Anyway, that wasn’t the first time I felt rejected by the church. As a child of divorce in the 80s, I often felt that way just because there were barely any kids around me in school or at church whose parents were going through it. It felt like a Scarlett letter. So, although I can’t even imagine what it was like to experience what these women have experienced with this priest, I can understand the struggle with a religion that doesn’t seem like it’s standing up for you. So I have a massive amount of empathy for them.

The crazy thing I realized when I was watching it was that so much focus of the church abuse scandals is on young men and pedophilia, which is awful in itself. I was so happy to see the movie Spotlight in 2015 finally start to talk about it. But being a graduate of a Catholic girls high school in the Philly suburbs, imagining these women at a school in Baltimore not too far away getting called down to the priest’s office only to be sexually abused? Blew my mind and broke my heart.

I hate secrets. That’s probably why I’m so open about my every piece of my story, because I believe in sharing the truth and helping people break free from pain so they can be the best version they can for God’s purpose and glory. I know what it’s like to keep painful things a secret. It only festers pain that is swallowed, wounds that are never healed and often addictions that overpower the mind and body. I also know what it’s like to break free of them. We need more people breaking free.

But in this series, you see how the Catholic church covers up what this priest and others did. I’m sure this isn’t the first time you or I have heard of such a thing. But when you see it happen repeatedly in one case, it’s mind-boggling how far people will go to cover up the truth with complete disregard for people’s pain.

Honestly, you have to watch this series to understand what I’m talking about here because I don’t want to give the devil a sound bite with details in this blog. But what happened was horrific, and imagining these women recalling these stories so many years later, having to live through them and then finding the courage to share them and then being told that they didn’t happen? Insanity. The Catholic church literally sent out psychological and legal experts to deny their stories. As if these women didn’t already feel shame, their own church had to go and dig the dagger deeper. That’s not who God is.

This priest, and whoever was involved with killing this nun to cover up sex abuse obviously had some serious demons that ran rampant within him and violently hurt others in the process of letting them take over. Unless he repented on his death bed which it doesn’t sound like he did, he’s got a spot in hell.

But here’s the point I want to make about this. You can watch this, or any other documentaries mocking people of faith. I saw one that I had to turn off in the first 5 minutes because I couldn’t stand the attacks. Then you can watch it and use it as evidence for you denial of God and hatred of the church. Then you can go and pursue any other “spiritual” track that claims to resonate with you more, but it will never do what only God can do.

When you see this kind of thing happen; and if you grew up in any kind of church there’s a pretty good chance you’ve heard of something bad happening – you need to recognize it for what it is – an attempt by the enemy to derail you from running to the God who loves you. Not the God of the religion you grew up in. The God who created you, who loves you unconditionally, always has and always will love you – if you let Him. You want to know Him? Pick up the Bible and read all about Him. But don’t let whoever hurt you, whoever failed you – KEEP you from running to the Father.

If you need to, you do what Jesus did. You say just what Jesus said to Peter when He felt the enemy was working through His friend in Matthew 16:23, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”

Whatever has happened, do not let the enemy keep you in darkness. I realize this is not an easy thing. But I pray that you recognize – whoever these people are, are blocking you from God. They may claim to represent God. But only God can be God.

Am I saying go back to the church you grew up in? No. You heard me tell you I no longer practice Catholicism. That’s because I found my way to God the father, and a relationship with Jesus. That’s who you need. Jesus.

In the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t matter how well an institution like the Catholic church covers up the scandal. Their churches can be adorned with gold and people turning out in droves to church on Sunday morning.

What matters is the light of the gospel. What matters is what the Bible tells us in 1 John 1:5 NLT, “This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all.”

If you have seen darkness in the church or in religion – it wasn’t God. It was a person, a human being and every single human being is flawed, even the Pope. Only God can be God.

If you read Mark 7 in the Bible it talks about having purity within. The Pharisees and teachers of religious law went to see Jesus and saw the Disciples weren’t partaking in the Jewish ritual of hand washing before eating. You know what Jesus said in verses 6-8 NLT?

Jesus replied, “You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you, for he wrote,

‘These people honor me with their lips,
    but their hearts are far from me.
Their worship is a farce,
    for they teach man-made ideas as commands from God.’[d]

For you ignore God’s law and substitute your own tradition.”

It is not all about tradition. You can read it right from Jesus’ mouth.

Jesus goes on to say in verses 14 and 15,

14 Then Jesus called to the crowd to come and hear. “All of you listen,” he said, “and try to understand. 15 It’s not what goes into your body that defiles you; you are defiled by what comes from your heart.[h]

Makes you think about what was coming out of this guys heart, and anyone who pushes down the stories of those who’ve been sexually abused in the church. I don’t say it’s everyone in the church. I say there are certain people who have the power that aren’t necessarily coming from the heart of God.

Jesus then says in verses 20-23,

20 And then he added, “It is what comes from inside that defiles you. 21 For from within, out of a person’s heart, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, 22 adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, lustful desires, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness. 23 All these vile things come from within; they are what defile you.”

There it is again -it’s what comes from inside that defiles you. Do you see the words in verse 21? The majority of them make me think of that priest and those who hide themselves in ANY church who pretend to be one thing but live from these things.

There are so many Scriptures I could list here about God’s heart. But I’ll just share one that many of you know from John 14:27 NLT,

“I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.”

The world – that includes the church that hurt you if you’ve run away form it – cannot give you the peace that only God can give. Don’t let the devil keep you from peace in your heart. No matter what happened, don’t give him the power. Push him out of the way and get to Jesus.

There’s a reason the Bible says in John 14:6 NLT, Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.”

We go to Jesus and we get to God. There is a reason I believe we believe in the Holy Trinity: God, Jesus, Holy Spirit.

It’s not, we have to go to the church that still has the people who hurt us that will get us to God.

It’s Jesus, and then Jesus gets us to the church where we find God and seek Him and find community in Him.

There is absolutely a space in all of this for justice. The way these women were treated by both the Catholic church and the local government was astounding. There was a gentleman at the end within local government who said something about how if it can’t come from the Catholic church, it has to come from the government.

The problem is, you and I both now see that the government we have right now, isn’t doing anything. In fact, some are trying to make pedophilia an accepted sexual preference. They’re trying to teach kids way too young about sex in their own schools. As I’m writing this, just a few days ago the list was released of those leaders who went to Epstein Island. Not one of them has been charged for the disgusting things they did. Yet, people like these women and the victims from Epstein Island – who’ve been deeply damaged physically, mentally, emotionally AND spiritually by sexual abuse – haven’t gotten justice. There needs to be justice.

I told you, I grew up in the Catholic church system. I can tell you I’ve also worked in the highest levels of government. Yes, we are talking The White House. I know how it works and I see how it’s not working today. The government that we have right now – isn’t going to be the answer. The answer is going to be in Jesus.

Jesus is the only one who can take the dirtiest thing and make it absolutely beautiful. If you’ve been through anything like this, go read all of Isaiah 61. I clung to that when I was dealing with all my shame from addictions, and mistakes and pain from the trauma of my parents divorce. I was seeking my hope in Jesus. I still do.

In the New Living Translation the title over it is called, “Good News for the Oppressed.” Here’s just an excerpt in verses 1-3,

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me,
    for the Lord has anointed me
    to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted
    and to proclaim that captives will be released
    and prisoners will be freed.[a]
He has sent me to tell those who mourn
    that the time of the Lord’s favor has come,[b]
    and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies.
To all who mourn in Israel,[c]
    he will give a crown of beauty for ashes,
a joyous blessing instead of mourning,
    festive praise instead of despair.
In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks
    that the Lord has planted for his own glory.

Stop putting your hope in the Catholic Church. Stop putting your hope in the government, in people, in the justice system or whoever is President. PUT YOUR HOPE IN JESUS.

Get to Jesus. Let Him carry you through the pain to HIS healing and restore you and rebuild your life. Let him turn your story around for good and use it to help others. I know how slow and arduous the heart healing process is, but it’s worth it when you give it all to God. Take a minute and listen to this song. It’s one of my absolute favorites because I believe it gives a wonderful picture of the heart of God and it’s called, “Heart of God” by Zach Williams. (For some reason You Tube won’t let me post the actual video so go look it up. It’s really well done).

To conclude, I am praying and will continue to pray for the women who were in this documentary, for the family of the nun that was murdered and for anyone seeking justice from some kind of sexual abuse, especially children. If this is you, I think this whole piece was FOR you.

I haven’t written a blog in quite a while and after finishing this docuseries last night, I couldn’t put the pen down. That’s when I know God has a plan. So I pray He does what He wants to with these words to reach you and show you how much he loves you.

One more thing, I wanted to share. Yesterday; way before 10:00 pm when I started writing this blog, I posted this on Facebook today with the accompanying scripture not having any idea what I would be writing at night. God doesn’t make a mistake and I pray he pulls you right out of the pit and heals you right now in the name of Jesus!

If this blog touched your heart, PLEASE share it on your page or with friends. That’s the only way it’s going to reach those who need it and in these crazy times, Jesus wants to heal people so I know someone needs to read it!!! Thank you for taking the time to read. Have a blessed day.

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