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Gregory Arthur's story

Gregory is a Catholic priest who grew up in a staunchly Catholic family in the 1960s. The Church loomed large in his childhood. ‘I was involved in the choir’, Gregory told the Commissioner, ‘although I don't think I had a very good voice but I was, and I was an altar boy. I always loved that type of thing’.

The assistant priest at Gregory’s church was Father Raymond Christie. When Gregory was 13 Christie began taking groups of boys to the local drive-in. ‘He'd always pop me in the front seat of his car and he had a little sort of rug that he used put over himself and myself and then as the movie went on, the hand would go and all the rest of it.’

Christie was also allowed to take boys on weekend trips away. During these holidays he would make Gregory and his friends perform sexual acts with each other while he watched.

‘I was completely a virgin – at 13 you should be. I knew nothing about anything … I'm still waiting for my dad to give me a talk about the birds and the bees.’

The abuse went on once or twice a week for a year, and then again for a year when Gregory was in his mid-teens. ‘Even after mass, you know, he'd start groping me and that.’

Christie would make the boys attend confession with him after the abuse. ‘Six nights a week of fooling around playing with each other and carrying on, suddenly, on Saturday night, that becomes a sin and you can't go to communion on Sunday until you've been to confession. Well, that's a lot to deal with at 13.’

Gregory has had a successful career but considers himself a workaholic and an ‘expert people pleaser’. He gains no pleasure from his accomplishments nor the praise of others and continues to experience significant shame and self-condemnation.

Gregory lives by his own strong faith but feels on the periphery of life and is constantly saying sorry.

Gregory believes that he has coped with life by ‘going in the other extreme, overachieving’. He still finds daily life a battle and his anxiety is easily triggered.

Despite the sexual abuse he experienced at the hands of the priest, Gregory is ‘not anti the Church. I love my Catholic faith and I don't bag the whole Church for the sins of the ones who have misbehaved … Whether one believes in God or not, I think you can expect that somebody might, and when that relationship is fractured, how do you get on?’

Even with counselling Gregory believes that he is ‘not cured. There are days which are better than others and I'd have to say just at the moment today is a good day, so I'm happy to be here for you, but there are seldom many good days’.

Gregory believes the Church is struggling to find the correct response to the failings of the past, on both an organisational and personal level.

‘I also think they just don't know what to do. I do believe that. It's probably due to a sense of helplessness, not lack of care … I think they just don't know what to do. That's not a judgment. I'm just saying – the same as families often don't know what to do.’

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