BUCKLEY'S SEX REVELATIONS: MY ABUSE AGONY; EXCLUSIVE He produced a knife and said he'd cut my throat if I told anyone what we did. It cast a shadow on my entire life.
MY UNWITTING introduction to sex occurred when I was sexually abused as a child. I was six. He was 18.
I was small with tousled hair, bespectacled for a squint and with a front tooth missing.
He was tall, blonde and slim. I was a lonely first-born of 11 children, seeking love, attention and affection. He never told me about his feelings or desires.
I have never hated or resented him. I cannot seem to. In a child-like and primitive way, I loved him. That "love" never turned to hate.
I know now what he did was wrong. I know he wounded me deeply and that I lost my childhood the day he came into my life, yet I find it impossible to view him as "evil".
I cannot remember his name so I call him Aidan, a name I like because to this day I feel the need to call my first sexual encounter by a nice name.
My parents got to know Aidan very well and trusted him. He seemed such a lovely young man. Did he deliberately ingratiate himself with my parents?
Was it that planned, sophisticated and subtle? My heart hopes not. But I don't know. Eventually mam and dad asked him to babysit us once a week while they went to a movie. Aidan agreed.
He took me by the hand. I loved that feeling. His hand felt so big, so protective, so warm and so comforting. He brought me to our bathroom. He locked the door. I was not afraid. He was my friend. He removed his trousers and went down on his knees.
Afterwards I went to the sitting room where I sat on my friend's knee and had lemonade and biscuits. When my parents came home all seemed normal. It didn't occurred to me to say anything. I was put to bed and got up in the morning for school as normal.
How many encounters did I have with Aidan? I cannot say. I know there were several. Once he produced a knife and told me he would cut my throat if I ever told anybody about what we did. I was so hurt. I would never let my friend down. How could my friend threaten to kill me with a knife? The threat was a cloud that cast a shadow on my life.
Years later, when I was in my 30s and trying to cope with my emotions and sexuality, I attended Dr Frank Lake's Primal Therapy course in Nottingham.
I recalled my bathroom abuse. But I had to admit to myself that I had experienced some pleasure from my intimate encounters with him. That came as a shock to me, and left me feeling very confused. I cannot explain this.
I have often wondered if my early childhood experience made me homosexual but I don't know.
I do know that all my life I have suffered feelings of ugliness, unworthiness, uncleanliness, inferiority, fear, insecurity, panic, embarrassment, self-consciousness.
I know there is at least some connection between all these painful negative emotions and the fact I was sexually abused as a child. Aidan was my abuser, but he was also my first intimate friend and contact with another non-family human being.
For some reason I formed a major emotional attachment to him and his departure, in some way I cannot properly explain, emotionally blew me out of the water.
Whatever capacity for loneliness existed in me before I met him, after his departure my loneliness became an enormous chasm.
My sexuality was the principal source of pain and inner anguish until my early 40s.
First of all there was the loss of my relationship with my abuser - a strange loss. But every loss is painful and especially so to a child.
Even though I was totally innocent I took on the guilt of the episode, as is common to many abused children.
As the years went on and at the start of puberty, I became aware of being sexually different - I liked boys instead of girls - the whole thing became compounded.
From the time I was a child I felt different and alienated from others especially my peer group.
I had the loneliness of the eldest child. I had had my sexual abuse. I had lost my "friend" over what I did. And I sexually fancied other boys.
As a kid I was also chubby and I was often called names like "fatso". From the very beginning I saw myself, and was taught to see myself, as ugly, dirty and unworthy in God's eyes.
So my inner ugliness was reflected in my outer ugliness. As a child and adolescent I felt unattractive, unlovable and very, very lonely. It was at that early stage I first identified with the alienated, outcast Christ, Himself the friend of the alienated and outcast.
I'M sure my present day love of the spirituality of the alienated must have had its roots in the little lonely, sexually abused, different, ugly duckling child.
I cannot understand how I got through puberty and my teens without at least having a serious nervous breakdown.
Only two things saved me - my passionate craving to be a priest and daily belief in and prayer to God. I am not being pious or precious when I say this. It was not like that.
I went through years of absolute mental torture during which I felt I was holding on to life and sanity by my fingernails.
Between the ages of six and 12, I had not thought much about sex or what Aidan had done to me.
Like all kids of that age I did occasionally play mammies and daddies in the garden shed with other children.
Then 12 and 13 came and with it came the explosion of hormones and physical changes.
My first moment of harmless but noticeable excitement came when a neighbour, a boy my own age, invited me to his bedroom.
We innocently began to play doctors. He lay on his bed face down, pulled down his pants and invited me to give him an imaginary injection.
Absolutely nothing happened but it was thrilling. I started to discover my own body and got some awful telling-offs in confession. I was convinced I would be eternally damned if I didn't confess. With puberty came the fantasies which I knew as "impure thoughts" and generally they involved males.
I knew words like "homosexual", "queer", but could never have allowed myself to put any tag on myself.
With the fantasies came the memories of Aidan and with my developing "morality" came a guilt about what happened with him.
I applied all that guilt to me and none to Aidan. By now I had a dark secret. Whatever happened to me, I felt I must never tell anyone about Aidan and me. I must never tell anyone, outside of confession, about my bad thoughts and actions.
That was difficult. Because whenever sex was mentioned, I blushed to the roots. I was convinced that everyone could see me blushing and that I was giving away the fact I had a dark sexual secret.
That made me blush all the more. There was nothing I could do about it. I was in perpetual agony.
I also thought my father might castrate me. I remember being in our upstairs bathroom at home in Ballymun one evening.
As I opened the bathroom door I saw my father coming up the stairs. I locked the door, filled with the irrational fear that my dad was actually coming up the stairs with a knife to do the job.
In hindsight I know how ridiculous this may sound, but at the time it was so real and filled me with terror.
All this trauma led to major problems relating to my peer group. I did not have any friends at home or school.
I was sexually attracted to some of my classmates and this made it worse. I longed to bond with some of them but feared them finding out about me. I was in total turmoil.
So what could I do? I had to get away from these peers who both attracted and threatened me. So I refused to go to school.
My father was frustrated and furious with my behaviour and took me in desperation to our GP in Ballymun, Dr Brian Daly.
Dr Daly was a lovely, kind man and a very thorough doctor but there was nothing he could do for me.
He referred me to the Child Guidance Clinic at Dublin's Mater Hospital. Here I met another fine doctor Dr Paul McQuaid, the nephew of the famous, or infamous, Archbishop of Dublin, Dr John Charles McQuaid.
He admitted me to hospital for six weeks. I enjoyed my time in hospital. I was housed as a semi-private patient in St Vincent's ward.
But I was determined I was not going to let Dr McQuaid get hold of my dark secret.
There was only one hope for me. Jesus had saved the world through suffering. Suffering, I thought, was the currency God liked best.
If I suffered and offered up my suffering to God with Christ on the Cross then God might take pity on me and save me. I dreamed of priesthood. If I became a priest I would have achieved victory over my body, my sexuality and the world and I would also spend my life serving God. That would surely please Him and get me into heaven.
Today, 29 years after ordination and 35 years after entering the seminary, I thank God and destiny that I am a priest. But my idea of God and my idea of priesthood and prayer could not be more different than it was when I was a struggling little soul.
The Catholic Church, over centuries and generations, has made us all slaves - slaves to guilt, hang-ups and repression. It has always used sex to control and dominate.
The Church did this through its constant negative teaching and preaching.
But it did it best of all when it got us into the confessional.
There, priests, with major hang-ups themselves, interrogated us about "bad thoughts, and actions with ourselves, bad thoughts and actions with others".
While they were preaching this, cardinals, bishops and priests were active on the gay scene, priests were sexually abusing little children in sacristies and schools, monks were abusing novices in monasteries.
Recently a young priest rang me and said: "I can no longer work in a Church I now believe to be intrinsically evil."
He is right. The Catholic Church is intrinsically evil and the twisted and perverse idea of sex they preach is at the heart of that intrinsic evil.
Of course, I know there were and are many good and saintly popes, bishops, priests, monks and nuns in the Church. But generally speaking these good ones were given a very bad time by the others and they generally had to suffer greatly for their difference and their goodness.
Edited extracts from A Sexual Life, A Spiritual Life by Bishop Pat Buckley. Published by The Liffey Press on May 27.
Telling the world that I was gay
LOVE: Pat on his grandmother's knee in 1953; PRIDE AND JOY: After celebrating his first mass with his family in Ballymun, Dublin, in June 1976; CHILD'S PLAY: The future bishop with his first car; CLOSE: With sister Margaret and cousin Yvonne Joyce; LEADER: Guiding his flock through sermon; LONER: Buckley said he had few childhood friends
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|Publication:||The Mirror (London, England)|
|Date:||May 23, 2005|
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