Monday, October 22, 2012
Sex abuse victim forgave his priest and his church
By Mark Ellis
Senior Correspondent, ASSIST News Service
SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA (ANS) -- He saw himself as defective, but he wasn’t sure why. Alcoholism, anger issues, and two failed marriages led him to the brink of suicide. Then at age 35 repressed memories of sex abuse surfaced from the past, which sparked a profound journey of healing and forgiveness.
“I was hoping I was just crazy,” Bill Christman said, when repressed memories first surfaced of his sexual abuse at the hands of a Catholic priest. Bill’s father died when he was only six, and the priest offered to be a father figure to him and his older brother.
Father Wiebler took the boys on fishing trips, swimming at Buffalo Beach on the Mississippi River, and they played pool together in the rectory. “I thought it was wonderful that Father Wiebler offererd to spend time with my sons,” Billy’s mom, Mary, noted. “I felt he would be a good adult role model for Jeff and Billy.”
Behavior problems surfaced almost immediately following the abuse and continued for three decades, all recounted in heartbreaking detail in his book, “Forgiving the Catholic Church” (WinePress Publishing).
In adult life, he alternated between alcoholism and work holism. One night he awakened to find his first wife with her hands on him, attempting to exorcise demons while he slept. “I freaked,” he wrote. “The idea of someone casting demons out of me scared me to death. I took it as an extreme violation and we got into a vicious fight.”
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