A Heavy Millstone

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By Bob Jensen

We gathered, we the faithful
When summoned by that bell
The small, the weak, the innocent
Drawn towards its knell

Three hours hid the sun
When that vulgar show began
The rapist with the Eucharist
Upon his filthy hands

Hands that tore the fleece
From the smallest, faithful lamb
And hands that left the soul defiled
And primed it to be damned

And when his rape had finished
And mass had then begun
He placed the Holy Host
Upon the slaughtered lamb’s young tongue

And one hundred chosen in their pews
Knew well the father’s sin
But offered up those trusting doves
Their precious, helpless kin

Men who to a burning house
To save the child within
Would rush without a thought
Allowed that sacrificial sin

And women, selfless shepherds
Who were turned back at the inn
Sat silent and obedient
While the faithful flock was thinned

And in that great cathedral
Built to glorify his God
The bishop killed the Lamb
When he spared the priest his rod

And for every priest and layman
Who hid the vulgar truth
May there be a heavy millstone
To justify lost youth

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11 Responses to A Heavy Millstone

  1. Sylvia says:

    A profound poem. I had goose bumps reading it. The word “beautiful” somehow does not reflect the horror and sacrilege which Bob has so aptly captured. But, there is a beauty t the truth.

    Bob is the brother of Michael Jensen, one Father Charles Picot’s many victims. Picot was, sad to say, acquitted on the Michael Jensen charges.

    In October 2012 I posted the following comment:

    Please read the dissenting opinion of Justice Richard – scroll down to page 37 of the document.

    This whole decision and Picot’s acquittal rests on whether or not the trial judge believed that, contrary to the law of the land, he needed corroboration to convict. Seems to me that the trial judge did want corroboration, but – Richard and now the justices of the Supreme Court say he did not. And, that’s the end of it. It’s over. There is nowhere to go to appeal.

    How much, I wonder, did the Bathurst Diocese pay for this legal victory for a clerical molester?

  2. bob jensen says:

    Thank you for your kind words. It’s become a political cliche, but it’s true – for evil things to happen all it takes is for good people to do nothing. Otherwise good people allowed the wholesale rape of a generation to take place because they did not want to ruffle any feathers.

    It was a victim who expressed to me the agony of having to take communion from the very priest who had assaulted him. That image has always stayed with me, those filthy hands upon the Eucharist, distributing it to his victims…

    You mean to tell me that the diocese of Bathurst would have paid the legal bill for the serial rapist, Picot?

  3. Person who has interest says:

    Hello,

    This is an excellent poem but I am finding myself wanting to yell ‘That is not how it happened in our family’. My mother and father were not terrible. They did not sit by and pretend nothing happened.

    So I would like to see an addition of a stanza which respects parent and their plight over this.

    ie: Parents who figured it out and moved from town to city and never went back to church because they felt overwhelm with the impossibility of bringing this to court (like my parents did in 1968). Or parents who were unaware of what was going on because their children didn’t tell them. Or parents who went to the Bishop, got nowhere, then didn’t go to the police because they were told not to or believed they would get nowhere with the police (also why my parents moved). Or parents and adult children who get alienated by other congregation members when they speak up to the police.

    Now as for an update on my own assault – it happened approximately 50 years ago. I went to the police in my home town a couple of weeks ago and was told that they would not look into it because he was now residing in Ireland and had been convicted for these offences over there so – it’s over. ‘He wont be let into Canada so you don’t have to be afraid of him…. just move on with your life’. I told them that he is 74 years old and when he got out – he promptly moved beside an elementary school. They didn’t care.

    So… I went and talked with the police in the closest city in my home town (because I knew the priest had been there as well). The reaction was completely different. They’ve asked me to prepare a statement for a report (not a complaint because I don’t have enough memory). They are going to keep it on file in case someone else walks in who does have full memory (the priest in question kept returning to Canada from Ireland for visits so there will be victims younger than me).

    So my parents definitely called it correctly in 1968 – the police in my home townwould not do anything. They told me that looking into it would open the police department to a lawsuit of slander from the church. What malarkey….

    The good news is that the police in the city…. told me they were shocked by what I was told and that it was not right. 🙂 There are decent coppers out there. 🙂

    And finally, we must not forget that the scandals have prompted people to silently boycott the Catholic Church which has resulted in many churches closing and the congregations greatly reducing which has forced the top officials in the church to look at what has gone on.

    I personally believe that all members of the church should be required to provide and post an criminal record check and vulnerable sector check in each church. I also think it should be updated yearly. This would prevent priests who have been convicted from moving from spot to spot. At least that would be the start of transparency….

    ‘Person Who has an Interest’

  4. bob jensen says:

    Response to “Person who has an interest”

    I say with all respect, that yes, of course there were some who took action, although they were in the minority. That poem is not about them. It is about the ones who did nothing and allowed the crimes to continue. And there were many of them. I have read your comments carefully and weighed them but I am comfortable with what I had to say, and whom I said it about.

    • Person who has interest says:

      I’m sorry Bob, but I think your poem is beautiful and rivoting but is also unfair for those parents who fought for their children – it makes it look like ALL parents did nothing and that is not true.

      • 1 abandoned sheep says:

        Please let it go. Are there not enough bruised egos and minds through the whole sordid mess, that you Person of interest, wish to drag out a non-starter?

  5. Mike Fitzgerald says:

    Person who has interest – I think Bob was referring to parents of years gone by, in the age when you DID NOT speak up against the local parish priest, even when everyone knew that the good “father” was up to.
    The correct thing to do then was to keep quiet and not ruffle the feathers, so to speak.
    I don’t believe Bob intended to besmirch parents at all! I believe he was alluding to an age when “the good father” could do no wrong. Mike.

    • Geenda says:

      I agree Mike, some parents did as much as they could, I never told mine to this day. My mom was alone looking after five children and she had enough to worry about.

      I know now that I was likely chosen because my mom was a vulnerable parent just as I was a vulnerable child. I did tell the nuns who beat the crap out of me for “lying”. Any adults I told either didn’t believe me or did nothing…

  6. bob jensen says:

    If people are talking about this, then it’s a good thing. I don’t deny that there were some who tried to do something, but the vast majority did not, and that is why these crimes, which number in the tens of thousands at least, if we look world-wide, were allowed to happen. I believe that indeed, there were people who would have rushed into a burning building to save a child, any child, who sat on their on their hands while people whispered about the obscenities taking place in the church.

    I know this was the case in Dalhousie, NB where I grew up. People whispered about Charles Picot while he raped with impunity. I wish my brother had told me about his assault after it happened. Even though I was just 15, I can assure, I would not have whispered about it. As people have been fond of saying lately, all it takes for evil to occur is for good people to do nothing. That is what happened and I am calling out those who did nothing, not those who tried.

    The amazing thing is, when I have been vocal in condemning the church for what happened, when I have been blunt in public forums like letters to the editor, there have been Catholics who have been indignant and responded very forcefully. How ironic that they are more offended by someone discussing the issue than they were about the actual crimes. Where were their indignant voices when they knew children were being savaged? They saved it for when someone had the audacity to criticize the church in a direct and blunt manner.

    I respect all of your opinions and feelings but I make no apology for reminding those who sat silently because they did not want to be embarrassed or dragged into an ugly debate involving the church, that their sin of omission was not only, in the most literal sense, a crime, but also ran counter to the very basic tenets of Christianity.

    “But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”

    Christ was very clear on this point – he said it would be better to die than to cause a child to lose faith.

    “It would be better for them to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around their neck than to cause one of these little ones to stumble.” Luke 17:2

    How many children lost their faith forever because of what was allowed to happen to them? Was Christ himself not often to be found calling out those who in hypocrisy ignored the basic teachings of their religion?

  7. Just another victim says:

    Bob:

    Bravo! for not only writing the poem, but sharing it. I sadly totally get what you are saying and it is not only relevant for yesteryears, but also for today. So much has not changed. People will still protect the priest no matter what, yet cast aside the victims as if they were the ones full of sin. How screwed up is that!

    JAV

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