In Australia, Paul Levey, a survivor of one of the world’s most prolific pedophile priests, Gerald Ridsdale, has come forward and bravely shared his story. Paul was sexually abused on an almost daily basis while living with Ridsdale in the Mortlake presbytery in Victoria. Paul has shared his story to bring attention to the church’s history of cover-ups and to give survivors hope.
Beginning in the 1980s, allegations of clergy sexual abuse of children, some as young as three years old, started coming to light. These allegations detail decades of abuses by priests, nuns, and members of religious orders, and evidence has shown that the Church leaders have been aware of this abuse for as long as it has been happening. From 2000 to 2010, the Church itself investigated over 3,000 members of its own ranks over allegations of sexual abuse dating back fifty years. In June 2021, Pope Francis issued an extensive revision of the Catholic Church laws that require bishops to take action against offenders within the church.
Survivors often stay quiet for fear of being judged. Many people both within and outside the Catholic Church ask how and why this could be allowed to happen. Paul Levey and author Monique Patterson, who were both brought up Catholic, want people to know that the church deceived the members of their faith. In their new book, The Boy in the Presbytery, Paul and Monique demonstrates how so many people had the wool pulled over their eyes by leaders of a religion that promised to protect them from evil. This is not an Australian story or a Catholic story. It is a human story.
For centuries one of the world’s richest, most powerful organizations was able to keep its secrets locked uptight.
It used its reputation as a source of light and goodness to cover up for monsters within its ranks. While sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests continued unabated, the Church relied on blind faith to convince victims to stay quiet.
Thankfully, in recent years, the work of investigative journalists, whistleblowers, and a series of government inquiries has lifted the lid on something that had become a common occurrence within the Catholic Church.
We now know that thousands of innocent children across the world have been sexually abused by the very people they were taught to trust – priests and other church leaders. The ones who were caught were often whisked away to other assignments where they would continue to offend. When they couldn’t be hidden, they were protected from prosecution by the Church. This story is an international one – sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests has taken place in every country in the world that has a Catholic presence
Monique Patterson, a journalist with more than fifteen years of experience, endeavors to tell stories that give a voice to the victims and survivors of crime.
Paul Levey is retired from the Australian army and now travels the world to bring attention to the Catholic Church’s sex abuse scandals.