Archive

Tag Archives: Catholic Church

   POMPEII – The Living City

by  Alex Butterworth & Ray Laurence

Pompeii book cover

<><><><><p

Reviewed by Anne Frandi-Coory

(Click on images to enlarge)

About the authors:

Alex Butterworth is a writer and dramatist, who holds degrees from the University  of Oxford and the Royal College of Art. Ray Laurence is a Research Fellow in the Institute of Archaeology  and Antiquity at the University of Birmingham. He was previously a Senior Lecturer in Ancient History at the University of Reading. He has published seven academic books on Roman archaeology  and history.

I bought this wonderful book a few years ago and I must admit to only now getting around to reading it. The authors have written a compelling, valuable  book for any treasured collection.  I visited the partially reconstructed Pompeii in the early nineties, and even then I was amazed at how ‘modern’ and well equipped the ancient city had been.

Archaeologists have literally dug up a plethora of data out of what’s left of Pompeii revealing so much about life within the Roman Empire. Although there is a huge amount of excavation still to take place, there is enough information gathered so far, allowing scientists to gain an intimate insight into what life was like in a Roman city at that time.

Authors Butterworth and Laurence tell us that Pompeii contains probably the greatest density of data of any archaeological site in the world, but that only augments the challenge facing contemporary scholars. The sheer volume of material that can be drawn upon, along with the shortcomings in technique and record-keeping  of many of those who have worked on the site in the past, make the task of bringing all the disparate evidence into some meaningful relationship especially difficult. But the authors have managed to achieve that brilliantly,  bringing carefully selected data  together  into an enjoyable and informative read.  

Pompeii was a city ‘full of political tensions, and very strange customs.’ It was a place where competitive merchants vied for the best customers and trade routes.  Wealthy, powerful citizens pursued all manner of pleasures. But pleasures were legal only for the rich; the poor and slaves were denied such luxury. Successful merchants and renowned magistrates owned comfortable villas along the coast, exotic goods and food at their disposal. In the meantime, Emperor Nero sinks further into murder, despotism and debauchery.  Citizens of Pompeii certainly couldn’t rely on help from their Emperor after the earthquake, although he did visit some time later. Even then, although his empire was carrying massive debt because of his spending sprees, including  the building of his golden palace, he was treated to a massive orgiastic feast in one of the few luxurious villas still left standing.

Combining  the most recent archaeological and historical research,  POMPEII’s  story sucks the reader into a vivid portrait of the doomed city during the twenty five years in which the city suffered a massive, devastating  earthquake  followed 17 years later by the eruption of Mt Vesuvius which completely destroyed the city and surrounding areas beneath it. Only the wealthy living in well-built villas could afford to have their homes and water pipes repaired so that fresh water flowed  again, in the years after the earthquake.  Others moved away before the mountain blew its top. What modern scientists have learned  about earthquakes, with the help of the latest technology, is used to compare what the eruption of Vesuvius would have been like to witness and the damage it wreaked upon its environs. There is no doubt that the earthquake caused significant damage to the land on the mountain side as well as below on the plains. The death toll from the quake would have been huge, and those bodies which could not be retrieved, created even more nauseating smells with the high risk of disease . Following the upheaval livestock died from lethal fumes boiling up from the centre of the mountain through fissures opened up by the earthquake. The smell of sulphur added to the other foul odours that citizens of every city had to endure.  And since the earthquake, the people of Pompeii also had to live through frightening aftershocks which continued right up until the eruption 17 years later.

‘The earthquake that struck Pompeii and the surrounding region on 5 February,  AD 62, is thought to have measured over 7.5 on the Richter scale. In all likelihood it was the result of an upward flow of magma within the earth’s crust along the geological fault that ran under Vesuvius: having vented its fury it then subsided before finally forcing its way out in dramatic fashion during the mountain’s eventual eruption… In the cities that bore the brunt of the devastation, Pompeii and Herculaneum, the archaeological evidence suggests that scarcely a single building was left untouched.

Snippets from a couple of paragraphs in chapter entitled ‘Apocalypse’ convey  vividly the eruption of Mt Vesuvius:

‘An eruption of such force occurs, on average, only once in a thousand years: there would have been no precedent in recorded history and mythology afforded the only point of reference. It is greatly to the credit of the Younger Pliny and his scientific training that, even while he watched his uncle set sail to his death, [while attempting to rescue citizens from the erupting volcano] he was able to categorise his observations calmly enough to produce an accurate report sometime later. His account provided the textbook case of volcanic eruptions for decades to come. ..The sight of fire and stone roaring up to the heavens that Pliny witnessed from across the bay “thrusting, bulging and uncoiling , as if the hot entrails of the earth were being drawn out and dragged towards the heavens” would have been massively more terrifying when seen from Pompeii.’

 

************************************************

Graffiti Pompeii 1

********************************************

Much graffiti written on walls around Pompeii has been found which gives further insight into what ordinary citizens thought of officials and neighbours, among other things.

Rather than the ancient graffiti and political posters that once covered the walls and summoned the flavour of the lost world, the most resonant graffiti still visible in excavated Pompeii today is perhaps that in the toilets of the cafeteria: “If I’d wanted ruins I could have gone to Kabul.” ‘

However, ancient ‘graffiti, signs and especially electoral notices offer clues as to the ownership of particular dwellings within the city walls, but in the villas outside the city evidence is usually in the form of rings with name-stamps that were left there by freedmen who were most probably their bailiffs.’

A visitor seeking directions outside the city would find help in a graffito such as –  “At Nuceria ask for Volvellia  Primigenia in the Vicus Venerius by the Rome Gate.”  According to other graffiti,  Primigenia was an especially desirable prostitute.  Pompeii’s ‘red light’ district was known as the ‘Venus District’. Political graffiti were also very common inside and outside the city walls. “For the health, return, and victory of Gaius Julius Phillipus, here, to his lares, Publius Cornelius Felix and  Vitalis Cuspius make an offering .”

What makes this book even more interesting are the many vignettes of life in real time, in which are revealed the hardships  of a few slaves, freedmen and the money worries and tasks of magistrates, taken from notes  on clay tablets:

Stories had been circulating of the deadly vapours that had poured from the cracks in the hillside the previous year engulfing the flocks but also spreading pestilence to the farms and into the city. Magonimus, a doctor, trusted in his own theories though, and was glad when he and his companion had begun their climb through the vines and towards the thinner air of the mountains.He knew how the shepherds in their hilltop cabins lived to a ripe age while the dwellers on the plain and in the marshes died young and miserable. And he was relieved for awhile to be free of the mosquitos that swarmed down below, endlessly disturbing his sleep with the angry sound of their flight. …Gazing down into the broken city, its walls and gates still in ruins Magonimus’s mind drifted to the many stricken victims of the quake whom his ministrations had failed to save – their limbs twisted and bloody, their breath rasping and their clothes soiled from terror…The doctor could not rid himself of the feeling that the whole world was ailing. Pompeii was full of rumours. It was said that the subterranean cisterns that stored rainfall from the wet months were cracked and seeping, and the landowners unable to afford their repair. Water was  scarce while wine was simply being poured away. Whether from death or sudden impoverishment, buyers were failing to collect their part paid goods and so, as the law allowed, the vignerons were throwing out thousands of gallons to make space for the coming year’s vintage. And this was only the beginning of the landowners’ troubles.

Life for slaves was harsh and many barely survived. Only the luckiest were freed in adulthood and even then, if they were once the object of their master’s sexual proclivities,   some were required to be on call whenever their ex master desired. If a slave worked in the kitchens or as waiters at drunken feasts, the only food they could consume was at the end of a long  day, when they were permitted to eat the leftovers. Slaves were commodities to be traded; men, women and children, it didn’t matter, and during orgiastic feasts, were fair game to be groped, raped, or whatever the drunken guests desired.

It was not until two years earlier when Receptus had been promoted to vilicus at Fannius Synister’s farm that he had grasped the full misery that the master’s arrival could provoke. For eleven months out of twelve, Receptus’s word was law on the estate and he was loathed for it by every slave and hired hand who worked under him. It was he who saved money by cutting the rations to the sick; he who set a day-labourer adrift the instant they’d got their feet under the table; he who drove the slaves out in the face of storms and hailstones to dig pits for manure or scrub the farmstead clean, and who ordered the beatings of those who slackened at the task.

…And now , at dawn on the fourth day of his master’s visit, Receptus found himself at the Vesuvius Gate of Pompeii, dispatched to hire day-labourers from where they gathered beside the muleteers’ inn just inside the walls; specialists to graft the vines, even though he knew that the stems weren’t ready for it and wouldn’t be for another week at least…Knowing that even the best men would fail to win Synistor’s approval, Receptus chose carefully but quickly; better not to give his master time to scrutinise the slave gangs’  performance without him there to drive them on, or to intimidate the young slave girl Chloe who had been nervous for weeks since hearing that she was to meet her master for the first time. Synistor had not yet broken the news that he had decided to take her back to Rome with him as a gift for a friend.

Only certain officials such as magistrates and priests were permitted to wear the special purple of the  toga praetexta, and a man could be put to death for disobeying this law.

 

****************************************

Pompeii 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

***************************************************************************************************************

The detailed index at the back of the book is a great aid for future references. With an excellent bibliography for follow-up reading. The book contains several coloured plates and helpful maps.

-Anne Frandi-Coory  13 July 2016

******************************************************

As an aside:

While reading this book, I could not help comparing the Holy Roman Empire and its efficient bureaucracy with the Catholic Church. After all, the Catholic Church was the state religion of the Roman Empire, and the Church had centuries in which  to copy and implement many of the Empire’s cultures and laws [Canon Law]. The Catholic Church is one of the most far reaching and well organised religions in the world. Patriarchal, altar boys/slaves, temple priests, the popes as emperors in silk gowns and hats, purple also a significant colour within the Church’s hierarchy, still  today. That the Church has in modern times been engulfed in scandals relating to the rapes of hundreds of children mostly boys, over  decades, possibly centuries, adds another comparison that cannot really be ignored. – Anne Frandi-Coory

Anne blog

Introduction to Anne Frandi-Coory

It was my pleasure to interview Anne Frandi-Coory. She is the Australian author of the moving memoir: WHATEVER HAPPENED TO ISHTAR?

ishtar-front-cover (200x299)

The memoir is about Anne’s quest for coming to terms with her traumatic childhood when she lived in a Catholic orphanage and later in her father’s family household. This is also a fascinating journey of Anne’s Italian and Lebanese heritages which provide insight into generations of defeated mothers.

I was first intrigued with the title because Ishtar is a goddess revered for many qualities in ancient civilizations. This book touched my heart as it addressed universal issues that impact women today.

Read my review of WHATEVER HAPPENED TO ISHTAR? (5 of 5 stars) on APOLLO’S RAVEN:  http://www.linneatanner.com/blog/3614-2/

Interview with Anne Frandi-Coory  

7 May 2016

What was the defining moment that inspired you to write your memoir?

Anne:

There was no defining moment as such; more a series of events over a long period of time. The continued feedback from my extended Lebanese family that I was ‘backward’ – a label I overheard often throughout my childhood had always left me feeling devastated and depressed. I desperately wanted people to know that I was intelligent, that childhood emotional and psychological trauma didn’t equate to ‘backward’. I tried many times, as a young mother, to communicate with my Lebanese family, but I could barely utter a word, while they continually talked down to me.

On another level, I found it difficult to talk about my childhood, and as a result my children didn’t know anything about my life, or that of my parents. I wanted them to be proud of me. I felt I didn’t have a past, a family history, and I wanted them to have one.

What was the inspiration for the title of your unique book title, WHATEVER HAPPENED TO ISHTAR?

Anne:

I was brought up as a strict Catholic as were most of my Lebanese and Italian relatives and ancestors. I discovered during my research that the women in my family tree suffered terribly at the hands of their men and the Church…too many children, too much abuse and the constant praying that in reality achieved nothing. My extensive reading about ancient goddesses like Ishtar informed me that women were once worshipped for their fertility, but weren’t solely defined by it. Ishtar occupied the highest position in the Babylonian pantheon; she was the favourite goddess of the Babylonians. She was the goddess of fertility, justice, healing and war. However, once the three patriarchal religions of Islam, Judaism and Christianity rampaged across humanity that changed forever. Christian women were then expected to emulate Immaculate Mary, mother of God, an impossible task. In the Catholic system, females had two vocational choices; become a mother (married of course) or a nun! Disastrously, my mother became both.

Statue of Ishtar

 

Was there any aspect of your Catholic upbringing that still deeply impacts you today?

Anne:

Yes. Fear and hypocrisy. I was so terrorised by stories of the devil and the tortures of hell all through my childhood while incarcerated in Catholic institutions, that most nights I experienced the most horrific nightmares that left me with a racing heart that seemed to shake my whole body. I sometimes imagined I could see the devil watching me in a corner of the room, so my reaction was to hide under my blankets praying that God would save me. The adrenaline rush prevented me from sleeping. I am still afraid of the dark, and although I no longer believe in the devil or hell, I suffer severe panic attacks if my fragile feelings of security and well-being are undermined in any way. Deep down, I have this feeling that at any time, everything I have will be taken from me, including my family.

The belief that anyone who was a good practicing Catholic was automatically a virtual saint, came crashing down around me when I discovered, as a teenager, that they were human like everyone else and just as capable of committing ‘sins’! I remember being utterly devastated but from that moment, slowly over time, my belief in God fizzled out and died. I am now an atheist.

What would you consider some of your most enlightening moments in your research that helped you come to terms with your childhood?

Anne:

I was explaining to a psychologist that I believed I had paid for my mother’s sins. He was silent for a few moments, and then said: “That’s a very interesting choice of words”. We talked about why I believed my mother had sinned. After a couple more sessions, he said to me “Do you think it possible that your Catholic upbringing may have done more harm than the abuse you suffered at the hands of your family?”

All through my research, I kept thinking about the psychologist’s words, and as a result, I wrote a very different book.

I had come to realise that my mother wasn’t a sinner, and that the story of my childhood was merely a tiny inset in a very large picture. That’s why, although I began writing my memoir, I ended up writing an extensive family history spanning generations and countries. That in general, life favoured males over females. With the change in perspective also came acceptance of my traumatic childhood.

Was there a woman in your ancestral history who most sparked your interest and why?

Anne:

Probably Italia Frandi, my great aunt. She died long before I was born, but I was given a recorded interview with her daughter, in which she talks about Italia’s life and achievements. Italia suffered many tragedies in her life but she never let that prevent her from becoming an astute business woman who wasn’t afraid to stand up to the Catholic Church or a legal system that favoured men.

Based on your experience, what advice would you give young women today?

Anne:

Three pieces of advice:

Feel the fear, and do it anyway. I know that’s a well-worn cliché, but I know it’s the best way to combat fear. I would still be hiding behind locked doors if I hadn’t ignored my fears and taken the plunge into unknown waters. It made me more courageous each time I achieved a goal.

If people make you feel uncomfortable or unhappy, move on. Listen to what your senses are telling you. Life is too short and there is so much you can achieve in your lifetime if you travel without negativity weighing you down. I believe this philosophy has kept me physically safe and mentally healthy. 

Always strive to be financially independent…It will empower you to be in control of your life.

Do you plan to write any further books based on the research you’ve done on your Lebanese and Italian heritages?

No, but I have written a series of poems, short stories in themselves, about aspects of my childhood, cultural and family history. I have painted an image for each poem, or attached a photograph. I have also written a few ancestral short stories. I am planning to publish these in a book sometime within the next year, once I complete the series.

Biography Anne Frandi-Coory

Anne Frandi-Coory was abandoned by her Italian mother when she was ten months old and placed in the care of the Catholic Sisters of Mercy in Dunedin, by her Lebanese father. All through her childhood, Anne’s Lebanese extended family, and her strict Catholic upbringing, influenced her to believe that her life of abuse and gross neglect was  because she was “paying for my mother’s sins”. Anne married very young and had four children. After they had left home, Anne decided to research her family history  to try and understand the reasons why there were so many defeated mothers in her family tree. Over a period of fifteen years, she traveled across the globe, sourced original documents and interviewed many  family members, both Lebanese and Italian. Most of the  women were devout Catholics, forced to marry brutal and uneducated men and subsequently gave birth to too many children. Seemingly, the women’s sole reason for living was to breed, pray to God for help, attend Mass regularly, and hope that the after- life would reward them for their ‘goodness’. Catholic girls had one other choice for a vocation and that was to become a nun. This had not always been females’ lot in life. Ishtar, the pagan goddess of fertility, love and war, empowered females to emulate her prowess for thousands of years. But patriarchal Christianity usurped Ishtar with its Virgin Mary, and females were stigmatised as whore or venerated as virgin/mother.

Anne Frandi-Coory now lives in Melbourne, Australia with her partner. She works from her home studio as a painter, poet and short story writer. She intends to publish a book of her works.

Linnea Tanner

-Linnea Tanner  Writer, Blogger, Author  USA 

More about Linnea Tanner here: http://www.linneatanner.com/blog/

*****************************************************

Anne blog

Author Anne Frandi-Coory

 

In 2010 I wrote a book ‘Whatever Happened to Ishtar?’ – A memoir and family history told in two books entitled  ‘Italian Connections’  ‘Lebanese Connections’ … My Catholic childhood filled with fear, abuse, and gross neglect.

“Give me a child for seven years and I will give you the [woman]”

Anne in convent clothes

Anne Frandi-Coory at 8 years of age – just removed from Mercy Orphanage for the Poor in Dunedin

 

ishtar-front-cover

The theme running through the book relates to my passionate quest to find answers for generations of defeated mothers on both sides of my family tree. It’s about the brutal men in their lives, the endless pregnancies, and the women’s strict adherence to CathoIicism. In the end, the patriarchal Catholic Church betrayed their trust. Would Ishtar the Babylonian goddess have been a better role model and protector of female rights than the Virgin Mary turned out to be?

I know that in my mother’s case, if she had sought help from professionals rather than endlessly praying to her imaginary god, her life would have been far different.

I now live in Melbourne with my partner, Paul.

 

This page, including text and images, is Copyright To Anne Frandi-Coory
All Rights Reserved 6 August 2015
…………………………………………………..
Excerpts from a letter sent  to Anne Frandi-Coory by Sister Bernadette Mary, Archivist
Home of Compassion, Island Bay Wellington, New Zealand.

February 2002

Dear Anne

In response to your enquiry about the time your mother spent as a novice with the Sisters of Compassion, the following is what I have found in the Convent’s Register:

Your mother was 19 years old when she entered the Convent at Island Bay on the 7th December 1939 as a postulant. This is a kind of probationary period to find out whether or not a person is suited to the religious life. There was a separate wing set out as the Novitiate in the red brick building which had been built in the early 1930s, and was where all the novices were trained.

><><><><><

Novitiate Home of Compassion

Sisters of Compassion Convent (Image and text Sister Bernadette Mary)

><><><><><><>

A note made four months later, in April 1940, reveals that the Novice Mistress found Doreen to be a very highly strung person, but her manner was always pleasant. By July, Doreen always seemed to be worried about her family at home, especially her mother. However, she wanted to become a novice and looked forward to her reception into the Novitiate, the next stage of training to be a Sister of Compassion.

In July Doreen had to write to the Superior General asking to be admitted into the Novitiate, and giving her reasons for wanting to do so; that is the usual procedure. Apparently she was formally accepted, for on 15th  September  1940 she was received as a novice, together with four other young women. She was given the name Sister Mary Martina.

><><>><><>

Home of Compassion

Postulants wore a black dress, cape and hat, Novices in white veils as on the front left of photo.  Sisters’ habits were navy blue with  light blue piping. (Image: Sister Bernadette Mary)

><><><><><

We all had to go through the same kind of training that Doreen would have had during her postulancy and Novitiate days, and although looking back, things were hard, we were never unhappy or abused in any way. Most of the time we were kept very busy indeed, either working in the laundry or caring for the babies and children, which didn’t give us much free time for idleness, I can tell you from experience.

>><><><><

Original Home of Compassion

(Image and text: Sister Bernadette Mary)

><><><><><><

At the age of twenty Doreen requested to go home and subsequently left the Convent on 16th November 1940. There are no further comments in the Register. Any medical records were returned to Doreen when she left and there is no record of her being sick or having a nervous breakdown during her eleven months at the Convent.

I believe that Doreen often came to visit the Sisters after she had left the Sisters of Compassion. She rode out to the Convent on her bicycle which she had named ‘Martina’.

Yours Sincerely

Sister Bernadette Mary

><><><><><><><

Doreen & friend

Anne Frandi-Coory’s mother Doreen on right of photo (Image: Parkhill Collection)

><><><

The old Home of Compassion and Convent were demolished in the 1980s.

Read More: Letters To Anne Frandi-Coory

Painting prints Fuji 005

********************************************************

Italian Villa With Virgin

*****

Poem and Painting Italian Villa With Virgin

Copyright To Anne Frandi-Coory All Rights Reserved 20 May 2014

Painting  (Acrylic on canvas 90cm x 90cm)

*****

Read my poem *Italian Villa With Virgin

here in DRAGONS DESERTS and DREAMS

*****

Dedicated to my great grandmothers: Annunziata Giustina Fabbrucci Frandi and Raffaela Marisi Mansi Greco (Grego)

During research into my Italian family tree I met Italian genealogists and historians who believed that the two great Italian mass migrations were mistakes that  left Italy the poorer.

><><><

See previous post: EXILES

Angela comments on my Post: Clerical Paedophilia Centuries Old Timebomb…

19 September, 201310:30 am

It’s beyond comprehension to think this religion [Catholic Church] uses a mask of love, trust & honesty where in reality it’s been the most evil establishment on earth for centuries.

I’m feeling sick to the stomach to think we now have a Prime Minister running our country who himself chose to run to the aid of a convicted child sex offender with only one goal on his mind and that was having Nestor’s conviction overturned. After having full knowledge of the charges & having access to the court documents – he turned his back on those innocent little children & chose to support the perpetrator. TONY ABBOTT formed part of that ‘protection ring’….I’m ashamed to acknowledge him as Australia’s Prime Minister!  – Angela

….

Father Kevin O'Donnell

Paedophile Father Kevin O’Donnell

><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><

In my blog post dated 2 July 2013 How Catholic Dogma Aided Paedophile Priests’ I wrote about Chrissie and Anthony Foster’s book in which they describe how two of their daughters’ lives were destroyed when they were repeatedly raped from the age of five, by Catholic paedophile priest, Father Kevin O’Donnell.

<><><><><><><><><><><

Hell on way to heaven

><><><><>>><><

During the long battle to save their oldest daughter Emma, from more attempts at suicide by drug overdose and self-harm, she was admitted to one psychiatric unit / detox. clinic after another, over the years. Emma struggled, with some success, along with the loving help of her family, to overcome her addictions. It was a one-step-forward and a two-steps-back progress. Try as she might, Emma could not erase from her memory, what Father Kevin O’Donnell had done to her.

Emma was fast running out of psychiatric unit options because of her continual breaking of the units’ rules. However, one day in desperation, her mother found her a placement in a clinic run by the Catholic Church. Although she was hesitant about sending Emma there, she was comforted after being reassured that all the counsellors were professionals. But Emma had only been in the unit for a few days, when she phoned her mother and told her that a woman at her counselling sessions was a ‘practising Catholic and wore a cross’.  Emma was agitated and anxious. This woman was pressuring Emma to admit she was at fault for the abuse she was subjected to. Later that day, Mrs Foster rang the manager of the unit and explained her concerns about what Emma had told her. The manager stated that it wouldn’t have been a qualified counsellor and she had no idea who the woman was. She suggested Emma may have been speaking to a tea lady or cleaning staff.

A few months before she died at 26 years of age, from an overdose of her medication, Emma refused to see or talk to her mother. Chrissie Foster was hurt and bewildered. She was devoted to her daughter’s welfare and recovery, as was Mr Foster and their extended family. In the past, Emma had written many notes and diary entries, declaring how much she loves her family and how supportive of her they always are. But, she adds, her mother is the one she loves the most; she is always there for her.  That’s why Mrs Foster found it difficult to understand why Emma didn’t want to talk to her. She was hopeful that it meant Emma was trying to stand on her own two feet, and this could be a good turn of events.

Following Emma’s death, Mrs Foster had the heartbreaking task of packing up Emma’s belongings from her bedroom in the house she had loved, had decorated and furnished herself.  Loose sheets of paper were lying about all over the place. After collecting them up in a bundle, Mrs Foster sat reading the many notes Emma had jotted down in her neat hand writing.  A few of the diary notes covered her stay at the Catholic unit. She writes about the counselling sessions she attended and how traumatic they were because the counsellor was very critical and angry:  Why had she not run away? Why had she not told anyone about the abuse at the time? Why didn’t she call out?  Emma wrote: I told her I was five or six, he had all the power’. Emma wrote that she was made to feel it was her fault she had been abused. Anyone who has read Chrissie Foster’s book will know how those options would have been impossible for Emma given her age, the school environment in which the sexual abuse took place and her Catholic upbringing.  But most of all, they would have been impossible because Kevin O’Donnell was a paedophile with over 50 years experience. His victims describe him as an old man who was  frightening and angry. He continuously told them they were evil while he raped them.

Mrs Foster could not stop thinking about this ‘practising Catholic’ who was posing, unchallenged, as a psychiatric counsellor.   She believed no psychiatric unit in the 21st Century in Australia should be employing untrained counsellors. The woman obviously wouldn’t believe a priest was capable of sexually abusing children.  The ‘counsellor’ had intimated to a troubled Emma that she held priests in the highest esteem but despised the victims who claimed that priests had sexually assaulted them.

A distraught Mrs Foster phoned the Catholic Psychiatric Unit on a Sunday morning to enquire after a counsellor.  To her shock and horror, the helpful receptionist informed Mrs Foster that there was a nun on duty 24/7 to talk to patients.  So it was a nun who was employed as a professional counsellor at the unit and who was responsible for turning Emma against her mother. Emma had said to another person not long before her death, that the abuse was her mother’s fault, her own fault, and that the counsellor had angrily told her that Father O’Donnell had not raped her.

It becomes clear in Chrissie Foster’s book ‘Hell On The Way To Heaven’ how much Emma’s stay in the Catholic psychiatric unit affected and undermined her inner resolve to overcome her addictions and get her life back on track once again.  The years of addictions and self harm had taken their toll, but Emma was making progress, albeit slow. However, once she was coerced into severing ties with her family, and to rely completely on the unit for all her support,  she had come full circle; under the control of staff who preached Catholic dogma. Her fragile psychiatric condition could no longer put up a fight. She died alone in the house her parents had helped her buy with her share of the compensation money the Catholic Church had finally awarded to her and her family, after years of legal battles.

I know full well, from my time as an observant and devout Catholic child, the esteem and reverence in which most nuns hold priests. They too believe that priests are representatives of God himself upon this earth, and can do no wrong. Nuns are true brides of Christ.

……….

-Anne Frandi-Coory 7 July 2013 

%d bloggers like this: