By Charlie Casper
It’s 1955. Eisenhower is President and the Cold War is at its height, yet life on Morningside Drive in the mid-sized city of Riverport, Illinois seems idyllic and sweet.
Much of the neighborhood’s social life centers on St. Mary’s Catholic Church, its parish school and a group of families that have known each other for generations. But then the revelation of inappropriate interactions with some of the altar boys at the church comes to light. Suddenly, they and their parents are at the center of the emerging sex abuse scandal, a drama that was unimaginable at the time. After all, the priest was seen as God’s representative on earth; the Church was believed to be incapable of harboring evil itself.
And so a story known to us all these years later began to play out, featuring the power and influence of the Catholic Church, the belief that an abuser could be safely reassigned after being sent off to be cured, and then the Church’s unparalleled effort to protect herself
The strange and unanticipated interaction between two families on Morningside Drive provides the setting for the beginning of this story. It then grows to reveal a brilliant but eccentric neighbor, a courageous teacher at the school, a young priest who dares to look at signs that others ignore, and, of course, the clergy and church leaders who are either naïve or extremely irresponsible – or both.
To the courageous and resilient survivors of the sexual abuse crisis within the Catholic Church