Angels of God

The McDonnell brothers get a sit down with Cardinal Justin Rigali.

By Mike Newall
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Jun. 7, 2006

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The cardinal again speaks of Christ's suffering on the cross.

Afterward, while eating a cheesesteak on Ninth Street, John will wish he politely told the cardinal that, "While it was surely God's will that his only begotten son die on a cross for the world's sins, quite frankly,

Cardinal, I don't think it was God's will that we be molested by a pedophile priest."

John also spent years battling depression and alcohol. He's sober and successful now, but there are still too many mornings he wakes up depressed.


It's Brian's turn to speak.

Brian, 61, the youngest of the brothers. Sallow, pale cheeks, thick white disheveled hair, blue eyes glazed from medication, a living ghost. He spent much of his adult life in psychiatric institutions. He has trouble finishing his thoughts.

Brian tells the cardinal what he told Father Chambers after the priest finished sodomizing him. "Why don't you kill me now?" he said. "I can't live with this shame."

Chambers laughed at him.

A suicide attempt nearly ended Brian's life three decades ago.

And he's still filled with shame and suicidal thoughts. And he's still somehow devoutly Catholic.

Here in the cardinal's office, Brian begins to cry.

Lately he's been watching Sunday Mass on TV rather than going in person. He's afraid the priests and other parishioners will be angry with him if they find out what happened to him as a child.

He spends so many hours praying on his rosary beads, reciting his Hail Marys and asking for forgiveness and for strength that he's literally worn his rosaries down to brittle.

The cardinal takes a leather pouch from his pocket, and pulls out a set of rosaries.

"These were given to me and blessed by Pope John Paul himself," says the cardinal, handing them to Brian.

Brian smiles like a kid at Christmas, overwhelmed by the gift.

He prays with them every day now, asking for forgiveness, for strength and for the guardian angel to watch over him.

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