Father Tom Doyle can turn sex crimes in the Catholic Church into comedy, and deliver the facts to the mainstream. But it is not really funny. . .
By Kay Ebeling
City of Angels
The City of Angels is Everywhere
CHICAGO: Patrick Wall was talking about the bishops' “seditious conspiracy to prevent the execution of the country’s laws” when I walked in late for his talk and I hope I can get copies of the slides he used with his speech. They prove the church in America dealt with pedophile priests at least as far back as 1808. When Barbara Blaine said, “They go by the same script, it’s the same script in every city” we were both talking at the same time, in unison. However, for me most surprising at the SNAP conference last weekend was hearing Tom Doyle speak live, because I felt like I was at a comedy club.
As he got one huge laugh after another, I kept writing in my notes things like, think how many more people he could reach with this message if he was on Letterman, or Leno, instead of talking in closed depositions and hearings. The more I guffawed with the crowd, the more I realized the surprise element is part of what makes Tom Doyle's delivery so funny. Imagine: This ex-priest, after testifying a gazillion times, decides to chuck everything and start doing standup. Doyle physically is this tiny bundle of dynamism, you could see him standing up in front of the Goliath church, you could do cartoons of him standing up in front of the Goliath church, and since in America most of the real news is reported by comedians anyway. . .
Doyle opened with an off color joke, not the kind of joke your perpetrator priest probably used to wend his way into your family, but a downright Showtime Comedy Special snarling joke. The burst of laughter has a double impact because the joke is coming from this diminutive giant behind the podium, with words coming out of his mouth that make you think more of Robin Williams than Father Doyle.
He says, “Sex abuse in the catholic church goes back at least pre fourth century. Somewhere off in the mist are the people who are harmed.” He talked about finally breaking free from Catholic “Magical thinking and superstition about our religious practices. All we need do to see something just as weird if not weirder is look at voodoo and medicine men in Africa.”
“I had to laugh when they closed purgatory last year,” he said.
Like Angela Shelton showed us the first night, we can use comedy in order to get close enough to look at this stuff. But when you get down to it, it’s not funny.
Here are highlights from Tom Doyle’s speech that closed SNAP 2008. It’s funnier when he delivers the lines, I'm serious that he could effect a lot more change throughout the country and the world in people’s knowledge about sex crimes in the Catholic Church if he took his act on the road and worked his way up the comedy circuit.
Highlights from my notes:
Sex abuse in the catholic church goes back at least pre fourth century. Somewhere off in the mist are the people who are harmed.
There’s not a word in the English language that can describe the enmity about something as hellish and evil as raping children by the most trusted people in our community, the clergymen.
Now because the bishops are pressed to the wall, they have to respond.
Since the beginning, victims have been ignored, they haven’t been part of the equation for centuries. We've found absolutely no evidence of anybody in the authority every saying, find out how much damage is done, see what the damage was to the children and families.
All the victims have one or more of:
Sexual identity questions
Massive amount of isolation, depression.