Netflix “The Keepers” – My Thoughts
By Bernadette A. Moyer
It has been a few days since I watched all 7-episodes of “The Keepers” a Netflix true crime docuseries. Since watching it I have felt a wide range of emotions and have many thoughts. I would like to share a few.
I was born and raised Catholic and I graduated from a co-ed Catholic High School in Northeast Pennsylvania. I am very proud of my Christian roots and my many Catholic friends.
My oldest daughter graduated from a very prestigious all girls Catholic High School in northern Baltimore County, Maryland.
For seven years I worked for the Archdiocese of Baltimore at a youth retreat house. For more than 35 years I have lived in Baltimore County Maryland.
“The Keepers” story takes place in Baltimore County and the abuse alleged occurred in Baltimore County and by a Catholic Priest who was part of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.
Although I was never sexually abused, sexual abuse impacted my family in a big way when a child molester married into our family and abused a little girl that I knew well. Most of the family loved and supported the child molester and did not believe the child who made the accusations.
I have written a few blogs about sexual abuse because I witnessed first- hand all the fall out when child sexual abuse becomes known within a family and in the community.
The first thought I have about this Netflix series is that the victims are true survivors and should be applauded for their strength and courage. No one should ever have to endure the abuse that they suffered. I appreciate their story and the depth of courage that it took for them to tell it.
I also felt incredible disgust at the Priest Fr. Joseph Maskell who abused so many children both boys and girls. He was a sick disgusting person who also happened to be a Catholic Priest. He was trusted and operated from a position of power that he repeatedly abused. This man should have never been trusted and he should never have been allowed access to young girls and boys.
The story starts out because a young beloved nun Sister Catherine Cesnik is missing and later found murdered. The sexual abuse came out later as a possible motive to the murder. It is believed that she may have been ready to report the Priest for abuse when she was murdered. To this date it is still an unsolved murder.
One of the points made in the series is that The Catholic Church is a business and it is, when we are young and so naïve and trusting we might not think like that.
I struggle with finding the right words as I write this. Sexual abuse doesn’t happen in a vacuum and it isn’t a random act. The abusers groom their victims and are often very charming and likeable. Sexual abusers are not strangers they are people that we know and people that we trust to have around our children. We do not allow our children to be in the company of strangers.
People don’t like talking about sexual abuse and they don’t want to admit that anyone they know and love is capable of molesting and even raping a child. For most people in order to believe the accuser they have to also believe the person they hold in high esteem like this Catholic Priest Fr. Joseph Maskell is capable of the acts of sexual abuse and rape of a child. People just don’t want to be wrong.
In light of all the many recent findings of sexual abuse within the Catholic community and the Priesthood it is not difficult to understand why many populations of people do not have a high opinion of the Catholic Church. If you weren’t Catholic and if this is all you knew about the Catholic community you would not and could not have a good opinion of them.
There is good and there is evil in every community. As much as my heart is with the victims and it truly is I can’t help but wonder about Fr. Joseph Maskell. What on earth happened to this man to make him so sick and so evil? I have a hard time believing that anyone could be born so hateful, so cruel and so heartless.
I also question whether we give too much power away do we hold other people and institutions up when the only person we should hold up is ourselves and our own faith in God. Fr. Maskell got away with abuse and it is believed that he did so with the support of the police and the Catholic Church.
Many of the key players from the Catholic Church and Archdiocese of Baltimore who were identified at the end of this docuseries I personally sat in meetings with and attended numerous functions with, I knew them fairly well. If I had to call out one common trait it would be ignorance and arrogance. They just can’t be wrong. In my view their denial contributed and caused extended pain to the survivors.
It would have cost them to believe the abused children. It would have cost them the reputation of the Catholic Church and it would cost them much money in lawsuits. The Catholic Church had both, it had a good and prestigious reputation and it has wealth. It also has armies of people, professionals including lawyers and law enforcement that defend them.
The victims on the other hand needed to be believed and supported and they were not. The cost to believe them was huge. In many ways the victims were victimized a second time when the system failed to believe and support them and then take the appropriate actions. Sexual abuse is a crime.
I pray that this murder is solved. I pray that the Catholic Church makes amends and does what is right. As a result of this series the Baltimore Police have added a link to their website where victims can come forward and also for anyone with information about the murder of Sister Cathy to come forward.
Hopefully this series brings about much healing and resolution.
It is never too late to make amends.
It is never too late to do what is right.
For so many reasons I believe that “The Keepers” should be viewed by everyone, if for no other reason than awareness and awareness on a subject that most people want to turn away from unless or until they are directly confronted.
I want to end this blog by stating again, there is good and evil in every community. There are many good and wonderful people that work every single day in the Catholic Community and they are doing really good works. Many of them I consider to be good friends.
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