Split: A Child, a Priest, and the Catholic Church

Split: A Child, a Priest, and the Catholic Church

by Mary C. Dispenza


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At age seven, Mary Dispenza was raped by her parish priest. The event split the child's sense of self, then vanished from memory. Carrying an unaccountable feeling of shame, Mary clung to Church liturgy and dogma for support and entered the convent, where for 15 years she lived as a nun, separate from the world. Decades later, when a memory of the pedophile priest resurfaced, Mary's will to survive and her quest to understand the unforgivable, led the former nun to join forty-five other men and women abused by priests, in the largest-ever successful lawsuit against the Catholic Church.

As scandals involving sexual abuse continue to roil the Catholic Church and survivors of abuse fight to make the Church atone for its sins, each abused person must find a way to mend the schism inside. SPLIT, the story of Mary's journey to wholeness, takes the reader from horrifying scenes of child abuse, inside the fascinating world of the novitiate, through the delicate and frightening process of accepting homosexuality, and culminates in epic courtroom battles.

Readers seeking to understand how this terrible injustice happens, and how so much has been kept secret for so long will find some answers in this honest memoir. Mary Dispenza, now an activist for ending the epidemic of abuse, speaks passionately about one 'SPLIT' we desperately need - the one that separates the Church from its mantle of secrecy.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780989656320
Publisher: Moon Day Press
Publication date: 11/05/2014
Pages: 242
Sales rank: 1,179,752
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.55(d)

Customer Reviews

SPLIT: A Child, A Priest and the Catholic Church 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
ReadersFavorite More than 1 year ago
Reviewed by Viga Boland for Readers' Favorite Split: A Child, A Priest, and the Catholic Church by Mary Dispenza rocked my world for two reasons. First, I attended Catholic schools till I was 18; second, I was, like Mary, a victim of child sexual abuse. But if Split rocked my world, it might just turn the worlds of millions of devout Catholics upside down. Those are the followers who still deny, or refuse to believe this could be happening, despite all the reports of childhood abuse by priests, not to mention the Church's failure to protect innocent children by removing such predators from places where they will still have contact with youngsters. It is just such a story that Mary Dispenza shares with us in Split. Molested...no, let's use the right word...raped repeatedly by Father Rucker from the age of 7, Mary split in two psychologically. She was well into her 30's or older when she began to recognize why she was incapable of loving and/or having sexual relationships without feeling shame. When she finally came to grips with what had happened to her at such a young age, and just who had abused her, she barely survived the realization. Only her faith in God and the support of a woman she came to love in every way helped her go to court and speak out against Father Rucker. In doing so, she brought some measure of justice and peace, not just to herself, but to 30 or more other children abused by Father Rucker. I couldn't put Split down. I breathed a sigh of relief at the end in finding Mary had found some measure of peace and forgiveness in her heart after all she went through, both as a child and an adult who lost jobs and almost became penniless because of religious intolerance of sexual preference. But what I couldn't help thinking as I closed the book was "is the cover up of sexual abuse by the religious limited to the Catholic church?" Unfortunately, I think not. The Catholic church is easily singled out because priests are celibate. But I feel sure that such practices, both the abuse and the consequent cover up, are rampant throughout all religious groups and institutions. Kudos to Mary Dispenza for writing this painful memoir and expose. We need more brave women...and men...like her telling the world how it really is! As I have said in my own talks on sexual abuse, “victims' voices are the best weapons against sexual abuse.” Let’s not silence those voices any longer.
MelanieSakoda More than 1 year ago
I devoured Mary Dispenza's wonderful book. What a triumph of a beautiful spirit over adversity!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
KatherineS1 More than 1 year ago
Split is a searingly honest memoir about childhood sexual abuse at the hands of a trusted priest, the impact of that abuse on the author's life, and an inspiring story of how she worked her way to healing in all aspects of her life. Truth telling that will be important to psychologists, survivors, and, perhaps, even to the church. Well done!