A letter to Pope John Paul the second:
Re: your request for forgiveness
You have asked, as a representative of our Lord, for forgiveness for the sins of the church. I am sure that if I, as an ordinary man of little consequence, and as a victim of a man who claimed to speak God's word, can find it in my heart to forgive the sins of the church, then the Lord our God, ever kind and compassionate, must have opened His arms long ago. I can feel it in my heart that He still loves us, and does forgive us when we open our hearts to Him, but is ever vigilant of our weaknesses if only to help us when we need and deserve it. The church is us, the congregation, not just those who are meant to guide us. As one of us, I ask for Gods forgiveness too, for blaming all the ills wrought by humanity upon His doorway. Of the men who committed those sins in the name of God, I will always be on guard against them but will never fear them again. I know now that it is mankind that does evil to man. The evil of humanity hurts me, my God doesn't. My Lord and savior is a kind and loving deity of peace and life, not war and death. I pray He forgives us for creating human suffering, war, inquisitions, conquest and genocide in His name. We all need to beg His forgiveness for straying from His path, whether we are Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, or of any other faith and belief in a supreme deity. You were the bravest of us all John Paul; you had the courage to speak first. I can only pray we all follow your lead. I will pray for your peace and that He has made His forgiveness known to you.
It has been said that a writer not only needs to have suffered, but also needs to be able to pour his or her heart onto paper. That means that I have never truly written, because I have always been afraid to open my heart and spill the blood. I see a way to break that barrier, by doing something I have never had the courage to do, face my fears, here, now. I want to warn you though, the sights and smells may touch you—even hurt you. I'm going to tell you a story. I hope, by telling it, to make you feel one of the many hearts of darkness. Perhaps if you or others can see into that darkness, the man who is trapped there can follow you to the light.
Do you know what the name Daniel Peter means?
Daniel n proper name 1 judge 2 the biblical Christian who faced the lions in their
Peter n proper name 1 rock 2 the foundation upon which Jesus Christ built His church.
I know a man, or a boy to be more precise. His name is Daniel Peter. He comes from a long line of persecuted Christians, Master Masons, and Knights Templar. Daniel Peter doesn't know it, but his forefathers may have battled with, and broke bread with, Saladin the Saracen near the gates of Jerusalem, the conquering warrior Muslim who chose to offer peace to crusading Christians. There is no point in trying to physically describe Daniel Peter; he could be anyone you pass on the street. He could be the baker or banker, the cop or the beggar, it would be hard to tell because he, like many of his kind, must never show his weakness, must keep himself hidden. As a child, Daniel Peter was raised through the Children's Aid Society, as the government thought best, in many foster homes, group homes, and shelters. He learned the importance of the rule of law by attending Beavers, Cubs, Scouts, and Cadets. He learned to believe in the supremacy of God through the choirs of the Holy Roman Catholic Church, and the alters of the Baptists. He was a good little boy. He learned that the meaning of life is to leave the world a better place than when he got here. He learned sympathy, joy, and compassion for others. As he matured and sought his place in society, Daniel Peter continued to follow the philosophies taught by his well-intended surrogate parents and government representatives. Even if Daniel Peter had known about his heritage, he could never have joined the temples of his forefathers. He couldn't, because Daniel felt hatred deep in his soul, hatred—dark and insidious—that gnawed and nibbled at everything he believed in, every thought it touched. When Daniel Peter had reached barely eleven years of age, the cloud of darkness overshadowed his life. It changed him. It isolated him. It excluded him. Peter learned fear, and horror. It was something the government could never admit, because it might make them look like bad parents. It was a vile indictment of the evil of humanity under the pretence of Godliness.
Daniel dug a grave, and buried the darkness, and he buried Peter with it. Daniel turned his back and ran. The government cut a deal and buried the matter deeper than Daniel ever could. Peter's gnawed body was never meant to see the light again. Years went by while Daniel tried to forget. He tried to get on with living, to forget that Peter's corpse was hidden, but the thought nibbled at his conscience constantly. He decided to play soldier, he knew he had a little death wish there, but he also saw vindication, and respect. He enlisted in the Army and became an Airborne Infantry soldier, a trained killer for his parents, his country. He strove to be a man of honour and sacrifice. While he slept, Daniel had horrific nightmares. Something wasn't right though; he didn't really want to kill.
Daniel went to college and became a military officer, a naval officer. He quickly learned to love the sea. He found peace and beauty in its simple acceptance of him. With pride in his accomplishments and his contributions to the betterment of life for all, Daniel believed he had achieved his purpose in life. He was making the world a better, safer, place, and he loved how he did it. Daniel drove on in true military fashion—while Peter scratched closer and closer to the surface of the grave.
One day, out of the blue, while doing nothing in particular—perhaps it was just a radio show, or an overheard conversation—Daniel overheard a child say a few words, “…he took his clothes off….” Maybe it was the child's voice, or how Daniel interpreted the words; regardless, Daniel heard, or felt, a strange sensation, like warm blood rushing past his ears. A warm shudder hit him in his stomach and knees, while a hot wave of electricity rose from the tip of his toes to the tips of the hair on his scalp, fear, horror—shame and humiliation. A dark cloth passed in front of Daniel's eyes. Peter could see again—and the first thing he saw was the holy cross dangling in front of the preacher's naked bloated chest.
Daniel fought for control, as he had fought for years. “NO, BLOCK IT! STOP IT!
Too late, Peter re-lived the preacher pulling down the little boy's pants. The child
was, again, frozen in fear. God's servant will have to kill the little boy; no one
can know that the devil lives in the house of the Lord. The preacher lowered his
DON'T LOOK! Daniel screamed. CONTROL! Stringy greasy thinning hair, warm moist fish slime. Daniel thought of dead cats and murder. He smelled the pedophile's musty den; felt the dust mites crawling in his lungs. DISTRACTION! He thought of thrusting a bayonet deep, deeper, into the heart of that darkness. Composure, cold indifferent composure; he kept thinking of cold-blooded murder. Once more, the horrific nightmares would return, but Daniel managed once more to push Peter back into his grave. This time though, Peter hid just below the surface. Daniel had control—barely.
A few days later, as part of a navy training program, Daniel was to drive a war ship, a minesweeper, on an exercise. Daniel spoke up to warn his military superiors, his XO and his trainer, about his problem, even though it shamed him. Daniel knew his emotions could endanger others at sea. He told them he was having an emotional problem, related to a rape, and that he was having difficulty controlling those emotions. His feelings were ignored. The trainer told Daniel that he would be gotten rid of, because the navy was sick of people like Daniel. He would see no compassionate consideration. Once more he was given charge to drive the war ship. His trainer had said he was going to get rid of Daniel; he was set up for the fall.
Daniel Peter stood on the bridge of the minesweeper; it was his ship to drive under the piercing watchful eye of the trainer who had threatened him.
Procedures for drills and maneuvers raced through Daniel's head as he tried to think
ahead and anticipate the unexpected, while Peter whispered and scratched. Daniel's
bridge team surrounded him: Navigation, communications, signals, lookout, 2IC, helm.
Daniel's job was to hear them all yelling and pick out and prioritize the important
information, giving orders to his team—while the old man Captain sat quietly in
the middle of the bridge, ignorant of the trainer's trap. Daniel heard the muffled
roar of the ocean breaking across the bow of the minesweeper. He tasted the tang
of salt on his tongue, and felt the misty sea spray gently kiss his cheek. This
was a test. It was a test of Daniel's ability to bear up under pressure and maintain
control of the war ship—and Daniel had told his secret to his trainer. He stood
the pressure well for the first half-hour, but then….
Voices were yelling on the bridge.
“Sir, Nav O, 50' starboard of track on a bearing of 250, clear. 5 cables to next alteration of course port 10 degrees to a new course of 240. Dangers to starboard include…” the navigation officer yelled over the wind.
The ship buried its bow deep into a trough, BOOM. A small shudder raced down the ships keel.
“Sir, signal, warning orders ,Corpen, alteration of course to starboard…”
“Sir, lookout, green 5, range 10 meters, log…”
The wind had risen. A small ship warning was in effect.
Daniel yelled over the sea to the helm “Port 7”.
Another trough appeared, BOOM. The cold February air watered Daniel's eyes on the exposed bridge, “Midships…Starboard 7…Midships…Steer 240.”
The helmsman replied, “Steer 240…aye aye sir, steering 240.”
A winter storm was rising on the Pacific. Daniel saw another deadhead log bobbing
in the water before the lookout saw it. “Starboard fif…”
“Identify that white navigational marker over there,” the trainer yelled while pointing generally over the starboard quarter, “DO IT NOW!”
A wall of arctic air buffeted the ship. For a split second after, there was perfect peace and quiet. Then Daniel heard, and felt, the rush of hot blood coming. The trainer yelled, “Lookout, give the man overboard signal”.
But Peter heard the preacher's voice too, “You like it don't you.” The smell of diesel turned a musky punk, sweet and sickly, an unknown smell like rubber, and old man's unwashed crotch, unspeakable textures. The kiss of mist vanished, replaced by the press of the preacher's fat stomach against the front of the child's curled, forced apart legs and feet. Peter felt the warmth, and smelled the decay from the preacher's hot gasping breaths as the spokesman for God struggled to force the head of his slithering worm…. Daniel felt a tear travel down his cheek. He wasn't really on the bridge anymore; he was with Peter.
‘WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING MR.!”, “I gave you a direct order, IDENTIFY THAT MARKER!”
Daniel Peter had hit a trough, BOOM.
When he was still a child, Daniel's mind had protected him by not letting him see
Peter. Now that he saw him, a little child screaming and crying in the dark grave,
Daniel knew what he had to do. He embraced him. Daniel was the adult. He would fight
in the child's stead. He could never forget again. He would instead relive that
degradation, that humiliating shame, that fearful nauseating alter-reality everyday
for the rest of his life. Facing it as Daniel Peter, instead of as a child terrified
into silence. But for now, his shipmates needed him.
“Captain Sir” Daniel Peter called. “I have to leave the bridge. I'm a danger. You have charge of the ship”, and the man/boy Daniel Peter walked away.
The next day, Daniel Peter was sent ashore for a medical evaluation. He soon attempted suicide…a number of times; he didn't want attention; he really didn't want to live; he had no future and he couldn't look other humans in the eye. His wide-awake dreams, or flashbacks, began to control him. He began to fear them. A military shrink said Daniel was having a normal reaction to an abnormal situation, “drive on sailor”. But he couldn't. Daniel Peter accepted the offer of an honourable discharge for reasons beyond his control. He withdrew from society and has locked himself away ever since. He never wants to see the judgment in people's eyes again, or hear the silence that falls when people hear or talk about what happened. He doesn't want to hear how “males can't be raped”, or “the numbers are so small that they're insignificant”, or “I'll bet you enjoyed it”; “there's no real harm”; “you're just weak”; Minister's and Priests don't do that”; “those boys are faggots, just look at them”; “they'll bankrupt the church”. Welcome to Daniel Peter's view of the heart of darkness. It's the year 2002, and the subject of the rape of little boys in the system is still taboo. Peter hasn't been alone since he found Daniel in that storm on the minesweeper, and Daniel has pulled the earth around the grave of both of them.
I am Daniel. I have hidden all my life. I will never hide again. Even though I keep Peter buried from the prying eyes of others, together, we are one and the same, Daniel Peter. Every night when I go to sleep I find myself screaming my secrets or murderously fighting that evil that defiled God's name. I don't know what I'm going to be able to do with the rest of my life; I can't afford to dream, and I have no faith in others. But I do know that Peter has to share it with me. I am me, and I won't deny it anymore.