A Father and His Household

Good and loving fathers do not welcome predators into the family home.

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There was a man of great authority, position, and influence who had many daughters and sons. This man’s place in the world was singular in rank yet also one of great service. To him was given the rights and duties of a Second in Command of a vast army; a household with no parallel; a territory with no rival on earth. He was in possession of the “keys to the kingdom,” if you will. The importance of his task also had no rival on earth. 

Much was given to this man, and so much more would be required. Much was entrusted to him. Much was asked of him. Indeed, his was not an enviable position, unless one failed to grasp the true responsibility and was enamored with power and filled with ego. True leaders know the personal cost, and they willingly pay with their own sweat and blood. Dictators know only personal gain, and they will exact payment from everyone else.

One day, this man, this father, elevated in rank and position another man, E, who had given shelter to a heinous abuser, a predator who had raped one of the father’s daughters. The evil nature of the crime was publicly documented, and the wicked abuser had been criminally charged but, with the help of E, had avoided any real penalty. The father surely was aware of all this, for there was no detail unavailable to him. Yet the father chose to promote E and bestow honors on him, giving him more responsibility within the family household.

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Many of the father’s daughters witnessed this and were astonished at the betrayal. The father was often heard to say that sexual abuse was intolerable in his household, and he’d made many promises of transparency and justice to his children. Yet this action of his contradicted his every word. How could his daughters make any sense of such dissonance?

This was not even the first occasion of betrayal. There had been others. Each time, the father’s words proved empty and meaningless, as again and again, he offered protection to an accused friend, promoted other accused friends to higher positions, and seemed utterly blind to the evidence of his friends’ depraved actions. He appeared totally deaf to the cries of his children. Sons and daughters had been abused, manipulated, violated in unspeakable ways, and now they were ignored by him.

Then came yet another betrayal. A particular friend of the father, who fancied himself a great artist, found great favor with the father, and his paintings were soon the image of the father’s projects at every level. Many of the father’s children found this art to be distorted, juvenile, and disturbing; but the father loved the art, and so it became his signature style.

Soon it became known that the distortion was not confined to the art but was manifest in the artist as well. The disturbing quality so many saw in the paintings was just a small taste of the man’s real life.

When the man’s guilt was made public and the perverted nature of his crimes revealed, the children once again looked to the father for justice. This man had violated more of the father’s daughters. “How,” they cried, “can you show him such honor and favor? How can you treat us this way?!?”

Once again, they were ignored by the father. Silence. And once again, the abusive predator was given shelter and even allowed to continue working in the household among the children. To this day, the children must continue to lay eyes upon the predator’s “artwork” all over the house. It mocks them every day. It slaps them across the face with each viewing. It underscores their place in the scheme of the household—they are insignificant. 

In this father’s household, the men in power will keep their power at all costs. The daughters and sons are a necessary sacrifice. It would not do for the entire structure to collapse, so abusers must protect abusers.  In this father’s household, the men in power will keep their power at all costs. The daughters and sons are a necessary sacrifice. It would not do for the entire structure to collapse, so abusers must protect abusers. Tweet This

Even if a well-known, vile abuser must be demoted or even “fired,” let him go quickly and quietly without testimony, lest more secrets be spilled. Better to let him age in peaceful solitude and take the guilt of so many to his grave with him.

I am a daughter. In this life, I am blessed to have had a wonderful, loving, tender father who truly protected me and would have gladly given his life for me. In fact, he did give his life for me every single day.

I am a mother now, with daughters of my own. They, also, are blessed with a loving, tender, protective father who lays down his life for all of us. That is what good fathers do. It’s what they are obligated to do for their families.

Good and loving fathers do not welcome predators into the family home. Good and loving fathers do not provide shelter to men guilty of rape and sexual abuse. Good and loving fathers do not honor men who prey on the children. Good and loving fathers do not promote men who manipulate the vulnerable children for their own gain.

On the contrary, a good and loving father would have the predator thrown out in the street to be trampled under horses’ hooves. He would ensure the vile snake never saw a glimmer of daylight again. He would tear his garments at the violation of his daughters and sons, and his anger would be fierce.

I am also a daughter in the household of this story. I never thought I’d be living through days so dark, so full of betrayal and perversion, but here we are. When the children are betrayed by the father, the wound goes right to the marrow. When daughters are discarded by their father while the abuser enjoys accolades and riches, words cannot capture the anguish.

When the purity of little children is transgressed by twisted, foul men abusing their power, and the father’s instinct is to shield the evildoer, only Heaven can comprehend the agony. 

It is only bearable at all because of the unshakable truth that our Heavenly Father is good, trustworthy, steadfast, just, and Love itself. He has not forgotten. He has not discarded. He will not neglect. He will not fail.

I don’t know why He has allowed this trial for us, in this time, in this way, but He has. Earthly justice may not come, at least not as we wish or think it ought. Vengeance is not ours, but for now, the suffering is.

Within this refiner’s fire, may He purify my faith—all our faith—and solidify our trust in Him as the only source of our life and hope and refuge. May His Church be cleansed, purified, and strengthened. Surely, the Bridegroom weeps to see His bride sullied and polluted by so much filth.

He is God and there is no other. He will not be mocked. He hears our cries, and He will answer in His time. His justice will surely come.

In the meantime, let all pretense be done. The father is not good, nor should he be trusted. Let the children beware.


  • Jennifer Hartline

    Jennifer Hartline is a wife, mother, and a daughter of the Church. She is a contributor to The Stream, Catholic Stand, and Catholic Online.

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