Forgiving Catholic Pedophiles

IN THIS ISSUE SUMMER 2010

Summer 2010 Issue

Interview with Brent BecVar
Author: Danielle Graham
Photographer: Brent BecVar, The Chopra Center

Brent BecVar is an extraordinary man. He has accomplished a level of universal forgiveness and self-responsibility that very few people ever achieve, even though he suffered what many would consider as the most heinous of crimes: Childhood sexual abuse from trusted religious leaders.

For more articles about “Society”, Click Here

Forgiving Catholic Pedophiles - Interview with Brent BecVar

The abuse was not a single instance, but occurred multiple times at the hands of multiple clergy over many years. Likewise, his healing process spanned decades, but eventually brought him to a place of utter peace, and ultimate personal freedom.

He had help along the way. As a young adult in the 60’s, his journey included psychedelics, spiritual mysticism, martial arts, and becoming a Yoga practitioner and instructor. He also pursued a Master’s Degree in Educational Psychology, motivated by the desire to understand himself better. After discovering certain innate skills, he spent eleven years working in the advertising industry. BecVar would eventually meet and work for Deepak Chopra, and for almost twenty years he has served as an administrator, teacher, counselor, and program director for The Chopra Center

Today, he is a highly sought-after Jyotish Astrology counselor and enjoys helping others to address the challenges in their lives utilizing this profound and mathematically sophisticated form of astrology that originated in the ancient Vedic tradition of India.

SuperConsciousness Magazine is truly honored that Mr. BecVar has so generously shared his story with our readers and hopes others who have experienced similar brutalities will also find assistance and peace.


SC: How did the sexual abuse unfold in your life?

BB: I was raised Catholic: My parents were Catholic, I went to Catholic schools, and graduated from a Catholic college.

I was the oldest of six kids. As a very young child, I didn’t understand why I wasn’t getting the same amount of attention I had initially gotten [before my brothers and sisters were born.] My father was away a lot and worked very hard. What I remember most is craving some kind of male protector: I used to wish for an older brother. When I tried to get more attention at home, I would be punished, and as a result I began to experience my first feelings of shame and thought I was not okay.

The sexual abuse began when I was nine-years old. I was sent off to a summer boarding Catholic prep school camp that was run by an order of religious brothers. At my grade school, there were only nuns, so at this camp I’m thinking, “Oh good, I’m going to have a protector, a friend, a mentor.”

We would joke about it because we didn’t know what else to do. We would try to lighten it up because it was just devastating. But we couldn’t talk to anyone about it. Who would have listened to us back then? Nobody. A lot of the boys tried to tell their parents but the parents would not even listen to what they had to say.

But as with a lot of pedophile situations, the predators can really spot the vulnerable ones, and I was really vulnerable. During that summer, I was molested by one of these religious Brothers on a number of occasions. I really shut down at that point and became very afraid, very ashamed of everything that had happened.

I began acting as though I was someone else. I didn’t want anyone to see who I was; I was so deeply ashamed of all of this. The whole thing just threw me into a state of confusion. It later affected my schooling and my relationships with other people.

I don’t remember a lot about that time, but I do remember that they sent me to the school psychologist because they could tell something was wrong. The teachers were wondering what happened to Brent. Years later the psychologist was discovered to be a pedophile himself. It was everywhere.

It turns out that the assistant pastor of my grade school was one of the most virulent pedophiles in the state. He was molesting most of my friends at school, and it just got worse. The archdiocese knew but moved him from one parish to another where he continued to abuse children. There were a huge number of mostly boys who were victims of this guy.

Later, I attended a Catholic high school that was run by the same order of brothers that had run the summer camp where I had first been molested. I stayed there for about two years until I just couldn’t stand it anymore. I wasn’t molested there, but the weight of oppression became unbearable. There was a lot of physical abuse in those days: The brothers didn’t hesitate to slap you or use other types of physical abuse. It was just a nightmare: The whole Catholic grade school experience and high school experience.

I finally got into a public high school and started going to school with girls again, which was great. I conveniently forgot about the abuse of my childhood and just tried to be normal and get along in the world.

During the 1960’s I began to experiment with psychedelics like a lot of my contemporaries, searching for some kind of meaning in life. I also had an interest in Eastern mysticism. The drugs eventually gave way to yoga and graduate school.

It wasn’t until I was forty years old that I heard a radio interview where a woman was describing having experienced incest by her father and she eventually took him to court. There was something in this woman’s voice that just woke me up. I realized that I had been in denial of the fact that I am a victim of sexual abuse and it has messed up my whole life.

That I heard a radio interview where a woman was describing having experienced incest by her father and she eventually took him to court. There was something in this woman’s voice that just woke me up. I realized that I had been in denial of the fact that I am a victim of sexual abuse and it has messed up my whole life.

SC: How did you feel messed up?

BB: I was in a state of constant anxiety; in constant fear of being attacked, or having my boundaries compromised. I became hyper-vigilant. I didn’t trust people. I saw men as predatory and didn’t trust them. I had male friends but many of my friends had been abuse victims themselves. We had our own solidarity.

Forgiving Catholic Pedophiles - Interview with Brent BecVar

SC: Did you and your friends openly talk about it?

BB: We did. We would joke about it because we didn’t know what else to do. We would try to lighten it up because it was just devastating. But we couldn’t talk to anyone about it. Who would have listened to us back then? Nobody. A lot of the boys tried to tell their parents but the parents would not even listen to what they had to say.

SC: You stated that you had tucked the memories away, but they began to affect your health anyway. Did you have periods of depression? Were there other physical and psychological symptoms?

BB: Depression was a part of it. I just lived with it. I wasn’t free. I was acting. I was putting on a front to be accepted – to just get along. I knew my real self was shut down. It was through yoga and meditation that I began to let go of the need to perform or the need to act out in order to be liked.

Everything changed during that period of time. I began to wake up. That whole process was gradual. It wasn’t until I heard that radio interview that the light really came on. I just knew I had to get into therapy.

Later on and after I began working for Deepak, I made a decision that I needed to confront the priest. I woke up one night and thought that I had to write a letter to the paper and tell them what happened. There were probably many other victims that don’t know they can get help. I knew they would be living in secret and living in the shame of what had happened to them. I decided I was going to tell my story. Since my parents were friendly with the Archbishop, I thought, out of respect for their relationship, I would write him a letter and tell him what I was going to do.

I got a letter back so fast from the Archbishop, stating that he was sorry about what happened and that he would like to support me in my healing. But he warned that if I wrote that letter to the local paper, my parents would have to bear the weight of the public disclosure

He really got me there. It was a very clever tactic on his part because I really felt the guilt of putting my parents through that. Of course, that is one of the reasons why I had never spoken up all those years in the first place: I wanted to protect my parents. Eventually, I was able to have a meeting with the assistant pastor. That was very helpful for me as part of this process of healing.

To be able to walk through an experience where you have to come to terms with a trait that you find so offensive in the other person, you have to give it a name. Once you have that quality in mind, ask yourself: “Is it possible under some condition, that I could be that, that I could exhibit that quality or exhibit that trait?”

SC: Was he still an active pedophile after all those years?

BB: Yes, but he was in his eighties and had terrible health problems. He was a really pathetic old man, but still dangerous and still in the employ of the Church. He was working as a chaplain at an adult living place. They were trying to keep him away from children, but he was still a free person and he could have gone and done anything he wanted.

He had a therapist and would agree to meet with me only on the condition that the therapist would be present because he wasn’t sure if I would take him by the throat. Instead, when I saw him, I thought that the guy was just pathetic.

As a result of that confrontation, I was able to take a lot of my power back. He was the one afraid of me. I had been willing to face him as an adult male. I took that damaged little boy in me by the hand and said, “Come on; we are going to confront this guy, this monster.” But he was no longer a monster, just this pathetic figure. That was a huge thing for me to experience. Later, he was convicted in both civil and criminal trials and went to prison most likely for the rest of his life.

SC: Did you still possess anger or resentment towards him afterwards?

BB: I had no actual anger after the confrontation. I felt only sadness for him. It wasn’t quite compassion yet, but I recognized that the reality of abuse was a part of the human drama. This horrible act of molesting children, of taking the power away from children, should never happen, but even I couldn’t continue to hold on to that hatred or hold on to judgment.

At the time, I couldn’t say “I forgive you” and he wasn’t even asking for it then. He was just hoping that someday I could forgive him. After many years, I finally got to a place where I really felt ready to forgive him and I wrote him a letter. I wanted him to be able to move on with his own life and not to continue to live under the weight of this guilt. Even though he committed acts of violence against children, he didn’t have to continue to live with that. I told him that I forgave him and I hoped he would be able to forgive himself to have a better life.

Forgiving Catholic Pedophiles - Interview with Brent BecVar

SC: In addition to Yoga and Meditation, did you employ any specific techniques to help you heal from the trauma as well as addressing the role of victim of that abuse?

BB: One of the most effective therapies I used was EMDR [Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing] – a type of therapy that was developed in the 1970’s for the soldiers coming back from Vietnam that were suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The therapy utilizes a combination of technology while a person recalls experiences of trauma from their past.

How I understand it is that when we experience trauma, and it’s not properly resolved or not properly digested, the memory gets stuck in the amygdala part of the brain. If we experience something in the present that reminds of us of this past trauma, we react in much the same way as if we were experiencing the trauma again. Cortisol and adrenaline kick in, we experience anxiety, we perspire and hyperventilate.

As a result of that confrontation, I was able to take a lot of my power back. He was the one afraid of me. I had been willing to face him as an adult male. I took that damaged little boy in me by the hand and said, “Come on; we are going to confront this guy, this monster.” But he was no longer a monster, just this pathetic figure. That was a huge thing for me to experience.

SC: So, the anxiety that you were experiencing was the same kind of PTSD symptoms experienced by soldiers?

BB: Yes, and it changed my life by addressing all of that anxiety associated with unresolved trauma.

For instance, for years I had continued to have reactions to men that I thought might be predatory: Not just gay, per se, but gay men that I thought were interested in me in a predatory way. I would go into a hyper-anxious state.

EMDR helped me to integrate the experience from the fight/flight portion of the brain into the neocortex so that I could learn to take charge of that reaction by consciously recognizing, that, okay, the original experience happened a long time ago, but it is not happening now. I could make the choice to address the situation in a different way.

Through this process, I began to see myself in different stages in my past. I was even able to go beyond the actual events of the trauma and realize that the emotional pattern was there even before the abuse.

SC: The EMDR technology helped you to integrate neuro-pathways that were stuck or locked in a certain pattern – an amygdala – fight/flight loop. And as a result, you experienced even earlier thoughts. Did these thoughts occur during the actual therapy, or did they emerge afterwards during contemplation?

Forgiving Catholic Pedophiles - Interview with Brent BecVar

BB: Both. I began to see images of myself, the little boy that felt rejected by my mother, that tried to get her attention and when I didn’t, I began to act out, and then would get punished, scolded and shamed. I saw that I didn’t feel safe even then. As a young child, I didn’t feel like I had anybody to go to or to tell me how to be – how to be a male.

I saw my pattern of feeling alone, feeling vulnerable, feeling afraid, and that that pattern existed even from an early age. When I saw that, I began to have a lot more compassion for myself, and began to feel more like an adult who could actually hold that little boy, be his protector, and be the guide for that child.

I was able to realize that for much of my life, I thought there was something missing and I looked for it outside myself when in fact that potential was always there inside me. That was life-changing to understand.

It is such a huge thing when we can say, “Okay, I get it. I can’t do this alone.” It’s a humbling thing, but that experience of humility is itself healing, especially when we can be met by someone who has insight and can assure us, “I get it. I understand. Here’s the way.”

SC: During your journey, what was the process of healing yourself and forgiving yourself for carrying all that shame and guilt for so long?

BB: I’ve given that a lot of thought over the years. I have come to understand that in some ways we attract the situations that we need in order to heal, even to the extent of attracting perpetrators into our lives as a way of gaining greater clarity.

Early in life, I didn’t feel that I had that protector and I was pre-occupied with that as a child. I had to learn to become the protector of myself, to re-parent myself over time. And as I did that, it brought out a deep level of compassion for that child that I was and the desire to be the protector to that child in me. I took responsibility for that vulnerability because this was clearly something that I came in this lifetime with, something from a past incarnation.

SC: Often there is a great deal of fear associated with addressing pre-existing emotional vulnerabilities. That fear prevents people from looking deeply and asking those very tough, deeply penetrating questions: “If I’m really creating my reality, then I must be creating this also. What is it within me that’s creating this abuse, this upset, this challenge, these repetitive situations? What is it in me that’s doing that?” That’s a really difficult question for many people to address that have not already done a lot of healing and releasing work over many years.

BB: We really haven’t been trained in that way, to see that we do create our experiences, that we create our world through our projections, through our projected needs and projected beliefs. It took me a long time to want to address those issues because it is so much easier to fall back into that victim role.

Debbie Ford’s Shadow Process course, what she calls “shadow work” really helped me get to that place.[See page 48 in this issue of SuperConsciousness Magazine.]

I saw my pattern of feeling alone, feeling vulnerable, feeling afraid, and that that pattern existed even from an early age. When I saw that, I began to have a lot more compassion for myself, and began to feel more like an adult who could actually hold that little boy, be his protector, and be the guide for that child.

SC: How has your personal experience and subsequent healing assisted you with your clinical and consulting work?

BB: I find that abuse comes up in a lot of my counseling with people, or resentment, or where people are holding others in judgment and holding them hostage. I find myself in that role of trying to help them get some perspective on it.

We perpetuate those wounds when we hold someone in resentment or judgment. To be able to walk through an experience where you have to come to terms with a trait that you find so offensive in the other person, you have to give it a name. Once you have that quality in mind, ask yourself: “Is it possible under some condition, that I could be that, that I could exhibit that quality or exhibit that trait?”

Of course, as the old saying goes, if you can spot it, you got it. You got it and you keep on getting it.

When we can see that, it becomes “I am that.” I am that quality, too, and it’s a part of being human. Once we can see that the other person is just like us, and in their own way doing the best they can, then we can begin to feel compassion for them. And in that compassion, when we release them, we also release ourselves from our woundedness.

Anything that helps us move towards compassion is healing. It’s healing for us and it’s healing for everything out there, because there is no difference, it’s the same consciousness. And, people really feel it. That’s the amazing thing. When we are actually willing to take responsibility, the other person changes out there. That’s the magic. That’s what we move to, that union.

Every spiritual tradition wants to guide us to that place. Even the most difficult experiences can be the greatest teachers, and can offer us the greatest opportunity for spiritual evolution if we are willing to use them as such.

Forgiving Catholic Pedophiles - Interview with Brent BecVar

SC: Your willingness to talk so openly about your own abuse and healing is very timely. There are many people in the world that wrestle with similar abuse histories. Is there anything you would like to say to all the people this interview will reach?

BB: I would want people to know that they can get help, that there are people who are holding the space for not only self-inquiry but also self-understanding, self-forgiveness and self-realization. There are people out there, and, the best people to help are the people who have been through that journey.

I’ve given that a lot of thought over the years. I have come to understand that in some ways we attract the situations that we need in order to heal, even to the extent of attracting perpetrators into our lives as a way of gaining greater clarity.

SC: That space of isolation is challenging for many people to free themselves from.

BB: We suffer until we can’t suffer any longer. I use that example of someone holding my head under water until I was willing to come up for air. We have to suffer sometimes until we are willing to surrender that illusion of separateness.

Sometimes it’s pride, and sometimes it’s stubbornness that makes us want to hold on to our isolation, our aloneness. But when we can get to that place of asking for help – it is such a huge thing when we can say, “Okay, I get it. I can’t do this alone.” It’s a humbling thing, but that experience of humility is itself healing, especially when we can be met by someone who has insight and can assure us, “I get it. I understand. Here’s the way.”

Related Multimedia:

Forgiving Catholic Pedophiles

The Shadow Effect

Be uplifted by the power that is hidden beneath the surface of your conscious mind. Take this emotionally gripping, visually compelling journey into your mysterious shadow self—the hiding place for your most disliked thoughts, emotions, and impulses—and discover....

Watch Now

This article appeared in the Summer 2010 ISSUE,

Subscribe Now and get instant access to our latest issue as a bonus to your print or digital edition 1 year or 2 year subscription.

Do you think Catholic leaders who abuse children should be forgiven?

Comment Below