When we came back from Rome this time, we fully intended to write our report straight away. We were getting lots of e mails from everyone, how was it? Tell us all about it and of course we are as always, bursting to tell you all!
But there are two stories to tell when we report about these trips, one is all about the facts, the meeting in the Italian Parliament, the Survivors voice meeting with all our wonderful friends, the party in the Castel St Angelo. Then there is another story, the one that effects us all emotionally! How when we come back from the trip, we are exhausted, drained emotionally and almost unable to speak for a few days!
Like post holiday blues or post christmas anti climax, we have been once again connected to our brothers and sisters and then separated again. Well, this time it has taken over a week before I was able to write an account of our wonderful trip to Rome. It is hard to explain to anyone who has not experienced the effects of abuse by catholic clergy, how each one of these trips leaves us with a vast array of emotions, every time we meet each other it is a huge surge of excitement, but also we share the pain that each one of us has experienced in order to belong to this brave band of survivors.
Our close proximity top the narcissistic organisation which is the vatican leaves traces of anger and disgust, regardless of how long we have been carrying this burden. It takes a while to recover, and get some balance back. Our only comfort is in knowing that we all share this “downwards spiral” for a while after such an amazing connection and then separation. But here we are and ready to tell everyone about our weekend of inspiration and joy, of the laughter and the tears.
The speeches and the music , the determination and the dancing!
I think Ton and I had to pinch ourselves as we started the weekend by speaking in the Italian parliament, taking part in a seminar organised by the Radicali party. The theme was “Science Secularism and Religion” and we shared the platform with other eminent people who are as committed as we are to the furtherance of their cause.
Once again we stood on the Spanish Steps in the evening of Friday 28th, to meet with others who had made the journey.
We were joined for the weekend by our wonderful friends Marco Tranchino, organiser of the Secular Europe campaign and Ed Presswood, a London doctor who is part of the secular medical forum. As always Maurizio Turco of the radicali party was there with his support, Silvia Amodio to take more beautiful picture for her “Out of the Shadows” photographic monument, the wonderful Paola Leerschool D’Ambrogio who once again, had organised so much of our day, and Louise who spoke very movingly about being the daughter of an abuse Survivor. Davide and Daniella who tapped away on the computer so our words could be read by everyone as we spoke, Salvatore who had traveled from Tenerife. They were many new people who turned up and, of course, our deaf and speech impaired brothers and sisters from the Verona Provolo group.
Tears and laughter, as we charted our progress over the last year since we first met. We showed the videos of all the various occasions and talked of the future.
The talk came around to “next year” do we still take our celebration back to Rome? Do we really want to continue focusing on Rome? The vatican really couldn’t care less if we are there, and we certainly don’t want to see any of them! Are we not elevating the Vatican’s status by continuing to take our meeting back there? Do we really want to witness the obscene wealth of this regime, while families are begging outside? Would it not be better if we made Verona a shared event? The centre for our activities in Europe? Easier for the Provolo survivors to not have to travel, there are so many of them, and the journey so long. As we talked it became clearer that we just want all to be together, and we want the World’s press to acknowledge our meeting, and where better to do that than Verona where our Provolo group suffered their horrendous abuses, we remembered how poignant the meeting was in July, how the tourists in the Piazza near the amphitheatre started to wave and then clap and then blow kisses! We instinctively realised that Verona is the place that we should be.
So we made our decision. The next Survivors Voice gathering will be in Verona in July 2012.
In Vatican Square we read out the messages sent to us by people all over the World who couldn’t be there in person, but wanted their story told, and we posted messages in every vatican post box along with our Survivors Voice leaflets! We placed our leaflets all over Rome that day.
Our day ended with our party in the Castel St Angelo! We had hoped to have a meeting in the evening, but were refused police permission and had to start in the afternoon. What a bonus that was! We were dancing in the Piazza, in the daylight with everyone who was gathering around that historic sight joining in our celebration. One rather beautiful couple performed an amazingly raunchy Lambada in the Piazza! Some of us even moon walked, others danced with posters in every different language, which made all the tourists come over and talk to us, regardless of where they came from.
The police, who had begun the day with a cold “official” attitude, warmed visibly and eventually seemed part of our gathering.
Of course there was vatican interference! We would hardly expect anything else! I think they perhaps went over the top with the helicopter! And maybe the people standing on top of the roof were a little superfluous! The helicopter wired down to the police to ask one of our members to get rid of his banner because they thought saying “RATZINGER OUT” was offensive , which caused us a huge amount of amusement, they really were scraping the barrel to find something, anything to complain about! Which shows their true colours.
The highlight of the evening was when we lit a hundred chinese lanterns into the beautiful Roman sky as the music sang out “lifted lifted lifted” and we absolutely were–LIFTED! Lifted from misery caused by the criminals in the vatican, lifted from our isolation and our pain, lifted beyond all expectations, and lifted high enough to soar above our abusers! Lifted and empowered, at last on the right path, because at last we have each other! We cried and waved as our Verona friends coach left Castel St.Angelo, but we know it will not be long before we are together again.
Our last job was to thank the police for their help, and they told us they thought that it had been “beautiful” and booked a table for us at their favourite restaurant where we were treated like visiting royalty! We now have that very necessary injection of fuel to carry on the fight for justice.