Woman given ‘last rites’ by priest during harrowing conversion therapy: ‘It was ritual abuse’
An Irish woman has recounted her horrific experience with so-called gay conversion therapy led by a Catholic priest – who tried to cure her by reading her the last rites, which are reserved for those sick or dying.
Mariella Forrestal, a lesbian who was subjected to conversion therapy in the 1970s, revealed in new RTE documentary Outitude how a Catholic priest administered the last rites sacrament to rid her of her lesbian thoughts.
According to The Irish Mirror, Forrestal said that the priest told her: “This is Extreme Unction. This is what you do when you’re going to die, also what you get when you’re sick to heal you.”
Forrestal had initially reached out to her prayer group after a bad breakup. She said: “I met my first girlfriend in 1974. When we split, I was really lovesick, I couldn’t get over it by myself. I needed help.”
But now looking back, Forrestal says the help she received was nothing short of “ritual abuse”.
During the Extreme Unction, the priest asked her if she masturbated and anointed her hands with oil to protect against masturbation, and she was made to apologise. He then anointed other parts of her body but gave her the bottle of oil to do her genitals herself at home.
“I have since spoken with men who have had their genitals anointed in rituals like this,” she explained. “I now consider that to be ritual abuse.
“I think he had his sexual fantasies, I don’t think he thought he was putting them on me but I think he was putting them on me.
“And I think that that thing of the sacrament of the sick for being gay is a perversion. It was a shaming of me. And it did involve sexuality. And it was wrong, it was very wrong.”
The priest also took Forrestal through what she called “recession therapy”.
She explained: “He did recession therapy with me which evolved me lying down and closing my eyes and going into some kind of, I don’t know, altered state, I suppose.
“He got me to do these imagination things where I was to imagine I was in bed with a lover. And then Jesus came into the room and saw us together and he wanted to know how did I think Jesus felt.”
The priest grew angry with her when Forrestal said she thought Jesus would be “fine”, he even slammed the table.
Attitudes towards conversion therapy has begun to shift in recent years with more countries like Brazil, Canada, Samoa, New Zealand putting in laws that protect minors and adults from being subjected to the barbaric and harrowing practice.