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Sometimes God Has a Kid's Face: The Story of America's Exploited Street Kids
Sometimes God Has a Kid's Face The Story of America's Exploited Street Kids Author:Fr. Bruce Ritter In the almost 20 years of our existence we have tried our best to help the more than 100,000 kids we have taken off the streets into residence in our programs. We believe that we have been able to help about one-third make it back. — The rest? I think most of them don't make it. They die young. Or they go to jail, or join the tragic throngs of em... more »otionally racked, alcoholic, and drugged inhabitants of what is becoming a vast and barely human national shelter system.
Kids don't survive very long on the street--at least in any recognizably human way. The distortion of the personality, the erosion of character are swift and massive and almost always irreversible.
More than 30 years ago, in 1956, in Rome, I was ordained a priest of the Roman Catholic Church as a member of the Franciscan Order. I have never wanted to be anything else. I certainly didn't know at the time that I would wind up in Times Square taking care of thousands of kids who had been bought and sold like so many potatoes.
The kids came into my life by accident. Or so I thought at the time. Ten kids who had no place to live, who had been pimped by a bunch of junkies, and who had been forced to make a porn film because they were hungry, just couldn't take it anymore and fled to my apartment in the slums of the Lower East Side of New York City.
I didn't have the guts to kick them out and I couldn't find anyone else who wanted then, so I kept them. Or, as one of the kids gleefully chortled, "Bruce, we're going to give you a chance to own us, to be our father." Since, as you probably know, being a priest can get pretty lonely at times, I didn't mind it a bit. "It's like having your cake and eating it too, Bruce," one kid said.
"What gives you the right to know me so well so soon?" I said.
I never forgot what happened to those first kids. Nor can I forget or overlook or keep quiet about what's happened to thousands of others of my kids who, because they needed food and shelter, or maybe some money, and always some love--or all of these things--took their clothes off in front of a camera and let somebody make a permanent record of their need and their shame. And forced them to smile and not to cry.