Sunday, July 25, 2004

I just finished reading the Sunday Inquirer, and I feel literally sick.

It's not bad enough that the pastor of my parish, Fr. S., is on a leave of absence because of allegations of sexual abuse of several minors (which allegedly took place in the 1980s).

Today, I read some additional coverage of the ongoing investigation of how the Archdiocese handled the cases of priests who were accused of abusing minors. In the article, the stories of three priests who had been dismissed by the Archdiocese after "credible" allegations were raised against them. I take it that dismissed means defrocked, unless someone can offer me another explanation for that verb in this context.

Imagine my horror to see the name of a priest who, when he was stationed at the parish where I grew up, was someone I genuinely liked. Let's call him Fr. C.

It's bad enough to see the pastor of my current parish being connected with some hideous allegations. I never in a billion years would have thought Fr. S. to be capable of any such thing, and there is a part of me that hopes (against all odds) that the allegations against him are a big mistake. In truth, the more likely case is that either the accusations are true or they're lies... the probability that the wrong person was named as the abuser is slim. Whether the allegations are true or false, the windup is that SOMEONE innocent has been harmed severely, perhaps permanently, and that doesn't sit well with me AT ALL. :o(

I read the articles about Fr. S. on Friday before leaving for work, and felt upset for pretty much the rest of the day. I vented to Donna H. via email, telling her pretty much the same things I just wrote. It's upsetting to think that a person for whom one has respect could be capable of a truly hideous crime. Or worse, they could be GUILTY of said hideous crime.

I was able to get my mind off all these ugly allegations yesterday, when Mark and I joined Jean and Joe J, and two other friends Joe P and Edie, for a day in Atlantic City. That was a terrific outing, so I'll have to post about it in a bit, after I collect my thoughts from reading the things I read TODAY.

Because if I was worked up after reading the article about the accusations against Fr. S on Friday, that pales in comparison to the upset I'm feeling right now after reading the article that told the story of Fr. C. It would have been bad enough of a shock if today's article had merely said that Fr. C stood accused of abusing minors. But seeing that he was not only accused, but DISMISSED due to CREDIBLE allegations, well... the only way I can describe how I feel is to say I feel nauseous. I don't mean that as a euphemism, either: I mean it literally and I feel physically sick.

Never mind whether I knew someone who MIGHT have been a predator but the allegations are as yet unproven (Fr. S.). I *did* know someone who was a predator, and I had absolutely no idea. NONE. I thought he was a nice person with a great sense of humor who cared about the parishoners. The very idea of him preying on kids, for years, is horrifying. Not only is that exactly the opposite of what I THOUGHT he stood for, but it drives home the point of how well the predators blend in with the rest of society. But the fact that the Archdiocese dismissed him in 2002, even while they're experiencing a dire shortage of priests, tells me that they truly did find the allegations against him to be credible.

@#$&*%... If the sick, dangerous people look normal, how are you supposed to tell the difference?

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