Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Parents of Molested Sons Tell of Alienation from the Church

Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Parents of Molested Sons Tell of Alienation from the Church

Article excerpt

SANTA BARBARA - Two parents whose sons were molested by Franciscans here said they were disappointed with the official Franciscan response to their sons' accusations.

"I would describe it as slow and inefficient," said one mother. "Now that it's open, they want all the praise and glory. What happened to our children amounted to highway robbery of their childhood."

A medical professional and self-described "very committed Catholic," the aggrieved mother said she and her family no longer attend church. "I have had to redefine everything in my life. For me, it's a whole new spiritual identity."

She also wants to know the HIV status of the perpetrators, something the final report recommends but cannot enforce because of confidentiality issues.

It has been a year since the registered letter arrived from the Franciscan provincial informing parents that the former founder and director of the Santa Barbara Boys Choir, a Franciscan friar who was also rector at the St. Anthony Seminary high school, had been accused of molesting a choir member 12 years earlier.

"When you find out your kids are involved, you hit ground zero," one mother told NCR. "We had no knowledge of our sons' involvement until the letter arrived." That letter, originally mailed to parents of choirboys, was later mailed to parents of more than 900 former seminary students. Parents of choir members were a closely knit group, she recalled. "We were aware of a previous incident in 1989 when a friar pleaded no contest to one count of oral copulation and was sentenced to one year in the county jail, but I'd no idea our sons were also victims."

"The friar implicated by our sons was very close to us," she remembered. "He used to visit our home often and we often asked his advice about raising our sons. He told us he had studied child psychology but in truth he was a history major. …

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