Thousands of pages from files on nine Roman Catholic priests who settled high-profile clergy abuse lawsuits six years ago are being made public Wednesday, providing a detailed look at sordid accusations as well as instances when priests were allowed to interact with children despite their superiors knowing about the allegations.
Two of the former priests whose histories are detailed in the documents are Gus Krumm and Gary Pacheco, both defrocked Franciscan priests who served at Sts. Simon and Jude Catholic Church in Huntington Beach in separate assignments covering most years from the mid-1970s through the late 1990s.
The article provides a link to scanned documents. Two stand out for me from Krumm's file:
This is Gus Krumm's letter to the Pope, asking to be released from his vows as a priest. I am not suggesting he should not have been released - indeed, it was necessary, especially in light of the fact he admitted what he called "indiscretions." But I read this letter with great sadness. How does it get this far? How does it even get here? For a moment, I imagined this letter with a different name substituted, a priest I knew, and I actually experienced a wave of nausea. I hope I never have to see a letter like this with any of the priests who have been or are in my life, even if their decision is based on something other than legal malfeasance. It is heartbreaking to consider that possibility.
The other thing I noticed was in the deposition transcript of one of the victims, when he was questioned why he went to a seminary high school:
Q: With what was your reason for attending there?
A: To escape an abusive household at home with my stepfather.
Do seminaries recruit prey? It makes me wonder that when young men apply to become priests and enter a seminary, are there those "gatekeepers" who look for the weak and the vulnerable, and bring them in, with the expectations they will become targets. I know from the personal account of one priest how his rector singled him out for attention and made a move. The thought of such individuals being allowed to occupy positions of trust and authority is sickening.
I hope the Diocese of Orange gets a new bishop who is faithful and unafraid to clean house, if needed. It will not be pretty, but if some priests need to draft that letter above, it is best it be done.
I continue to pray for priests, that they choose always to act in such a way so as to protect their Bride, Mother Church, from scandal.