Action Alert!

the exchange of simple affection

By Diogenes (articles) | May 18, 2005

Newly released documents from the Diocese of Orange reveal more heartbreaking stories of predation, mendacity, moral cowardice, grotesque refusal to face reality, and, most of all, a blood-freezing indifference to human suffering. Had we not read similar accounts elsewhere, it would be incomprehensible. One story among several:

It previously had been reported that Andersen was accused in 1983 of molesting a boy. Then-Bishop Johnson ordered him into therapy, but he remained at his Huntington Beach parish, St. Bonaventure, and in charge of the altar boys. Three years later, the priest faced up to 56 years in state prison after being convicted of 26 felony counts of child molestation, according to court documents.

The judge gave Andersen no prison time and instead ordered him to enter a Catholic rehabilitation center in New Mexico. Four years later, in 1990, Andersen was arrested in Albuquerque on suspicion of trying to sodomize a 14-year-old boy, and was ordered to serve six years in prison for violating his probation in the California case. ...

George Niederauer, Andersen's spiritual director at St. John's Seminary in Camarillo and now bishop of Salt Lake City, wrote to Luis A. Cardenas, an Orange County Superior Court judge at the time, and pleaded for leniency. Andersen "might well have misjudged what was appropriate physical expression especially given the atmosphere of adult-child contacts in our society at present," wrote Niederauer, adding that the boys might have misconstrued "wrestling" or "horse play" as sexual abuse.

Jaime Soto, now auxiliary bishop of Orange, also wrote to the judge, downplaying Andersen's crimes. "Our work brings us into intimate contact with people's lives," he wrote. "In a time when the exchange of simple affection within the most intimate of circles has become a rare commodity, our associations with others run the grave risk of being misunderstood by all parties including perhaps the priest himself."

Including the priest himself ...?

Richard Cross holds a doctorate in psychology, who has taught at the university level, including at Franciscan University. He is currently an educational researcher and consultant in the field of psychology and related disciplines.
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