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gone but not forgotten

By Diogenes ( articles ) | Jun 03, 2008

The OC Weekly's Gustavo Arellano is no friend of the Catholic Church, but in this instance it's hard to dismiss as bigotry the mortar shell he lobs into the lap of the local bishop. It concerns a newly published history of the California diocese now headed by Bishop Tod Brown, titled, Diocese of Orange: Learning, Loving, Living Our Faith.

In the published history, according to Arellano, the photo below appears in illustration of some event in the life of Junipero Serra High School in San Juan Capistrano.



The original of the printed photo -- according to Arellano -- is shown below (both images come from Arellano's blog posting):



If the photos are what Arellano claims they are, it's obvious that the clergyman pictured second from right in the original photo has been expunged from the version published in the diocesan history. According to Arellano, yet again, the vanished priest is the former Father John Lenihan, Arellano's one-time pastor, and a cleric who was dismissed in 2001 for sexual predation. Lenihan admitted to sexual relations with girls as young as thirteen. Arellano proposes, and it's hard to gainsay his suggestion, that Lenihan's presence pointed to the diocese's embarrassing tardiness in ridding itself of a predator (complaints dated back to 1978), and consequently, through the miracle of Photoshop, Lenihan was erased from the diocese's guilty conscience -- or at least from its happy-talk history.

Arellano calls the Orange Diocese's manipulation of the photo Stalinism, and it's easy to see his point: Stalin was notorious for altering the photographic record of history to suit his ideological purposes of the moment. But then Stalin's falsifications were consistent with the pragmatism of his revolutionary ethos; he didn't acknowledge the necessity of making a full, honest, and integral confession of wrongdoing as a condition of forgiveness. A Catholic, on the other hand, should.

Vividly mindful of the Covenant with the Faithful the bishop nailed onto his cathedral door in 2004, we await the Diocese's forthcoming explanation of the invisible Lenihan with heightened interest and a keen sense of anticipation.

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