Blind faith in the pews

One of the contributing factors to my loss of faith was the unwavering devotion of Catholics to their molesting priests.

For example, in 1986, Father Andrew Christian Andersen faced up to 56 years in state prison after being convicted of 26 felony counts of child molestation.

Letters from parishioners and brother priests flooded into the courthouse, pleading for leniency.

George Niederauer, Andersen's spiritual director at St. John's Seminary in Camarillo and now archbishop of San Francisco, wrote to Luis A. Cardenas, an Orange County Superior Court judge at the time:

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. [Yeah, it's an easily mixed up: getting sodomized and a game of grab-ass."]

Jaime Soto, now bishop of Fresno, 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." [Misunderstood: anal sex versus a hug. Happens all the time.]

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. You can read the sorted details here.

This week, an Orange County judge received 2,000 letters from parishioners of Our Lady of the Pillar in Anaheim, asking for leniency after their priest, Father Luis Eduardo Ramirez, plead guilty to attempting to molest a boy in a hotel room.

Orange County Register reporter Rachanee Srisavasdi captured the scene:

Parishioners packed the room. When the judge announced his decision, two burst out sobbing. One supporter had to be dragged outside, his face red with anger.

"He's a good man," said another parishioner, Leonardo Cortez. "These are lies.''

Ramirez, who plead guilty to two misdemeanors, received 180 days in jail. He got off easy. Let's hope there aren't any more victims out there. But we may never know since the Diocese of Orange has kept this as secret as it possibly can in this day and age.

Niederauer and Soto, despite trying to defend a serial molester and assigning some of the blame to his victims, continue their rise in the Catholic Church hierarchy. And parishioners continue to devoting themselves to the men behind the altar and NOT on the man on the cross.

A new reformation is needed, but where's Martin Luther?

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