Letter: Catholic priests accused of abuse deserve our forgiveness

In the letter to the editor titled “Allowing Apuron to remain a priest another failure of the Catholic Church,” the writer considers it a failure of the Catholic Church because a certain priest, although he had been removed from his role as bishop, is allowed to remain a priest. Because we do not know the details, we need to take care not to judge too quickly.

It could be that the incidents occurred 30, 40 years ago, were deeply regretted and confessed, and the man went on to become a holy person and provided great service to the people of his diocese. We all know of people who did wicked things, recognized their blatant behavior, repented, and became very good persons, contributing to society.

When we truly repent, God forgives us. Our God is a God of mercy, and he wants us to be merciful, too. In most of the sexual abuse cases we hear and read about, the horrific behaviors were done by men who were in positions of power, such as a parish pastor or a seminary leader. You can be sure that the priest who has been allowed by the Vatican to remain a priest will not be given a leadership assignment. He may be so old that he is now retired. If he is able to serve, he would likely be assigned to an office job, to a role that would be appropriate for him. You can be sure, nowadays, that a decision such as the one made for Anthony Apuron was thoroughly studied and discussed.

As for the concern that, because he is allowed to remain a priest, he will also continue receiving the benefits–again, we don’t know the details. Because he had been serving as a bishop, he apparently had a reputation for providing very good service over a substantial period of time. Men who are appointed as bishops are those who have been highly recommended by priests and others in their diocese. After studying all the details of the situation, the Vatican judges, after removing his role as bishop, found reason to allow him to remain a priest. I believe we can trust that there were good reasons why the judges decided that in this case it was appropriate to allow the man to remain a priest for the remainder of his days.