Broken trust. A story that started decades ago. Today we ask you to look back into the mind of a young boy, in a sense stepping aside from the paper documentation of these claims, so as to imagine what it is like to be sexually abused by your parish priest. A priest that portrayed himself as not only the closest of family friends, but literally brought the word of God into the homes of these children and their parents.
        While church leaders insist that a vast majority of priests lead truly celibate lives, in this diocese as well as others throughout the country, there is mounting evidence that substantial numbers of priests are sexually active in secret denial of church doctrine. The repeated reports of sexual misconduct by members of the clergy and the cover-up of this misconduct by bishops and cardinals are creating a profound crisis of faith for many loyal Catholics. The atmosphere of tolerance to sexual acting out was not confined to Bishop, the current vicar general embodies the dual personality of the diocese, on one side all that is holy representing the best of the church, on the other, an underground of perversion within the ranks of the clergy conflicted by the demands of celebate life and compromised by the dark secrets that they must keep.
        While there are always some common themes exposed with survivors of sexual abuse, each man is haunted by his own separate demons. The scourge of childhood sexual abuse is a life-altering event. In many respects, a return to normalcy is impossible. Coping becomes the norm, and feelings of loss become their daily companion. The safety of children rises above all other concerns. It is a social and moral imperative that cannot be ignored by anyone.
         Today, we have asked you to look back when these young people were innocent childdren. As all of us get older we rely more and more on our positive memories of growing up. We do that simply to combat the daily rigors and demands of life in this new millennium. To poison those mental islands of peace and tranquility is a process that defines the state of mind of those who have been sexually abused as children. These boys, now men, and the young lady, lost their community, they lost their church, and in many respects, they lost the warm embrace of their families at a time when they needed that loving embrace the most.
         Feelings of loneliness, isolation, anger, rejection, represent just some of the carnage left behind by early childhood sexual abuse. Many of us watching this will have no reference point to such a tragedy and in light of that fact we are handicapped in discussing value. Evaluation is always difficult, sometimes contentious, but never impossible.
         What cannot be disputed is that the sexual exploitation and physical assault of a child by his parish priest, who stands before them in a pastoral role, as an agent of God, invested with significant intimacy and authority, is a crime of immense proportion. To speak of this abuse in terms of denial, or cover-up, or worse, to conclude that the crimes of these priests and bishops and the hierarchy that sheltered them have been somewhat mitigated due to the passage of time, is a travesty and an insult to the victims of his abuse and to those faithful members of the church.