Honolulu Star Advertiser: Victims of church sexual abuse need criminal lawyers, not therapy

From today’s Honolulu Star Advertiser:

Victims of church sexual abuse need criminal lawyers, not therapy

By Marilyn Wong

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Hawaii, via a newspaper ad that ran Monday, is offering therapy treatment and reconciliation for the victims of sex abuse.

Directing victims to go to the diocese for help is like sending the sheep back to the wolves. The diocese had the chance years ago to help victims, but did not act because, at the time, the statute of limitations protected the church. Instead, people claiming abuse were vilified, accused of seeking money, and told that the limitations had expired on their cases. Now that the two-year window has been opened, the church is scurrying to connect with the victims.

The problem is that the diocese makes it seem like the abused have an illness in need of therapy when in actuality they are victims of a crime in need of justice. What these people really need is an attorney who will take their case to court and fight the good fight all the way to a conviction where the abusers will be listed as sex-offenders for life and prevented from ever being around children again. This is what the victims really want.

And they also want the hierarchy cleaned up of its cover-ups. Be it pedophilia (sexual attraction to pre-pubescent children) or efebophelia (sexual attraction to adolescents aged 13-19), the fact that priests and religious could get away with this for so many years, and that ordinary people would scramble to protect and hide or cover-up the facts so as not to bring “scandal” on the church is mind-boggling. In the end, not only do the victims suffer more, oftentimes for life, but the laity end up seeing their donations used to pay for the abuser’s crimes rather than used to do God’s work.

A word of caution about these so-called therapeutic services: One Oahu man who brought a priest up on charges of abuse (who later admitted guilt), was sent by the diocese to a Franciscan sister (who had a private practice) for therapy. She questioned his memory of the event. He turned around and sued for a monetary sum and won.

Do not be naive. In the 1960s, Pope Paul VI, coming out of a spiritual ecstasy while praying stated, “The smoke of Satan has entered the sanctuary.”

During the late 1980s and ’90s, John O’Connor, editor of Catholic Lay Press, and Patricia Morley, host of the radio program Concerned Catholics, tried to warn parents to watch out for their children, but they were vilified by laity and clergy alike, even excommunicated by the then-Bishop Joseph Ferrario of Honolulu. After two years, Rome finally reversed the excommunication, but no apology was ever offered from the diocese.

I would like to share Pope John Paul II’s words with the victims of abuse: “Be not afraid.”


Ewa Beach resident Marilyn Wong is a lifelong Roman Catholic, mother of three, grandmother of seven and a retired radiological technologist.

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