Oh, how quickly we forget, or: How the OC Register gave Bishop Vann a pass

So printing a brochure is what passes as “help[ing] the healing process.”

This past Sunday, the Orange County Register published a front page story on Orange Bishop Kevin Vann. The focus of the article was a profile of the new-ish bishop and his views on the meaning of Easter. But what the article actually said was far more pernicious.

This is what got me:

‘The bishop also doesn’t shrink away from the molestation scandals. English, Spanish and Vietnamese leaflets sit in the administration building’s lobby detailing the diocese’s pledge, “To do everything possible to help the healing process of the victims of sexual abuse.”’

What? Really? You’ve got to be kidding me.

I can tell you this: a brochure never helped a survivor heal.

As we reach the 10-year anniversary of the 2005 settlement with 97 child sex abuse victims and the subsequent release of documents that outlined the scope and scale of the cover-up, we can argue that Vann’s actions have only exacerbated the pain and frustration of survivors, who want nothing more than for wrong-doers to be punished.

Some examples:

  • In the time that Vann has been Bishop, he has never asked for any kind of formal or informal meetings with survivors. He has also not proactively reached out for any kind of communication.
  • The administrators of Mater Dei High School (Patrick Murphy and Frances Claire) have retained their positions, although it has been shown that they allowed abusers like Jeff Andrade to return to campus (after he admitted to sexually abusing students). 

I anticipate the response of the Register was “Well, this is old news.” But I will tell you this: it is not old news to victims. It is not old news to their families. And it most certainly should not be old news to Vann, who should be using his tenure to push out abusers and their enablers, instead of shrugging his shoulders and depending on media fatigue to give him a cover for doing NOTHING.

The passage of time does not give Vann a “free pass”

And, of course, this has nothing to do with “forgiveness.” The reasons that victims come forward are for accountability and to ensure that children are kept safer from abuse. Vann is not holding up his side of the bargain. It’s criminal that victims are expected to walk away with a pat on the head. That’s not why they have fought so hard.

If a brochure inside of an office (where many victims are afraid to go) is considered proactive, then it’s time for us to reassess what we expect from religious leaders who take millions of tax-free dollars in donations, grants, and municipal bonds (!!) to construct their buildings and fill their coffers.

2 thoughts on “Oh, how quickly we forget, or: How the OC Register gave Bishop Vann a pass

  1. Thanks Joelle—sometimes it appears you are one of a select few that speaks truth in the affluent and politically-connected Orange County, California. It my sincere hope that Bishop Vann reads your article and takes it seriously. I am physically exhausted watching Bishops Vann, Brown, and their high-priced attorneys disgrace the faithful in the pews, week after week.

    As it relates to Santa Margarita Catholic HS, the school’s priority is MONEY MONEY and MORE MONEY! The crimes involving failures to report sex abuse crimes, as mandated by law, in addition to failures to report violations of the Gun Free Schools Act, are buried along with many other dirty secrets held by the Diocesan General Counsel, HR Director and IMO, corrupt attorneys who simultaneously represent the OC Sheriff, Diocese and County of Orange, without accountability.

    The citizens of the OC should also place years of failures to protect precious children from harm on OC District Attorney Rackauckas – he failed to investigate and/or prosecute multiple crimes reported to his office. Although Rackauckas prosecuted former Santa Margarita Catholic HS teacher Michael Karl Sandoval, who pled guilty to multiple felony crimes in November 2002, neither the DA, OC Sheriff or Diocese of Orange thought it was important to inform the public about Sandoval’s guilty plea. Whether Sandoval served any time in jail/prison, we will never know. Rackauckas somehow found a way to mandate Sandoval’s registration as a sex offender at http://www.meganslaw.ca.gov. However, what about other Diocese of Orange employees, former Catholic priest Michael Harris, Mater Dei Coach/Teacher Jeff Andrade, Mater Dei Administrator Bernie Balsis, Mater Dei Choir Director Tom Hodgman, Santa Margarita Catholic HS teacher/coach Jeff Seckman and how many others that are free to roam society and harm innocent children.

    The courageous survivors of heinous sex abuse crimes are the ONLY reason why children attending Diocese of Orange Catholic schools and churches are safer now than years previous. Thank you to them and their families for their public outcry. Bishops Vann and Brown have done NOTHING to take responsibility for the lives that were destroyed. If Diocese of Orange Bishops truly cared about the protections of children, then each and every employee who FAILED TO REPORT sex abuse crimes and violations of the Gun Free Schools Act, would have been terminated years ago – instead, those that FAILED TO REPORT as mandated by law, enjoy lifetime employment with the Diocese of Orange.

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