This week the Los Angeles Archdiocese announced that a well-loved bishop resigned as he has fathered two children; they are now teenagers.
The announcement was brief but powerful. It acknowledged that this is sad and disappointing; it recognized that the reaction and impact will be widespread.
I have been debating about writing this post as it is not my intent to start a debate about Catholic priests and marriage; nor is it my intent to start a debate on the history of scandals in the church. That being said, I’m aware these comments may still be made. I respect that.
The shock, sadness and dismay expressed throughout numerous communities are completely understandable. My personal take on this may be different than some. I have a short note to express to the former bishop. (Is that the right terminology for a bishop who has resigned?)
I met you before you were ordained. We called you Gabby. I imagine that fewer people call you that now, but the part of me that is speaking to you is the young person from a parish in East Los Angeles.
You were a deacon in the parish where I was both a music minister and an active leader in the youth group. Over the years I’ve recognized that I have my shortcomings. There have been times when I fell and fell hard. I struggled with the impacts of mistakes that I’ve made…but after reading the announcement of your resignation and why this has happened…well, this is very difficult to fathom.
I reflect back on those times, more than 30 years ago. You typically had a smile on your face and a warmth that people appreciated. You were excited to fulfill your vocation.
I have no doubt that back then you saw a road that was full of promise and opportunity to do good. It’s difficult to comprehend the road that has led to this announcement.
Gabby, what happened? Can you help us understand this?
After your ordination you were assigned to another parish. We met again briefly about 10 years later. I had a lot on my mind and you listened intently to what I had to say. That is my last personal memory of you.
I am saddened that the work you have done over the years and the causes that you championed may now be called into question. It is my hope that this can be placed in some type of perspective.
As much I have have been confused and disappointed, I wish you peace. I pray that you have peace.
Gabby, what happened?