Friday, February 23, 2007

More on Deacon Alvin Gerbermann


Holy Spirit deacon to apologize for homily

Kaitlin Bell
February 22, 2007 - 11:39PM


McALLEN — The deacon from Holy Spirit Church plans to issue a public apology this weekend for comments he made Sunday about priests and the sexual abuse of children.

Additionally, the Diocese of Brownsville plans to take “some action” against Gerbermann, although spokeswoman Brenda Riojas would not disclose Thursday what that would be.

Some parishioners had complained that a homily Deacon Alvin Gerbermann gave during Sunday Mass blamed parents for not keeping their children away from predatory priests.

Their complaints were followed by a small protest held against the deacon during Ash Wednesday evening services.

Gerbermann, who is a “permanent deacon” and therefore not a member of the clergy, referred questions about his apology to Rev. Louis Brum, Holy Spirit’s pastor.

“I have spoken through my pastor,” Gerbermann said. On Monday, he had declined any type of comment.

Brum said the decision to give the apology came out of two discussions he had with Gerbermann. But he stressed he did not insist Gerbermann apologize.

Brum also said he believed some parishioners had misunderstood Gerbermann’s message.

“I have met with the deacon and I understood he spoke from his heart,” Brum said. “My understanding, being a priest, was that he was calling for our awareness to be responsible, that the responsibility comes both on the families, as it comes on the priests.”

Riojas said Thursday evening she could not comment on the nature of the action the diocese was planning regarding Gerbermann, saying Bishop Raymundo Peña wanted to inform the deacon himself before publicly disclosing his decision.

Harold Mosher, one of the Holy Spirit parishioners who originally spoke out against Gerbermann’s remarks, said he was pleasantly surprised by news of Gerbermann’s planned apology and possible action from the diocese, because the diocese usually tries to keep such matters quiet in hopes they will go away.

Holy Spirit previously attracted some controversy when it fired several unionized lay workers, who were later reinstated as part of a legal settlement.

“Believe me, for this diocese, it’s a step forward. It really is,” Mosher said. “And I’m glad something’s being done.”

He added, “We just felt so bad for the parents of the victims. The comments he made were just so insensitive.”

Gerald Brazier, who heads the local chapter of the Church reform group Call to Action and participated in the group’s protest Wednesday evening, said Thursday he was not yet prepared to comment on the decision for Gerbermann to apologize. Brazier did not hear the homily, but spoke out about its general themes Monday.

About 10 people had participated in the protest, in bumper-to-bumper Ash Wednesday traffic near Holy Sprit in North McAllen.

Several of the protestors called for the deacon's firing or resignation.

“The homily is a time for teaching the word of the church,” said Bridget Cook, a Holy Spirit parishioner and member of Call to Action. “And to speak those words is harmful to those who were in the audience who may have been abused.”

The protestors stood on the corner of 23rd Street and Martin Avenue — public property just beyond church grounds. Some held signs saying “Deacon must resign,” while others used the occasion to call on the diocese to release the names of priests accused of abuse.

Most passersby didn't register a reaction, although some did honk their horns in approval.


Monitor staff writer Michael Barnett contributed to this report.
Kaitlin Bell covers Mission, western Hidalgo County and general assignments for The Monitor. You can reach her at (956) 683-4446.

27 comments:

Anonymous said...

“My understanding, being a priest, was that he was calling for our awareness to be responsible, that the responsibility comes both on the families, as it comes on the priests.”

Yep, spoken just like a priest. When are they ever going to quit trying to shed responsibility for what THEY did, instead of trying to shift the responsibility to all of those good, non-suspecting Catholic families that placed all their trust in their priest?

It's going to be interesting to see what the Bishop has to say about shifting the blame to the sexually abused and their families!

Chayo Vaello said...

How very sad. Both Fr. Louie and Deacon Alvin are a good example of what our Church should NOT BE.

I remember Deacon Alvin always saying to me, I only do what the pastor tells me to do. So I wonder, did Fr. Louie know what he was going to say, and if so, did he agree?

We are all called to be true believers, to believe in God's goodness, in God's love and in God's forgiveness. But why is it that we are the ones that are held to this? Why are we made to feel that if anything happens, it is always OUR fault?

It is time that we hold our bishops, priests and deacons accountable for what they do and say. This means to tell the truth, no matter what. Our church still doesn't seem to get it. The truth will set them free and God will forgive, but not if the sins continue.

I call on Bishop Peña to remove Deacon Alvin from our parish. I believe he should retire before he does more harm. He just isn’t up to date on church policy and procedures. I will pray for him and I hope that the victims and their families can forgive him.

Guy Hallman said...

I second that; it is way past time for Alvin to retire. Even if he gives a heartfelt, true apology, this incident plus many others we have sorely experienced show us without a doubt that this man will make more and more bad mistakes that can cause faithful that listen to him much trouble. Bishop, do the right thing.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Chayo. Deacon Alvin should retire. Based on this and other actions of the deacon, the bishop should realize that Gerbermann has now become a liability.

He was fine as the strong arm when the bishop sent his troops in to fire all of the Holy Spirit staff, but his knowledge of the church leaves much to be desired and with only Fr. Louie to guide him, we are in big trouble!

Greg Bullough said...

From The Monitor:
What an embarassment. To have people who blame the victims in ministry just shows that the Catholic church is so desperate for warm bodies that they'll ordain anyone who can achieve 98.6F.
Greg Bullough - Feb. 20, 2007

LS said...

From The Monitor:
I happened to attend Holy Spirit that day, I don't on an everyday basis, but what the Deacon said was in everyway wrong. He may have meant to say it a different way, maybe we need to protect our children from PEDOPHILES, not nuns and priests. If our children cannot trust priests and nuns, what has this world come to?? It was a slap to the face, but like his homily said, I guess we just turn the other cheeck? Wrong.
LS - Feb. 20, 2007

Mike Rackhabit said...

From The Monitor:
So, it was the parents fault for letting the kids hang around priests? So, this priest is backing up the abusive pedophiles? I think what he was really trying to say is: If your a responsible parent, don't take your kids to church because they will get raped. His ignorance will recieve no sympathy from me.
Mike Rackhabit - Feb. 20, 2007

vinnie said...

From The Monitor:
Mr. Gerbermann needs to know that the only reason a parent would let a child alone with a priest is because they've been taught since childhood that priests are holy, asexual and therefore safe. Show me a Catholic parent who has not swelled with pride over the fact their child is an altar server or that the local priest is making a fuss over him or her. For a pedophile, the priesthood is a perfect cover because no one suspected priests. Predator priests are wolves seeking out prey and the longer they've been around the more expert they are at plucking victims. Mr. Gerbermann needs to ask who is worse, the predator priest who is a slave to his urges or the bishops who had and still have their hands on the leashes of these predators and refused to rein them in or turn them in? According to the story, Rev. Brum had no comment. Was that because he supplied the text for the homily?
vinnie - Feb. 21, 2007

Nicolas Zuniga said...

From The Monitor:
The Deacon is right, it is the parents job to protect their children at all times, why do we let our children serve all alter boy when we as adults should be the ones help at the alter that is part of community service that we should be doing not our children. We need to remember that even the devil was given permission to come into the church. I remember coach for my sons baseball team and parents would drop off their children and then pick them off one hour after practice was over I was not hired to be a baby sitter just a hour coach. Wake up parents it is our job to raise our children not your next door neighbor get involved.
Nicolas Zuniga - Feb. 23, 2007

Janet Miller said...

From Yhe Monitor:
The Rev. Mr. Gerberman's comments display ignorance, insensitivity and lack of understanding. That anyone should make such comments is an egregious assault on every victim of clergy sexual abuse. That the comments came from an ordained minister is shocking, but pales in comparison to the failure of our Shepard Bishop Pena, to immediately refute this misguided and completely inflammatory statement. Faithful Catholics must continue to pursue transparency within the Church, justice for abuse victims and redress for the perpetrators. Failure to do so only continues the abuse that victims have suffered at the hands of these "holy" and most trusted men in our society.
Janet Miller - Feb. 23, 2007

A. R. said...

From The Monitor:
I can not believe that time at church was wasted on such an insensitive comment. Yes, parents are ultimately responsible for everything that happens to children. However, to blame parents for trusting members of the church is completely absurd. Who can you trust then? Blaming parents for their children getting abused is like blaming members of chuch for donating money to the parish, and to have the church waste it on drugs, alcohol and prostitutes. Where is the trust? Maybe Mr. Gerbermann is telling us not to trust them with their children or trust them period. Maybe I should audit their books too.....I go to church to relax, feel better about myself, become a better person and to learn more about the word of God, not to feel worse about the church that I attend.
A. R. - Feb. 23, 2007

B.W. Andrews said...

It seems that "the anointed ones" have screwed up again. And they continue to try to suggest that we cannot critized their words or actions? What a circus our church has become. It's time for new leadership!
B.W. Andrews

(Rev.) James F. Moran said...

From the Monitor:
There was a major reaction a year ago when lawyers in Miami stated a 10 year old should have known better then to place himself or herself in the presence of a pedophile priest. This deacon's comments were just as hurtful. As a priest, and as a victim of clergy abuse, I am extremely disheartened that anyone in this day and age could be so insensitive.
(Rev.) James F. Moran - Feb. 23, 2007

Mike said...

From The Monitor:
Just a technical note...a permanent deacon IS an ordained member of the clergy...thanks
Mike - Feb. 23, 2007

Erika said...

From The Monitor:
Three degrees of Holy Orders, episcopate (bishop), presbyterate (priest), and diaconate (deacon). See your Catechism article 6 under Sacraments.
Erika - Feb. 23, 2007

Paula Gonzales Rohrbacher said...

From The Monitor:
Permanent deacons are ordained members of the Roman Catholic Clergy. I know. I'm married to one!
Paula Gonzales Rohrbacher - Feb. 23, 2007

Molly said...

From The Monitor:
Anyone who belongs to the group, Called to Action, is barred from receiving the sacraments in the Catholic Church. You should get your facts straight about the "Clergy" of the Catholic Church, also. Planned Parenthood and other like-minded groups are also banned from a Catholic in good standing. The Church is not a democracy, Thank God. If a person doesn't like the way it is operating, that person is free to leave and find another one to his or her liking. Of course, that may be why they stay. No one would bother to listen to them if they become 'outsiders'. Pity they don't realize that they are already 'outside'.
Molly - Feb. 23, 2007

richard zelonis said...

From The Monitor:
ignorance gives birth to stupidity and this is what it is all about. The CAll to Action freaks are outside the Church and they have no VOICE in That which they condemn...the Catholic Church amd Her Teachings. Like the fools they are the Call to Action devils play the part of fools for Satan. AWAY with them !!!
richard zelonis - Feb. 23, 2007

Luis Espinoza said...

From The Monitor:
As usual... the media will always attack the Church, construe the facts and want to bring more division. Get all the facts first and more importantly seek truth not gossip or opinions.
Luis Espinoza - Feb. 23, 2007

Kay Goodnow said...

From The MOnitor:
Wow! From the tone of their letters, some Catholics are seriously angry about knowing the truth. It's much easier to keep one's head buried in the sand, or to look the other way than to face having been conned. The message brought by Christ was plain: God is love, and God is in all of us. That message has not changed and is still valid. From the 4th century AD, the church has built that message into a false idol, the Almighty Dollar. Organized religion is a big business these days, and flocking the fleece is routine. And it happens in all denominations. The church is not going to change. Use the strength that God provides. It is possible to be very happy in this world without the type of leadership orchestrated by these bishops and their henchmen. "We are the ones we have been waiting for." -- Hopi Nation, Oraibi, Arizona
Kay Goodnow - Feb. 23, 2007

papamac said...

From The Monitor:
Who really listens to "call to action" other than the few who belong to this liberal organization and of course the main stream press who are also doing a great job at turning people off and losing listeners by the droves. If it is Catholic look for it to be front page news, that's great folks, keep it coming, we appreciate your secular concerns and innaccuracies. Read the Bible, in the end, WHO WINS?
papamac - Feb. 23, 2007

Brian Taylor said...

From The Monitor:
In support of those who affirm the status of a permanent deacon as a member of the clergy: the Code of Canon Law, can. 266.1: "By the reception of the deaconate a person becomes a cleric...."
Brian Taylor - Feb. 23, 2007

Scott said...

From The Monitor:
We'll see what the deacon has to say Sunday, but in any case he must resign. He keeps doing things like this. And all you Taliban Catholics out there, read the gospels; see what Jesus was really all about and how he ripped the corrupt clergy of his day.
Scott - Feb. 24, 2007

Jose Manuel Moya said...

From The Monitor:
Since the first century, descent and controversy have been a keystone to the building we call church. To believe that those that question, inquire or disagree with any teaching are somehow satanic, evil or should simply pack up their bags and go find some one that agrees with them is simply a display of ignorance in light of church history and teaching. Even today, some would have you believe that Mary, the mother of Jesus appeared in Fatima. Although many believe this (as I do) it is not required of ANY Catholic to believe this as an article of faith. As to the Deacons comments about the responsibility of a parent from keeping them out of a pedophile's home, I completely agree. Why won't the Diocese tell us who those pedophiles are so we can protect our children as the Deacon so clearly stated on Sunday. Incidently...I am a member of Call to Action and I receive the Sacraments every chance I get. Bishop Pena has never denied them to any one in this Diocese.
Jose Manuel Moya - Feb. 24, 2007

B.W. Andrews said...

From The Monitor:
I see where the Diocese is finally going to air the censored "Hand Of God" film on their Public Broadcast TV Station. It will be shown on March 1, 2007, at 7:30 PM. I think it is sad that a Public TV station's Board President can promise a FREE CD of the movie, then renege on his promise. What a great way to gain back the confidence of their viewers! Once people view this film, I think they will all realize if the fault was with the parents, as our deacon suggests, or with the clergy. Watch it and judge for yourself. You will quickly see that our Catholic Church needs fixing. That is what Call To Action is all about. Instead of closing your eyes to truth, you should join us in correcting what needs fixing.
B.W. Andrews - Feb. 24, 2007

Ana said...

From The Monitor:
I'm sure those defending the clergy and attacking the messenger are good Catholics who love the church and believe that defending it, no matter what, error, sin, or crime, is what good Catholics are called to do. They could not be more wrong! To love the church is to protect it from those harming it, which in many cases are the same people claiming to be its leaders. To love the church is to have the courage to speak truth to power, just like Jesus himself did to the church leaders of his time. Is CTA bringing the church down (as some like to say), or is it the sexual abuse scandals, the efforts to cover up for those accused; is it the financial abuse scandal brewing all over the world (read: www.time.com magazine article: When Priests Pilfer Feb. 15 ); is it the discrimination against women, and most of all the distancing from the practice of the teachings of Jesus and focusing more on the man made rules and mandates of the institution? Good Catholics please open your eyes and try to understand what CTA is doing here. What side of the sexual abuse crime are you on? The side of the offender and those covering up for them? CTA loves the church as much as you do but with the awareness that the leaders are human and it is yours and ours responsibility to be vigilant when they bring the church down with their sins. Take your swords out if needed to defend the Church, the Body of Christ, not to defend some sinners holding strong to their power.
Ana - Feb. 24, 2007

Gerald Brazier said...

from a letter:
“…membership in Call to Action-Rio Grande Valley, in my opinion, does not per se cause a person to be ‘not in good standing’ with the Church.”
Bishop Raymundo Peña, April 17, 2006