Deacon Was Right to Warn Parents
Against Catholic Priests
March 7, 2007
A deacon at a Roman Catholic Church in McAllen was recently criticized for his comments during mass that parents were to blame for not keeping their children away from predatory priests.
At hearing these words, churchgoers at Holy Spirit were appalled and complained. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Brownsville dutifully responded by sending Deacon Alvin Gerbermann to awareness classes. Gerbermann issued a few words of apology in the parish bulletin and went silent. So did the diocese. But how off mark were Gerbermann’s words? If he was referring to the sexual abuse of children by priests between (the) 1950 and 2000, he should be excommunicated for making such irresponsible and arrogant statements.
During that period, the church hierarchy had become experts at hiding their wolf priests in sheep’s clothing. Who could blame unwary parents back then for allowing their children to spend time with priests they thought were devoted men of God?
But if Gerbermann was speaking of today’s parents, he was correct in asserting that they should keep their children away from some Catholic priests. That is not to say that predatory priests should not be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law for having sex with minors, but parents should know by now that it could be (is) risky and irresponsible behavior on their part to allow their children to roam about a Catholic Church unattended.
For at least half a century, between about 1950 and 2000, the Roman Catholic Church had done an excellent job of keeping their dirty little secret of pedophile priests under wraps. They went to elaborate lengths to hide the transgressions by transferring offending priests from parish to parish, which only allowed them to prey on even more unsuspecting children and families. It was (and possibly continues to be) a disgusting practice.
As a result, thousands of children were abused by “celibate” priests, and the church to date has paid out about $1 billion in reparation to children. But there is no reason to believe the Church has become transparent and holy again in an all-out effort to purge and heal itself of offending priests.
Despite the Church’s rhetoric, which sane parent would risk their child’s well-being on mere words and very little action?
Which leads us back to Gerbermann’s comments. Since about the mid-1990s, some (the) Catholic priest’s (Church’s) perverted practices have been splashed on national news regularly. It should not be news to anybody that some (the) Catholic priests have (Church has) practiced for years the art of institutional pedophilia which the Church has attempted to (and) cover-up.
Any parent who leaves a child alone today with a Catholic priest (or any other stranger) may be (is) putting that child at risk. While certainly not all churches are dins of perverted sex with children, and certainly not all priests are predators, the danger and history cannot be ignored. Troubled priests from other areas can still be transferred to any local church without warning.
Transferring pedophile priests has been church practice for decades and parents should not be blinded to that fact by devotion to God, religion or anything else. Their first priority should be the safety of their children. Maybe that’s what Gerbermann was trying to say.
Citizens of the Rio Grande Valley should have become suspicious of the Catholic Church dating back to Easter 1960, when a young McAllen school teacher was raped, murdered and found floating in an irrigation canal.
Days after the discovery of Irene Garza’s body, a Roman Catholic priest named John B. Feit became the prime suspect and remains so to this day. Almost immediately, the Catholic Church went into a defensive mode, hiding Feit from investigators and pressuring local authorities to allow the church to investigate and punish Feit on their own.
Authorities relented, slapped Feit on the wrist with a $500 fine on (an) another attempted sexual assault and allowed him to go free.
In 2003, the McAllen police and the Texas Rangers’ cold case squad spent more than a year investigating Feit for the 1960 murder. They presented to Hidalgo County District Attorney Rene Guerra what they considered a very strong case against Feit. But Guerra would have no part of it. Investigators tell The Paper of South Texas that Guerra told them, “I am not going to take on the Catholic Church.”
Despite the lawmen’s insistence that the case was against a man, not the church, Guerra refused to prosecute. Since then, several key witnesses have died and the case may now be lost forever.
With a church history of pedophilia and cover-up nationwide, the diocese’s refusal to reveal pedophile cases against local priests and a prosecutor unwilling to hold Catholic priests accountable for their actions, Gerbermann’s words should be taken as a warning about a danger parents should already be fully aware of. •