A reader commented regarding yesterday’s Frank Mickadeit column asked, “What were you thinking, Jubal?”
An excellent and appropriate question.
I’ve been thinking about a number of things these past couple of weeks that I’ve been involved in Friends of Monsignor John. First off, I want to express again how sorry I am about posting the unredacted deposition and Memorandum of Understanding from the recent settlement, and ask the forgiveness of those victims whose names are in them. I posted the deposition so people could read it for themselves and draw their own conclusions, rather than rely on third-hand accounts – but I had no intention of making the names public. I didn’t say to myself, “Oh, it doesn’t matter that there are victims names in the depo.” Mentally, I just didn’t think about the names being in there. And the moment it was brought to my attention, I took it down.
I made a mistake and I am deeply, sincerely sorry for it.
Monsignor Urell is my pastor. He’s been there for me and my family when we’ve needed him, and when I learned he’d broken down and been hospitalized, I wanted to be there for him. That’s why I’m part of Friends of Monsignor Urell (and to clarify some misconceptions in the media, neither John Hanna or I founded the group, and we are the only active politicos in it).
But my involvement in the group doesn’t mean I am blind to Monsignor Urell’s role in the Diocese’s disastrous handling of sexual abuse cases. There were faithful, hurt Catholics who came to the Diocese for help and were treated as potential legal liabilities rather than members of the flock to be shepherded and cared for. And in my heart, I can’t account for that. It saddens and angers me they were treated that way, and I believe victims have every right to seek recompense from the Church and the Church has an obligation to make amends to victims of abuse by its clergy and employees. Unfortunately, it has generally taken the blunt instrument of media coverage and litigation for shake the various diocese into action and change, and it’s a shame that is so.
I’ve always felt horribly for victims of clergy sexual abuse, but I have a greater awareness of how these victims feel than I did a few weeks ago. And reading Monsignor Urell’s deposition made me more aware than ever that there but for the grace of God go I. I’m thankful that the priests I’ve known and have helped shape my life have been good and godly men. But the last few weeks have caused me to think more than ever before how my life could have turned out horribly different if it were wolves in clerical garb who had taken an interest in me instead.
I love Monsignor Urell for the great priest and pastor he has been at St. Norbert. But I struggle to reconcile that with his sins of omission and commission while in the Diocese hierarchy, because the Monsignor Urell I’ve read about in some newspaper articles and from victims’ accounts is so different from the pastor I have known. I struggle to reconcile those in my mind and understand why Monsignor Urell took the actions he did – or didn’t take, as the case may be.
But Msgr. Urell has accomplished a lot of good for a lot of people during his 25 plus years as a priest. That’s evident in the hundreds of people who have come forward to express their support for him in his time of trouble. Compassion for Msgr. Urell in his illness does not exclude also having compassion for sexual abuse victims. For me, I want Msgr. Urell to heal and recover so he can return to St. Norbert. And I also want him to return so he can make specific amends to those people to whom he needs to make amends, and seek forgiveness. I’m not sure how else Msgr. Urell and those victims he interacted with can achieve the healing they need.