« AD71 Watch: Mike Duvall Endorses Jeff Miller | Main | Schwarzenegger To Address Republican Western States Leadership Conference »

September 14, 2007


Three Cheers for Red County!

So now the priests release statements through Red County? That's pretty cool!


No, it was released to the media -- of which Red County is a part.


Msgr.John Urell brought a breath of fresh air to St. Norbert Church and we wish him a very speedy recovery! We look forward to his return to ministry!
God bless,
T & D K

Gustavo Arellano

I'm not going to have a chance to post what I wanted on our blog as I promised earlier today, so I'll just leave my comment here:

Jubal: I understand how upset and defensive you are about this. Our parish priest at St. Boniface while I was growing up was Father John Lenihan. Without going into the specifics (readers can go here for those), Lenihan admitted to molesting a teenage girl when he served at St. Norbert's in the 1970s, yet the Orange diocese allowed him to stay when the abuse was revealed in the early 1990s. Urell was the Orange diocese chancellor by this point (and also moderator of the curia, which he remains), which means he had a direct connection in the decision allowing Lenihan to remain. In an earlier comment to Steven Greenhut, you expressed skepticism about how the sex-abuse scandal plays out in the media. But there's no skewing whatsoever about the Lenihan affair--Urell knew because Lenihan confessed yet Urell and the other members of the Orange diocese hierarchy allowed an admitted child molester to continue officiating Mass in Orange County.

Everyone at St. Boniface (and his subsequent parish, St. Edward the Confessor in Dana Point) loved Lenihan, especially because he was an activist priest. The crimes Lenihan committed does not take away from his work; however, it does disqualify him from serving the people and makes him a sinner. Urell did not molest, but he also sinned. There's just no way around this fact: Urell helped allow an admitted child molester to stay in Orange County churches. So, I ask to all his admirers: how can you reconcile the Urell you admire with Jesus' admonition that "Whoever scandalizes one of these little ones, it were better for him to have a great millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea"? And Lenihan is probably the weakest example of Urell's complicity in the sex-abuse scandal--the case of Pecharich was worse.


Gustavo, that's a great quotation. Can you share chapter and verse#?

Gustavo Arellano

Matthew 18:6

Convenient Quotations

I am not a regular blogger and know not of Gustavo's background or apparent self-appointed unique insight to serve as judge. Scripture also says, let him who is without sin cast the first stone. We are all sinners in the eyes of God, yet by His sacrifical love we have been saved through the death and resurrection of Jesus.
It is really unclear to me Gustavo what seat you had at the table to observe who made what decisions about the handling of priests who abused or for that matter who was holding the hand of crying victims and trying to comfort their tears and help them find healing for their pain. After 20 years knowing Msgr Urell, I know of him to be the character of the later man, whose heart and love for others and to help those most in need is self-evident to anyone who he might have the occasion to meet.


Well Gustavo, Matthew 18 verse 6 (as well as Mark 9 Verse 42) in my St. Joseph edition says " Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin..." and proceeds from there as you wrote above. Scandalizes, what you used, is based on the greek word meaning causing to sin or stumble. Its talking about tempting not just children but all powerless people. The child is a metaphor for all the powerless. The abused children are not the sinners. The verse is about tempting the powerless to sin.

I don't think Msgr. Urell ever tempted any child or powerless person to sin. He may have committed sin himself if he knowingly permitted a pedophile to continue working among children. If so he must repent for that sin and seek forgiveness. If he commited a crime then he should be prosecuted.

You and Greenhut have no clue--nor do you seem to have any interest in getting one--about the good works Urell has performed in his life with the Church and the positive difference he has made with thousands of parishioners. Does this mean he should get a hall pass in either a court of law or the court of St. Peter? Not at all. But it does mean that there's much more to the man then you or others have attributed to him.

So I can reconcile my love and affection for Msgr. Urell with the selections from Matthew and Mark because I don't think the readings directly apply. I know the good within him and that while he may have made mistakes of judgement or even sinned, he is at the end of the day a man, and all men make mistakes in judgement and sin.

And since you like to quote admonitions of Jesus, why not try to get your arms around the one in Matthew 7 verse 1 " Stop judging that you may not be judged."


Last time I checked, we are all struggling to live good lives that promote respect and dignity for all. I'm wondering how the folks who are so quick to condemn Msgr Urell would stand up so such intense scrutiny of the decisions made and actions of their own lives, especially 20 or 30 years ago.

We thoroughly appreciated the time Msgr Urell spent with us at St Nicholas, together with the quality of and foundations for his day-to-day decisions. We entrusted our children to him and those over which he had influence then, and would do so today.

Gustavo Arellano

These types of posts can extend forever, so I'll leave it at this: Urell sinned. He's one of the highest-ranking (and longest serving) members of the Catholic hierarchy--has been since the mid-1980s, when the majority of sex-abuse complaints began flooding the Orange diocese. He knew. To say this doesn't diminish his previous work (read my post closely, Bladerunner). If you want to forgive Urell, fine, but no one can logically pretend that he's innocent of cover-up. I cited Lenihan--how about the case of Eleuterio Ramos, the man who admitted to molesting a teen and was sent to Tijuana as a result? Again, remember: Driscoll was chancellor at the time, which ain't exactly low in the church hierarchy.

And Convenient Quotation: He who casts the first stone, brother. Where were you when Urell's supporters whip out biblical verse to support their position? Look at Bladerunner's comment above, and Meg in the previous Urell post.

Sorry..My Bad

Bladerunner said: “I know the good within him and that while he may have made mistakes of judgement or even sinned, he is at the end of the day a man, and all men make mistakes in judgement and sin.”

When it comes to buggering kids or protecting those who do, I’m not willing to take this live and let live attitude. It’s no wonder that most victims are afraid to come forward knowing that the perpetrators have such a strong network of supporters.



Mine is not a live and let live attitude. If you read my entire comment you'll get that. But then, that wouldn't make for another opportunity to pile on.

There may have been people in the diocese who deliberately "protected" molesters in order to avoid bad publicity. I do not think Msgr. Urell is one of them. In the time I have known him, his character and behavior reflect a man who is trying to follow Jesus: including exercising forgiveness. At the time of most of the molestations, pedophilia was poorly understood by many people, particularly those in the Church. It was thought that pedophiles could be "cured", and the pattern of continuing abuse (versus single action) was not clearly understood. Hence, all those (usually unsuccessful) efforts at rehabilitation. It was not understood that pedophiles who molest small children are different than those involved with adolescents; it was not understood that most pedophiles are not homosexual but either heterosexual or with immature stunted sexuality. And it was certainly not understood that psychotherapy has a very poor track record with treating pedophiles. In that context, "forgiving" molesters and sending them for treatment makes sense within the Christian framework of forgiveness and healing. (This is not to say that the victims deserve any less healing, support and compassion. Compassion for one group, such as the victims, often results in the inability to see the perpetrators as deserving compassion or as even being human. While not all victims perpetuate the cycle, most molesters have themselves been molested.)

The other point I think a lot of people ignore is the limit of Msgr. Urell's power within the diocesan structure. People act as if he could make any decision he wanted, without consultation with anyone. Msgr. Urell had authority but the ultimate authority was the then-bishop. No one seems to hold him accountable for these decisions. Does anyone really think that these decisions were not shaped/approved/ordered by the bishop? Msgr. Urell seems to have become the scapegoat for this tragic human devastation. Just because the ultimate diocesan authority has retired or died, does not make them less responsible. Msgr. Urell had a boss who had the final say in the matter and I cannot believe that the bishop was unaware or inactive in these dispositions. Isn't it time someone put the responsibilty where it belongs?


Like Jesus, he is not guilty but carying the cross for others.

Jim Lacy

I'm sure that Msgr. Urell has been a very good person. I am also truly sorry to hear he is ill. But what he has to do as soon as he is able is pull himself together and complete the deposition he skipped out on mid-course last July, which has now been further delayed by checking into the clinic in Canada. He owes it to those abused and the broader community to complete his deposition with John Manly and give truthful evidence of all his knowledge of abuse of young people in the Church.

Nobody is perfect. But Msgr. Urell's handling of the Lenihan affair was ghastly. Contrary to a comment above, Urell did protect molesters -- he protected Lenihan and allowed him to pastor St. Edward some 20 years after his first recorded abuse. The Diocese, and Urell, only moved on Lenihan after the national scandal broke in the press and after Steve Lopez had already printed a couple stories in the LA Times about a couple of Lenihan's past abuses, referring to him in pseudonym.

My wife comes from a Bible-belt Protestant family. Yet she wanted to convert for years, very much, but after two false starts over the course of our marriage, we were finALLY able to get her in for private instruction with.....Father Lenihan. Private instruction is a close and spiritual process. Lenihan was spiritual and acted appropriately. I attended every meeting between her and Lenihan, as my wife's wish, and she came near completion in September, 2001, when, two Sundays after 9/11, Urell showed up at Lenihan's normal mass at St. Edward and announced he was gone "and would not be returning" to pastor the church. Only then did we "Google" Lenihan and find out what Urell had known for almost 20 years, that Lenihan had been a molester, and more than once. (Imagine having to "Google" your spiritual advisor, the person leading you into the Roman Catholic Church.) We asked the associate pastor on the spot what we were to do on my wife's conversion procedures, now that Lenihan was gone, and he said he would call, but within weeks he too was gone, as another abuser revealed! And though promised by the Bishop, we never did get a call initiated from the parish to complete the process. There was unfortunately a feeling of a sense of betrayal, and on a few different levels. And Urell's role in placing Lenihan were he did, the failure to act until the spotlight hit, and the failure to followup and pastor those left hanging, those abused, and also those very tangentially affected, was palpable.

Inspired by John Paul II's life, my wife did contact the parish, and did complete the process with the help of a great priest there, and we are now both Catholics. But it took inspiration from Pope's death and five years to pass to finish the job.

Years ago Catholic Bishops touted a "zero tolerance" policy. We think the clergy should "practice what they preach." Urell and the Diocese should not have allowed Lenihan to stay on. And no matter how hard it is to do, and whatever the consequences, clergy need to come clean with the Church and with those abused as a living testament to the love and reconcilation offered by Christ. And clergy also needs to keep their deposition dates.

Mike G

I don't think the positions taken here in this blog
have to be mutually exclusive.

What happened in these sexual abuse cases is heinous
and in many ways unforgivable. Msgr. Urell was in the
hierarchy and without a doubt has important
contributions to make to the investigation of such
cases. It is unfortunate he was unable to finish his
deposition at this time and it is my sincere hope he
will finish it soon so as to allow investigation to go

I know Monsignor Urell as well. However, and I do not
mean this as an attack or an inference of anything
bad, his being a good pastor and showing the love
that he does in the parish is separate from his prior
role. I just think we want to be careful about the
sensibilities of the victims by inferring that it is
impossible for someone to be part of this scandal in
the church. Many many people have been duped in the
past, so some amount of suspicion should be expected.

Now, that being said, it is ridiculous to argue that
the media has no ulterior motive here. They love to
attack Catholicism any chance they get and use the
worse kind of smears and inferences to generate income
for their papers. Those above that attack Msgr. refuse
to see that even with all the cover ups, even with the
slow move to settle, this is a separate issue from all
that. Msgr. is not a pedophile, nor is the Bishop.
Anger at the church is something I feel too, but these
two are people as well.

"The papers have a responsibility to report the news"
I grant you that. The papers also have a
responsibility to both sides of the news. I am not
naive, I am not defending the church's actions in any
of these cases. But you are not naive either, to
defend a hatchet job by any media outlet is to tell
them that it is okay to do so....and what will you do
when they do the same hatchet job in a different news
story about someone or something or some cause you

We can ask for the truth, without trying to destroy a
man who for all we know might be completely innocent.
Being deposed is not proof of anything. We would want
the same benefit of the doubt if were were accused of

We can can defend Msgr., but at the same time keep in
mind the victims have heard many of these defenses
before. Priests with good reputations have made
mistakes in the past too, Fr. John at our own parish.
We just need to be sensitive too.

We do not know the truth yet, and we all want the
truth to come out. When that happens, and it is
definitely a "when" not an "if", then we can sort
this out and determine who did what. Until then, I
think fanning the flames of hatred and division is
just plain wrong.

Mike Gaston


People seem to be missing the point here. It's just swell that Urell is such a great parish priest. And it's too bad that he got swallowed up in a big cover-up by his company, er, church. He can answer to a higher moral authority for that. What is now relevant is the Mater Dei case.

Fact 1: Urell left the country for an alleged medical problem that could have been treated just as effectively here in OC as in a rest home for messed up clerics in Ontario - Ontario, Canada, that is.

Fact 2: He cut short a deposition for which he could be cited for contempt just like the rest of his parishoners would.

Fact 3: Since he's in Canada such a citation would be sort of meaningless.

Does Urell intend to return to complete his deposition? That's the relevant question to ask his attorney - and his boss the bishop.

Oh Yea

Esxactly what role did this Urell guy play in the Mater Dei case? What was the name of the CLERGY that was accused? Was the deposition that Urell became distraught in supposed to be dealing with all past and present abuse cases? Who exactly is on trial here?



As to your points 2 and 3. The "stick" in this situation is the fact that Msgr. Urell's employer can be sanctioned for failure to produce an employee for deposition. That would be the Bishop/Diocese.

The comments to this entry are closed.