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Words of anguish

December 01, 2013

Here are excerpts of letters the Archdiocese of Los Angeles received from family members of abuse victims. Many were addressed to Archbishop Roger Mahony, who took office in 1985. They were among church records released by court order earlier this year. Victims' names were redacted from the files.

"Father Rucker is a good and holy man and in all sincerity I do not feel he is to blame for any acts he has committed."

"I think he is ill and should be treated as such."

— a parent writing in 1965 about Father George Rucker

"My son … is very disturbed about what happened, and is still seeing the therapist. I believe Father Miller needs help also. I fear that now he may single out another child."

"I prefer that the Church authorities handle this situation."

"I cannot stress strongly enough my feelings to have him removed from the possibility of molesting another child."

— a parent writing in 1977 about Father George Miller

"The one thing he [my son] said that really hurt … was that he didn't tell us because, 'I knew no one would believe me, because we all love Father Roemer so much that you wouldn't believe he would do something so bad.... I thought if I just forgot about it, it would go away. It doesn't go away. Now it's always in my head unless I'm talking. It's always there. What's wrong with me?'"

"The only time any church member has contacted me was to request that I not speak with the news media."

— a parent writing in 1981 about Father Donald Roemer

"My child had been molested — and by a PRIEST! My heart aches!"

"This will be with my son for the rest of his life!"

"I know that if Father Kevin was not a priest my husband and I would be doing all in our power to have him removed from society."

"Is anything 'Sacred' anymore? These boys look to priests as 'God.'"

— a parent writing in 1983 about Father Kevin Barmasse

"Fr. John started having [my son] and several other little altar boys staying at his apt.... In my heart, this did not sound right.... Fr. Kohnke became a good friend of ours, he was always over for dinner and sipped drinks that I served."

— a parent writing in 1990 about Father John Kohnke

"This situation cuts to the very core of my being and my beliefs in my religion.... This one priest has the power to destroy my family and my hopes and dreams for my daughter."

— a parent writing in 1990 about Father Michael Nocita

"Much anger, fear, and frustration has been part of me and my family. None of us have been able to completely enjoy our lives."

"Why did the church do nothing to remedy this?"

— a sister writing in 1993 about Father Joseph Pina

"None of the parents of these children wanted to press charges, because of our 'Christian loyalty.'"

"It is very clear to me at this point, my children are not OK, and what happened to them can't ever be undone."

"Their belief system has been destroyed and they live with a spiritual void in their lives."

— a parent writing in 1994 about Father Lawrence Lovell

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