Accusers speak out on Catholic Church crisis

Accusers speak out on Catholic Church crisis

Credit: AP

Accusers speak out on Catholic Church crisis

Print
Email
|

WVEC.com

Posted on August 8, 2002 at 12:00 AM

Updated Friday, Oct 30 at 3:37 PM

Bishop Walter Sullivan is expected to announce Friday that a second priest from the Richmond Diocese will be relieved of his duties because of sexual abuse.

Father Julian Goodman was forced to resign on Wednesday from his parish in Charlottesville.

But Thor Gormley and Bill Bryant remain disappointed that the man they claim abused them is still in the pulpit. They say Father John Leonard sexually abused them back in the 1970's. An investigation led the bishop to reinstate Leonard to his Richmond-area parish.

"My issue is we want to start moving toward healing, and until we get the truth out, we really can't start moving in that direction," Gormley said.

Gormley has become the reluctant point man for those who claim they were abused by Father John Leonard decades ago. Talking at his church in Virginia Beach Thursday, he reflected on the forced resignation of Father Goodman. "The movement by the Bishop in asking for the resignation of Goodman is a step in the right direction, but don't lose focus. What happened with Father Leonard is unacceptable behavior."

Gormley tried to be diplomatic about it.

Another accuser was more blunt about the Goodman case. Bill Bryant calls it "a calculated move by the diocese to deflect attention from their bungling of the Leonard case."

Bryant says he asked that the diocese do two things with John Leonard. "That he not be given unaccompanied access to boys and girls under 18 and that he be placed in ongoing therapeutic treatment for sexual dysfunctions," he said. "My concern is to protect the kids who are exposed to Leonard today."

Bishop Walter Sullivan has dismissed complaints about Leonard as misinterpretations and any actions as locker room horse play that blurred the lines of appropriate behavior but did not cross them.

Gormley says that kind of fudging will not achieve the healing a wounded diocese needs. "My conscience whether it's popular and plays well in the press ... will not allow me to keep quiet on this issue because at the end of the day, this remains an absolutely beautiful faith."

Gormley's prescription for healing in the diocese is repentance, an end to abusive behavior and a sincere apology. He remains deeply involved in the church. He's studying for ordination as a deacon.

Bryant says he left the Catholic Church years ago and is on his own spiritual path.

Print
Email
|