I didn't think much of it until late last year. That's when my editor asked if I could investigate the sex-abuse scandal plaguing the Catholic Diocese of Orange. I was noncommittal until a sex-abuse survivor visited the Weekly's offices carrying a stack of damning documents. Thanks to those, I discovered that 30 other priests shared Lenihan's "problem." That "problem" destroyed the lives of children into their adult years and, thanks to a December agreement between the church and victims, will now cost the faithful $100 million. It's the largest sex-abuse settlement in the history of the Catholic Church.

"Father John has a problem."

When I attend Mass and see the Vietnamese youth group selling car-wash tickets as a fund-raiser for their Christmas pageant because there's not enough money, I think about "Father John has a problem" and realize what a lie it was. Father John didn't have a problem; we did.

Around Thanksgiving, my parents had that look again. Another article of mine translated by someone. That would've been the one called "More Bang, Please," which disclosed how Brown spent $350,000 on a PR firm to spin his pedo-lies.

I wasn't seeking another confrontation. Earlier in the day, a sex-abuse victim who pleaded anonymity thanked me endlessly over the phone for my work. The person was one of about 20 different victims of priests who called to thank me over the past year. While I'm always grateful, the calls drain me—as much as I've grown accustomed to it, it's hard hearing a molestation survivor describe their preteen violation in devastating detail.

By then, I was already refusing the Body of Christ from priests, preferring to receive the host from a lay Eucharistic minister. And still, when the collection basket passes my pew, I stare ahead.

But my parents didn't want to hear about my theological problems this most recent evening. All they wanted to know was whether the $350,000 figure in my story was correct. , , I tiredly assured them.

They remained silent. "What you're doing is good, Gustavo," my mom finally said. She resumed watching some weepy telenovela. Our Virgin of Guadalupe statue above the television never looked so radiant.

GARELLANO@OCWEEKLY.COM

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