A dispatch from longtime Catholic Church sex-abuse victim advocate, third-generation OCer, and all-around great gal Joelle Casteix. Happened yesterday at St. John the Baptist in Costa Mesa, where she and other survivors were leafleting because that was one of the parishes where pedophile priest Denis Lyons served. I'd love to get the side of the pastor who Casteix says tried to slap away her fliers with information urging any sex-abuse victims to come forward, but the Diocese of Orange has a policy that no priest can speak with me under any circumstances. Wonder if he'll mention the incident on his blog?
And now, Joelle:
We went there for a Lyons leafleting today, and I - naively - had high expectations. Since this was Lyons' second arrest, I thought that people would be obliging about taking a flyer. Since the Norbertines (the doe-eyed, vulnerable, fluffy bunnies of the priesthood) run the parish, I didn't think they would hassle us.
I was wrong.
After the first Mass, the pastor, Fr. Hildebrand came out in his garb and asked me to leave. I didn't get defensive, but told him that I a victim and that maybe if he just let me passed out the flyers, we could do a lot of good together. He got very huffy and told me,"I'm going to call the police. And you know, they will come. They always come when people like you bother us." (People like me?)
I said "please" one more time, and he tried to grab my fliers out of my arms like a child in a "Keep-Away" game, panicking and clawing for them. I told him not to touch me, and that we would step off of the property. His response? "I didn't touch you. I touched your papers." He looked like he was about to cry.
Then an old guy in the parish - we got his name, but I forgot - came out and yelled at the other two ladies with me. He said that we were sinning by judging a priest, and that Lyons came to his house every Christmas for 18 years and spent it with this man's children and grandchildren. Not once, the man said, did he give any indication he was a child molester. Okay ....
When one of the women with me said, "A priest came to my house too. He molested my son." The man said, "I don't care. This is about Fr. Lyons."
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He also hit her stack of flyers. When she asked him not to touch her, he also said, "I didn't touch you. I touched your papers."
Finally, I thought that the folks coming to the Latin mass would finally be nice. Nope. We were threatened again, told were were trespassing, told that they didn't want to know anything about our information, and that Lyons was not here, so he was not their problem.
My analysis: there's a big problem.
Oh, and I forgot to mention that the guy who came up to us and blamed the gays, and the woman who asked us "Under whose authority are you here?" I had about 30 witty comebacks after she had walked away, but in the moment, all I could think of was "We're on public property."